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Annual Report 2007-2008: Chapter 4 - Complaint Handling Section

Chapter 4
Complaint Handling Section

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4.1 OVERVIEW OF THE WORK COMPLAINT HANDLING SECTION

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

Complaint Information Officers within the CHS deal with telephone, TTY, post,
e-mail and in-person enquiries from around Australia. Enquirers are often
seeking information about whether they can lodge a complaint in relation to a
particular situation they have experienced. Where the issue raised appears to be
a matter that HREOC can deal with, the enquirer is provided with a complaint
form or information about how to lodge a complaint via HREOC’s on-line
complaint facility. Where the issue appears to be outside HREOC’s
jurisdiction, enquirers are provided with contact details for other
organisations that may be able to assist them. In 2007-08, 18 765 enquiries were
dealt with by the Complaint Information Service. This is a 32 per cent increase
in comparison with the average number of enquiries received over the past four
years and a 13 per cent increase in comparison with enquiries received in the
previous reporting period.

Investigation/Conciliation Officers within the CHS manage complaints that
have been accepted by HREOC. In 2007-08 the CHS received 2 077 complaints. This
is a 28 per cent increase in comparison with the average number of complaints
received over the past four years and a 17 per cent increase in comparison with
the number of complaints received in the previous reporting year.

The CHS aims to provide an efficient and effective complaint service. In
2007-08, the CHS exceeded all its stated performance standards, including those
relating to timeliness of service, complaint outcome and service
satisfaction.

In many cases, the investigation of a complaint involves the President
writing to the person or organisation being complained about in order to obtain
their version of events. Where it is considered appropriate, complaints then
proceed to conciliation. In some cases, when a person or organisation is advised
of the complaint, either verbally or in writing, they may indicate that they
wish to try to resolve the matter straight away.

In some situations HREOC may also suggest that the parties consider
conciliation very early in the process, for example, where the parties are in an
ongoing employment relationship. In many cases, conciliation involves the
Investigation/Conciliation Officer facilitating a face-to-face meeting of the
parties. Officers travel to various locations throughout Australia, including
regional and remote areas, to hold these meetings.

Conciliation may also be conducted by other means. For example, officers may
have telephone discussions with the parties and convey messages between them or
hold a teleconference. If a matter is satisfactorily resolved, the complaint is
withdrawn and closed. In 2007-08, 48 per cent of finalised complaints were
conciliated and 74 per cent of complaints, where conciliation was attempted,
were successfully resolved.

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

Complaints which allege a breach of human rights or discrimination under the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act cannot be taken to court for
determination. Where complaints under this Act have not been declined or
resolved, and the President is of the view that the subject matter of the
complaint constitutes discrimination or a breach of human rights, the President
will report the findings to the Attorney-General for tabling in federal
Parliament. Information on reports to the Attorney-General is available on
HREOC’s website at www.humanrights.gov.au/legal/HREOCA_reports.html
A
diagram of the complaint process is provided at Appendix 4.

In summary, in 2007-08:

  • 2 077 complaints were received;
  • 1 883 complaints were finalised;
  • 48 per cent of finalised complaints were conciliated;
  • 93 per cent of complaints were finalised within 12 months of
    lodgement; and
  • the average time from lodgement to finalisation of a complaint was 6
    months.

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4.1.1 Key performance indicators and standards

The CHS has developed key performance indicators and standards which form the
basis for ongoing assessment of the complaint service. These indicators, and CHS
performance in 2007-08 in relation to these indicators, are summarised
below.

