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Right to take part in public life

Section 18 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) protects your right to take part in public life, whether directly or through a representative. It also protects your right to vote in state and local council elections, and to access public services. 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 participate in public life and vote in elections is an important part of democracy. This section of the Charter includes two related rights. 

The right to participate in public affairs

Under the Charter, you have a right to take part in public life. This right applies to a wide range of activities such as state and local politics and public administration. It might include being involved in politics or sharing your opinion in an election or referendum, attending a public form to help make decisions on local issues, or attending a meeting of our local council. It could also be participating in a public debate or dialogue with a representative such as a member of your local council. 

You can participate directly, or you might choose a representative to participate on your behalf. The Charter specifies that you have not just the right to participate, but also that you must be given the opportunity.  

The right to vote and access public services

Under the Charter, every eligible person has the right to vote in state and local council elections, and to access public services provided by the government and local councils. It’s important to note that this right only applies to eligible people – some people in Victoria are not eligible to vote in state and local council elections, and there are different eligibility criteria for different aspects of public life. 

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.

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 c

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.

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.