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Annual Report 06-07: Chapter 5 - Legal Services

Chapter
5: Legal Services

5.1 Responsibilities
and overview

The Legal Section provides legal advice and representation
to HREOC, the President and Commissioners. Its work includes:

  • Advising on human rights, discrimination and other laws
    relevant to the work of HREOC;
  • Preparing notices and reports under the Human Rights and
    Equal Opportunity Commission Act (HREOCA) concerning complaints of breaches of
    human rights or discrimination in employment;
  • Representing HREOC in proceedings in which it intervenes
    to make submissions about human rights issues;
  • Representing Commissioners as amicus curiae in
    unlawful discrimination proceedings;
  • Legal education and promoting awareness of developments
    in human rights and discrimination law;
  • Representing HREOC in external litigation such as review
    proceedings under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977
    (Cth);
  • Preparing and advising on submissions to government and
    law reform bodies concerning the human rights implications of changes or
    proposed changes to the law. (A list of these submissions can be found in
    Chapter 3 of this report, Monitoring Human Rights.)
  • Assisting HREOC to consider applications for exemptions
    under the Sex Discrimination Act and Age Discrimination Act;
  • Responding on behalf of HREOC to applications for access
    to information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth);
    and
  • Assisting in international technical assistance work
    undertaken by HREOC.

5.2 Reports concerning
breaches of human rights or discrimination in employment made under the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act gives HREOC the
function of inquiring into complaints concerning breaches of human rights or
discrimination in employment. HREOC attempts to resolve such complaints through
conciliation where appropriate. If the matter is not resolved through
conciliation and the President is satisfied that a breach of human rights or an
act of discrimination has occurred, the President reports on the matter to the
federal Attorney-General. The President can make recommendations to compensate
for loss or injury suffered by the complainant, but these are not legally
enforceable.

Between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007, the President reported to the
Attorney-General on one matter.

5.2.1 HREOC Report No.
36

Breach of Ms CD’s human
rights at the Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing Centre

In this case, the President found that the Commonwealth
had acted in breach of the human rights of Ms CD, a person detained at the
Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (IRPC). Amnesty International
Australia brought the complaint on behalf of Ms CD.
The President
found that the Commonwealth continued to accommodate Ms CD in the Charlie
Compound of the Curtin IRPC despite being informed of her complaints that she
was being harassed by other detainees since approximately September 2001. In
particular, on 19 June 2002 the Commonwealth was informed of Ms CD’s
allegation that another detainee attempted to sexually assault her and on 28
July 2002 the Commonwealth was informed of Ms CD’s allegation that another
(different) detainee had physically assaulted her. Ms CD was eventually
transferred out of the Curtin IPRC on 7 September 2002.

The President
also found that from at least 5 June 2002 until 7 September 2002, Ms CD and her
daughter were the only females detained in Charlie Compound amongst a large
group of male detainees. Ms CD and her daughter were also members of a religious
minority amongst that larger group.

The President concluded that the Commonwealth failed to
provide Ms CD with a safe place of detention and that this failure constituted a
breach of her human right to be treated with humanity and respect for her
inherent dignity while in detention (Article 10.1 of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights).

The President recommended that the Commonwealth pay Ms CD compensation of
$15 000. He also recommended that, in addition to the general efforts made by
the then Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) to ensure
that all detainees are treated in a culturally sensitive way, DIMA
should have particular regard to circumstances in which there may be a
history of hostility between certain groups of people, whether for national,
cultural, religious or ethnic reasons. The President held that appropriate
action should be taken in such cases, for example, by providing separate
accommodation for those detainees. In particular, a detainee should not be
accommodated with groups who are related to the detainee’s claims of
persecution.

The Commonwealth paid the recommended compensation to Ms CD.
DIMA also indicated that they will take the recommendations into consideration
in developing their new client placement model and review of their operational
procedures. DIMA will also ensure that the President’s findings are widely
circulated to facility managers and the detention services contractor GSL.

The report is available online at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/HREOCA_reports/hrc_report_36.html

5.3 Interventions

HREOC has a statutory function of intervening, with the
leave of the Court, in proceedings that involve issues of human rights, equal
opportunity in employment and age, race, sex, marital status, pregnancy and
disability
discrimination.[1]

HREOC’s intervention functions are contained
in:

  • sections 11(1)(o) and 31(j) of the Human Rights and Equal
    Opportunity Commission Act;
  • section 20(1)(e) of the Racial Discrimination Act;
  • section 48(1)(gb) of the Sex Discrimination
    Act;
  • section 67(1)(l) of the Disability Discrimination Act;
    and
  • section 53(1)(g) of the Age Discrimination
    Act.

