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Annual Report 06-07: Chapter 4 - Complaint handling section

CHAPTER 4:
Complaint handling section

4.1 Overview of
the work of the Complaint Handling Section

The President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)
is responsible for the investigation and conciliation of complaints lodged under
federal anti-discrimination and human rights law. Staff of HREOC’s
Complaint Handling Section (CHS) assist the President to investigate and resolve
complaints. The CHS also provides information to the public about the law and
the complaint process through the Complaint Information Service and a range of
community education and training activities.

Complaint Information Officers within the CHS deal with telephone, TTY,
post, e-mail and in-person enquiries from around Australia. Enquirers are often
seeking information about whether they can lodge a complaint in relation to a
particular situation they have experienced. Where the issue raised appears to be
a matter that HREOC can deal with, the enquirer is provided with a complaint
form or information about how to lodge a complaint via HREOC’s on-line
complaint facility. Where the issue appears to be outside HREOC’s
jurisdiction, enquirers are provided with contact details for other
organisations that may be able to assist them. Over the past four reporting
years HREOC has received, on average, around 10 100 enquiries each year. In
2006-07, 16 606 enquiries were dealt with by the Complaint Information Service.

Investigation/Conciliation Officers within the CHS manage complaints that
have been accepted by HREOC. Over the past four reporting years HREOC has
received, on average, around 1250 complaints each year. In 2006-07 HREOC
received 1779 complaints. The CHS aims to handle all complaints in a timely and
effective manner. In this reporting year, as in recent years, the CHS exceeded
all its stated performance standards. Ongoing actions by the CHS to ensure
access to HREOC’s complaint process and enable ongoing improvement in
service delivery are outlined later in this chapter.

In many cases, the investigation of a complaint involves the President
writing to the person or organisation being complained about to obtain their
version of events. Where it is considered appropriate, complaints will then
proceed to conciliation. In many cases conciliation involves the
Investigation/Conciliation Officer facilitating a face-to-face meeting of the
parties. Officers travel to various locations throughout Australia, including
regional and remote areas, to hold these meetings. Conciliation may also be
conducted by other means. For example, officers may have telephone discussions
with the parties and convey messages between them or hold a teleconference. If a
matter can be satisfactorily resolved between the parties the complaint is
withdrawn and closed.

Where a complaint of unlawful race, sex, disability or age discrimination
cannot be resolved through a conciliation process, the complaint is terminated.
Complaints may also be terminated where the President is satisfied that an
inquiry into the complaint should not be undertaken or continued because, for
example, the complaint is lacking in substance or better dealt with by another
organisation. Both parties to a complaint are advised in writing of the
President’s decision regarding a complaint. After a complaint is
terminated, the complainant may apply to have the matter heard and determined by
the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Court.

Complaints which allege a breach of human rights or discrimination under
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
(HREOCA) cannot be taken to court for determination. Where complaints under this
Act have not been declined or resolved and the President is of the view that the
subject matter of the complaint constitutes discrimination or a breach of human
rights, the President will report the findings to the Attorney-General for
tabling in federal Parliament. Information on reports to the Attorney-General is
available on HREOC’s website at www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/HREOCA_reports/

A diagram of the complaint handling process is provided at Appendix 4.

In summary, in 2006-07:

  • 1779 complaints were received by the CHS;
  • 1656 complaints were finalised by the CHS;
  • 38 percent of finalised complaints were conciliated;
  • 94 percent of complaints were finalised within 12 months of lodgement; and
  • the average time from lodgement to finalisation of a complaint was seven
    months.

4.1.1 Key performance indicators and standards

The CHS has developed key
performance indicators and standards which provide the basis for ongoing
assessment of complaint handling performance. These are summarised below.

  • Timeliness - the section’s stated performance standard is for 80
    percent of complaints to be finalised within 12 months of receipt. While there
    was an increase in the number of complaints received in this reporting year, the
    CHS finalised 94 percent of matters within 12 months. This is a slight
    improvement on figures for the previous reporting year. A detailed breakdown of
    timeliness statistics by jurisdiction is provided in Table
    12.
  • Conciliation rate – the section’s stated performance standard is
    for 30 percent of finalised complaints to be conciliated. In 2006-07, the CHS
    achieved a 38 percent conciliation rate which is consistent with the
    conciliation rate for the previous three reporting years.
  • Customer satisfaction – the section’s stated performance
    standard is for 80 percent of parties to be satisfied with the complaint
    handling process. Data for the past year indicates that 92 percent of parties
    were satisfied with the service they received and 55 percent rated the service
    they received as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. Further
    details of survey results for this reporting year are provided below.

4.1.2 Customer satisfaction survey

The CHS asks for feedback on the complaint process from people lodging
complaints (complainants) and people responding to complaints (respondents).
This feedback is obtained by means of a customer satisfaction survey which is
usually conducted by telephone interview. In 2006-07, 62 percent of those who
could be contacted (194 complainants and 236 respondents) agreed to participate
in the survey. Survey results for this reporting year are summarised below:

  • Ninety-two (92) percent of complainants and 95 percent of respondents felt
    that staff explained things in a way that was easy for them to understand;
  • Ninety-three (93) percent of complainants and 94 percent of respondents felt
    that forms and correspondence from HREOC were easy to understand;
  • Sixty-three (63) percent of complainants and 83 percent of respondents felt
    that HREOC dealt with the complaint in a timely manner; and
  • Ninety (90) percent of complainants and 94 percent of respondents did not
    consider staff to be biased.

These results are generally equal to
or above average results obtained over the past four years.

4.1.3 Service Charter

The CHS Charter of Service provides a clear and accountable commitment to
service. It also provides an avenue through which complainants and respondents
can understand the nature and standard of service they can expect and contribute
to service improvement. All complainants are provided with a copy of the charter
when their complaint is accepted by HREOC and respondents receive a copy when
notified of a complaint. The Charter of Service can also be downloaded from the
CHS page of HREOC’s website at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/charter_of_services/index.html

HREOC received two complaints about its service through this mechanism in
the last reporting year.

