Making Visible the Problem of Invisibility
Law Institute Journal, Vol. 83, No. 10, pp. 52-55, 2009
6 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2010
Date Written: October 6, 2009
Difficulties experienced by Indigenous people in proving their identity or obtaining a birth certificate may in part be remedied through using the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
The invisibility that Indigenous people suffer was recently highlighted when participants in the Gippsland East Aboriginal Driver Education Project could not get a driver’s license – not because they could not pass the test, or safely drive a car, but rather because they could not produce the proof of identity documentation required by VicRoads as a condition precedent to obtaining a driver’s license. Sixty of the participants did not have a birth certificate, and the births of 10 of these had never been registered.
It is well known that there is significant under-registration of births in developing countries; indeed, in sub-Saharan Africa more than 70 per cent of births are not registered. What is less well known is the problem of under-registration of Indigenous births in our own country. This is evidenced by the fact that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recorded 9900 births to Indigenous mothers in 2005, yet only 8600 such births were registered. This article examines how the birth registration system in Victoria contributes to the invisibility of Indigenous people, and considers whether the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter) can be used to redress this problem.
Keywords: Aboriginal Rights, Birth Registration, Indigenous Peoples, Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), Human Rights, Victoria, Victorian Human Rights, Charter
JEL Classification: I3, I30, I31, I38, I39, K00, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation