The Victorian Law Reform Commission is to review the process for birth registration and obtaining a birth certificate, and will ask the community about their experiences in using the system.
The Commission will examine whether the current Victorian law meets community expectations, and will look in particular at the experiences of people from disadvantaged, Indigenous and CALD backgrounds.
Chairperson of the Commission, His Honour David Jones AM, said that the Commission had heard from sections of the community that the lack of a birth certificate can be a significant issue.
“Without a birth certificate a person can feel legally invisible and unable to invoke their full rights as a citizen. We will look at whether the current process makes getting a certificate difficult, particularly for already marginalised groups.
“In deciding to take on the review, the Commission has heard evidence of Indigenous experiences of non-registration and failure to obtain a certificate. The Commission believes these issues may also affect other disadvantaged groups such as CALD communities and those experiencing homelessness or mental illness,” Mr Jones said.
A birth certificate is often considered the first step in creating a child's identity. Once a birth is registered, parents can apply for a birth certificate, which is usually required when the time comes for signing up for school, Medicare, government benefits, a passport and eventually, a drivers' licence. Without a birth certificate access to these may be impossible.
The current system for getting a birth certificate is a three-step process that includes notification, registration and an application. The Commission proposes to examine whether the three-step process has created an indirect barrier to obtaining a certificate.
The Commission will undertake the review as part of its community law reform program, which allows the Commission to make recommendations on minor legal issues of general community concern often based on a suggestion from the community.
The Commission will be conducting community consultations later in 2012 as part of its review. The review is expected to be completed in mid 2013.
For more information or an interview with David Jones please contact:
Nicola Edwards, Communications Manager, Tel: 03 8608 7824