Date: 
Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Australian Human Rights Commission has welcomed the release of the exposure draft of a national Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill.

Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs said the Bill streamlines human rights protections
and provides greater clarity than the existing four separate anti-discrimination laws and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act that it is intended to replace.

“The proposed bill strengthens access to justice for individuals by greatly simplifying the legal process. It also provides greater certainty for business by clarifying the evidentiary requirements for complaints and providing a streamlined ability to reject complaints,” Professor Triggs said.

“The proposals in the bill to place some of the evidentiary onus on respondents to claims are common sense. It means that those with the relevant information will be the ones who are required to supply it – this is consistent with other civil claims processes in Australia,” said Professor Triggs.

Professor Triggs welcomed the bill’s emphasis on prevention, enhancing the Commission’s ability to work with business and other stakeholders to eliminate discrimination.

“The bill proposes a range of voluntary measures for business to work with the Commission, such as codes of practice and certifications of special measures.

“This will enable business proactively to take steps to address discrimination and therefore to reduce the likelihood of legal action being taken against them,” said Professor Triggs. 

Professor Triggs particularly welcomed the inclusion of protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

She also welcomed the simplified and improved provisions contained in the draft Bill on what discrimination means and when harassment and discrimination may be unlawful.

Professor Triggs said she looked forward to public debate on the exposure draft Bill before it is tabled in Parliament.

“We will engage in public discussions to promote a Bill that provides more effective protection of human rights,” Professor Triggs said.

Media contact: Emily Barker 0419 258 597


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