Activity 3c: Applying a Bill of Rights

A Bill of Rights is a set of human rights protections set out in a country’s constitution, or in a special Act of Parliament. These rights are clearly set out for all to know about, and when a situation arises which might threaten those rights, judges or legislators can refer to the rules very easily and make decisions.

On 2 March 2004, the Parliament of the Australian Capital Territory passed Australia’s first Bill of Rights. On 25 July 2006, the Victorian Parliament enacted a Bill of Rights after it passed the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

In this activity students look at and compare rights within state jurisdictions. 

Resources Required


e Resources

Task 1

Read Handout: Bill of Rights for the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.

a) Use a Venn Diagram to identify the rights that are common to both the Australian Capital Territory’s Human Rights Act (2004) and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006).

b) Nominate a right, and become an expert about it. Read the sections of the Territory’s Act and Victoria’s Charter. List two main strengths and two main weaknesses or limitations in:

(i) The Australian Capital Territory’s Human Rights Act (2004)

(ii) The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006).   

(iii) Share these strengths and weakness or limitations with your classmates. 

Task 2

If a Bill of Rights were introduced in Australia, judges would be called on to interpret its meaning in particular cases.

Read the Handout: Situations for ‘You Be the Judge’. Imagine that you are a judge, and the hypothetical cases in the handout have come before you. Make your decision on the basis of the Australian Capital Territory’s Human Rights Act (2004) and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006) and answer these three questions in each case:

  • Which right, if any, would apply?

  • What would be your decision under the Bill of Rights? 

  • In what ways might rights be limited? For example, the right to protest might exist but this right must be exercised within the law and the protest must be peaceful. 

Draw the table below and summarise your answers.


Your Decision 

Consideration That Might Limit Rights












What do you now think are the main strengths and limitations of a Bill of Rights? How important would the courts be if Australia had a Bill of Rights?

Access the Le@rning Federation resource Human rights (TLF-ID L9522). Students interact with the slideshow of images and text to explore the historical development of human rights and how they are upheld in Australia. Create a list of rights to include in a Bill of Rights for Australia. Compare your list with those of other groups in the class. Construct an agreed list to submit to your local Member of Parliament.


Activity 3a | Activity 3b |  Activity 3c | Activity 3d 

For the teacher | Human Rights Introduction3: How Do We Characterise Human Rights in Australia? 

Overview of activities:  Focus Question 3