The Victorian Charter of Human Rights in Action

A video project designed to increase awareness and use of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights by showing how it can benefit Victorians.

Human Rights Law Centre
Human Rights Law Centre

Case study

Unchartered territory: leveraging social media and connections in human rights advocacy

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) uses strategic legal actions, policy solutions, and advocacy to empower communities to eliminate inequality and injustice, working towards the creation of a fairer, more compassionate Australia. With support from a VLF Community Legal Grant, HRLC have developed resources and information to raise awareness of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and garner support for a nationwide Charter in Australia.

HRLC Campaign Manager Daney Faddoul says the mission is to create a society where everyone is free to lead a decent, dignified life. "Where our laws, policies and institutions, promote fairness and equality, and where people and communities have the power to address inequality and ensure that governments always act in the public interest”.

HRLC Campaign Manager Daney Faddoul.

Opportunity to improve awareness of human rights in Victoria

Australia stands out as the sole Western liberal democracy without a national charter of human rights. A charter could bring numerous benefits to various communities, particularly those that are marginalised, by providing legal recognition and imposing duties and responsibilities on public authorities regarding human rights.

The Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, operational since 2006 and fully effective in 2008, holds significant legal weight. However, through HRLC’s advocacy work, they have noticed a limited awareness of the Charter among the general Victorian public, and even in other advocacy organisations. Even for those aware of its existence, there is a lack of understanding regarding how to ensure that human rights become a reality and how the Charter influences government decisions, laws, and services.

This lack of awareness becomes concerning when potential breaches of the Charter occur, leading to Victorians being unaware of the violation of their rights. This was seen in 2021 when the Victorian Government sought to establish permanent laws regarding their response to the pandemic. HRLC identified that the initial laws lacked sufficient consideration for human rights, highlighting the importance of informed awareness and advocacy in the community.

Collaborating to create new hub of resources

The Community Legal Grant allowed HRLC to develop information to increase awareness through several strategic initiatives.

First, HRLC created a website that serves as an educational resource to provide insights into the purpose of the Victorian Charter of Rights. It also offers information on how individuals can actively utilise and implement the Charter to defend their rights. Furthermore, the website advocates for broader support in the pursuit of a national Charter for Australia. Ensuring the legal accuracy of the website content was important for the project’s success, and HRLC conducted an external legal review with Allens pro-bono lawyers to confirm the content was accurate. The intention of the website was a one-stop hub of information not only for the general Victorian public, but those working in community aid and advocacy organisations to use as well.

Secondly, a promotional video highlighting the positive impacts of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights was developed. This video features interviews with HRLC Legal Director Daniel Webb and Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO Nerita Waight, who are key figures in human rights advocacy, discussing the use of the Victorian Charter to improve pandemic laws.

Utilising social media and connections to increase reach

A key aim of the project was to reach a wide audience across Victoria to increase awareness of the Charter. HRLC devised a paid social media advertising campaign, using the engaging content in the video to capture audience interest and prompt viewers to visit the website. To work effectively on social media, the video was cut a shorter video of less than 60 seconds to be advertised on social media. The original 3-minute version is available to watch on the website.

Alongside the social media campaign, the project used existing connections with legal and community organisations to share the video and website, reaching different audiences across Victoria. “We approached organisations across our Victorian network, from legal organisations to human rights advocates to get the word out as widely as possible about the video and the website, highlighting the resources it contains”. Daney relates. These organisations included the Law Institute of Victoria, Federation of Community Legal Centres, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Victorian Ombudsman, Victoria Legal Aid, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and many more.

Social media success with more than 101,000 views

The video, in its shorter versions, garnered more than 101,000 views on social media, predominantly from people in Victoria, surpassing their ambitious target of 100,000. This highlights social media as an effective tool for advocacy and reaching an expansive audience.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres, serving as the peak body for community legal centres in Victoria, expressed enthusiasm for the resource. They offered to share it with their members through their newsletter, which was a great opportunity for HRLC to reach a wider audience and enhance understanding of the Charter’s importance amongst advocates. HRLC also received positive feedback from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to the website and video.

Internally, this project has helped HRLC understand the importance of consolidating resources from various platforms to create a one-stop-shop for clear and accessible information on the Victorian Charter. This consolidation not only saves time for information-seekers but also prevents possible confusion generated by having multiple sources that may not align or be up-to-date. Additionally, the website allows for the construction of a coherent narrative to improve understanding and accessibility of human rights. For HRLC, the project has influenced how they approach advocating for and promoting information about human rights.

“Without the grant from the Victorian Law Foundation, this project wouldn't have happened. It’s that simple. We would not have had the resources to be able to a hire videographer, to pull together this website or to do the social media promotion. But now we have an enduring resource and new learnings from the project.”

– HRLC Campaign Manager Daney Faddoul

Expanding the website and beyond: HRLC considers updating resources with project insights

HRLC is now exploring additional enhancements to the website. They are looking to update and expand other resources and advocacy guides with insights gained from the project.

HRLC is also seeking for opportunities to showcase how the Victorian Charter of Human Rights has been used that can be documented, promoted through social media, and featured on the website. The project's success has demonstrated the effectiveness of a social media campaign in reaching a wide audience, prompting HRLC to consider exploring additional avenues where they can leverage this strategy to communicate their message.

Discover whether your project could become possible with a VLF Grant. Explore the Charter of Rights website and watch the video:

Better justice through research, education and grants

We are committed to raising awareness of our law, and to provide evidence and insight to improve justice for all Victorians.