The Commission reviewed Victoria’s laws in relation to birth registration and birth certificates, in accordance with section 5(1)(b) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic), which empowers the Commission to initiate inquiries into legal issues of general community concern, provided they are limited in size and scope.
The review arose from research conducted by the Castan Centre for Human Rights about barriers faced by Aboriginal Australians in registering births and obtaining birth certificates, and the high number of unregistered births in rural and remote areas.
The Commission examined whether the current Victorian law meets community expectations, and looked in particular at the experiences of people from disadvantaged, Indigenous and CALD backgrounds.
The Commission released a consultation paper in September 2012. It received 13 submissions and engaged in extensive community consultation in metropolitan and regional areas.
The report on birth registrations and birth certificates was completed in August 2013 and tabled in Parliament on 12 November 2013. It included 26 recommendations aimed at making it easier for people to register the births of their children. The Commission recommended reducing the cost of a birth certificate for those experiencing financial hardship.
The Commission recommended making it easier for people to obtain identity documents, in a situation where they applied for a birth certificate later in life.
Changes were suggested to the process for birth registration in cases where domestic violence may be an issue.
The report and other documents can be accessed from the links below.
The Commission’s review coincided with a review by Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages of its services.
In its media release welcoming the Commission’s report, the Government announced that work was being done by the Registry on many of the Commission’s recommendations including:
- providing additional information in birth registration forms, including clarifying what information will be printed on the birth certificate
- additional protections for identifying information where the applicant is at risk of family violence
- the development of an online system for parents to register births;
- a new page on the Registry website providing information about Koori services
- revisions to proof of identity requirements when registering a birth
- the development of guidelines for waiving of certificate fees.