Key legislation: Discrimination and human rights

Seven main pieces of Commonwealth apply to discrimination and human rights. Commonwealth and Victorian legislation overlap.

Anti-discrimination laws in force in Victoria are contained in seven separate pieces of legislation:

Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (“EO Act”);

Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) (“RRTA”);

Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (“RDA”);

Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (“SDA”);

Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (“DDA”);

Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) (“ADA”);

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (“AHRCA”).

Discrimination and victimisation that occurs in the workplace may also be covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FW Act”). For further information regarding the FW Act, see Employment contracts, awards and agreements.

The right to equality and freedom from discrimination is also protected in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (“Charter”) (discussed below).

The overlap between Commonwealth and Victorian laws can be complex. Generally, a complaint of discrimination cannot be made under both Commonwealth and state legislation at the same time.

Contacts for information and complaints

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

People wishing to make a complaint of discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, or vilification may contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) for information.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton Vic 3053

Tel: 1300 891 848 TTY: 1300 289 621

Email: information@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Web: www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

The VEOHRC has also published a Victorian discrimination law resource that explains the EO Act in detail and considers relevant case law. Search “Victorian discrimination law” at www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au.

Australian Human Rights Commission

Complaints of racial, disability, age and sex discrimination under the Commonwealth Acts (above) should be made in writing. A complaint form can be downloaded from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) website at www.humanrights.gov.au, and forwarded directly to AHRC at:

Australian Human Rights Commission

Complaints Department

GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001

Tel: (02) 9284 9600; 1300 656 419

TTY: 1800 620 241

Email: infoservice@humanrights.gov.au

Web: www.humanrights.gov.au

Free interpretation and translation services are available by contacting 13 14 50 and asking for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman can provide information about options to pursue matters of employment discrimination action under the FW Act. The contact details for the Fair Work Ombudsman are:

Fair Work Ombudsman

Level 6, 414 La Trobe Street, Melbourne Vic 3000

Tel: 13 13 94

Web: www.fairwork.gov.au

Discrimination legislation generally enables people who have experienced certain forms of discrimination to access confidential dispute resolution and conciliation services – and, in some instances, a public hearing – to resolve their discrimination dispute.