This paper examines how a human rights approach can influence and support risk management for public authorities that have obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
Introduction: The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) engages with a broad range of public authorities in its day-to-day work, from organisations that are involved in policy development, to those delivering services to the Victorian community. A frequent issue that arises in this work is the challenge of considering human rights in risk management activities.
This paper considers how a human rights approach can influence and support risk management for public authorities that have obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) – from large government departments to small community service organisations. It is designed to start a conversation about the role of human rights in risk management – both by the people who are responsible for developing risk management policies and procedures, and by the front-line workers who are responsible for managing risk on the ground.
The purpose of the paper is to consider the benefits of looking at risk management through a human rights lens, both in terms of outcomes for individuals and the management of organisations. It examines how a human rights approach can help organisations to identify the full range of risks – including by recognising that a breach of a person’s human rights is part of the risk that needs to be managed. It also considers how looking at the whole picture, including human rights impacts, can open up options for managing risks in more effective ways.
Since commencing operation six years ago, the use of the Charter has matured. Today, it not only forms part of the legal framework of compliance obligations for public authorities - it prompts organisations to take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to their operations. In this way, the Charter can positively influence the way an organisation manages risk before a problem arises. This contributes to effective government and better outcomes for the Victorian community.
The Commission is committed to working with public authorities and to helping public sector workers understand the practical impact of the Charter. If you need assistance or would like to discuss how the Charter is relevant to your work, please contact the Commission.