A Right to Housing for the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities? Assessing Potential Models under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the European Social Charter; and the South African Constitution
In the face of a homelessness crisis in the state of Victoria, the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Parliament of Victoria recommended in March 2021 that the State include a right to housing within the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006) (Vic). But what should such a right to housing look like, and what will it protect within its scope? This article analyses three examples of a right to housing that Victoria might take as inspiration: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the European Social Charter (Revised); and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 1996 (South Africa). It turns specific attention to the scope of the right; the interplay of its normative content and state obligations; and its interpretation. I argue that it is crucial to appreciate the interpretation of the right in each of these jurisdictions, in order to understand the potential consequences entailed in adopting a specific model for a right to housing. The article assesses the strengths, weaknesses and suitability of each potential right, to inform a robust discussion over the shape a right to housing could take in Victoria, and by extension, Australia.