4.1.4 Access to complaint services

The CHS aims to facilitate broad community access to information and
services through the following measures:

  • Complaint Information Service. The Complaint Info line (1300 656 419
    - local call charge), which is open Monday - Friday between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm,
    allows people to call and discuss allegations of discrimination. They can also
    e-mail complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au
  • CHS webpage: http://www.human
    rights.gov.au/complaints_information/
    . The webpage provides
    information about HREOC’s complaint handling service and the complaint
    process. It includes information about how to lodge a complaint, answers to
    frequently asked questions and examples of complaints. The website also provides
    a conciliation register that contains de-identified information about the
    outcomes of conciliated complaints. The CHS webpage received 202 748 page views
    during this reporting year.
  • Publications in community languages. The CHS has a Concise Complaint
    Guide and an information poster available in 14 community languages. These
    publications can be ordered from the Complaint Information Service or downloaded
    from the CHS webpage at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/languages/index.html
    and http://www.humanrights.gov.au/pdf/complaints/translations_posterA3.pdf
  • Interpreter and translation services. In the past reporting year the
    CHS utilised a range of interpretation and translation services. The main
    language groups assisted in 2006-07 were Mandarin, Spanish, Polish, Cantonese,
    Vietnamese and Serbian. Auslan interpreters were used on 10 occasions.
  • Service provision in states and territories. HREOC has formal
    arrangements with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission,
    the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission, the South Australian Equal
    Opportunity Commission, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
    and the Western Australia Equal Opportunity Commission whereby CHS publications
    are displayed by these agencies and CHS staff use agency facilities for
    conciliation conferences and community education presentations. HREOC has
    similar informal arrangements with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission
    and the Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Office.
  • DVD on conciliation. The audio-visual resource, Pathways to
    Resolution,
    was developed to provide information about conciliation to the
    general public and those who may be involved in the complaint process. This
    captioned DVD explains how conciliation is conducted as part of the complaint
    process, outlines how to prepare for conciliation and demonstrates positive
    approaches to discussing issues and negotiating resolution outcomes. This
    resource can be obtained from the Complaints Information Service and sections of
    the DVD can also be viewed on HREOC’s webpage at
    http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/pathways_to_resolution/index.html
  • Conciliation circuits. Conciliation officers travel throughout
    Australia to conduct face-to-face conciliation conferences. Along with
    conferences conducted in the greater Sydney area, CHS officers conducted 25
    conferences in regional NSW (including Wollongong, Newcastle, Orange, Dubbo,
    Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Ballina, Albury, Taree, Merimbula and Wagga
    Wagga); 87 in Victoria (including Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo, Bairnsdale and
    Geelong); 70 in Adelaide; 40 in Queensland (including Brisbane, Cairns,
    Gladstone, the Sunshine Coast and Airlie Beach); 16 in Western Australia
    (including Kalgoorlie and Albany) and 13 in Canberra.

4.1.5 Community education

The CHS contributes to HREOC’s function of promoting an understanding
and acceptance of human rights through its community education activities.

In this reporting year, over 100 organisations throughout all states and
territories either attended information sessions on the law and the complaint
process run by CHS staff or were visited by CHS staff. These organisations
included: community legal centres; professional associations and unions;
Aboriginal legal centres; multicultural organisations; youth organisations and
legal centres; neighbourhood centres and disability groups. Locations visited
included: Perth and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia; Melbourne, Ballarat,
Bendigo and Geelong in Victoria; Sydney, Taree, Lismore, Bathurst and Wollongong
in New South Wales; and Brisbane, Darwin, Adelaide and Canberra.

In 2006-07, information kits about the law and the complaint process were
also sent to more than 1000 organisations around Australia.

4.1.6 Training

REOC has two specialised training programs which provide knowledge and
skills in complaint investigation and resolution. All complaint handling staff
are required to undertake these courses. The CHS also provides investigation and
conciliation training for other organisations on a fee for service basis.

During 2006-07, the investigation training course was run for HREOC staff
on two occasions and a three-day conciliation training course was held for HREOC
staff and staff of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

In October 2006 CHS staff conducted a two-day investigation training course
in Hobart for staff of a Tasmanian state government department. Also in October
2006, CHS staff ran a two-day advanced conciliation training workshop in Sydney
for staff of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

In this reporting year, HREOC’s CHS worked in partnership with the
Australian Public Service Commission to provide a two-day investigation training
course for federal public servants. Seven such courses were held in various
locations around Australia including Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Darwin,
Townsville and Perth.

During 2006-07, staff of the CHS attended various seminars and training
courses relating to their work. These included seminars on employment law
conducted by the University of Sydney, Australian Government Solicitor Law Group
seminars, the National Conciliators and Legal Officers Conference, the National
Investigations Symposium, the National Conference on Women and Industrial
Relations, the National Community Legal Centres Conference and the Commonwealth
Conference of National Human Rights Institutions. During the year staff in the
CHS also attended training in leadership and management skills run by the
Australian Public Service Commission. In November 2006 all CHS staff attended an
in-house plain English writing skills course. Additionally, in February 2007 an
in-house presentation skills training course was run for CHS staff.

4.1.7 National conference and conference presentations

In September 2006 HREOC hosted the National Conciliators and Legal Officers
Conference, Recognising Difference:Realising Rights in Sydney. The
conference was attended by conciliators and legal officers from HREOC and state
and territory equal opportunity/anti-discrimination commissions. Participants
also included staff from Human Rights Commissions in New Zealand, Malaysia,
Nepal, Fiji, Mongolia, Thailand and South Korea. Five CHS staff presented papers
at this conference.

In this reporting year CHS staff also presented papers at the following
national and international conferences: the National Conference on Women and
Industrial Relations held in Brisbane in July 2006; the Queensland Safety Forum
in Brisbane; the National Community Legal Centres Conference in Wollongong in
September 2006; the National Investigations Symposium in Sydney in November
2006; and the Commonwealth Conference of National Human Rights Institutions in
London in February 2007.

4.1.8 International training and consultation

In 2006-07, HREOC was awarded a tender by the Asia Pacific Forum of
National Human Rights Institutions to provide training for staff of the National
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). This project involved staff of
the CHS developing and presenting a three-day training course in human rights
investigation. The training took place in Kuala Lumpur from 15 - 17 November
2006 and 23 staff from SUHAKAM attended the program.

In early 2007 a CHS staff member participated in a two-week staff exchange
program with the National Human Rights Commission of India. This program
provided a unique opportunity to share knowledge and skills regarding the
management of complaints lodged under human rights law.

The CHS is often called upon to provide placements for staff from overseas
human rights institutions and to provide information about HREOC’s
complaint handling work to visiting delegations. During this reporting year CHS
staff provided information to representatives of human rights institutions and
government departments visiting from Hong Kong, China, Pakistan and India.

4.2 Conciliation case studies1

4.2.1
Racial Discrimination Act

In this reporting year, HREOC received 250 complaints under the Racial
Discrimination Act. The majority of these complaints related to employment
(42%), the provision of goods and services (26%) and racial hatred (15%). The
CHS finalised 269 complaints under this Act and 22 percent of these finalised
complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the
Racial Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.

