Our publications

Links to articles and other material relating to Indigenous Birth Registration, written by people associated with this project.

Making Indigenous Australians Disappear - Problems arising from our birth registration systems 

Paula Gerber

published in the Alternative Law Journal, 34(3), p158 to162 & 167. (2009).

“While the lack of birth registration has long been recognised as a problem in developing countries, many Australians were shocked to recently learn that it is also a problem for Indigenous Australians.8 This article explores the obstacles encountered by some Indigenous Australians in realising the right to birth registration and taking the subsequent step of obtaining a birth certificate, and analyses these obstacles in light of international and domestic human rights laws.”

An excellent introduction to the issues involved.

Making Visible the Problem of Invisibility

Paula Gerber

(Originally published in Volume 83, Issue 10 of the Law Institute Journal, pages 52-55, 2009)

Faculty of Law - Monash University Research Paper No 2010/08

“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.

Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Regarding Australia's compliance with Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Paula Gerber (2012)

“Indigenous Australians are facing social exclusion and an inability to enjoy all the rights and privileges that flow from a birth having been registered and a birth certificate issued.”

This report also contains, as an appendix, a pre-publication copy of Castan, M., Gerber, P., & Gargett, A. Indigenous Australians’ Access to Birth registration Systems: A Breach of International Human Rights Law? (2011) Australian Journal of Human Rights, 17 (1)

The relevant UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s own report on Australia can be found at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC_C_AUS_CO_4.pdf

A Right to Birth Registration in the Victorian Charter? - Seek and You Shall Not Find

Andrew Gargett, Paula Gerber, and Melissa Castan

(Originally published in Monash University Law Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2011)  Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 25

“The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) replicates many of the rights protected in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but notably fails to include art 24(2) which recognises the right to birth registration. This omission is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on Indigenous Victorians...This article explores the problems faced by Indigenous Victorians in relation to birth registration and birth certificates, and analyses the extent to which the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) can provide redress, notwithstanding the absence of a specific provision regarding the right to birth registration.

Does the Right to Birth Registration Include a Right to a Birth Certificate?

Paula Gerber, Andrew Gargett, and Melissa Castan

Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, 29(4), 434–459.

“International human rights law has long recognised the right of every child to have their birth registered. However, what is less clear is what this right encompasses. For example, does the normative content of the right to birth registration include a right to a birth certificate? This is a question that has become very relevant to Indigenous Australians many of whom are experiencing difficulties acquiring a birth certificate. This article argues that the right to birth registration, as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, implicitly includes the right to a birth certificate.”


Plan International publications on Birth Registration

Partner organisation, Plan International, has developed an excellent series of publications dealing with the problems of birth registration and certification in many parts of the world, and the approaches which they have taken to overcome them. They can be accessed from the webpage linked here.

Submission to Qld Inquiry into Voter ID requirements.pdf (January 2014)

Submission to the Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee on the Electoral Reform Amendment Bill 2013

Prepared by Paula Gerber, this submission addresses issues raised by the Queensland Government proposal to require electors to produce personal identity documentation before being permitted to vote. It draws attention to the fact that such requirements have the potential to disenfranchise a disproportionately large number of Indigenous voters in Queensland.

Follow us!
Paula Gerber & Melissa Castan comment on the Victorian Law Reform Commission Report on Birth Registration in Victoria.
From the Indigenous Law Bulletin , September/October, 2014 Volume 8 Issue 14Our_Publications_files/ILB%208_14.pdfOur_Publications_files/ILB%208_14.pdfOur_Publications_files/ILB%208_14_1.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law: Submission to the Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee on the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (Dec 2014).pdf

19 December, 2014

This is a follow up to the Castan Centre’s earlier submission to the Legal Affairs Committee on “Proof of Identity” requirements at Queensland elections.

Proof of Birth (ed. Melissa Castan and Paula Gerber )

Australia has not yet achieved universal birth registration, which means that many people without a birth certificate struggle to enjoy the benefits of citizenship. In particular, people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, rural and remote communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, are over-represented in the number of unregistered births. Without a birth certificate these individuals are unable to realise many of their basic human rights. This book draws together the work of a range of experts from diverse fields who present recent developments and strategies designed to overcome the barriers to accessing the birth registration systems. It provides recommendations to help communities, governments and civil society work together to ensure ALL Australians are able to obtain a birth certificate to enable them to fully participate in Australian life.

Proof of Birth was launched at the Melbourne Town Hall on  28th May, 2015  following the important Indigenous Knowledge: talking law, country and cultural heritage forum.

For more details about the book, and access to its contents, see HERE