Decisions to terminate or decline complaints

Under section 46PH of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act the President may decide to terminate a complaint on grounds including that she is satisfied that the act complained of is not unlawful, that the complaint is misconceived or lacking in substance or that another more appropriate remedy is reasonably available. Prior to 13 April 2000 this function was performed by the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, with review by the President being availabe. This page provides links to summaries of selected decisions.reviewing decisions of this kind.

Last updated April 2000. Compilation and release of summaries beyond this have not been authorised by the Commission.

Summaries are available in these areas:

These summaries have been prepared because the full decisions are not published, as in many cases this could involve unreasonable disclosure of personal information. These summaries are published to provide information on interpretation and application of the DDA by the President and Commissioner and their delegates.

They deal mainly with cases where complaints have been declined because in the President or Commissioner s view the act complained of was not unlawful, or where a more appropriate alternative remedy was available, or the matter had already been adequately remedied.

Note that these summaries do not include many of the substantial number of decisions made to decline a complaint on the basis that it lacks substance. Decisions on this ground are made where discrimination is alleged but there is no evidence, or insufficient evidence, that the events occurred as claimed or that they occurred on a discriminatory basis. Also not included are cases where the Commissioner declines to investigate further because the complainant no longer wishes to pursue the matter.

These decisions do not have the authority of court decisions as precedents. Care should be taken in applying these decisions, as in some cases the decision depends on the particular circumstances of the case. Bearing this in mind, these summaries of decisions should be a valuable guide to the interpretation of the DDA by the Commission.

The summaries given here do not cover every decision since 1993. They attempt to cover decisions which illustrate a major point of principle or interpretation and which can be summarised meaningfully without unreasonable disclosure of personal information.

Most decisions summarised confirm decisions to decline a complaint, rather than referring a complaint back to the Commissioner for further investigation or consideration. This is partly because of the care that the Commission seeks to apply to making the initial decision whether to decline a complaint, so that in a high proportion of cases these decisions have been upheld. A decision that an act is not unlawful is also generally more definitely expressed and more readily summarised into a clear statement of principle than a decision that a matter requires more investigation.

To gain a balanced picture of the Commission's interpretation and application of the DDA, readers should also refer to the decisions of the Commission on complaints referred for hearing, to guidelines or advisory notes which have been issued by the Commission under the DDA regarding some areas and to other materials issued by the Commission including its "Frequently Asked Questions" material. The Commission has also published summaries of some conciliated settlements of complaints.

For more information about complaint handling procedures, see the Commission's complaint information page.