Right to privacy and reputation
Section 13 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects your right not to have your privacy, family, home or correspondence interfered with. It also gives you the right to not have your reputation unlawfully attacked. 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?
Every person has a right to enjoy their private life free from interference.
Under the Charter, you have a right to not have your privacy, family life, home or correspondence, such as mail or email, interfered with. This right applies to surveillance such as closed-circuit television, collection of personal information by public authorities, results of medical tests or examinations and other confidential matters. The right covers extended family and other types of family arrangements, such as foster care or legal guardians.
Under the Charter, you also have the right to not have your reputation attacked unlawfully.
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.
Privacy of local residents and planning laws – Swancom Pty Ltd v Yarra CC  VCAT 923
The owners of a popular Richmond pub, the Corner Hotel, applied to extend the closing time of the venue’s courtyard from 11.30pm to 3am and to increase the number of patrons the venue could accommodate from 750 people to 1,300. Yarra City Council refused the Corner Hotel’s application, because it felt the extended trading hours and additional patrons would have a negative impact on the privacy of residents living near the pub. The venue’s owners applied to VCAT to overrule the council’s decision. VCAT agreed that the council needed to consider its obligation under the Charter to protect the privacy of local residents when making decisions, developing local laws and policies, and providing services.
How we can help
We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities but we do not handle complaints related to the Charter.
If you would like more information about the Charter and your rights, please 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 our 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.