  • Timeliness – the section’s stated performance
    standard is for 80 per cent of complaints to be finalised within 12 months of
    receipt. In 2007-08, the CHS finalised 93 per cent of matters within 12 months.
    This is similar to figures for the previous four reporting periods. A detailed
    breakdown of timeliness statistics by jurisdiction is provided in Table 15.
  • Conciliation rate – the section’s stated
    performance standard is for 30 per cent of finalised complaints to be
    conciliated. In 2007-08, the CHS achieved a 48 per cent conciliation rate which
    is 10 per cent higher than the conciliation rate for the previous reporting
    period.
  • Customer satisfaction – the section’s stated
    performance standard is for 80 per cent of parties to complaints to be satisfied
    with the service they receive. In 2007-08, 93 per cent of surveyed parties
    reported that they were satisfied with the service and 64 per cent rated the
    service as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. Further details
    of survey results for this reporting period are provided below.

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4.1.2 Customer satisfaction survey

The CHS asks for feedback on aspects of the service from people lodging
complaints (complainants) and people responding to complaints (respondents).
This feedback is obtained by means of a customer satisfaction survey which is
usually conducted by telephone interview. In 2007-08, 56 per cent of those who
could be contacted (173 complainants and 216 respondents) agreed to participate
in the survey. Survey results for this reporting year are summarised below:

  • 93 per cent of complainants and 96 per cent of respondents felt that
    staff explained things in a way that was easy for them to understand;
  • 92 per cent of complainants and 94 per cent of respondents felt that
    forms and correspondence from HREOC were easy to understand;
  • 94 per cent of complainants and 82 per cent of respondents felt that
    HREOC dealt with the complaint in a timely manner; and
  • 91 per cent of complainants and 94 per cent of respondents did not
    consider staff to be biased.

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

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4.1.3 Service Charter

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

In 2007-08, HREOC received one complaint about its service under the formal
complaint process provided in the Charter.

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4.1.4 Access to complaint services

HREOC aims to facilitate broad community access to complaint information and
services through the following measures:

  • Complaint Information Service. The Complaint Info line (1300
    656 419 – local call charge), which is open Monday to Friday between 9.00
    am and 5.00 pm, allows people from all areas of Australia to call and obtain
    information about the law and the complaint process. They can also send an
    e-mail to complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au
  • CHS webpage:
    www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/index.html. The webpage provides a
    range of information about HREOC’s complaint service including detailed
    information about the complaint process and how to lodge a complaint. The
    Complaints webpage received 299 631 page views during this reporting year.
  • Publications in community languages. The Complaint Guide and an information poster are available in 14 community languages. These
    publications can be ordered from the Complaint Information Service or downloaded
    from the HREOC website www.humanrights.gov.au/about/languages/index.html
  • Interpreter and translation services. In this reporting year
    the CHS utilised a range of interpretation and translation services. The main
    language groups assisted in 2007-08 were Mandarin, Turkish, Vietnamese and
    Macedonian. Auslan interpreters were used on 16 occasions.
  • Service provision in states and territories. HREOC has formal
    arrangements with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission,
    the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission, the South Australian Equal
    Opportunity Commission, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
    and the Western Australia Equal Opportunity Commission whereby CHS publications
    are displayed by these agencies and CHS staff use agency facilities for
    conciliation conferences. HREOC has similar informal arrangements with the
    Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Australian Capital Territory
    Human Rights Commission.
  • Conciliation DVD. The captioned audio-visual resource, Pathways to Resolution provides information about conciliation for the
    general public and those involved in the complaint process. The DVD explains the
    conciliation process, outlines how to prepare for conciliation and demonstrates
    positive approaches to discussing issues and negotiating resolution outcomes.
    This resource can be obtained from the Complaint Information Service. Clips from
    the DVD can also be viewed on HREOC’s webpage at www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/pathways _to
    _resolution/index.html
  • Conciliation circuits. Conciliation officers travel throughout
    Australia to conduct conciliation conferences. In 2007-08, along with
    conferences conducted in the greater Sydney area, CHS officers conducted: 22
    conferences in regional NSW (including Taree, Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Griffith,
    Grafton, Mudgee, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Albury, Lismore, Port Macquarie, Armidale
    and Newcastle); 120 in Victoria (including Melbourne and Mildura); 93 in
    Adelaide; 42 in Queensland (including Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cairns, Gold Coast
    and Townsville); 24 in Western Australia (including Perth and Port Hedland);
    three in the Northern Territory (including Alice Springs and Darwin) and 12 in
    Canberra.

