Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. This includes bullying someone because of a protected characteristic.
Discrimination can occur:
Directly, when a person or group is treated less favourably than another person or group in a similar situation because of a personal characteristic protected by law.
Indirectly, when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging people with a personal characteristic protected by law.
Protected personal characteristics under Federal discrimination law include:
- a disability, disease or injury, including work-related injury
- parental status or status as a carer, for example, because they are responsible for caring for children or other family members
- race, colour, descent, national origin, or ethnic background
- age, whether young or old, or because of age in general
- industrial activity, including being a member of an industrial organisation like a trade union or taking part in industrial activity, or deciding not to join a union
- pregnancy and breastfeeding
- sexual orientation, intersex status or gender identity, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer and heterosexual
- marital status, whether married, divorced, unmarried or in a de facto relationship or same sex relationship
- political opinion
- social origin
- medical record
- an association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these characteristics, such as being the parent of a child with a disability.
In Victoria it is against the law to discriminate against you because of a disability you have, or that people think you might have.
- total or partial loss of body function or a body part
- the presence of organisms (such as HIV or Hepatitis C) that may cause disease or disability, malformation or disfigurement of the body
- mental or psychological diseases or disorders
- conditions or disorders that may result in a person learning more slowly.
In Victoria, if you have a disability it is also against the law to discriminate against you because you have:
- an assistance aid, such as equipment including a palliative or therapeutic device
- someone who is assisting you, for example, an interpreter or a reader
- an assistance dog.
At Leisure Options it is imperative that we protect the rights of the travellers we care for. Around one in five Victorians has a disability and most people will experience some kind of disability at some time in their lives. Disability discrimination can prevent people from participating in community life and enjoying other human rights.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) protects individuals across Australia from unfair treatment in many parts of public life. The Act makes disability discrimination unlawful and promotes equal rights, equal opportunity and equal access for people with disabilities.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has responsibilities to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Australia ratified in 2008. People who experience direct or indirect discrimination can complain to the Commission.
What is disability discrimination?
Disability discrimination happens when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without the disability in the same or similar circumstances.
Discrimination also happens when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a particular disability. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’. For example, it may be indirect discrimination if the only way to enter a public building is by a set of stairs because people with disabilities who use wheelchairs would be unable to enter the building.
What to do if you experience discrimination?
You may want to deal with the situation yourself by raising it directly with the person or people involved.
If this does not resolve the situation, or you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. You can also have someone such as a solicitor or public advocate make a complaint on your behalf.
It does not cost anything to make a complaint to the Commission.
Your complaint needs to be put in writing. The Commission has a complaint form that you can fill in and post or fax or you can lodge a complaint online. If you are not able to put your complaint in writing, there are people that can help you with this.
The complaint should say what happened, when and where it happened and who was involved.
A complaint can be made in any language. If you need a translator or interpreter, the Commission can arrange this for you.
What happens to the complaint?
When the Commission receives a complaint about something that is covered by the DDA, the President of the Commission can investigate the complaint and try to resolve it by conciliation. The Commission is not a court and cannot determine that discrimination has happened. The Commission’s role is to get both sides of the story and help those involved resolve the complaint.
Commission staff may contact you to get further information about your complaint.
Generally, the Commission will tell the person or organisation the complaint is against (the respondent) about your complaint and give them a copy of the complaint. The Commission may ask the respondent for specific information or a detailed response to your complaint.
Where appropriate, the Commission will invite you to participate in conciliation. Conciliation is an informal process that allows you and the respondent to talk about the issues and try to find a way to resolve the complaint.
If your complaint is not resolved or it is discontinued for another reason, you can take your complaint to the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s contact details are:
Info line: 1300 656 419 (local call)
TTY: 1800 620 241 (toll free)
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
You can make a complaint online by going to www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints/lodge-complaint
If you are deaf or have a hearing impairment the Commission can arrange for an Auslan interpreter if this is needed. You can also communicate with us by TTY by calling 1800 620 241.
If you are blind or have a vision impairment, the Commission can provide information in alternative formats on request.
If you are thinking about making a complaint, you might also want to consider obtaining legal advice or contacting your public advocate. There are community legal services that can provide free advice about discrimination and harassment. Contact details for your closest community legal centre can be found at www.naclc.org.au/directory and the Office of Public Advocate at http://www.publicadvocate.vic.gov.au
For further information or for a copy of Leisure Options Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Policy please contact the office.