1. Complaint of race discrimination and racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is Indigenous, stated that during his employment as a
labourer with the respondent engineering company he was regularly harassed and
vilified because of his race. He claimed that co-workers would call him names
such as “black”, “dark”, “half
cast
” and “coon”. He said the company did not have
policies in place to deal with racial abuse and claimed he was not given
adequate support to resolve the issues in the workplace.

In reply, the engineering company said that the first time they became
aware of the complainant’s concerns was when he walked out of the premises
and abandoned his employment. The company advised that it has
anti-discrimination policies in place and is of the view that these are
adequate. The company provided statements from its employees who agreed that
they had referred to the complainant as “black” or
dark”, but said that the comments were made in jest and the
complainant had laughed when the comments were made.

The complaint was resolved by the respondent agreeing to review and improve
its anti-discrimination and harassment policies. This included nominating
harassment contact officers and holding regular team meetings in which
discrimination issues could be raised. The respondent also agreed to pay the
complainant $7400 in general damages.

2. Alleged race discrimination and racial hatred in the provision of
accommodation

The complainant, who is Kenyan, rented a unit from a company through a real
estate agency. The complainant claimed that the real estate agent told him that
the company wanted him to vacate the property. The complainant said that even
though he had negotiated a date on which he would vacate the premises, the
company changed the locks on the unit without telling him. The complainant said
that as he had nowhere else to go, he had to sleep in a nearby park. The
complainant alleged that the next week when he went to the unit to collect his
property, he was racially abused by the company director’s son who said
comments such as “Go back to your country you black bastard”
and “f*** off you black c***”. The complainant also claimed
that his bed and some of his furniture was missing from the unit.

The company agreed that it had changed the locks on the unit but said that
it only did this because the complainant’s rent was in arrears. The
company director’s son denied racially abusing the complainant.

The complaint resolved through a conciliation process with the individual
respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $4500 in compensation and attend
anti-discrimination training.

3. Complaint of race discrimination in employment

The complainant had immigrated to Australia from Zimbabwe four years ago.
The complainant alleged discrimination because of his race during employment as
a tradesperson with the respondent car repair company. He alleged that two of
his co-workers made unwelcome remarks about his skin colour and general
appearance. He said they referred to him as a “burnt chop
and said white girls were just after him for his “big black
c**k”
. He also alleged that his work colleagues made an object that
resembled a black male penis and placed this object in his toolbox.

In response to the allegations, the owner of the company advised HREOC that
he had taken steps to rectify the situation. In particular, he stated that the
staff members responsible were informed that if remarks or behaviour of this
nature continued, they would face the prospect of dismissal. He also provided
the complainant with a letter of acknowledgement which outlined that he
understood the seriousness of the complaint.

The complainant advised HREOC that the actions taken by the respondent
resolved his complaint.

4. Allegation of race discrimination, racial hatred and sexual
harassment in employment

The complainant, who is of Lebanese background, claimed that she resigned
from her employment as a receptionist with the respondent management services
company because she had been discriminated against on the basis of her race and
subjected to racial hatred and sexual harassment. She alleged that the director
of the company sexually harassed her by touching her, propositioning her and
making sexually suggestive comments. She also claimed that another manager made
negative comments about people from Lebanese or Arabic backgrounds such as
If it was up to me, I would not have hired you. I hate Arabs, I always
have
” and “I hate Lebanese and I hate Arabs”. She
also said that this manager made disparaging remarks about the Lebanese food she
ate for lunch. The complainant also claimed that soon after the Cronulla riots,
an e-mail was circulated to all company employees vilifying people of Lebanese
background. She said that she complained about these events to her employer but
no sufficient action was taken to address her concerns.

The company advised that the complainant made a written complaint about
sexual harassment which was investigated. The company said the director denied
the sexual harassment allegations but agreed to have no further contact with the
complainant. The company confirmed that the complainant had also raised concerns
about race discrimination by another manager but claimed the complainant
resigned before the company could investigate the matter. The manager alleged to
have racially discriminated against the complainant denied the allegations.

The parties resolved the complaint through a conciliation process with an
agreement that the respondent company would pay the complainant $21 000
compensation.

4.2.2 Sex Discrimination Act

In this reporting year HREOC received 472 complaints under the Sex
Discrimination Act. The majority of complaints related to employment (81%).
Nineteen percent of complaints alleged sexual harassment and 17 percent of
complaints alleged pregnancy discrimination. The CHS finalised 452 complaints
under this Act and 46 percent of these finalised complaints were conciliated.
Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act are
provided later in this chapter.

1. Alleged sexual harassment in employment

The complainant, who was employed as a receptionist with the respondent
real estate company, alleged that she was sexually harassed by the general
manager of the company. She claimed that the general manager would send her
pornographic and sexually suggestive e-mails and make comments of a sexual
nature. The complainant also claimed that the general manager put his hand up
her skirt and touched her thighs, kissed her and exposed his penis to her.

The general manager denied the allegations. However, he acknowledged that
he had sent the complainant e-mails. He claimed that the e-mails were not
unwelcome as she was flirtatious in some of her replies. The company claimed
that the complainant did not raise any allegations during her employment. The
company advised that it has a sexual harassment policy in place and that the
policy is discussed at monthly staff meetings.

A conciliation conference was held and the complaint was resolved with the
respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $18 000 compensation.

2. Complaint of discrimination in employment after return from maternity
leave

The complainant was employed as a planning manager in an advertising
agency. She claimed that while she was on maternity leave, there was a
restructure of management positions and when she returned to work, she was
advised that her former position had been filled on a permanent basis. The
complainant said she was offered a new position in the same department which was
fundamentally different from and not comparable to the position she held prior
to going on leave. She alleged that while she kept her job title, she did not
maintain any of her management responsibilities. She claimed that this amounted
to sex and pregnancy discrimination and constructive dismissal and she advised
that she subsequently accepted a position with another employer. The complainant
also alleged that the work environment at the respondent agency was hostile to
working mothers.

The respondent agency denied that it had discriminated against the
complainant on the basis of her sex and/or pregnancy and claimed that the work
role the complainant returned to after her maternity leave was essentially the
same as the role she held before going on leave. The agency also denied that the
work environment was hostile to working mothers.

The parties agreed to resolve the complaint at a conciliation conference
with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $15 000 general damages and
$20 000 as a termination payment.

3. Allegation of sex discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding

The complainant was breastfeeding her baby while in a court room watching
proceedings. The complainant claimed that a staff member of the respondent
government department asked her to leave the courtroom because she was
breastfeeding.

