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Annual Report 2001-2002: Chapter 2

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report 2000-2001

Chapter 2: Complaint Handling Section

Part 1 - Introduction

The 2000-01 reporting
year was a year of consolidation for the Commission’s Complaint
Handling Section (CHS) following the legislative changes to the complaint
handling function in April 2000.

In summary:

  • 1263 complaints
    were received
  • 1488 complaints
    were finalised
  • 35% of finalised
    complaints were conciliated
  • 88% of complaints
    were finalised within 12 months of lodgement
  • 10,158 telephone/e-mail/TTY/in-person
    enquiries were received through the Complaint Information Service
  • 633 written
    enquiries were responded to
  • 170 organisations
    throughout all States and Territories attended
    information sessions on the complaint handling process.
  • Seven specialist
    investigation and/or conciliation skill training courses were conducted
    for CHS staff, staff from State and Territory Equal Opportunity Commissions
    and government and non-government agencies in Australia and overseas.

The Commission
is responsible for the investigation and conciliation of complaints
under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986,
the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984

and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The legislation
provides for complaints of discrimination or breaches of human rights
to be made to the Commission. Complaints are referred to the President
who is responsible for inquiring into the complaint. After some inquiry
the President must decide whether to terminate the complaint or attempt
to settle the complaint through conciliation.

Complainants who
allege unlawful race, sex or disability discrimination and whose complaint
is terminated by the President may apply to have their complaint heard
by the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Service.
Complaints lodged under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Act 1986
concerning discrimination in employment or a breach of
human rights by the Commonwealth, which cannot be conciliated may, after
further inquiry by the President, be made the subject of a report to
the Attorney-General for presentation to Parliament.

A
diagram of the complaint handling process is provided at Appendix 5

The CHS receives
complaints from throughout Australia. Most complaints are made directly
to the Commission through its office in Sydney. A number of complaints
are also referred from State anti-discrimination and equal opportunity
agencies. Along with its formal/statutory complaint handling function,
the CHS receives a large number of enquiries from people seeking advice
and assistance in relation to possible breaches of federal anti-discrimination
legislation. These enquiries may be made by telephone, in person, in
writing or by e-mail. Enquirers are provided with information about
the legislation and the complaint handling process. When appropriate,
enquirers are encouraged to resolve matters directly and informally
with the people involved in their dispute. When it appears that a formal
complaint should be made, enquirers are sent a Complaint Guide and Complaint
Form.

When the Commission
cannot assist, every effort is made to refer the caller to another appropriate
avenue of redress. The Commonwealth and State Industrial Relations Commissions
and Ombudmans’ offices are common referral points. When complaints
of discrimination are not covered by federal law, callers are referred
to State authorities.

Key performance indicators
and goals

  • Timeliness –
    The section’s stated performance measure is for 75 percent of
    complaints to be finalised within twelve months of date of receipt.
    In 2000-01 the CHS finalised 88 percent of matters within twelve months
    and the average time from receipt to finalisation of a complaint was
    seven months. A detailed breakdown of timeliness statistics by jurisdiction
    is provided in Table 13.
  • Conciliation
    rate – The section’s stated performance measure is for 30
    percent of finalised complaints to be conciliated. In 2000-01 the
    section exceeded this goal with a 35 percent conciliation rate.
  • Customer satisfaction
    survey - The section’s stated performance measure is for 60 percent
    of parties to be satisfied with the complaint handling process. The
    survey was modified for the 2000-01 reporting year to streamline standard
    questions and include a question that assesses overall satisfaction
    with service provision. Data for the past year indicates that 86 percent
    of parties were satisfied with the service they received. Of this
    86 percent, 52 percent rated the service they received as ‘very
    good’ or ‘excellent’. Further details of survey results
    for this reporting year are provided below.

Customer satisfaction survey

The Complaint Handling
Section’s customer satisfaction survey has been in operation since
December 1997. The survey is used to obtain feedback from complainants
and respondents (or their advocates) involved in the complaint handling
process. Survey results for the period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 indicate
that:

  • 78% of complainants
    and 82% of respondents felt that staff explained things in a way that
    was easy for them to understand.
  • 85% of complainants
    and 96% of respondents felt that forms and correspondence from the
    Commission were easy to understand.
  • 68% of complainants
    and 63% of respondents felt that the Commission dealt with the complaint
    in a timely manner
  • 85% of complainants
    and 95% of respondents described complaint handling staff as unbiased.

Survey results
for 2000-01 are generally similar to survey results for the past two
years. However, over the past three years there has been a continual
increase in ratings in relation to satisfaction with timeliness of the
process, satisfaction with Commission forms and correspondence and perceived
impartiality of complaint handling staff.

Service charter

The Complaint Handling
Section’s Service Charter provides a clear and accountable commitment
to service. It also provides an avenue through which users 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 and respondents receive a copy when they are notified of a complaint
against them.

In the 2000-01
reporting year the Commission received one complaint about its services
through this mechanism. It is noted that where parties have concerns
about the complaint handling process, they are generally able to resolve
their concerns through discussions with the officer handling the complaint.

Access to Services

The Commission’s
mission statement seeks to promote and facilitate community access to
services and functions performed by the Commission. In meeting this
goal the Complaint Handling Section undertakes a number of strategies.

  • The Complaints
    Infoline 1300 656 419 (local call charge) is open Monday - Friday
    between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm. This service offers enquirers the opportunity
    to call and discuss allegations of discrimination with a Complaint
    Information Officer. Over 9,500 enquirers throughout Australia utilised
    the Complaints Infoline this reporting year. Enquirers can also e-
    mail complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au.
    443 e-mail enquiries were received this year. Further information
    about the operation of the Complaints Information Service is provided
    later in this section.
  • Complaint
    Handling webpage: http://www.human
    rights.gov.au/complaints_information/

    This webpage provides the general public and potential users of the
    service with information about the Commission’s complaint handling
    role and the complaint process. The webpage includes information on
    how to lodge a complaint, a complaint form, frequently asked questions
    about complaints and a conciliation register. The conciliation register
    contains de-identified information about the outcomes of conciliated
    complaints.
  • In the past
    year, three new facilities have been added to the Complaint Handling
    webpage. The page now includes an on-line complaint form and a new
    e-mail address (newcomplaints@humanrights.gov.au) which allows complaints
    to be lodged electronically. Additionally, provision has been made
    for complaint information to be accessed and downloaded in 11 community
    languages.
  • Conciliation
    circuits - When required, conciliation officers travel throughout
    Australia to conduct conciliation conferences. This reporting year
    CHS officers conducted 196 conferences outside the greater Sydney
    region, including 25 in regional NSW, 78 in Victoria, 25 in Queensland,
    35 in South Australia, 7 in Western Australia, 18 in the Australian
    Capital Territory and 8 in the Northern Territory.
  • Access working
    group – The CHS established its access working group in 1999.
    The aim of the group is to improve the accessibility of the complaint
    handling service. Tasks undertaken by the working group in the past
    year included development of a concise version of the Complaint Guide
    which has been translated into Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, Farsi, French,
    Indonesian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

The CHS has
also continued its involvement with a project undertaken by the Public
Interest Advocacy Centre and the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s
Legal Centre to examine indigenous women’s access to discrimination
complaint mechanisms in NSW.

