The federal Parliament has passed a number of laws which aim to protect people from certain kinds of discrimination in public life and from breaches of their human rights by Commonwealth departments and agencies.
Click on the links below for further information on:
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
- Age Discrimination Act 2004
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
The Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under these laws. We have the authority to investigate and conciliate complaints of alleged discrimination and human rights breaches lodged under these laws.
The Age Discrimination Act 2004 helps to ensure that people are not treated less favourably on the ground of age in various areas of public life including:
- provision of goods and services
- administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
The Act also provides for positive discrimination – that is, actions which assist people of a particular age who experience a disadvantage because of their age. It also provides for exemptions in the following areas:
- migration, taxation and social security laws
- state laws and other Commonwealth laws
- some health programmes.
For further information: All about age discrimination.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 has as its major objectives to
- eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities
- promote community acceptance of the principle that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as all members of the community, and
- ensure as far as practicable that people with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as other people in the community.
For further information visit Disability Rights.
The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (formerly called the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 ). established the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now known as the Australian Human Rights Commission) and gives it functions in relation to the following international instruments:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- Convention Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (ILO 111)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Declaration of the Rights of the Child
- Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons
- Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, and
- Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
In addition, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has specific functions under the AHRC Act and the Native Title Act,1993 to monitor the human rights of Indigenous people.
For further information: The Australian Human Rights Commission (information sheet).
Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 1989 (Cth)
Section 3(1) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) defines discrimination. The Australian Human Rights Regulations 1989 (Cth) lists additional grounds which will constitute discrimination under the Act.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 gives effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Its major objectives are to
- promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, and
- make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.
For further information: Race Discrimination.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 gives effect to Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156. Its major objectives are to
- promote equality between men and women
- eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities, and
- eliminate sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision of goods and services, in the provision of accommodation and the delivery of Commonwealth programs.
For further information: Sex Discrimination.
Information on Privacy - Visit www.oaic.gov.au
From 1 July 2000 the Privacy Act 1998 is administered by the office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner. The Federal Privacy Commissioner is no longer a member of the Australian Human Rights Commission (previously known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or HREOC).
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which was the national privacy regulator, was integrated into the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 1 November 2010.