In deciding whether to seek leave to
intervene, HREOC considers whether the human rights or discrimination issues are
significant and central to the proceedings and whether these issues are being
addressed adequately by the parties to the proceedings.

The guidelines that HREOC uses to determine if it will
seek leave to intervene in a matter are publicly available on HREOC’s
website at www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/

Through its interventions, HREOC seeks to promote human
rights principles and encourage the development of Australian law in line with
human rights standards. The intervention functions also serve an important
educative purpose, by bringing a human rights perspective to the attention of
courts and the parties to litigation. HREOC seeks to further pursue this
educative purpose by placing all of its submissions on its website. These are
available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/
submissions_court/intervention/intervention_info.html

In 2006-07, HREOC considered nine potential intervention
matters.

  • In two of these cases, HREOC was requested by one of the
    parties to consider intervention. In the remaining seven cases, HREOC considered
    the matters of its own motion.
  • HREOC made an application to intervene in two matters,
    detailed below.

5.3.1 Oceania Judo Union Inc v
Clarke

Mr Anthony Clarke claimed that he was discriminated
against on the basis of his disability by the Oceania Judo Union (OJU) which had
excluded him from a judo tournament held in Queensland because he is blind.
Before the Federal Magistrates Court, OJU argued that the appropriate
jurisdiction to hear the matter was New Zealand, where OJU is incorporated and
where the relevant decision to exclude Mr Clarke from the competition was made.

Federal Magistrate Raphael rejected the argument of OJU
and held that the Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter: Clarke v Oceania
Judo Union
[2007] FMCA 292. OJU appealed from that decision.

The Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner appeared
as amicus curiae before the Federal Magistrates Court and HREOC sought
leave to intervene in the appeal before the Federal Court.

Before HREOC’s application for leave to intervene
was decided, the matter settled at mediation. As a result, the appeal and Mr
Clarke’s substantive application were discontinued. The settlement agreed
between the parties is confidential.

5.3.2 Qantas Airlines Ltd v
Gama

HREOC has applied to intervene in this matter, which is an
appeal by Qantas Airways Ltd (Qantas) and cross appeal by Mr Gama from a
decision of Raphael FM: Gama v Qantas Airways Ltd (No.2) [2006] FMCA
1767.

Raphael FM found that Mr Gama had been discriminated
against by Qantas on the basis of his race and disability. His Honour did not,
however, find in favour of Mr Gama in relation to all of his allegations of
discrimination.

REOC has sought leave to intervene to address the
following four issues arising in the appeal:

  1. The application of the test in Briginshaw v Briginshaw
    (1938) 60 CLR 336 concerning the standard of evidence required to satisfy
    the burden of proof in civil cases;
  2. The proper approach to drawing inferences of
    discrimination;
  3. The application of the Limitations Act 1969 (NSW)
    to proceedings brought under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
    Commission Act 1986
    (Cth); and
  4. The application of Forbes v Australian Federal Police
    (Commonwealth of Australia)
    [2004] FCAFC 95 to issues of disability
    discrimination.

At 30 June 2007, HREOC’s application for leave had
not yet been heard by the Court and the appeal had not yet been set down for
hearing.

5.4 Intervention matters
commenced before 2006-07

5.4.1 Proceedings in the Family Court
of Australia concerning medical treatment for a child

The applicants in this matter seek an order from the
Family Court that they may lawfully authorise the medical treatment of their
child in respect of the condition of transsexualism without an order of a court.
Such treatment is proposed to include both reversible and irreversible treatment
of a hormonal nature. The proceedings will therefore raise issues that include
the scope of parental power to consent to such treatment. In the alternative,
the parents seek an order that the court authorise such treatment and empower
them to provide the authorities and consents that are necessary for the
treatment to proceed.

HREOC is of the view that the matter raises important
issues of human rights, especially in relation to those rights recognised in the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. HREOC was granted leave to
intervene on 7 March 2006. The matter was ongoing at 30 June 2007.