  • Community education/State
    liaison - the CHS conducted presentations to 170 community and complaint
    stakeholder groups in cities and regions in all states and territories.
    These presentations took the form of either informal staff meetings
    or more formal large group presentations. The presentations provide
    an overview of the role and functions of the Commission and detailed
    information on federal anti-discrimination law and the complaint handling
    process. Presentations for this reporting year included presentations
    to community legal centres, disability and Aboriginal legal services,
    university undergraduate programs, law societies and new immigration
    detention centre staff. Feedback on these presentations indicated
    that:

    - 86% of participants felt that the presentation assisted them to
    understand the law administered by the Commission;

- 82% of participants
felt that the presentation assisted them to understand the Commission’s
complaint handling function;

- 92% of participants
felt that the information was presented in a way that was clear and
easy to understand; and

- 88% of participants
felt that the information was presented in an interesting manner.

Arrangements with State
agencies

Victoria - The
Commission has, since 1 August 1999, had a formal referral arrangement
with the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria (EOCV) whereby Victorians
who elect to lodge a complaint under federal legislation may lodge a
complaint through the EOCV Referral Centre. Once the complainant has
elected federal jurisdiction the complaint is referred to Sydney for
handling. 61 complaints have been referred from the EOCV this reporting
year. Victorians can also lodge their complaint directly with the Commission
through the Sydney office. A total of 247 complaints have been received
from Victoria this year.

Queensland/South
Australia/Northern Territory - The Commission has arrangements with
the Queensland, South Australian, and Northern Territory Equal Opportunity
Commissions whereby these agencies display Commission publications and
allow Commission staff to use their facilities for conciliation conferences,
community education or training. Informal referral arrangements are
also in place whereby these agencies will forward complaints under federal
law to the Commission. Alternatively, complainants can choose to lodge
complaints under federal jurisdiction directly with the Commission in
Sydney.

Tasmania/Western
Australia/Australian Capital Territory – Residents of these States
have a choice of electing to lodge complaints under State anti-discrimination
law or lodging complaints under federal law directly with the Commission
in Sydney.

Election of Jurisdiction

As many complainants
may choose between Federal and State laws to lodge their complaint the
Commission has produced an Information Sheet about this process. It
is available on the Commission’s website at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/guides/jurisdictio…

CHS training and policy

The Commission
has two specialised training programs which provide knowledge and skills
in statutory investigation and conciliation. All complaint handling
staff are required to undertake both courses. In 2000-01 the Commission’s
course in Statutory Investigation was run for Commission staff. The
Commission’s Conciliation Training Course was also run for Commission
staff, staff from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and staff from
anti-discrimination agencies in New South Wales, Queensland, Western
Australia, South Australia and Victoria.

During 2000-01
an additional senior CHS staff member obtained Certificate IV accreditation
in Assessment and Workplace Training and three other officers completed
components of this accreditation.

In light of the
legislative changes in April 2000 the Commission undertook a revision
of its Complaint Procedures Manual. The revised manual was published
in December 2000.

In this reporting
year the CHS also commenced a research project which will, in part,
examine the impact of the Human Rights Legislative Amendment Act, 1999
on the complaint handling work of the Commission. The research will
consider the impact of legislative change on the number of complaints
received, the level of legal representation of parties, complaint outcomes
and complaint settlement amounts. The research project will also gather
information in relation to the Commission’s conciliation process
and reasons for withdrawal of complaints. In particular, the project
will consider parties’ experiences of the conciliation process,
satisfaction with conciliated outcomes, reasons for settlement and compliance
with settlement terms. This research will be finalised in early 2002.

Staff of the CHS
also attended various seminars throughout the year on human rights and
anti-discrimination law.

Other CHS work

In 2000 the Commission
was awarded a tender to provide technical assistance to the South African
Commission on Gender Equality. As part of this project the CHS assisted
the Commission on Gender Equality with development of a comprehensive
Complaints Procedure Manual and provided investigation and conciliation
training for Commission staff.

During the past
12 months the section continued to be involved in providing information
about the Commission’s complaint handing work to visiting delegations
from human rights institutions, parliamentary and government institutions
and non-government organisations in China, Vietnam, Mongolia and Indonesia.
Presentations this year also included a briefing for the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination
and Xenophobia. In May 2001, the CHS provided a training placement for
an Investigation/Conciliation Officer from the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

In March 2001 a
Memorandum of Understanding was developed between the Commission and
the NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) which provided for the CHS to assist with
conciliation of complaints under the NSWRL’s Racial, Religious
and Sexual Vilification Code of Conduct. To date the section has assisted
with resolution of three complaints under the Code.

Part 2 - Conciliation case
studies

Racial Discrimination Act

Under the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975 it is unlawful to do any act involving a distinction,
exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent,
or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying
or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal footing,
of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic,
social, cultural or any other field of public life. The Act also prohibits
offensive behaviour based on racial hatred.

In this reporting
year the Commission received 267 complaints under the Racial Discrimination
Act. The majority of these complaints related to employment and the
provision of goods and services. The Commission finalised 405 complaints
under this Act and 43 percent of these finalised complaints were conciliated.
Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the Racial Discrimination
Act are provided in Part III.

Complaint of race discrimination
in employment

The complainant
stated that she was employed as a Play Worker with a community-based
family support service and after five years service was appointed to
a Team Leader position in August 1999. The complainant alleged that
since this time her employer had treated her less favourably because
of her race. In particular, the complainant claimed that she was issued
with a performance warning based on unfounded allegations and for behaviour
which included speaking Chinese to a Chinese-speaking customer. She
further alleged that senior officers refused to verify her appointment
as Team Leader when co-workers questioned her leadership. The complainant
also alleged that she was victimised for lodging internal complaints
and that because her complaints were written in a lower standard of
English, they were not taken seriously.

The respondent
agreed that the allegations made by other staff members against the
complainant were unfounded and that the official performance warning
was not justified. The respondent also agreed that the complainant had
been appointed Team Leader. The respondent stated that, while the complainant
may have been treated less favourably by her co-workers, this was because
of ‘internal conflicts’ rather than the complainant’s
race.

