From 1 August 2013 it will be unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status under federal law. Same-sex couples are now also protected from discrimination under the definition of ‘marital or relationship status’. The Commission will be able to accept complaints alleging discrimination on the new grounds that occurred on or after this date. These new protections have been included in the Sex Discrimination Act.
The Australian Human Rights Commission can investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying based on a person’s:
- sex, including pregnancy, marital or relationship status (including same-sex de facto couples) status, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, sexual harassment, gender identity, intersex status and sexual orientation
- disability, including temporary and permanent disabilities; physical, intellectual, sensory, psychiatric disabilities, diseases or illnesses; medical conditions; work related injuries; past, present and future disabilities; and association with a person with a disability
- race, including colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, immigrant status and racial hatred
- age, covering young people and older people
- sexual preference, criminal record, trade union activity, political opinion, religion or social origin (in employment only)
It is against the law to be discriminated against in many areas of public life, including employment, education, the provision of goods, services and facilities, accommodation, sport and the administration of Commonwealth laws and services.
The Commission can also investigate and resolve complaints about alleged breaches of human rights against the Commonwealth and its agencies.
How are complaints resolved?
Complaints to the Commission are resolved through a process known as conciliation. This is where the people involved in a complaint talk through the issues with the help of someone impartial and settle the matter on their own terms.
Conciliation is a very successful way of resolving complaints. Feedback shows that most people find our process fair, informal and easy to understand. It also helps them to better understand the issues and come up with solutions that are appropriate to their circumstances.
Complaint outcomes can include an apology, reinstatement to a job, compensation for lost wages, changes to a policy or developing and promoting anti-discrimination policies.
Find out more:
- Information for people making complaints
- Information for people responding to complaints
- The complaint process
- Understanding and preparing for conciliation
- Conciliation register
- Charter of Service
- Complaint statistics
How do I make a complaint?
Complaints must be made in writing or by email. Go to the Lodge a complaint page for more details.
A complaint can be made in any language. We have information about making a complaint in other languages.
The Commission can arrange an interpreter in your language or a sign language interpreter, if required. We can also help you write out your complaint if you need assistance.
For more information contact our Complaints Information Service
Free interpretation and translation services are available by contacting 13 14 50 and asking for the Australian Human Rights Commission.