The power to make laws is shared between the Commonwealth Parliament and each state parliament. In Victoria, laws come from several sources: the Australian Constitution, federal legislation, Victorian legislation and common law. Common law is developed by judges as they decide cases and refer to previous decisions for guidance on how the law is applied.
What is law?
Australian Constitution (External link): outlines the purpose and history of Australia’s Constitution, which defines how laws are shared between the Federal Parliament and Victorian Parliament
Australian Legislation (External link): contains details of all Australian legislation
Victorian Legislation (External link): contains details of all Victorian acts and statutory rules
Victoria’s Constitution (Parliament of Victoria) (External link): outlines the purpose and history of Victoria’s constitution and explains how it functions within our state parliament. A copy of the Constitution Act 1975 is available at Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents (External link)
Who makes the law?
About the Parliament of Australia (External link): describes the elements that make up Australia’s Parliamentary system and the separation of powers between them
Parliamentary Quick Answers (External link): the essential reference guide to the Parliament of Australia
The Victorian Parliamentary System (External Link): describes the role of Victoria’s parliamentary system
Inside the Parliament of Victoria (External link): downloadable booklet that describes all aspects of the Victorian Parliament
Elections (Parliamentary Education Office) (External link): outlines the electoral process for the House of Representatives and the Senate
Elections and voting (Parliament of Victoria) (External link): explains the Victorian election process, the voting system and the counting of votes
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) (External link): the AEC is responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums and maintaining the Commonwealth electoral roll
How are laws made?
How Laws are Made (Parliamentary Education Office) (External link): series of short videos about Parliament and how laws are made
How Laws are Made (Parliament of Victoria) (External link): animated video describing how a bill becomes a law
People in Parliament (External link): defines the specific roles of key people in the Parliament of Victoria
Victorian Legislation and Bills (External link): contains links to current and past legislation and bills
What types of law are there?
Law can be criminal or civil. Criminal law regulates conduct in society to protect the community and sanction those who commit crimes. Civil law regulates the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups and organisations in their interactions. If legal rights are abused, legal action can be taken through the court system, a tribunal or through alternative dispute resolution methods.
Crime (Everyday-Law) (External link): identifies common criminal offences, including drug offences, violent behaviour, property damage and theft, and the possible penalties for these offences
Civil and Money Matters (Magistrates' Court) (External link): provides information relating to the Civil Jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria, which hears and determines disputes arising from claims for damages, debt or other monetary demands and for equitable relief
How are laws reviewed and changed?
Criminal Justice Division : policy development at the department
Australian Law Reform Commission (External link): federal agency that reviews Australia’s laws and provides recommendations to Parliament and the Government to implement changes
Victorian Law Reform Commission (External link): independent, government-funded organisation that develops, monitors and coordinates law reform in Victoria
Victorian Parliament Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee (External link): investigates and reports to the Parliament on legal, constitutional and parliamentary reform, the administration of justice, and law reform
Sentencing Advisory Council (External link): set up to bridge the gaps between the community, the courts and government by informing, educating and advising on sentencing issues
Engage Victoria (External link): Victorian Government website that seeks feedback and contributions from the public on a wide range of policies and programs under consideration or review