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4.1.5 Community education

Through its community education activities, the CHS contributes to
HREOC’s function of promoting awareness, knowledge and understanding of
human rights and responsibilities.

During the reporting period, over 59 organisations throughout all states and
territories either attended information sessions on the law and the complaint
process that were run by CHS staff or were visited by CHS staff. These
organisations included: community legal centres; professional associations and
unions; Aboriginal legal centres; multicultural organisations; youth
organisations; legal centres; neighbourhood centres and disability groups.
Locations visited included Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Kalgoorlie, Melbourne,
Launceston, Adelaide, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney, Lismore, Ballina, Mudgee,
Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

Information kits about the law and the complaint process were also sent to
more than 3 000 organisations around Australia.

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4.1.6 Staff training and training as provider

HREOC has two specialised training programs which provide knowledge and
skills in statutory investigation and conciliation. All CHS staff are required
to undertake these courses.

During 2007-08, three investigation training courses were run for HREOC
staff. In September 2007 and May 2008, statutory conciliation training courses
were run in Sydney for HREOC staff and staff from anti-discrimination agencies
in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory,
Queensland and the Northern Territory. Additionally, a series of
‘refresher’ conciliation skill workshops were run for CHS staff
during the year.

In 2007-08, CHS staff participated in management skills training run by the
Australian Public Service Commission and attended in-house workshops on
culturally sensitive service delivery, case/time management and plain English
writing skills. Five CHS staff undertook studies to obtain the Certificate IV in
Training and Assessment qualification and two staff participated in the Mawul
Rom Cross Cultural Mediation and Leadership Training Program
held in Arnhem
Land, Northern Territory.
The CHS also provides investigation and
conciliation training for other organisations on a fee for service basis. In
July 2007, the CHS conducted a three-day investigation and conciliation training
course for staff of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and in June 2008,
conducted a two-day complaint investigation workshop for staff of a private
education authority.

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4.1.7 Research and conference presentations

The CHS regularly undertakes research with a view to better understand and
improve HREOC’s complaint service. In 2007, the CHS commenced a research
project to obtain information about the level to which: involvement in the
complaint process may increase knowledge and understanding of the law;
conciliation agreements include elements which are likely to have impact beyond
an individual complainant; and respondents may implement changes to policies and
practices as a result of involvement in the complaint process. This project is
due to be finalised in the second half of 2008. Information on previous research
conducted by the CHS is available on HREOC’s webpage at www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/papers.html.

In 2007-08 CHS staff attended and/or presented papers at the following
conferences: the National Legal, Conciliation and Education Officer Conference
held in Hobart in November 2007; the NSW Community Legal Centre State Conference
held in Sydney in April 2008; and the Human Rights Law and Policy Conference
held in Melbourne in June 2008.

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4.1.8 International conference presentations, training and consultation

In 2007-08, CHS staff presented papers at the following international
conferences: the All China Women’s Federation – Women’s Labour
Rights Workshop held in Fuzhou, China in November 2007; and the Asia Pacific
Mediation Forum Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June 2008.

In July 2007, CHS staff developed and presented two training programs in Hong
Kong for staff of the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission. The first course
provided basic training in investigation and conciliation for new employees. The
second course dealt with the implementation of race discrimination legislation
including knowledge and skills relating to the investigation and resolution of
race discrimination complaints.

During the reporting period, HREOC was contracted by the Asia Pacific Forum
of National Human Rights Institutions to provide training for staff of the
National Human Rights Commission of Korea. This project involved CHS staff
developing and presenting two three-day training courses in human rights
investigation. The training took place in Seoul on 31 October – 2 November
2007 and 5 November –7 November 2007. 47 staff from the National Human
Rights Commission of Korea completed the training.