The complaint was
settled by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to issue the complainant
with a letter of apology, pay the complainant $15,000 compensation,
reimburse costs incurred by the complainant in pursuing the complaint
and publish a tribute to the complainant in the organisation’s
newsletter.

Allegation of racial discrimination
in provision of housing

The complainant,
who is Aboriginal, claimed that the manager of the public accommodation
complex in which she lived had ignored her complaints that a neighbour
racially vilified her. The complainant claimed that this neighbour said
such things as “die Abo die”, “go home…Abo free
zone” “all Abos will die” and “up the whites”.
The complainant stated that she was forced to leave the housing complex
because of this vilification.

The respondent
department denied that the complainant had been discriminated against
on the basis of her race and stated that the complainant had complained
about annoyance and nuisance, not racial vilification. The respondent
claimed that it commenced investigation of the complainant’s concerns
but the complainant left her accommodation before the investigation
could be completed.

The matter was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent providing the complainant
with four weeks bond, two weeks advance rent, a letter of indemnity
for electricity and up to $500 removalist costs, should she require
emergency re-housing within the next nine months. The respondent also
agreed to backdate the complainant’s application for housing from
the time she left her accommodation, on the understanding that re-housing
would be subject to normal waiting lists.

Alleged racial discrimination
and vilification in employment

The complainant
was employed as a labourer with an agricultural company. The complainant
alleged that during his three months with the company he was treated
less favourably and subjected to abuse because of his Aboriginal descent.
The complainant alleged that in front of other employees, the boss swore
at him, made remarks about his skin colour when a black sheep came into
sight, called him ‘eight ball’ and held him down and tried
to write ‘eight ball’ on his head. The complainant also alleged
that he was refused shift rotation while this was granted to non-Aboriginal
employees. The complainant claimed that he resigned because of the alleged
treatment.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to pay
the complainant $1,500 compensation and re-employ him in a different
location.

Allegation of racial vilification
at football match

The complainant,
who was of African descent, claimed that the respondent racially vilified
him during a football match calling him a “f***ing nigger”,
a “black monkey” and saying he would “send (him) back
to Africa on a boat”.

The respondent
denied he made the alleged comments.

The matter was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent providing the complainant
with a written apology which stated that he “apologises for any
wrong doing or distress caused through his verbal attack on the field”.

Complaint of race discrimination
by Citizen’s Club

The complainant
claimed that she was speaking to a friend in her first language, which
is not English, while waiting for an appointment at a Senior Citizens
Club. The complainant alleged that the Secretary of the Club approached
her and said “Be quiet, this is an Australian Club and you ought
to speak English. This is the Club rule”. The complainant complained
to her local Member of Parliament about this. The complainant stated
that when the local member’s staff contacted the club, the Secretary
advised that “speaking English only” was a rule in the Club’s
constitution.

While the Club
Secretary initially denied the allegations, she subsequently admitted
making the alleged remarks. The President of the Club advised the Commission
that there has never been a policy that people must speak English while
on the Club’s premises.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the Secretary of the Club providing a
written personal apology to the complainant. The Secretary was also
counselled by the Club Committee.

Allegation of race discrimination
and racial vilification in employment

The complainant
who is of Indian origin is an employee of a Commonwealth department.
The complainant alleged that since commencing employment in 1997 he
had been subjected to discriminatory treatment which included colleagues
saying “we don’t want blacks on this table” and calling
him a “black c***”. The complainant alleged that on one occasion
in 1998 three co-workers placed a canvass bag over his head and pulled
him around the room saying “we’ll put him back on a boat to
India”. The complainant also claims that in 1999 he was removed
from his ordinary rostered duties because a co-worker refused to work
with him on account of his race and his colour. The complainant stated
that he complained to management but no appropriate action was taken.
The complainant noted that he had been involved in disciplinary proceedings
in 1999 arising out of an incident relating to the vilification which
resulted in him being demoted and transferred out of his previous work
environment.

The respondent
department denied that the complainant had been discriminated against
on the basis of his race or colour. The respondent stated that in 1999
the complainant had threatened a fellow employee with a knife and a
subsequent investigation had lead to disciplinary action against the
complainant. The department also submitted that they were not vicariously
liable for any unlawful conduct as they had taken all reasonable steps
to prevent such conduct. The named individual respondents denied they
had acted as alleged.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation on the following terms:

  • payment of $10,500
    general damages
  • payment of
    the complainant’s legal fees
  • apologies from
    the two individual respondents
  • promotion of
    the complainant.

Sex Discrimination Act

Under the Sex
Discrimination Act 1984
it is unlawful to discriminate against a
person on the ground of their sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential
pregnancy in many areas of public life including employment, education,
provision of goods services and facilities, accommodation, clubs and
in the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs. It is also
unlawful to dismiss a person from their employment on the ground of
their family responsibilities. Further, sexual harassment is unlawful
in a variety of areas of public life including employment, educational
institutions, the provision of goods, services and facilities, registered
organisations, the provision of accommodation, clubs and in dealings
concerning land.

In this reporting
year, the Commission received 339 complaints under the Sex Discrimination
Act. The majority of these complaints related to employment. The Commission
finalised 359 complaints under this Act and 39 percent of these finalised
complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints
under the Sex Discrimination Act are provided in Part III.

Alleged pregnancy discrimination
in employment

The complainant
was engaged through a private employment agency to perform casual work
for the second respondent, a manufacturing company. The complainant
claimed that she told both her supervisor and the employment agency
that she was pregnant and that she had a doctor’s certificate which
indicated that she should perform light duties. The complainant alleged
that after advising the respondents of her pregnancy she was not offered
any further work.

The respondents
denied any discrimination against the complainant on the basis of her
pregnancy. The manufacturing company claimed that the reason the complainant
was not provided with further work was because her attendance had been
unreliable. The respondents also claimed that due to a downturn in business,
the company was unable to provide the complainant with light duties.

The matter was
resolved by conciliation with the respondents providing the complainant
with $8,000 compensation for the stress and humiliation that she claimed
to have suffered as a result of the alleged discrimination.

Claim of sexual harassment
in provision of goods and services

The complainant
alleged that she was sexually harassed by an employee of a large financial
institution which she had engaged to provide her with financial advice.
The complainant alleged that this employee asked her to go on dates
with him and suggested they have a sexual affair. The complainant stated
that she declined to enter into such a relationship with this employee
and when she learned that this employee had left the company she complained
about his behaviour. The complainant alleged that the company ignored
her complaint.

The respondent company denied any knowledge of the alleged harassment
and denied responsibility for the actions of its former employee.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant
$2,000 in general damages.

Complaint of sex and pregnancy
discrimination

The complainant
was employed as a sales manager with a large hotel chain. The complainant
claimed that she went on six months maternity leave with an option to
extend her leave. The complainant stated that when she requested an
extension to her leave she was advised that her position would have
to be reviewed. The complainant alleged that a month later her position
was made redundant. The complainant claimed that her position was subsequently
readvertised and filled.

The respondent
company stated that there was an agreement that the complainant could
extend her maternity leave with appropriate notice. The company claimed
that the complainant requested an extension to her maternity leave after
the allocated period for such a request had expired. The respondent
stated that the complainant’s position became redundant after a
restructure of the business and that the advertised position was a more
senior position.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant
$20,000 in general damages and to review its operating procedures for
maternity leave.

Complaint of sexual harassment
in employment

The complainant
was employed as a personal assistant with a private company. The complainant
claimed that a few days after she commenced employment one of the General
Managers started telephoning her on numerous occasions to talk about
his marriage, ask her personal questions and discuss other matters of
a personal nature. The complainant claimed that following a work function
a few weeks later, the General Manager grabbed her by the arms and attempted
to kiss her. The complainant claimed that after this incident she was
too frightened to return to work.

The respondents
denied that the General Manager spoke to the complainant about matters
of a personal nature or that he behaved inappropriately toward the complainant
at the work function. Instead, the respondents claimed that the complainant
had too much to drink at the work function and attempted to kiss the
General Manager. The respondent stated that the complainant resigned
from the company after failing to attend work for several days.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation by the payment of $10,000 compensation to the
complainant.

Allegation of discrimination
on the grounds of sex and pregnancy

The complainant
worked for a Commonwealth department. She alleged that after she returned
from maternity leave she was harassed about breast-feeding and expressing
milk at work in that colleagues “mooed” at her when she walked
in or out of the office, tipped out the expressed milk and left notes
on the milk which said - “good in coffee”. The complainant
also alleged that a supervisor made comments such as “you ought
to be home with your baby” and “a work place is not the place
for a mother”. The complainant further claimed that after her return
from maternity leave her work was overscruitinised and she was denied
a promotion because of her sex and pregnancy. The complainant left work
on stress leave.

While the respondent
department agreed that the complainant experienced significant difficulties
with her team leaders, the agency advised that this was because of management
problems, not because of the complainant’s sex. The respondent
agency denied that the complainant was treated less favourably because
of her sex or subjected to harassment because of breast-feeding. The
respondent also stated that the complainant’s poor performance
was the reason she was not promoted.

The complaint was
resolved through conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the
complainant $52,000 compensation for pain and suffering.

Alleged sexual harassment
in employment

The complainant
worked for a retail company. The complainant claimed that during the
first six months of her employment she was sexually harassed by a co-worker
in that he persisted in asking her out, bought her presents and flowers
and grabbed at her body. The complainant also alleged that this co-worker
vandalised her car, repeatedly made inappropriate comments about her
body and on one occasion asked her to have sex with him. The complainant
stated that she reported these incidents to the company and that the
co-worker was dismissed. The complainant claimed that while the company
allowed her to transfer to another store, this was essentially a demotion
and since the transfer she had been subjected to further sexual remarks
from employees and continual references to the previous sexual harassment.
The complainant subsequently resigned from her employment.

The respondent
company stated that the complaint of sexual harassment was investigated
and as a result the co-worker was dismissed and steps were taken to
minimise the effects of the harassment. This included the complainant’s
mutually agreed transfer to another store. The respondent denied that
the complainant was demoted or subjected to ongoing sexual harassment.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to pay
the complainant $10,000 in compensation.

Disability Discrimination
Act

Under the Disability
Discrimination Act 1992
it is unlawful to discriminate against a
person on the ground of their disability in many areas of public life
including employment, education, provision of goods services and facilities,
access to premises, accommodation, clubs and incorporated associations,
dealing with land, sport and in the administration of Commonwealth laws
and programs. It is also unlawful to discriminate against a person on
the ground they are an associate of a person with a disability and it
is unlawful to harass a person because of their disability.

In this reporting
year, the Commission received 443 complaints under the Disability Discrimination
Act. The majority of these complaints related to employment and the
provision of goods, services and facilities. The Commission finalised
505 complaints under this Act and 37 percent of these finalised complaints
were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the
Disability Discrimination Act are provided in Part III.  

Complaint of disability
discrimination in employment  

The complainant
had been employed as a temporary Customer Service Officer with a large
private company for over two years. The complainant claimed that she
was offered permanent appointment, subject to a medical examination.
The complainant stated that the medical examination indicated that she
had tendonitis. The complainant claimed that she was not aware she had
a disability and that it did not affect her work performance. The complainant
alleged that the respondent subsequently terminated her employment because
of her disability. The complainant advised that an examination by her
own doctor indicated that she had ‘a slight problem’ and would
be fit for work if provided with an ergonomic work station and five
minute breaks every half an hour.

The respondent
stated that the complainant’s employment had been terminated because
she had not declared that she had tendonitis and had therefore falsified
her medical declaration.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant
$10,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Alleged disability and sex
discrimination in provision of insurance

The complainant
alleged that the respondent discriminated against her on the basis of
a disability, Post-Natal Depression (PND) or an imputed disability,
general depression, by not providing her with life insurance. The complainant
claimed that the respondent had not provided actuarial or statistical
data to support its decision not to insure her and also that the information
on which it based its decision was unreasonable. The complainant also
alleged that the respondent discriminated against her on the ground
of her sex as refusal of service for people who have suffered from PND
only affects women. The complainant claimed that as the psychological
effects of PND are different to general depression, the respondent’s
practice of assessing PND in the same way as general depression disadvantages
women.

The respondent
advised that it assesses PND in the same way as general depression and
bases its decisions on data contained in underwriting manuals which
refer to depression without distinctions in relation to cause or sex.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation. As the complainant was able to provide medical
evidence that she had recovered from PND, the respondent agreed to provide
the complainant with insurance coverage at standard rates. Additionally,
the respondent agreed to write to relevant international underwriting
companies to highlight the fact that PND is a specific category of depression
with different effects and duration. The respondent also agreed to pay
the complainant $7,500 compensation which included costs incurred by
the complainant in pursuing the complainant.

Access to suburban shopping
centre

The complainant
has a disability which requires her to use a wheelchair. The complainant
alleged that the proposed redevelopment of a large suburban shopping
complex failed to provide adequate access for people in wheelchairs.
Most notably, the complainant claimed that the plans did not provide
for lift access to the redeveloped section of the complex.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to include
lift access in the redeveloped section of the complex. The Commission
has been advised that this building work has been completed.  

Allegation of discrimination
in relation to air travel  

The complainant
has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. The complainant claimed
that when she inquired about booking an interstate flight with the respondent
airline she was informed that she would not be permitted to travel on
flights unless she provided a letter from her doctor indicating that
she had been prescribed medication to prevent incontinence during the
flight. The complainant stated that even though she does not have incontinence
as a result of her disability, she provided the airline with the requested
information. The complainant claimed that the airline then advised her
that she could not travel on the flight unless accompanied by an escort.
The complainant stated that she consequently cancelled her booking with
the respondent airline and travelled without incident on another airline.

The respondent
claimed that the requirement for medical evidence arose due to an administrative
error in its booking processes but the requirement that the complainant
provide medical evidence regarding her ability to travel was reasonable
in the circumstances.

The complaint was resolved with the respondent company agreeing to provide
the complainant with a personal apology and pay her $10,000 compensation
for hurt and humiliation.  

Allegation of disability
discrimination in provision of tourist service

The complainants,
who are deaf, stated that when they made a reservation for a half-day
tour they advised the respondent company that they required either an
Auslan interpreter or a printed copy of the guide’s commentary.
The respondent company subsequently advised the complainants that a
printed copy of the tour could not be provided as each guide has their
own commentary and because safety considerations require that participants
not take personal items with them on the tour. The complainants participated
in the tour but later wrote to the respondent company seeking compensation
because an Auslan interpreter had not been provided and the introductory
video was not captioned. In response to this direct complaint, the respondent
company apologised to the complainants, provided them with a book about
the tour and fact sheets in relation to guide training and reimbursed
their tour costs. The complainants were not satisfied with this response
and lodged a complaint with the Commission.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to make
the following arrangements for deaf and hearing impaired clients.

  • Auslan interpreted
    tours twice a month
  • Trials of a
    hearing loop
  • A booklet for
    deaf participants
  • A printed instruction
    sheet

The respondent
also offered the complainants two complimentary tours and associated
interstate airfares to enable them to provide feedback on the new access
arrangements.

Complaint of disability
discrimination in education

The complainant
alleged that the respondent school had discriminated against her son,
who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The complainant claimed that her
son is the subject of constant bullying by other students and that he
reacts aggressively to this bullying. The complainant alleged that rather
than trying to prevent the bullying, the school had punished her son
for his reactions by suspending him and refusing to allow him to return
to school.

The school confirmed
that the complainant’s son had been suspended for a period because
of his reactions to the bullying and his classroom behaviour. The school
stated that he had been offered two hours of school per day but there
were no plans for him to return to school on a fulltime basis.

Through conciliation
discussions facilitated by the Commission the school agreed to allow
the complainant’s son to return to full-time schooling at the commencement
of the next term with the support of an intervention plan, additional
teacher aide time and individual education program. The respondent also
agreed to provide relevant staff with training on Autistic Spectrum
Disorder, to review the suspension policy and develop strategies for
dealing with bullying within the school.

 

Human Rights & Equal
Opportunity Commission Act

Complaints under
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 are not subject
to the same process as complaints under the Racial, Sex and Disability
Discrimination Acts.

Under the Act the
President can inquire into and attempt to conciliate complaints that
concern alleged breaches of human rights by, or on behalf, of the Commonwealth.
Human rights are defined in the Act as rights and freedoms contained
in any relevant international instrument which is scheduled to or declared
under the Act. They are the:

  • International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of the Child;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons;
  • Declaration
    on the Rights of Disabled Persons;
  • Convention on
    the Rights of the Child; and
  • Declaration
    on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
    Based on Religion or Belief.

Under the Act the
President can also inquire into and endeavour to conciliate complaints
of discrimination in employment on specific grounds. These grounds include
religion, political opinion, social origin, age, medical or criminal
record, sexual preference and trade union activity.

If a complaint
of alleged discrimination or alleged breach of a human right is neither
conciliated nor declined, the President can undertake further inquiry.
If the President is satisfied that the subject matter of the complaint
constitutes discrimination in employment or is a breach of a human right,
the President must report her findings to the Attorney-General for tabling
in Parliament. The Commission’s Legal Section assists the President
in this part of the process. Further details of this process are provided
in the Legal Section report on page 83.

In this reporting
year, the Commission received 214 complaints under the Human Rights
& Equal Opportunity Commission Act. The majority of these complaints
related to alleged breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and discrimination in employment. The Commission finalised
219 complaints under this Act and 7 percent of these finalised complaints
were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the
Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission Act are provided in
Part 3.

Allegation of discrimination
on ground of criminal record

The complainant
was employed in a managerial position with a large financial company.
The complainant claimed that three weeks after commencing employment
he was asked to attend a meeting with human resources staff where he
was questioned with regard to pending criminal charges and his employment
was terminated. The complainant claimed that at no time during the selection
or interview process was he asked to disclose information relating to
criminal record. The complainant claimed that while he had been charged
with armed robbery, he had not yet been found guilty.

The respondent
claimed that because the complainant had not disclosed the charge he
was not a person of honest character and therefore could not fulfill
the inherent requirements of the position.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to pay
the complainant the equivalent of one month’s salary and provide
him with a Certificate of Service.

Complaint of sexual harassment
and discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference and disability

The complainant,
who is homosexual and has HIV, alleged that he was discriminated against
on the basis of his sexual preference and his disability and was also
subjected to sexual harassment while employed with a Commonwealth department.
The complainant alleged that from when he commenced employment in 1991
to when he commenced long term sick leave in 1998, colleagues and superiors
continually made inappropriate sexual comments to him and constantly
asked him if he was ‘gay’. The complainant stated that he
was treated less favourably in relation to medical appointments, was
the subject of constant snide remarks about his disability and received
harassing telephone calls at his home. He also alleged that he was sent
letters of a similar nature and that someone informed his mother that
he was dead. An internal investigation into the situation was undertaken
by the respondent after the complainant attempted suicide. The complainant
alleged that the harassment against him increased after the internal
investigation.

The respondent
stated that while the internal investigation found that the complainant
had been subjected to harassment by three staff members, the complainant
was not harassed or discriminated against on the basis of his sexual
preference or disability. The department also stated that there was
insufficient evidence to support the claim that the complainant had
been sexually harassed.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the department agreeing to pay the complainant
$15,000 in general damages.

Alleged religious discrimination
in employment

The complainant
stated that she is Muslim and wears traditional dress. The complainant
alleged that when she attended an interview for a position as a general
practitioner with the respondent partnership, the managing partner made
inappropriate comments about her religious belief and her dress. Specifically,
she alleged that the managing partner asked her if she always dressed
in the traditional way, asked if her dress was negotiable and told her
that she “comes across first as a Muslim and then as a doctor”.
The complainant felt that her religion may have been a reason why her
employment application was not successful.

In his response
to the Commission the managing partner apologised to the complainant
for any offence caused and detailed the reasons why the practice had
decided not to offer employment to the complainant.

After considering
the respondent’s reply the complainant advised the Commission that
she had accepted the respondent’s apology and that the matter was
resolved.

Allegation of discrimination
because of criminal record

The complainant
claimed that he applied for a clerical position with a Commonwealth
authority and passed the medical and written tests. The complainant
stated that in the application process he disclosed to the respondent
that he had been convicted for ‘break and enter’. The complainant
claimed that four months later he was advised that his application was
not successful because of his criminal record.

The respondent
stated that it appeared that an employee had acted inappropriately by
taking the complainant’s criminal record into account as the criminal
act had happened many years ago and the criminal record was not relevant
to the inherent requirements of the position the complainant was applying
for.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to offer the complainant
employment.

Complaint on behalf of federal
prisoners

The complaint,
lodged by a prisoner advocacy group, alleged that a State department
was refusing to allow Federal prisoners access to an approved publication
which provided information on legal matters. The advocacy group claimed
that this was a possible breach of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights.

In response to
the Commission’s letter of inquiry the department advised that
its policy had been revised, that prisoners would not be prevented from
receiving the publication and that the publication would be placed in
prison libraries.

The advocacy group
subsequently advised the Commission that the action taken by the department
resolved the complaint.

Complaint of discrimination
on the ground of trade union activity

The complainant
was employed as a truck driver with the respondent company. The complainant
alleged that since being involved in trade union activity in late 1999
he had been denied overtime shifts and counselled for attending union
meetings. The complainant also alleged that the respondent contacted
another company and told them not to give him any additional work. The
complainant stated that he resigned because of this harassment.

The respondent
company denied that the complainant was harassed or discriminated against
because of his trade union activity. The respondent stated that the
complainant received a final warning under the company’s counselling
process as he had refused to comply with lawful employment duties. The
respondent stated that this action was not related to the complainant’s
trade union activity.

The complaint was
resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant
$3,000 in general damages.

Part 3 - Complaint handling
statistics

Preliminary comments

The following statistical
data provides information on enquiries handled by the Commission 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 the Commission.

It is important
to understand, when comparing complaint data between federal and state
and territory anti-discrimination agencies, that there are differences
in the way such data is counted and collected. For example, some agencies
count complaints based on the number of grounds of complaint and/or
the number of respondents. In contrast, the Commission counts complaints
in terms of the number of complainants per Act. Further, agencies adopt
different approaches to reporting on aspects of service delivery. For
example, while the Commission measures the timeliness of the complaint
process in terms of the time taken from receipt to finalisation of a
formal complaint, other agencies report in terms of time taken from
allocation for investigation to finalisation or on the age of complaints
on hand at the conclusion of the reporting year. Additional information
explaining the Commission’s approach to statistical reporting is
noted in the following tables.

Summary

The overall number
of complaints received and finalised this year is similar to the numbers
received and finalised by the Sydney office in the previous year.

In the 2000-01
reporting year 35 percent of complaints were lodged under the Disability
Discrimination Act, 27 percent under the Sex Discrimination Act, 21
percent under the Racial Discrimination Act and 17 percent under the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act. These percentages
are consistent with the jurisdictional breakdown of complaints received
over the past few years.

The overall number
of complaints finalised through conciliation was 35 percent. The conciliation
rate is the same as the previous year.

Information on
the geographical location, sex and ethnicity of complainants is provided
in Tables 9, 11 and 12 below. Demographic data voluntarily provided
by complainants at the commencement of the complaint process1 provides
additional information on complainants. This data indicates that in
the last reporting year many complainants (33%) knew about the Commission
prior to lodging their complaint and the main source of referral was
family/friends and legal centres/private solicitors. A large number
of complainants (46%) indicated that their main source of income at
the time of the alleged act was from full or part-time employment, while
27 percent of complainants indicated that they were not in the workforce
at the time of the alleged act. Approximately 31 percent of complainants
advised at the beginning of the complaint process that they were represented.2
The main forms of representation were privately funded solicitors (25%)
and representation by a friend, family member or support person (24%).

Data collected
on respondent categories indicates that in the last reporting year approximately
50 percent of complaints were against private enterprise, 26 percent
were against Commonwealth departments/statutory authorities and 9 percent
were against State departments/statutory authorities. The next main
respondent categories were educational institutions (3%), clubs and
incorporated associations (3%) and non-government organisations (3%).

Complaint Information
Service

If you require this
information in a more accessible format, please contact paffairs@humanrights.gov.au

Table 1: Telephone, TTY,
E-mail & in-person enquiries received
Enquiry
type
Total
Telephone
9580
TTY
2
E-mail
443
In
person
133
Total
10,158
Table 2: Telephone enquiries
received by issue
Issue
Total
Race
809
Race
- racial hatred
341
Sex
– direct
514
Sexual
harassment
741
Sex
- marital status, family responsibilities, parental status, breast
feeding
192
Sex
– pregnancy
420
Sexual
preference, transgender, homosexuality, lawful sexual activity
127
Disability
– impairment
1325
Disability
- HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis
103
Disability
– workers compensation
26
Disability
– mental health
246
Disability
– intellectual/learning disability
28
Disability
– maltreatment/negligence
35
Disability
– physical feature
52
Age
– too young
58
Age
– too old
207
Age
– compulsory retirement
3
Criminal
record/conviction
227
Political
opinion
18
Religion/religious
organisations
123
Employment
– personality conflicts/favouritism
307
Employment
– union/industrial activity
136
Employment
– unfair dismissal/other industrial issues
692
Employment
– workplace bullying
503
Human
rights – children
63
Human
rights – civil, political, economic, social
195
Immigration
– detention centres
32
Immigration
– visas
130
Prisons/prisoners
32
Police
97
Court
- family court
143
Court
– other law matters
155
Privacy
– data protection
167
Neighbourhood
disputes
62
Advertising
5
Local
government – administration
52
State
government – administration
82
Federal
government – administration
253
Other
879
Total
9580
Table 3: Telephone
enquiries received by state of origin of caller
State
of origin
Total
Percentage
New
South Wales
3996
42%
Victoria
1127
12%
South
Australia
504
5%
Western
Australia
381
4%
Queensland
1954
20%
Australian
Capital Territory
237
2%
Tasmania
260
3%
Northern
Territory
185
2%
Unknown/overseas
936
10%
Total
9580
100%
Table 4: Written enquiries received and finalised
Written
enquiries
Total
Received 633
Finalised 619
Table 5: Written enquiries
received by issue
Issue
Total
Race
75
Race
- racial hatred
32
Sex
– direct
13
Sexual
harassment
13
Sex
- marital status, family responsibilities, parental status, breast
feeding
11
Sex
– pregnancy
1
Sexual
preference, transgender, homosexuality, lawful sexual activity
3
Disability
– impairment
51
Disability
- HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis
10
Disability
– workers compensation
8
Disability
– intellectual/learning disability
45
Disability
– maltreatment/negligence
7
Disability
– physical feature
1
Age
– too young
5
Age
– too old
14
Age
– compulsory retirement
-
Criminal
record/conviction
4
Political
opinion
3
Religion/religious
organisations
13
Employment
– personality conflicts/favouritism
14
Employment
– union/industrial activity
6
Employment
– unfair dismissal/other industrial issues
34
Employment
– workplace bullying
11
Human
rights – children
14
Human
rights – civil, political, economic, social
31
Immigration
– detention centres
3
Immigration
– visas
49
Prisons/prisoners
53
Police
16
Court
- family court
24
Court
– other law matters
30
Privacy
– data protection
1
Neighbourhood
disputes
3
Advertising
-
Local
government – administration
10
State
government – administration
13
Federal
government – administration
41
Other
89
Total
*
751

