Birth Registration and Birth Certificates: Report


One of the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s functions is to examine and make recommendations about matters that are of general community concern but involve relatively minor legal change.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission community law reform program enables members of the community to contribute their ideas about how the law could be improved. To identify issues, we ask the public and community groups for suggestions about legal problems that might fit our program.

In 2012 the Commission embarked on discussions with the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University. The Centre was concerned about possible barriers to birth registration and obtaining a birth certificate among Victoria’s Indigenous community. I acknowledge the work of the Castan Centre.

The Commission decided to look at the issue broadly with application to all vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds such as newly arrived migrants and refugees.

This report is the result of 12 months work by the community law reform team.

I would like to thank the many people who have given their time and expertise in the construction of this report, including my fellow Commissioners. The Commission met with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages as well as senior Department of Justice personnel who also made important contributions. I express my especial thanks to Carolyn Gale, Department of Justice Executive Director of Community Operations and Strategy, and Erin Keleher, Director and Registrar of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, for their generous assistance in providing significant material to the Commission during its conduct of this review.

I express my thanks to both the Commonwealth and state Departments of Human Services, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Victorian Department of Health for their assistance. I would also like to thank the state and territory registries for their assistance with this review.

The community law reform team conducted extensive consultations and developed this report. I thank the manager, Myra White, and project officer, Tess McCarthy, for their role in facilitating consultations and the research and writing of the report. I also thank other Commission staff, including Merrin Mason and Cynthia Marwood who assisted the team in editing the report and intern Mandy Milner for her research assistance. Our communications manager, Nick Gadd was responsible for production of the report and Vicki Christou and Failelei Siatua provided administrative assistance.

This report on birth registration and birth certificates finalises our community law reform project on this topic. The Commission is pleased to contribute to this area of law and practice by making recommendations for reform.

I commend the report to you.

The Hon P.D. Cummins

Chair, Victorian Law Reform Commission

May 2013