The CHS is often asked to provide information about HREOC’s complaint
work to visiting delegations. During 2007-08, CHS staff provided information to
representatives of human rights institutions and government departments visiting
from Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, Iraq, Ireland and New Zealand.

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4.2 CONCILIATION CASE STUDIES

4.2.1 Racial Discrimination Act

In 2007-08, HREOC received 376 complaints under the Racial Discrimination
Act. The majority of these complaints related to employment (50 per cent). The
CHS finalised 366 complaints under this Act and 54 per cent of these finalised
complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the
Racial Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.

Alleged racial hatred and racial discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is Maori, said he commenced employment with the
respondent building company as a casual labourer and then became a permanent
employee. The complainant claimed that during the 10 months he worked with the
company, co-workers used offensive race-based terms in his presence such as
blacks’, ‘niggers’, and ‘coons’. He also alleged that co-workers spoke to him
aggressively and called him a ‘f****** abo’. The complainant
said that after he complained to the company director, his co-workers refused to
work with him, he reverted back to being a casual employee and was eventually
not offered any more work.

The complainant’s co-workers admitted making some of the alleged
race-based comments, but claimed that these were jokes and not directed at the
complainant. The company director said that when he became aware of the
complainant’s concerns, he spoke to the complainant’s co-workers and
advised that such behaviour was unacceptable. The company denied that the
complainant’s employment status changed from permanent to casual after his
internal complaint. The company claimed that it had attempted to contact the
complainant to offer him additional work, but the complainant did not
respond.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The parties agreed
that the company would pay the complainant $7 000 compensation, provide him with
a written reference and arrange anti-discrimination training for staff.

Complaint of race discrimination in the provision of accommodation

The complainant, who is Indigenous, alleged that the operators of a boarding
house refused to provide him with accommodation because of his race. The
complainant claimed that the terms of the rental agreement had been
pre-arranged; however, when he arrived at the boarding house the caretaker said,
We don’t take anyone who is Aboriginal because there have been
problems in the past. This is a management policy
’.

In response to the complaint, the owners of the boarding house confirmed that
they were reluctant to provide accommodation to Aboriginal people because of
previous bad experiences with some Aboriginal tenants. However, they denied
there was an ‘official policy’ not to accept Aboriginal tenants and
agreed that the caretaker’s remark to the complainant was
unacceptable.

To resolve the complaint, the respondent agreed to provide the complainant
with accommodation and also provide him with an apology and $3 000 compensation.
The respondent also agreed to develop an anti-discrimination policy.

Alleged race and disability discrimination in employment

The complainant advised that he is an international student from India and
had been employed by the respondent fast food company. He claimed that one night
at work, he was injured when his arms were hit by a machine. He alleged that,
following the accident, his manager discriminated against him on the ground of
his race and disability. In particular, he claimed that the manager: abused him
and said he would send him back to India; failed to call a company doctor to
attend to his injury; and refused to pay his medical allowances. He alleged that
his employment was finalised one week after the work accident.

HREOC contacted the company by telephone and advised of the complaint. While
the company disputed some of the complainant’s allegations, they advised
that they were willing to participate in a conciliation conference prior to
providing any written response to the allegations.

The complaint was resolved at the conciliation conference with an agreement
that the company would reinstate the complainant to a comparable position at a
different location; provide him with assistance to lodge a worker’s
compensation claim and pay him $3 100 in lost wages. The complainant’s
previous manager also agreed to provide a letter of apology to the complainant.

Complaint of race discrimination and sexual harassment in employment

The complainant is Indigenous and worked as a cook in a bistro. He alleged
that his manager racially discriminated against him in employment by saying:
Are all black c**** as dumb as you?’; ‘Can you pass me the
Abocado?’;
and ‘Abo’s want everything for
nothing’.
He also claimed that his manager sexually harassed him by
making comments such as: ‘Whilst you’re down there.’;
‘Do you want me to f*** you’; and ‘I always knew you were
gay’.
The complainant said he resigned from his employment because of
the way the manager treated him.