The respondent department confirmed that the complainant was asked to leave
the courtroom because she was breastfeeding. The department advised that this
was an error and the individual staff member concerned had been counselled. The
department apologised to the complainant in writing and offered to meet with the
complainant to apologise in person.

The complaint was resolved by the department providing a personal apology
to the complainant. The department also agreed to display a “Breastfeeding
welcome here”, sticker at the courthouse.

4. Complaint of sex and family responsibilities discrimination in casual
employment

The complainant worked in a winery as a food and beverage attendant. The
complainant was employed on a casual basis and worked both weekday and weekend
shifts. The complainant’s family responsibilities changed and she advised
the company that while she could still work weekday shifts, she could only work
every second weekend. The complainant claimed that the number of shifts she was
allocated was then reduced and she was ultimately dismissed. She said that when
she was dismissed, her employer told her that her unavailability to work
weekends meant that she was unsuitable to work in the hospitality industry.

In reply, the respondent company denied the allegations and advised that
the hours worked by casual employees are at its discretion. The company stated
that its inability to offer continuing work to the complainant was due to its
financial position.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The company
agreed to develop and implement an anti-discrimination policy and train managers
in this policy. It also agreed to provide the complainant with a letter of
apology and $6000 compensation.

5. Alleged sex, pregnancy and family responsibilities discrimination in
employment

The complainant was employed on a permanent basis as a pre-school teacher
at a private school. The complainant said there was an agreement that she would
return to work part-time in her former position after taking 12 months maternity
leave. The complainant claimed she returned to work part-time for one term on a
temporary basis but was advised that her position would not be available on a
part-time basis in the following school year.

As the parties were in a continuing employment relationship, conciliation
was attempted within a few days of HREOC receiving the complaint. The complaint
resolved at a conciliation conference. The respondent school agreed that the
complainant would return to a comparable position on a permanent part-time
basis. The complainant was able to return to work in the 2007 school year and
retain her leave and other entitlements.

4.2.3 Disability Discrimination Act

In this reporting year, HREOC received 802 complaints under the Disability
Discrimination Act. The majority of these complaints concerned employment (46%)
and the provision of goods, services and facilities (29%). The CHS finalised 682
complaints under this Act and 44 percent of these finalised complaints were
conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the Disability
Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.  

1. Complaint of disability discrimination in recruitment

The complainant applied for a customer service position with a Commonwealth
Government department through a private recruitment agency. The complainant has
a slight hearing loss in one ear and underwent a pre-employment medical
examination. The complainant said that the recruitment agency subsequently
advised her that she did not meet the medical standard for employment and she
would not be able to do telephone work which was an inherent requirement of the
job. The complainant was not employed in the customer service role and alleged
disability discrimination.

When HREOC advised the Commonwealth department of the complaint, the
department expressed a desire to attempt conciliation.

The complaint was resolved by the department offering the complainant a
customer service position with a three-month probationary period.

2. Allegation of disability discrimination in secondary education

The complainant’s daughter is in year 12 at a public secondary school
and has a physical disability which is characterised by chronic pain. The
complainant alleged that her daughter was not provided with reasonable
adjustment in the form of an extension for a specific assignment. The
complainant further alleged that her daughter had been verbally harassed on the
basis of her disability by a teacher and the principal of the school had failed
to respond appropriately to complaints about the harassment.

The teacher and school stated that reasonable adjustment had been provided
to accommodate the effects of the student’s disability. The teacher denied
that she had harassed the student and said that any comments she made were in
the context of providing advice and guidance to the student. The principal
denied responding inappropriately to complaints regarding lack of provision of
reasonable adjustment and/or harassment.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation, with the school agreeing
to pay the complainant's daughter the sum of $5000 in general damages, brief
staff on the needs of the student, provide reasonable adjustment for future
assessments and issue the student and her family with an apology.

3. Complaint of disability discrimination in the provision of goods and
services

The complainant has tetraplegia and uses a customised electric wheelchair.
The complainant advised that she has previously travelled on the respondent
airline when needing to go from her regional community to the city for medical
treatment. The complainant alleged that two weeks before she was due to travel
to the city again, the airline told her that her wheelchair did not comply with
their new policy and they would not carry her wheelchair. The complainant
claimed that due to her disability she cannot travel without her own wheelchair.

The airline advised HREOC that the complainant’s wheelchair was too
large for staff to place in the aircraft hold in accordance with its new
occupational health and safety (OH and S) policy.

The matter was resolved through a conciliation process. The complainant
agreed to have her wheelchair modified so that it could be loaded onto the
aircraft in accordance with the airline’s OH and S policy. The airline
agreed to organise extra staff to load the wheelchair onto the aircraft for the
trip to the city so that the modification of the wheelchair could occur.

4. Alleged disability discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed in a senior management position with a
wholesale company. The complainant was diagnosed with cancer and applied for,
and was granted, leave for surgery. The complainant subsequently advised the
company that he would require four days off per month for further treatment and
recovery. The complainant claimed he was demoted to a management position with
fewer responsibilities and a lower salary, and then dismissed because of his
disability.

The respondent company agreed that the complainant was offered a lesser
management role because of his disability. The company said that the complainant
was offered a different position to accommodate the effects of his disability
and to place him in a position where his disability did not impair his ability
to perform the inherent requirements of the position. The respondent claimed
that the complainant's employment was terminated because of poor
performance.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation with the respondent
agreeing to pay the complainant

$45 000 in general damages.

5. Complaint of disability discrimination in the administration of
Commonwealth laws and programs

The complainant, who is deaf, claimed that the respondent Commonwealth
agency funds the development of Australian films but does not require them to be
captioned. The complainant claimed that he wanted to watch two specific
Australian films but these films were not captioned.

The respondent agency advised HREOC that it currently did not require the
films it funds to be captioned. The agency said that it regretted that the
complainant could not enjoy the two films. However, it denied that this
constituted unlawful disability discrimination.

The matter resolved through a conciliation process with the agency agreeing
that from 1 July 2007 it will require all feature films it finances to be
captioned for cinema and DVD release. It was agreed that the agency will pay for
the cost of captioning each feature film and will quarantine the cost from the
film’s budget. The agency will also require feature film producers to use
their best endeavours to ensure that all Australian distribution agreements
include access for the hearing impaired via captioning for cinema and DVD.

6. Alleged discrimination in employment due to psychiatric disability

The complainant had worked as a property manager for the respondent
property management company for two years. The complainant became unwell and
required hospital treatment for bi-polar disorder. The complainant's case
manager contacted the respondent company to advise that the complainant would
require two weeks sick leave. The complainant claimed that the company then
finalised his employment and provided him with an ex-gratia payment of $15
000.

The respondent company advised HREOC that the complainant's employment was
finalised due to unsatisfactory work performance.

A conciliation conference was convened and the parties resolved the
complaint with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant general damages in
the sum of $6500.

4.2.4 Age Discrimination Act

In this reporting year, HREOC received 106 complaints under the Age
Discrimination Act. The majority of these complaints concerned employment (68%).
The CHS finalised 115 complaints under this Act and 32 percent of these
finalised complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints
under the Age Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.

1. Complaint of age discrimination in the provision of services by a
nightclub

The complainant, who is 19 years of age, said that he was told by a
nightclub and entertainment complex that only people 20 years of age and over
are allowed to enter the premises. He claimed this was also stated on the
nightclub’s website and that because of this rule he could not enter the
nightclub.

The nightclub confirmed that it only allowed people who were 20 years of
age or over to enter the club and advised that this was for commercial reasons.

The complaint was resolved after the nightclub agreed to change its rule
and allow people who are 18 years of age or over to enter the club and to update
its website information to reflect this.

2. Alleged age discrimination in recruitment

The complainant was 40 years of age and had worked at a community-based
welfare centre as a volunteer for a two-year period when she applied for the
position of centre co-ordinator. She claimed that her application was not
successful because of her age. She alleged that the chairman of the
centre’s management committee said, “It’s really that we
are looking for a young fresh face and the lass who got the job already knows
everything about it.”

The respondent welfare centre advised HREOC that the successful applicant
was selected on the basis of merit. The centre claimed that in comparison with
the complainant, the successful applicant had broader experience which included
staff supervision and relevant qualifications, and also gave better answers to
questions at interview. The centre said that age was not a selection criterion
and was not mentioned or discussed during the interview. The centre also
provided a statement signed by all members of the selection panel indicating
that all interviewees were asked the same questions, that the decision was
unanimous and that age was not a consideration at any stage of the recruitment
process.

The parties attended a conciliation conference and the complaint was
resolved by the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $680.

3. Alleged termination of employment on the basis of age

The complainant, who is 54 years of age, was employed by a small retail
company as a full-time sales assistant. She alleged that she was dismissed when
the business was taken over by a new owner and she claimed that the new owner
told her this was because she was too expensive to retain. The complainant
claimed that at the same time, the business advertised for a full-time junior
sales assistant. The complainant alleged her employment was terminated because
she was too old.

The respondent company denied that it dismissed the complainant because of
her age. The company claimed that it urgently needed to employ another staff
member in a production role. However, as it is a small business it could not
afford to employ both a new person in production and a full-time senior sales
assistant.

The complaint was resolved through telephone discussions with the parties.
The business agreed to pay the complainant financial compensation representing
three weeks wages.

4. Complaint of age discrimination in termination of employment

The complainant was 65 years of age and the general manager of an export
company with a parent company in Kuwait. The complainant claimed that the
company told him he must retire on turning 65 year of age as the law in Kuwait
requires that people over 65 do not remain in employment. The complainant said
that he told his employer that he did not want to retire. However, the company
proceeded to terminate his employment.

The company advised HREOC that the complainant’s employment was not
terminated because of his age but because the company wanted new blood and new
vision.

The complainant was resolved between the parties through a conciliation
process. The respondent agreed to pay the complaint $150 000 in
compensation.

4.2.5 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

In this reporting year, HREOC received 149 complaints under the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act. The majority of these complaints
concerned discrimination in employment based on criminal record (34%) and
alleged breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(21%). The CHS finalised 138 complaints under this Act and 20 percent of these
finalised complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints
under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act are provided later
in this chapter.  

1. Complaint of criminal record discrimination in employment

The complainant worked as a casual locum caseworker at a youth justice
service run by a state government department. He said that when he commenced
employment he disclosed his criminal record and gave information about the
circumstances surrounding his conviction. He stated that he subsequently applied
for a permanent caseworker position but was told that due to his criminal
record, and in particular, a conviction for supplying heroin 16 years ago, he
would not be appointed to the position. He claimed that he was also told that he
could no longer have one-on-one contact with clients of the service and his
employment was terminated due to his criminal record.

The respondent department advised that the complainant’s criminal
record meant that he was unable to perform the inherent requirements of the
caseworker position and could not meet departmental standards. The department
submitted that it has a duty of care to its clients who are aged between 10 and
17 years and usually vulnerable because of their personal circumstances.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference with the respondent
agreeing to pay the complainant $10 000 in general damages.

2. Alleged discrimination on the ground of sexual preference in casual
employment

The complainant was employed by the respondent cleaning company as a casual
cleaner. She stated that her supervisor terminated her employment about one week
after new management took over the company. She said that no reason was given
for her dismissal and the correct procedures were not followed. The complainant
alleged that a few days prior to her dismissal she had a conversation with her
supervisor in which she disclosed she was in a same-sex relationship. The
complainant claimed that after this conversation, the supervisor’s
attitude towards her changed. She claimed that she was dismissed because of her
sexual preference.

The respondent company denied that the complainant had been discriminated
against because of her sexual preference. The company said it was aware of the
complainant’s sexual preference prior to the conversation referred to in
the complaint. The company claimed that the complainant was dismissed because of
the quality of her work during the probationary period.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. As a result of
this process, the company agreed to pay the complainant $1000 compensation and
provide her with a statement of service and an apology.

3. Complaint of trade union discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed as an administrative assistant in a public
hospital and was a union delegate. She claimed that when she approached her
manager to pass on a message from the union regarding the change of a meeting
time, her manager shouted abuse at her, shook her finger at her and said words
to the effect ‘you people do not want to get the dispute
resolved’
.

As the complainant was still employed by the respondent hospital, the
parties agreed to attend a conciliation conference prior to any investigation
being undertaken by HREOC. The complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of
both parties. The respondent agreed to: provide the complainant with a written
apology and allow her to show the apology to her co-workers who allegedly
overheard the comment; provide the complainant with a reference; clarify the
role of union delegates at the next all-staff meeting; and re-credit the
complainant’s sick leave entitlements for leave taken subsequent to the
incident.

4. Alleged criminal record discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed as a casual teacher’s aide in a public
primary school. She alleged that from the time she commenced employment with the
school until she made the complaint to HREOC, she was provided with less work
than other teacher’s aides who were employed at the same time as her or
after her. The complainant claimed that she was treated this way because during
the recruitment process, the school principal became aware of her criminal
record. The complainant claimed that her criminal record was not relevant to the
position as she had obtained the ‘working with children’ clearance
that was required in order to be employed as a teacher’s aide.

