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 occur in the workplace may also be covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FW Act”). For further information about 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) (discussed in Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities).

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.

Generally, discrimination legislation 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.

Contacts for information and complaints

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)

People wishing to enquire about or make a complaint of discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, or vilification may contact the VEOHRC. You can phone the VEOHRC, or live chat to someone via the VEOHRC website; these services are available from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Complaints can also be lodged through the VEOHRC website.

The VEOHRC has also published a Victorian discrimination law resource that explains the EO Act in detail and considers relevant case law; this is available on the VEOHRC website.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)

Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton Vic 3053

Tel: 1300 891 848 TTY: 1300 289 621

Tel (enquiries): 1300 292 153

Email: information@veohrc.vic.gov.au or enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Web: www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

Under the EO Act, you can choose to either take your complaint to the VEOHRC for dispute resolution, or apply to VCAT (the Human Rights Division) for dispute resolution and to have your complaint heard in a public hearing. Applications to VCAT can be lodged online.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

Human Rights Division

Level 5, William Cooper Justice Centre

223 William Street, Melbourne Vic 3000

GPO Box 5408, Melbourne Vic 3000

Tel: 9628 9900; 1300 079 413 (country callers only)

Email: vcat-hrd@vcat.vic.gov.au

Web: www.vcat.vic.gov.au

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Complaints of racial, disability, age and sex discrimination under the Commonwealth Acts (listed above) should be made in writing. A complaint form can be downloaded from the AHRC’s website. The AHRC has a national information service phone line available from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday (tel: 1300 656 419). Free interpretation and translation services are available by phoning 13 14 50 and asking for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman can provide information about options to pursue matters of employment discrimination action under the FW Act. A translating and interpreting service is available by phoning 13 14 50 and asking for the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fair Work Ombudsman

Level 6, 414 La Trobe Street, Melbourne Vic 3000

Tel: 13 13 94 TTY: 13 36 77

Web: www.fairwork.gov.au