Skip to content
Get help

Right to protection of families and children

Section 17 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) recognises the family unit as a fundamental part of our society. It also recognises that children may need particular protection, to ensure the way they are treated is in their best interests. 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?

There are many different sorts of families in Victoria, but they are all entitled to protection. This section of the Charter includes two related rights. 

The right to protection of the family

Under the Charter, your family, as a fundamental group within our society, is protected by our society and by the State of Victoria. The Charter recognises that not all families are the same. Some people live with their grandparents rather than their parents, while others may live with a legal guardian or a foster family. The Charter also recognises important connections to extended family and kinship ties. 

This right is also supported by the right to privacy (section 13 of the Charter), which stops public authorities from interfering with your family unless they have a good reason – for example, to protect a family member from family violence. 

The right to protection of children

Under the Charter, every child has the right to be protected and to be treated in a way that takes into account his or her best interests. This section of the Charter recognises that children and young people can be particularly vulnerable because of their age. It applies to people younger than 18 years old. 

Can this right be limited in any way?

In some circumstances, one person’s right may interfere or conflict with the right of another person, a group or society. When this happens, a balance of rights is needed. This is referred to as limiting or restricting a right.

This right may be limited in certain circumstances, for example, in a situation where family violence is occurring. To protect a child, they may be removed from a family unit. 

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.