In response, the school denied that it had discriminated against the
complainant because of her criminal record. The school claimed that the
complainant had been provided with work in accordance with her ranking on an
order of merit list.

Both parties agreed to resolve this complaint at a conciliation conference.
The school agreed to provide the complainant with a statement of regret and a
letter clarifying the process for appointing permanent part-time staff. The
respondent also agreed to pay the complainant $3 600 in general damages.

4.3
Complaint handling statistics

4.3.2
Preliminary comments

The following statistical data provides information on enquiries handled by
HREOC this reporting year, an overview of complaints received and finalised and
specific details on complaints received and finalised under each of the Acts
administered by HREOC.

When comparing complaint data between different agencies and across
reporting years, it is important to consider that there may be variations in the
way the data is counted and collected. Some additional information explaining
HREOC’s approach to statistical reporting is footnoted. Further
clarification about complaint statistics can be obtained by contacting the CHS.

4.3.2
Summary

(i) Enquiries
received and complaints received and finalised

Over the previous four reporting years, HREOC received an average of
approximately 10 100 enquiries per year. In the 2006-07 reporting year HREOC
received 16 606 enquiries which represents a 64 percent increase on the previous
average number received. In the previous four reporting years on average, 18
percent of the issues raised by enquirers related to employment. In 2006-07, 32
percent of issues raised by enquirers related to employment.

Over the previous four reporting years, HREOC received an average of
approximately 1250 complaints per year. In the 2006-07 reporting year, HREOC
received 1779 complaints which represents a 42 percent increase in comparison
with the previous average number received. In the 2006-07 reporting year 45
percent of complaints received were lodged under the Disability Discrimination
Act, 27 percent under the Sex Discrimination Act, 14 percent under the Racial
Discrimination Act, eight percent under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act and six percent under the Age Discrimination Act. For the past
four reporting years, the majority of complaints received have been lodged under
the Disability Discrimination Act and the Sex Discrimination Act.

As in previous years, employment was the main area of complaint under all
federal anti-discrimination legislation. In 2006-07 complaints regarding
employment constituted: 42 percent of complaints under the Racial Discrimination
Act; 81 percent of complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act; 46 percent of
complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act; and 68 percent of complaints
under the Age Discrimination Act.

The majority of complaints received under the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission Act related to discrimination in employment on the ground
of criminal record and alleged breaches of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. These have been the main subject areas of complaint for
the past four years.

(ii) Conciliation of complaints

Of the complaints finalised in 2006-07, 38 percent were conciliated. This
is consistent with the conciliation rate for the previous three reporting years.
Of those matters where conciliation was attempted in 2006-07, 69 percent were
able to be resolved. This represents a two percent increase in the conciliation
success rate in comparison with the previous reporting year. The conciliation
success rate has consistently increased over the past four reporting years.

Complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act had the highest conciliation
rate (46%) and a conciliation success rate of 69 percent. Complaints under the
Disability Discrimination Act had the second highest conciliation rate (44%) and
a conciliation success rate of 71 percent. Complaints under the Age
Discrimination Act had a conciliation rate of 32 percent and a high conciliation
success rate of 76 percent, while complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act
had a conciliation rate of 22 percent and a conciliation success rate of 52
percent. In this reporting year, 20 percent of finalised complaints under the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act were successfully resolved and
these complaints had the highest conciliation success rate (87.5%).

(iii) Demographic data

Information on the geographical location and ethnicity of complainants is
provided in Tables 7, 9 and 10 below.

Demographic data obtained during the complaint process indicates that 54
percent of complaints were lodged by individual females, 45 percent by
individual males and one percent by other categories, for example, multiple
complainants.

Forty-eight percent of complainants reported that they knew about HREOC
prior to lodging their complaint. The main sources of information for others
were legal centres and lawyers (10%) and family members, friends or support
people (8%).

The majority of complainants (52%) indicated that their main source of
income at the time of the alleged act was from full, part-time or casual
employment.

Approximately 33 percent of complainants were represented in the complaint
process. Of this group, 40 percent were represented by privately funded
solicitors. Other forms of representation were other advocate groups such as
working women’s centres or disability advocacy services (20%), community
legal centres such as Indigenous or disability legal services (16%), family
members or friends (14%) and trade unions or professional associations (10%).

Data collected on respondent categories indicates that in the last
reporting year approximately 46 percent of complaints were against private
enterprise, 12 percent were against Commonwealth departments/statutory
authorities and 11 percent were against state departments/statutory authorities.
These have been the main respondent organisation categories for the last four
reporting years. Complete information on respondent categories is provided in
Table 11.

4.3.3
Complaint Information Service

Table 1: Website enquiries

Complaint Handling Section webpage views

202 748
Table 2: Telephone, TTY, E-mail, in-person and
written enquiries received

Enquiry type

Total

Telephone

14 078

TTY

16

E-mail

1 653

In-person

104

Written

755

Total

16 606
Table 3: Enquiries received by issue

Issue

Total

Race

1 725

Race - racial hatred

587

Sex – direct

696

Sexual harassment

762

Sex - marital status, family responsibilities, parental status, carers
responsibilities, breast feeding

384

Sex – pregnancy

635

Sexual preference, transgender, homosexuality, lawful sexual activity

157

Disability – impairment

2 438

Disability - HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis

44

Disability – workers compensation

189

Disability – mental health

658

Disability – intellectual/learning disability

201

Disability – maltreatment/negligence

37

Disability – physical feature

101

Age – too young

163

Age – too old

496

Age – compulsory retirement

21

Criminal record/conviction

302

Political opinion

24

Religion/religious organisations

231

Employment – personality conflicts/favouritism

279

Employment – union/industrial activity

119

Employment – unfair dismissal/other industrial issues

6 367

Employment – workplace bullying

1 097

Human rights – children

177

Human rights – civil, political, economic, social

737

Immigration – detention centres

102

Immigration – visas

207

Prisons/prisoners

192

Police

205

Court - family court

198

Court – other law matters

291

Privacy – data protection

134

Neighbourhood disputes

60

Advertising

44

Local government – administration

103

State government – administration

416

Federal government – administration

451

Other

3 207

Total*

24 237

* One enquiry may have multiple issues

Table 4: Enquiries received by state of origin

State of origin

Total Percentage

New South Wales

6 389 38

Victoria

3 429 21

South Australia

1 315 8

Western Australia

969 6

Queensland

2 608 16

Australian Capital Territory

366 2

Tasmania

329 2

Northern Territory

335 2

Unknown/overseas

866 5

Total

16 606 100

4.3.4 Complaints Overview

Table 5: National complaints received and finalised
over the past four years

 

