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Right to freedom of expression

Section 15 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects your right to have your own opinion, to seek and receive information, and to express yourself. These rights come with responsibilities – to respect the rights and reputation of others and not risk public safety. The Charter applies to public authorities in Victoria, such as state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of the government.

How does the law protect me?

Being able to form and express your own opinions and express them freely is an important part of your self expression. This section of the Charter protects three related rights. 

The right to hold an opinion without interference

Under the Charter, you have the right to hold an opinion without having anyone interfere with your thoughts or beliefs. 

The right to freedom of expression

Under the Charter, you have the right to express your opinions freely and to seek, receive and share information and ideas. This might be through conversation, but it could also be in writing, in print or through artistic expression. 

Responsibilities related to freedom of expression

The right to freedom of expression brings with it some responsibilities. You must respect the rights and reputation of other people, and the opinions you express must not risk national security, the safety of the Victorian public, or people’s individual morality. 

Can this right be limited in any way?

In some circumstances, one person’s right may come into conflict with the right of another person or group. In these circumstances, it can be necessary to limit or restrict these rights. Under section 7(2) of the Charter, rights may be limited in certain circumstances, but it must be reasonable, necessary, justified and proportionate.

The right to freedom of expression may be limited in some circumstances – for example, to respect the rights and reputation of others or for the protection of national security, public order, public health or public morality. 

How we can help

We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities but the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission does not handle complaints related to the Charter.

If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights contact us.

For information about the legal history of this right, case law or Australia’s human rights framework, you can read more in our Policy and Legal sections of this website.

How to make a human rights complaint

If you think your human rights have been breached, you should contact the Victorian Ombudsman.

If you want to make a complaint about police conduct, contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.