* One written enquiry
may have multiple issues

Table 6: Written
enquiries received by state of origin of enquirer
State
of origin
Total
Percentage
New
South Wales
246
39%
Victoria
67
11%
South
Australia
50
8%
Western
Australia
66
10%
Queensland
138
22%
Australian
Capital Territory
14
2%
Tasmania
14
2%
Northern
Territory
15
2%
Unknown/overseas
23
4%
Total
633
100%

Complaints Overview

Table 7: National complaints
received and finalised over the past two years
 
1999-00
2000-01
Received
1317
1263
Finalised
1752
1488
Table 8: Outcomes of national
complaints finalised over the past two years
 
1999-00
2000-01
Terminated/declined
50%
56%
Conciliated
35%
35%
Withdrawn
14%
8%
Reported
(HREOCA only)
1%
1%
Table 9: State of origin
of complainant at time of lodgement
State
of origin
Total
Percentage
New
South Wales
501
40%
Victoria
247
20%
South
Australia
127
10%
Western
Australia
104
8%
Queensland
195
15%
Australian
Capital Territory
42
3%
Tasmania
17
1%
Northern
Territory
23
2%
Unknown/overseas
7
1%
Total
1263
100%
Table 10: Complaints received
and finalised by Act
Act
Received
Finalised
Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)
267
405
Sex
Discrimination Act (SDA)
339
359
Disability
Discrimination Act (DDA)
443
505
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act (HREOCA)
214
219
Total
1263
1488
Table 11: Complaints received
by category of complainant by Act
a
RDA
SDA
DDA
HREOCA
Total
Individual
Male
151
58
264
154
627
Individual
female
101
280
164
49
594
Couple
or family
11
-
4
3
18
On
others behalf
-
-
3
-
3
Organisation
2
-
5
1
8
Community
/other
group
2
1
3
7
13
Total
267
339
443
214
1263
Table 12: Complaints received
by ethnicity of complainant by Act
a
RDA
SDA
DDA
HREOCA
Total
Non-English
speaking background
154
81
96
96
427
Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander
60
5
7
3
75
English
speaking background
53
253
340
115
761
Total
267
339
443
214
1263
Table 13:
Time from receipt to finalisation for complaints finalised during 2000-01

a
RDA
SDA
DDA
HREOCA
Total
0-3m
10%
(15%)
27%
26%
36%
23%
(26%)
3-6m
17%
(25%)
24%
27%
27%
23%
(26%)
6-9m
18%
(28%)
23%
20%
17%
20%
(22%)
9-12m
12%
(18%)
14%
12%
11%
12%
(14%)
>
12m
6%
(9%)
11%
10%
7%
9%
(9%)
>
18m
2%
(3%)
1%
3%
1%
2%
(2%)
>
24m
35%
(2%)
-
2%
1%
11%
(1%)

*Two sets of figures have been provided in relation
to complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act and total complaints.
The bracketed figure represents the timeliness of the complaint handling
process when 140 same subject matter complaints under the Racial Discrimination
Act are excluded. These 140 complaints were caught up in an external
administrative process and not subject to the usual complaint handling
process.

Racial Discrimination Act

Table 14: Racial Discrimination
Act - complaints received and finalised
a
Total
Received
267
Finalised
405
*Includes complaints
lodged under the racial hatred provisions.
Table 15: Racial Discrimination
Act - complaints received by ground

Racial
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages
Association
8
1.5%
Colour
37
7%
National origin/extraction
41
8%
Ethnic origin
111
21%
Descent
15
3%
Race
158
30%
Victimisation
8
1.5%
Racial hatred
145
28%
Total*

523
100%

* One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table 16: Racial Discrimination
Act - complaints received by area
Racial
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Rights to
equality before the law
11
2%
Access to
places and facilities
9
2%
Land, housing,
other accommodation
18
4%
Provision
of goods and services
127
24%
Right to join
trade unions
2
-
Employment
157
30%
Advertisements
-
-
Education
11
2%
Incitement
to unlawful acts
2
-
Other –
section 9
20
4%
Racial hatred
166
32%
Total*
523
100%

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

Table 17: Racial Discrimination
Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Racial
Discrimination Act

Total
Terminated
201
Not
unlawful
19
More
than 12 months old
10
Trivial,
vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
122
Adequately
dealt with already
7
More
appropriate remedy available
2
Subject
matter of public importance
2
No
reasonable prospect of conciliation
39
Withdrawn
24
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, advised Commission
20
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, settled outside Commission
4
Conciliated
170
Administrative
closure*
10
TOTAL
405
*Not an aggrieved
party, state complaint previously lodged.

Table 18: Racial hatred
complaints received and finalised

a
Total
Received
118
Finalised
76
Table 19: Racial hatred
complaints received by sub-area

Racial
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Media
28
24%
Disputes
between neighbours
24
20%
Personal conflict
11
9%
Employment
22
19%
Racist propaganda
4
3.5%
Entertainment
1
1%
Sport
4
3.5%
Public debate
-
-
Other*
24
20%
Total**
118

100%

* This category includes complaints in the area of education,
provision of goods and services and comments made by people in the street
and in passing vehicles.
** One sub-area is recorded for each racial hatred complaint received.

Table 20: Outcomes of finalised
racial hatred complaints

Racial
Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
53
Not unlawful
9
More than
12 months old
3
Trivial, vexatious,
frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
23
Adequately
dealt with already
1
More appropriate
remedy available
-
Subject matter
of public importance
-
No reasonable
prospect of conciliation
17
Withdrawn
10
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, advised Commission
8
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, settled outside Commission
2
Conciliated
9
Administrative
closure*
4
TOTAL
76

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously
lodged.

