Research & conference papers by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Investigation and Conciliation Service


The Investigation and Conciliation Service regularly undertakes research to reflect on and improve its complaint processes and to increase public understanding of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s investigation and conciliation work. The papers below include findings of recent research on the Commission’s conciliation process.

  • Five years on: An update on the complaint handling work of the Australian Human Rights Commission (2005)

    This paper reports on two research projects conducted by the Commission in the 2004-05 reporting year. The first section of the paper discusses trends in unlawful discrimination complaint statistics in the period since the move to a court-based determination process. The second section of the paper outlines the findings of a conciliator survey which considered, among other things, the impact of the role of the conciliator and format of the process on complaint resolution.

  • Dispute resolution in the changing shadow of the law: A study of clients' views on the conciliation process in federal anti-discrimination law

    This paper outlines the findings of a research project conducted by the Commission in 2001 which involved telephone surveys with 213 complainants and 228 respondents to complaints. The issues discussed in the paper include levels of legal representation in conciliation, reported understanding of the conciliation process, perceptions of conciliator bias, satisfaction with settlement terms and reason for settlement or non-settlement.

    Presented at the 6th National Mediation Conference, Canberra, 2002 and published in the ADR Bulletin - Volume 6, Number 2, June 2003.

  • A review of outcomes of complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984

    This paper reviews the outcomes of complaints lodged under the Sex Discrimination in the 1997 calendar year. It includes specific information about terms of settlement for conciliated complaints.

Conference papers

The Australian Human Rights Commission is regularly invited to present papers at international and national conferences. Below are a selection of papers written and presented by staff of the Commission's Complaint Handling Section.

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution as a tool for social change: a discussion of issues and evidence

    This paper, which was presented at the 2008 Asia Pacific Mediation Forum Conference, considers the potential for Alternative Dispute Resolution, as conducted in the anti-discrimination law context, to contribute to the social change objectives of the law. The paper outlines the preliminary findings of research being undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission which considers the potential educative effect of involvement in the complaint process and the level to which conciliation agreements include elements which are likely to have impact beyond an individual complainant.

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in the human rights and anti-discrimination law context: Reflections on theory, practice and skills

    This paper provides an overview of the types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) undertaken by national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific region. The paper discusses the relevance of rights-based and interest-based approaches to ADR in this context and outlines key knowledge and skills for this area of ADR practice.

    Presented at the Asia Pacific Mediation Forum Conference, Fiji Islands, 2006.