Note that pursuant to section 121 of the Family Law Act
1975
(Cth), HREOC is unable to disclose any details that may disclose the
identities of the parties to the proceedings.

5.4.2 Inquest into the death of
Mulrunji

HREOC played an active role in the Inquest conducted by
the Queensland Deputy State Coroner into the death in custody of Mulrunji on
Palm Island in November 2004. HREOC was involved in the proceedings from the
outset and cross-examined witnesses and made submissions on a wide range of
human rights issues.

In particular, HREOC raised human rights concerns relating
to the policing, arrest and detention of Indigenous people. HREOC’s
submissions particularly focused on the implementation of the recommendations of
the ‘Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody’ and
encouraged the Deputy State Coroner to make comments pursuant to her functions
under the Coroners Act 2003 (Qld) that may assist to prevent further
deaths. HREOC’s final submissions listed 40 recommendations on systemic
issues that were designed to protect human rights.

On 27 September 2006 the Deputy State Coroner delivered
her findings. The Coroner adopted all of HREOC’s 40 recommendations. The
Coroner sent her comments to the Queensland Attorney-General, the
Director-General and the Minister of government with responsibility for police
and to the Commissioner for Police.

The Queensland Government responded to the Coroner’s
comments on 2 November 2006. The response indicated that the Government accepted
almost all of the Coroner’s comments. While many of the responses
reflected only an ‘in principle’ agreement, many others indicated
concrete action being taken as a result of the recommendations.

HREOC’s submissions to the Mulrinji inquest are
available online as follows:

The findings of the Deputy State Coroner are available
online at: http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/courts/coroner/findings/mulrunji270906.doc

5.5 Amicus
curiae

Section 46PV of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act gives HREOC Commissioners an amicus curiae (‘friend
of the court’) function. The role of an amicus curiae is to provide
special assistance to the court in resolving issues raised by the case and to
draw attention to aspects of the case that might otherwise have been
overlooked.

Under this function, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Social Justice Commissioner, the Disability Discrimination
Commissioner, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Race Discrimination
Commissioner and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, may seek the permission of
the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court, to assist the court as amicus
curiae
in the hearing of unlawful discrimination applications.

Guidelines for the exercise of this function are publicly
available on HREOC’s website at
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/

As with HREOC’s intervention functions, the
Commissioners attempt to enhance the educative role of their amicus
curiae
function by placing all submissions on HREOC’s
website.

During 2006-07, Commissioners were granted leave to appear
as amicus curiae in five matters, which are summarised below.

5.5.1
Vickers v NSW Ambulance
Service

This matter concerned an application by Mr Vickers for
employment with the NSW Ambulance Service as a trainee ambulance officer. Mr
Vickers’ employment application was rejected because he has insulin
dependant diabetes.

On the evidence, Raphael FM found that there was not a
real risk to the safety or health of Mr Vickers or others arising from his
diabetes. This was because Mr Vickers was able to effectively manage his
diabetes and the risk of hypoglycaemic incident was very low. The manner in
which Mr Vickers managed his diabetes would not interfere with his ability to
perform the inherent requirements of the job. Accordingly, his Honour found that
the respondent had unlawfully discriminated against Mr Vickers, contrary to
section 15(1)(b) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), and had
failed to make out an ‘inherent requirements’ defence under section
15(4).

Mr Vickers had also alleged that he was discriminated
against in the arrangements made for assessing his application, in breach
of s 15(1)(a). The Court rejected this claim. Raphael FM found that Mr
Vickers’ individual circumstances were considered and there was no
evidence of a policy to exclude people with diabetes. Rather, the doctors
involved genuinely and independently held the view that Mr Vickers was not
suitable for the job.

The Court made the following orders:

  • $5 000 in general damages. This was the sum sought by the
    applicant and his Honour indicated that he would have awarded more for the
    discrimination if the assessment ‘had been left at large’;
  • That Mr Vickers’ application proceed to the next
    stage of selection, namely probity screening; and.
  • Costs of $5 000 (a sum agreed prior to the
    hearing).

The Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner was
granted leave to make submissions as amicus curiae in the proceedings.
A copy of the Commissioner’s submissions is available online at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/damien_vickers.html

The Court’s decision is available online at:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2006/1232.html

5.5.2 Access for All Alliance v
Hervey Bay City Council

This matter involved an application by Access For All
Alliance (Hervey Bay) Inc (AAA) alleging that a number of bus stops within the
Hervey Bay City Council (the Council) area did not comply with the Disability
Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT).