2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07

Received

1 113
1 241
1 397
1 779

Finalised

1 229
1 233
1 205
1 656
Table 6: Outcomes of
national complaints finalised over the past four years

 

2003-04

(percent)
2004-05

(percent)
2005-06

(percent)
2006-07

(percent)

Terminated/declined

51
46
44
48

Conciliated

38
38
39
38

Withdrawn

10
16
16
14

Reported (HREOCA only)

1
-
1
-

Table 7: State of origin of complainant at time of lodgement

State of origin  

Total Percentage (%)

New South Wales

767 43

Victoria

356 20

South Australia

204 12

Western Australia

114 6

Queensland

256 14

Australian Capital Territory

37 2

Tasmania

12 1

Northern Territory

26 2

Unknown/overseas

7 -

Total

1 779 100
Table 8: Complaints
received and finalised by Act

Act

Received Finalised

Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)

250 269

Sex Discrimination Act (SDA)

472 452

Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

802 682

Age Discrimination Act (ADA)

106 115

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act (HREOCA)

149 138

Total

1 779 1 656
Chart 1: Complaints
received by Act

Disability Discrimination Act 45%
Sex Discrimination Act 27%
Racial Discrimination Act 14%
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 8%
Age Discrimination Act 6%

Table 9: Country of
birth – complainants

 

RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)

Born in Australia

31 57 55 40 43 50

Born outside of Australia

60 12 15 33 27 24

Unknown

9 31 30 27 30 26
Table 10: Indigenous status – complainants

 

RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)

Aboriginal

23 3 3 2 1 6

Torres Strait Islander

2 - - - - -

None of the above

75 97 97 98 99 94
Table 11: Respondents
by category

 

RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)

Individual male

18 23 9 8 16 15

Individual female

9 10 8 5 4 8

Private enterprise

43 46 48 55 35 46

Commonwealth government department/statutory authority

8 10 12
15
23 12

State government department/statutory authority

13 4 15
5
12 11

Local government

1 - 3 1.5 2 2

Government Business Enterprise

1 1 1
3
1.5 1

Educational institution

2 2 1 2 2 2

Trade union/professional association

1 - -
1.5
1 -

Not for profit organisation

/non government

2 2 1
1.5
1 1

Clubs/incorporated associations

1 1 1 1 1 1

Other

1 1 1 1.5 1.5 1
Table 12: Time from
receipt to finalisation for finalised complaints

 

RDA

(%)
SDA

(%)
DDA

(%)
ADA

(%)
HREOCA

(%)
Cumulative Total (%)

0 - 3 months

21
20
17
25
17
19

3 - 6 months

38
35
36
27
18
53

6 - 9 months

24
25
29
33
23
80

9 - 12 months

12
15
13
9
22
94

More than 12 months

4
5
5
6
17
100

More than 24 months

1
-
-
-
3
-

4.3.5 Racial Discrimination
Act

Table 13: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints
received and finalised

 

Total

Received

250

Finalised

269
Table 14: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints
received by ground

Racial Discrimination Act

Total Percentages (%)

Colour

25 7

National origin/extraction

70 18

Ethnic origin

47 12

Descent

6 2

Race

172 45

Victimisation

3 1

Racial hatred

51 13

Aids, permits or instructs

- -

Association

9 2

Total*

383 100

* One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table 15: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints
received by area

Racial Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Rights to equality before the law

5 1

Access to places and facilities

12 3

Land, housing, other accommodation

8 2

Provision of goods and services

97 26

Right to join trade unions

- -

Employment

160 42

Advertisements

- -

Education

5 1

Incitement to unlawful acts

1 -

Other – section 9

39 10

Racial hatred

56 15

Total*

383 100

*An area is recorded for each ground, so one complaint may have multiple
and different areas.

Table 16: Racial hatred complaints received by
sub-area

Racial Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Media – press/TV/radio

2 5

Disputes between neighbours

5 11

Personal conflict

8 18

Employment

14 32

Racist propaganda

- -

Internet - e-mail/webpage/chat room

8 18

Entertainment

- -

Sport

1 2

Public debate

- -

Provision of goods and services

6 14

Total*

44 100

* One sub-area is recorded for each racial hatred complaint received

Table 17: Racial Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints

Racial Discrimination Act

Total

Terminated

176

At complainants request – s.46PE

-

Not unlawful

7

More than 12 months old

6

Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance

107

Adequately dealt with already

2

More appropriate remedy available

2

Subject matter of public importance

-

No reasonable prospect of conciliation

52

Withdrawn

25

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission

24

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission

1

Conciliated

56

Administrative closure*

12

Total

269

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint
previously
lodged.

Chart
2: Racial Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Terminated - other reason 48%
Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 20%
Conciliated 22%
Withdrawn 10%

4.3.6 Sex
Discrimination Act

Table 18: Sex
Discrimination Act - complaints received and finalised

Sex Discrimination Act

Total

Received

472

Finalised

452
Table 19: Sex
Discrimination Act - complaints received by sex of complainant

Sex Discrimination Act

Total Percentages (%)

Female

412 87

Male

60 13

Joint/multiple

- -

Total

472 100
Table 20: Sex Discrimination Act
- complaints received by ground

Sex Discrimination Act

Total Percentages (%)

Sex discrimination

449 45

Marital status

30 3

Pregnancy

170 17

Sexual harassment

186 19

Parental status/ family responsibility

39 4

Victimisation

118 12

Aids, permits, instructs (s.105)

3 -

Total*

995 100

*One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table
21: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received by area

Sex Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Employment

805 81

Goods, services and facilities

95 9

Land

- -

Accommodation

11 1

Superannuation, insurance

6 1

Education

6 1

Clubs

- -

Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs

72 7

Application forms etc

- -

Trade unions, accrediting bodies

- -

Total*

995 100

* An area is recorded for each ground, so one complaint may have multiple
and different areas.

