Fears the Baillieu Government may abolish or water down Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities have been allayed today after the Government has revealed it supports keeping the current legislation largely intact.

Offering its response to a review of the charter in parliament the Government said it supports protection of human rights and would seek to make the current legislation “clearer, simpler and more accessible.”

“The Government is strongly committed to the principles of human rights and considers that legislative protection for those rights provides a tangible benefit to the Victorian community,” the Government said in its response.

During the review process the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby raised concerns the Charter could be watered down and reduce safeguards for LGBTI human rights protection.

Human Rights Law Centre executive director Phil Lynch welcomed the Government’s response.

“The decision to retain the Charter is a victory for evidence-based policy, accountable government and a fair go for all Victorians,” Lynch said.

“After five years, the evidence clearly shows that the Charter has substantial benefits, including greater government accountability, more responsive public services and more compassionate treatment for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people.

“Its protections have been particularly important for people with disability, people with mental illness, children and the homeless.”

The HRLC said 95 percent of submissions received by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) last year called for the Charter to be retained or strengthened.

The Government has said it will seeking further advice on how courts and tribunals utilise the Charter and will consider the including additional rights to bring the Charter in line with international human rights standards.

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