On 2 May 2007, Collier J summarily dismissed the
proceedings, accepting the Council’s submission that AAA lacked standing
to bring the claim. Her Honour concluded that AAA was not a ‘person
aggrieved’ for the purposes of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act 1986
(Cth), primarily because the alleged breach of the DSAPT
affected AAA’s members, but not AAA itself.

The Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner was
granted leave to make submissions as amicus curiae in the proceedings.
A copy of the Commissioner’s submissions is available online at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/hervey_bay.html

The Court’s decision is available online at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2007/615.html

5.5.3 Clarke v Oceania Judo Union
Inc

Mr Anthony Clarke claimed that he was discriminated
against on the basis of his disability by the Oceania Judo Union (OJU) which had
excluded him from a judo tournament held in Queensland because he was blind. OJU
made an interlocutory application objecting to the Court’s jurisdiction.
OJU argued that the appropriate jurisdiction to hear the matter was New Zealand,
where OJU is incorporated and where the relevant decision to exclude Mr Clarke
from the competition was made.

Raphael FM dismissed the respondent’s application,
holding that where relevant act/s of discrimination occurred within Australia,
it is irrelevant where the actual decision to do that act/those acts was made.
In reaching this finding, the Court agreed with the submissions of the Acting
Disability Discrimination Commissioner, who appeared at the interlocutory
hearing as amicus curiae.

The substantive matter was subsequently resolved at
mediation.

The Commissioner’s submissions are available online
at: www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/anthony_clarke.html

The Court’s decision is available at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2007/292.html

5.5.4 Smith v Tower Australia
Ltd

The applicant in this matter claims that he has been
discriminated against on the basis of current and non-ongoing disabilities by
the respondent’s refusal to provide him with income protection insurance.
The applicant also claims that he was refused income protection insurance even
with his disabilities excluded from the policy.

The respondent denies it has discriminated against the
applicant and relies on sections 46(1)(f) and 46(1)(g) of the Disability
Discrimination Act 1992
(the DDA). These subsections provide that it is not
unlawful for a person to discriminate against another on the grounds of their
disability in the provision of insurance (amongst other things) if:

  • the discrimination is reasonably based on actuarial or
    statistical data and other relevant factors; or, where there is no such data,
  • the discrimination is reasonable having regard to any
    other relevant factors.

The Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner has been
granted leave to appear as amicus curiae in the proceedings before the
Federal Magistrates Court. The Commissioner intends to make submissions on the
interpretation of sections 46(1)(f) and 46(1)(g) of the DDA and, in particular,
the circumstances in which it may be reasonable for an insurer to rely on
actuarial or statistical data to refuse an insurance policy on the grounds of
disability.

At 30 June 2007, the matter has yet to be listed for
hearing.

5.5.5 Webb v Child Support
Agency

In this matter, the applicant claims to have been
discriminated against on the basis of his disability by the Child Support Agency
(the CSA). The applicant has mobility impairment and uses a manual
wheelchair.

While the applicant has made a number of claims of
discrimination, the Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner made
submissions as amicus curiae only on that aspect of the claim concerning
access to premises.

The applicant claims that he was unable to gain access to
the CSA’s premises via its main street entrance. The main entrance of the
building in which CSA has its offices requires a person to use the stairs which
lead from the street to the front entrance. Mr Webb claims that this constitutes
indirect discrimination.

The respondent denies it has discriminated against the
applicant in relation to access to premises and claims that ramp access is
available to the building. The respondent also claims that as lessee of premises
with the building, it cannot be held liable for accessibility problems with the
building over which it has no control.

The matter was heard before the Federal Magistrates Court
on 12-14 June 2007.

A report from an expert on disability access was obtained
by the Commissioner and tendered at the hearing. This report concluded that the
building in which CSA’s premises are located is not compliant with the
Building Code of Australia or the Australian Standards, being documents which
provide technical specifications for buildings. The Commissioner submitted that
these documents are useful tools in determining whether discrimination has
occurred, though they are not determinative of the issue.

At 30 June 2007 the Court had reserved its
decision.

HREOC’s submissions are available online at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/webb20070521.html

5.6 Amicus curiae matters
commenced before 2006-07

Prior to July 2006, Commissioners had been granted leave
to appear as amicus curiae in a number of matters that continued into the
2006-07 period.