Sex Discrimination Act

Table 21: Sex Discrimination
Act - complaints received and finalised
Sex
Discrimination Act
Total
Received
339
Finalised
359
Table 22: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received by ground
Sex Discrimination
Act
Total
Percentages
Sex discrimination
230
42%
Marital status
46
8%
Pregnancy
86
16%
Sexual harassment
167
30%
Parental status/
family responsibility
14
2%
Victimisation
9
2%
Total*
552
100%

*One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table 23: Sex Discrimination
Act - complaints received by area.
Sex
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Employment
450
81%
Goods, services
and facilities
59
11%
Land
-
-
Accommodation
4
1%
Superannuation,
insurance
1
-
Education
2
-
Clubs
5
1%
Administration
of federal laws and programs
31
6%
Application
forms etc
-
-
Trade unions,
accrediting bodies
-
-
Total*
552
100%

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

Table 24: Sex Discrimination
Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Sex
Discrimination Act

Total
Terminated
177
Not
unlawful
25
More
than 12 months old
9
Trivial,
vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
64
Adequately
dealt with already
5
More
appropriate remedy available
1
Subject
matter of public importance
-
No
reasonable prospect of conciliation
73
Withdrawn
29
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, advised Commission
26
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, settled outside Commission
3
Conciliated
130
Administrative
closure*
23
TOTAL
359

*Not an aggrieved
party, state complaint previously lodged.

Table 25: Disability Discrimination
Act - complaints received and finalised
Disability
Discrimination Act
Total
Received
443
Finalised
505
Table 26: Nature of complainant’s
disability
Disability
Discrimination Act
Total
Physical
disability
170
A
mobility aid is used (walking frame or wheelchair)
64
Physical
disfigurement
9
Presence
in the body of organisms causing disease (HIV/AIDS)
6
Presence
in the body of organisms causing disease (other)
16
Psychiatric
disability
82
Neurological
disability (epilepsy)
40
Intellectual
disability
20
Learning
disability
24
Sensory
disability (hearing impaired)
24
Sensory
disability (deaf)
22
Sensory
disability (vision impaired)
16
Sensory
disability (blind)
14
Work
related injury
58
Medical
condition (diabetes)
50
Other
36
Total*
651

* One complainant
may have multiple disabilities.

Table 27: Disability Discrimination
Act - complaints received by ground
Disability
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages
Disability
of person(s) aggrieved
739
94%
Associate
31
4%
Disability
– person assisted by trained animal
3
-
Disability
– use of appliance
2
-
Harassment
9
1%
Victimisation
5
1%
Total*
789
100%

* One complainant
may have multiple ground.

Table 28: Disability Discrimination
Act - complaints received by area
Disability
Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Employment
340
43%
Goods,
services and facilities
211
27%
Access
to premises
56
7%
Land
-
-
Accommodation
31
4%
Incitement
to unlawful acts or offences
-
-
Advertisements
-
-
Superannuation,
insurance
19
2.5%
Education
65
8%
Clubs,
incorporated associations
29
4%
Administration
of federal programs
34
4%
Sport
4
0.5%
Application
forms, requests for information
-
-
Trade
unions, registered organisations
-
-
Total*
789
100%

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

Table 29: Disability Discrimination
Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Disability
Discrimination Act

Total
Terminated
259
Not
unlawful
27
More
than 12 months old
9
Trivial,
vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
110
Adequately
dealt with already
15
More
appropriate remedy available
23
Subject
matter of public importance
1
No
reasonable prospect of conciliation
74
Withdrawn
43
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, advised Commission
41
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, settled outside Commission
2
Conciliated
181
Administrative
closure*
22
TOTAL
505

*Not an aggrieved
party, state complaint previously lodged.

Table 30: HREOCA - complaints
received and finalised
Human
Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Received
214
Finalised
219
Table 31: HREOCA - complaints
received by ground
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Race
(ILO 111)
-
-
Colour
(ILO 111)
-
-
Sex
(ILO 111)
2
1%
Religion
(ILO 111)
20
8%
Political
opinion (ILO 111)
4
2%
National
extraction (ILO 111)
-
-
Social
origin (ILO 111)
-
-
Age
(ILO 111)
34
14%
Medical
record (ILO 111)
-
-
Criminal
record (ILO 111)
35
15%
Impairment
(including HIV/AIDS status) (ILO 111)
-
-
Marital
status (ILO 111)
-
-
Disability
(ILO 111)
-
-
Nationality
(ILO 111)
-
-
Sexual
preference (ILO 111)
6
2%
Trade
union activity (ILO 111)
20
8%
International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
81
34%
Declaration
on the Rights of the Child
-
-
Declaration
on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons
-
-
Declaration
on the Rights of Disabled Persons
-
-
Convention
on the Rights of the Child
21
9%
Declaration
on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
Based on Religion or Belief
2
1%
Not
a ground within jurisdiction
1
-
Not
a human right as defined by the Act
14
6%
Total*
240
100%

*One complaint
may have multiple grounds.

Table 32: HREOCA - complaints
received by area
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Acts or practices
of the Commonwealth
96
40%
Employment
120
50%
Not
act or practice of the Commonwealth (not employment cases)
24
10%
Total*
240
100%

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

Table 33: HREOCA - non-employment
complaints received by sub-area
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Prisons,
prisoner
33
18%
Religious
institutions
7
4%
Family
court matters
4
2%
Other
law court matters
3
2%
Immigration
61
34%
Law
enforcement agency
4
2%
State
agency
3
2%
Other
service provider (private sector)
2
2%
Local
government
6
3%
Education
systems
6
3%
Welfare
systems
3
2%
Health
system
9
5%
Other
39
21%
Total*
180
100%

*One complaint
may have multiple sub-areas.

Table 34: HREOCA - Outcomes
of finalised complaints
Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Total
Declined
187
Does
not constitute discrimination
44
Human
rights breach, not inconsistent or contrary to any Human right
47
More
than 12 months old
7
Trivial,
vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
38
Adequately
dealt with already
15
More
appropriate remedy available
17
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, advised Commission
2
Withdrawn,
does not wish to pursue, settled outside Commission
15
Withdrawn
or lost contact
2
Conciliated
Conciliated 16
16
Referred
for reporting*
12
Administrative
closure**
4
Total
219

*Complaints in
this category were not conciliable and therefore transferred from the
Commission’s Complaint Handling Section to Legal Services for further
inquiry and possible report. **Not an aggrieved party, state complaint
previously lodged.