Table 22: Sex Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints

Sex Discrimination Act

Total

Terminated

181

At complainants request – s.46PE

-

Not unlawful

2

More than 12 months old

5

Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance

82

Adequately dealt with already

2

More appropriate remedy available

2

Subject matter of public importance

-

No reasonable prospect of conciliation

88

Withdrawn

52

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission

48

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission

4

Conciliated

197

Administrative closure*

22

Total

452

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Chart 3: Sex
Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Conciliated 46%
Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 20%
Withdrawn 12%
Terminated - other reason 22%

Disability Discrimination Act

Table 23: Disability Discrimination Act -
complaints received and finalised

Disability Discrimination Act

Total

Received

802

Finalised

682
Table 24: Nature of complainant’s
disability

Disability Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Physical disability

176 21

A mobility aid is used (e.g. walking frame or wheelchair)

86 10

Physical disfigurement

13 2

Presence in the body of organisms causing disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS)

21 2

Presence in the body of organisms causing disease (other)

8 1

Psychiatric disability

134 16

Neurological disability (e.g. epilepsy)

50 6

Intellectual disability

24 3

Learning disability

25 3

Sensory disability (hearing impaired)

30 4

Sensory disability (deaf)

20 2

Sensory disability (vision impaired)

37 4

Sensory disability (blind)

31 4

Work-related injury

62 7

Medical condition (e.g. diabetes)

74 9

Other

49 6

Total*

840 100

* One complainant may have multiple disabilities.

Table
25: Disability Discrimination Act - complaints received by ground

Disability Discrimination Act

Total Percentages (%)

Disability of person(s) aggrieved

1 692 88

Associate

37 2

Disability – person assisted by trained animal

34 2

Disability – accompanied by assistant

9 -

Disability – use of appliance

8 -

Harassment

10 1

Victimisation

133 7

Aids, permits or instructs

8 -

Total*

1 931 100

* One complainant may have multiple grounds.

Table 26: Disability Discrimination Act -
complaints received by area

Disability Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Employment

888 46

Goods, services and facilities

561 29

Access to premises

68 4

Land

2 -

Accommodation

44 2

Incitement to unlawful acts or offences

- -

Advertisements

- -

Superannuation, insurance

22 1

Education

137 7

Clubs, incorporated associations

13 1

Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs

144 8

Sport

6 -

Application forms, requests for information

6 -

Trade unions, registered organisations

- -

Unlawful to contravene Disability Standard

40 2

Total*

1 931 100

* An area is recorded for each ground, so one complaint may have multiple
and different areas.

Table
27: Disability Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Disability Discrimination Act

Total

Terminated

285

At complainants request – s.46PE

-

Not unlawful

13

More than 12 months old

2

Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance

141

Adequately dealt with already

3

More appropriate remedy available

5

Subject matter of public importance

-

No reasonable prospect of conciliation

121

Withdrawn

91

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission

86

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission

5

Conciliated

295

Administrative closure*

11

Total

682

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Chart 4: Disability Discrimination Act - outcomes
of finalised complaints

Conciliated 44%
Terminated - other reason 24%
Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 18%
Withdrawn 14%

4.3.8 Age Discrimination Act

Table 28: Age Discrimination Act - complaints
received and finalised

Age Discrimination Act

Total

Received

106

Finalised

115
Table 29: Age Discrimination Act - complaints
received by age group of complainant

Age Discrimination Act

Total Percentages (%)

0 – 14 years

2 2

15 – 24 years

10 9

25 – 34 years

5 5

35 – 44 years

13 12

45 – 54 years

18 17

55 – 64 years

31 29

> 65 years

21 20

Unknown

6 6

Total

106 100
Table 30: Age Discrimination Act - complaints
received by area

Age Discrimination Act

Total Percentage (%)

Employment

135 68

Goods, services and facilities

37 19

Access to premises

- -

Land

- -

Accommodation

13 6

Incitement to unlawful acts or offences

- -

Advertisements

4 2

Superannuation, insurance

4 2

Education

- -

Clubs, incorporated associations

- -

Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs

6 3

Sport

- -

Application forms, requests for information

- -

Trade unions, registered organisations

- -

Total*

199 100

* One complaint may have multiple and different areas.

Table 31: Age Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints

Age Discrimination Act

Total

Terminated

48

At complainants request – s.46PE

-

Not unlawful

3

More than 12 months old

1

Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance

33

Adequately dealt with already

-

More appropriate remedy available

-

Subject matter of public importance

-

No reasonable prospect of conciliation

11

Withdrawn

27

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission

25

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission

2

Conciliated

35

Administrative closure*

5

Total

115

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Chart 5: Age
Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Terminated - other reason 34%
Conciliated 32%
Withdrawn 24%
Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 10%

4.3.9 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Table 32: HREOCA - complaints received and
finalised

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total

Received

149

Finalised

138
Table 33: HREOCA - complaints received by
ground

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total Percentage (%)

Race (ILO 111)

-

Colour (ILO 111)

-

Sex (ILO 111)

-

Religion (ILO 111)

20 13

Political opinion (ILO 111)

5 3

National extraction (ILO 111)

-

Social origin (ILO 111)

-

Age (ILO 111)

2 1

Medical record (ILO 111)

2 1

Criminal record (ILO 111)

54 34

Impairment (including HIV/AIDS status) (ILO 111)

-

Marital status (ILO 111)

-

Disability (ILO 111)

-

Nationality (ILO 111)

1 1

Sexual preference (ILO 111)

17 11

Trade union activity (ILO 111)

16 10

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

34 21

Declaration on the Rights of the Child

4 3

Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons

-

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons

-

Convention on the Rights of the Child

-

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of
Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

2 1

Not a ground within jurisdiction

-

Not a human right as defined by the Act

1 1

Total*

158 100

*One complaint may have multiple grounds.

Table 34: HREOCA - complaints received by
area

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total Percentage (%)

Acts or practices of the Commonwealth

37 23

Employment

115 73

Not act or practice of the Commonwealth (not employment cases)

6 4

Total*

158 100

* An area is recorded for each ground, so one complaint may have multiple
and different areas.

Table 35: HREOCA - non-employment complaints
received by sub-area

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total Percentage

Prisons, prisoner

4 9

Religious institutions

-

Family court matters

-

Other law court matters

5 12

Immigration

30 70

Law enforcement agency

-

State agency

1 2

Other service provider (private sector)

-

Local government

-

Education systems

1 2

Welfare systems

-

Personal or neighbourhood conflict

-

Health system

-

Other

2 5

Total

43 100
Table 36: HREOCA - Outcomes of finalised
complaints

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total

Declined

106

Does not constitute discrimination

14

Human rights breach, not inconsistent or contrary to any human right

8

More than 12 months old

2

Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance

50

Adequately dealt with already

1

More appropriate remedy available

4

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission

27

Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission

-

Withdrawn or lost contact

-

Conciliated

28

Referred for reporting*

4

Administrative closure**

-

Total

138

*Complaints in this category were not conciliable and therefore transferred
from HREOC’s Complaint Handling Section to Legal Services for further
inquiry and possible report.

**Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Chart 6: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Declined 57%
Conciliated 20%
Withdrawn 20%
Referred for reporting 3%


1Complaints are generally
resolved at conciliation on the basis of ‘no admission of liability’
by the respondent.