5.6.1 AB v Registrar of Births,
Deaths and Marriages

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner was granted leave to
appear as amicus curiae in these proceedings on 2 May 2006.

The applicant claimed marital status discrimination in the
provision of goods and services. The applicant is a post-operative transsexual
who applied to alter the record of her sex on her birth registration. The
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic) provides that
the Registrar cannot make the alteration to the birth registration if the
applicant is married. The applicant is married. The Registrar refused the
applicant's application.

The submissions of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner
addressed a number of issues, including the coverage of martial status
discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act and whether the process of
altering the record of sex on a birth registration amounted to the provision of
a service under the Sex Discrimination Act.

Heerey J dismissed the application. Although his Honour
found that the respondent had refused to provide a service to the applicant,
this refusal did not breach the Sex Discrimination Act. This was because the
Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW), upon which the Sex Discrimination Act is based, deals with maritial
status discrimination as a form of discrimination against women. The Sex
Discrimination Act therefore does not prohibit marital status discrimination per
se – it only does so where such discrimination has the effect of denying
the equality of women with men.

Heerey J held that the action of the Registrar in refusing
to alter the applicant's birth certificate had nothing to do with the applicant
being a woman. Had the applicant been a man, the result would have been the
same.

HREOC’s submissions are available online at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/ab.html

The Court’s decision is available online at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2006/1071.html

5.6.2 Douglas and Others v
Queensland and Others

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Social
Justice Commissioner and Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner (the Social
Justice Commissioner) was granted leave on 9 May 2006 to appear as amicus
curiae
in three related cases before the Federal Court. The applicant in
each of the matters claims that they were discriminated against on the basis of
their race contrary to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) while
employed on missions in Queensland from 1975 until the mid-1980s.

The first of the three cases, Douglas & Ors v
Queensland & Ors,
settled between the parties. Whilst the other two
proceedings remain on foot, the hearing dates have been vacated to enable
mediation between the parties to continue.

As the hearing was likely to involve a number of
Aboriginal witnesses, particularly witnesses who were elderly and from remote
parts of Queensland, the Social Justice Commissioner filed submissions on common
difficulties faced by Aboriginal witnesses. A copy of those submissions is
available online at: www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/giblet_aboriginalwitnesses20mar07.html

5.6.3
Forest v Queensland
(Queensland Health)

The applicant has a psychiatric disability and claims that
he relies on his two dogs as assistance animals (within the meaning of the DDA)
to alleviate his psychological difficulties. The applicant claimed that the
respondent discriminated against him in late 2004 and early 2005 by refusing to
provide him access and services at Cairns Base Hospital, and also at Smithfield
Community Health Centre while he was accompanied by one or both of his dogs.

The Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner (the
Commissioner) was granted leave by the Federal Court, Queensland, to appear in
this matter as amicus curiae.

Collier J found that:

  • The respondent discriminated against the applicant within
    the meaning of sections 6 (indirect discrimination) and 9(1)(f) (guide
    dogs/assistance animals) of the DDA; and
  • The respondent's conduct was unlawful within the meaning
    of sections 23(1)(a), 23(1)(b) (access to premises) and 24(1)(a) and 24(1)(b)
    (goods, services and facilities) of the DDA.

In reaching her conclusions, Collier J
accepted the Commissioner’s submissions on a number of points, including
in relation to the meaning of ‘assistance animal’ under section
9(1)(f) the DDA.

The Court in this case commented on the need for reform of
the assistance animals provision of the DDA to provide greater certainty and
clarity both for users of assistance animals and for other relevant parties.
These comments are consistent with advice which HREOC has previously provided to
Government

The Commissioner’s submissions are available online
at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions_court/amicus/forest.html

The Court’s decision can be accessed at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2007/936.html

5.7 Review of administrative
decisions made by HREOC

People affected by administrative decisions made by HREOC may be entitled to
seek a review of those decisions before a court or tribunal. HREOC staff are
also sometimes party to such proceedings.

5.7.1 Judicial
review

Judicial review of HREOC decisions generally involves an application to the
Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court pursuant to the Administrative
Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977
(Cth).

In accordance with established legal principle, HREOC (as decision maker)
usually does not play an active role in those proceedings. Instead, HREOC agrees
to be bound by the decision of Court and leaves the substantive parties (usually
the complainant and respondent to a complaint that was before HREOC) to argue
the matter in Court.

HREOC was a respondent to 10 applications brought under the Administrative
Decisions (Judicial Review) Act in 2006-07.

5.7.2
Merits
review

Some decisions of HREOC or HREOC staff (acting under
instruments of delegation) are subject to merits review by the Administrative
Appeals Tribunal. These include decisions made under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982
(Cth), and decisions on applications for temporary
exemptions under section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act, section 55 of the
Disability Discrimination Act and section 44 of the Age Discrimination
Act.

During the reporting period, there were three applications
for merits review of HREOC decisions under the Freedom of Information
Act.

5.8 International technical
assistance work

5.8.1
China-Australia Human Rights
Technical Cooperation Program

Two activities conducted by HREOC in China as part of the
China-Australia Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program (HRTCP) were assisted
by participation of a senior lawyer from HREOC. The HRTCP is reported on in
Chapter 11. The activities were the seminar in October 2006 in Urumqi, Xinjiang
Autonomous Region, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Woman Law
Workshop in March 2007 in Haikou City, Hainan Province.

5.9 Education and
promotion

The Legal Section plays a significant role in human rights
legal education and the promotion of human rights principles. This is done in a
number of ways, including through publishing regular journal articles,
presenting seminar papers and speaking as guest lecturers to university students
on discrimination and human rights law issues.

Two of the Legal Section’s significant ongoing human
rights education projects are summarised below:

5.9.1 Federal Discrimination Law
2005

On 12 May 2005, HREOC launched its publication Federal
Discrimination Law 2005
. The publication was produced by the Legal Section
and provides a comprehensive overview of the case law that has been decided in
the field of federal unlawful discrimination law. In addition to detailed
analysis of discrimination law jurisprudence, the publication also covers issues
of practical concern for litigants and practitioners, with chapters on
procedural issues, damages, remedies, and costs.

The publication is accessible online via HREOC’s
website and can be downloaded free of charge. Printed copies of the publication
are also available for sale. For details, see
www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/FDL/fed_discrimination_law_05/

Throughout 2006-07, the Legal Section published
supplements to Federal Discrimination Law 2005 to take account of recent
developments. These supplements are also available as a free download from
HREOC’s website.

5.9.2
Human Rights Law Bulletin and
associated seminars

The Legal Section has also continued to publish its
Human Rights Law Bulletin, providing an update on domestic and
international human rights law. The Human Rights Law Bulletin is
published on HREOC’s website and distributed through the Legal
Section’s email list (see www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/mailing.html to
subscribe).

In connection with each new edition of the Human Rights
Law
Bulletin, the Legal Section organises a seminar on a topic of
current interest in domestic or international human rights law. The seminars and
speakers for 2006-07 were as follows:

13 November 2006:
All under control? Recent
issues in Australia's legal response to terrorism

This seminar focused on developments in
Australia’s anti-terrorism laws and the human rights impacts of these
laws. The panel of three speakers comprised the Hon. Philip Ruddock MP,
Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon. John von Doussa QC, HREOC President, and
Professor George Williams, Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law,
University of New South Wales (UNSW). The seminar was chaired by Mr Jonathon
Hunyor, Director of Legal Services, HREOC;

9 March 2007: Stolen Wages - the way
forward

This seminar focused on the issue of Indigenous Stolen
Wages and advancements in the mechanisms for repayment. The panel of three
speakers comprised Senator Russell Trood, member of the Senate Standing
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into Stolen Wages, Ms
Robynne Quiggin, panel member of the NSW Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme,
and Mr Jonathon Hunyor, Director of Legal Services, HREOC. The seminar was
chaired by the Hon. John von Doussa QC, HREOC
President.

4 June
2007: Native Title - developments in case
law and practice

This seminar looked at recent developments in case law and
practice in the area of Native Title law. The panel of two speakers comprised Mr
Sean Brennan, Project Director of the Indigenous Rights, Land and Governance
Project at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, UNSW, and Mr Kevin Smith,
Queensland State Manager of the National Native Title Tribunal. The seminar was
chaired by Mr Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner and Acting Race Discrimination Commissioner.


[1] HREOC’s Commissioners
also have a function to appear as ‘amicus curiae’ in unlawful
discrimination proceedings. The exercise of this function is considered in the
following pages.