The respondent, who is the owner of the company, denied that he discriminated
against the complainant because of his race or that he sexually harassed him.
The respondent claimed that the workplace was one where a certain level of
banter between employees was tolerated and the complainant had also engaged in
such banter.

A conciliation conference was held. The complaint was resolved with an
agreement between the parties that the respondent would pay the complainant $10
000 compensation and provide him with a Statement of Service.

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4.2.2 Sex Discrimination Act

In 2007-08, HREOC received 438 complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act.
The majority of complaints related to employment (87 per cent). 22 per cent of
complaints alleged pregnancy discrimination and 18 per cent of complaints
alleged sexual harassment. The CHS finalised 421 complaints under this Act and
53 per cent of these finalised complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics
regarding complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act are provided later in this
chapter.

Alleged sex and pregnancy discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed as a driver with a large private transport
company. After taking maternity leave, the complainant sought to return to work
on a part-time basis to accommodate her family responsibilities. The complainant
alleged that her employer told her that she must return to full-time work or
resign.

The respondent company did not provide a formal response to the complaint,
but agreed to participate in conciliation discussions. The complaint was
resolved, within six weeks of being lodged, with an agreement that the
complainant would return to work on a part-time basis.

Complaint of sexual harassment

The complainant advised that she was employed as a trainee with a car
dealership. The complainant claimed that a volunteer, who regularly visited the
workplace, sexually harassed her. She alleged that this person kissed and hugged
her, touched her backside and placed his hand up her skirt. The complainant said
she complained to management about the behaviour and was dissatisfied with
management’s response, so resigned.

The volunteer denied sexually harassing the complainant. He claimed that he
kissed female colleagues when greeting them and also hugged male colleagues to
be friendly. The company advised that it commenced an investigation into the
complainant’s allegations and asked the volunteer not to come to the
workplace. The company said the complainant resigned prior to the completion of
their investigation.

The complaint was resolved at conciliation with an agreement between the
parties that the company would pay the complainant $20 000 compensation and also
reimburse legal costs she had incurred in pursing the complaint.

Alleged sex discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed as a factory worker and worked the night shift
with the respondent manufacturing company. The complainant said she applied for
a day shift position which was a promotion but was also similar to her current
role. The complainant’s application was unsuccessful. She alleged that
this was because of her sex. The complainant claimed there were very few women
in management positions in the factory.

The respondent company denied the complainant had been discriminated against
on the basis of her sex. The company confirmed that a male employee had been
appointed to the position the complainant applied for. The company claimed that
in comparison with the complainant, this male employee was considered more
suitable for the position as: he was already working at a comparable level; had
more experience with the company and had rated higher on some of the selection
criteria. The company acknowledged that there was a predominance of males in
supervisory positions in the factory and indicated they were taking steps to
address this.

The complaint was resolved by means of a conciliation teleconference. The
terms of agreement included undertakings by the company that: selection
committees for positions would always include a human resources representative
and a female officer; they would expand their EEO statement on job vacancy
notices; they would refer to their EEO policies in their next newsletter; and
they would provide internal applicants with a contact point and an opportunity
to debrief after interviews.

Complaint of sexual harassment, age and disability discrimination in
employment

The complainant advised that she is 65 years old and had been employed at a
local recreation club doing reception and other general duties. The complainant
alleged that a manager at the club sexually harassed her by making comments such
as ‘You have not got very big tits have you’ and ‘It
would be a lot better if you came over here and sat on my face’.
The
complainant said she injured her back in a work related incident and undertook
light duties for approximately 12 months. The complainant claimed she was
treated less favourably than other workers because of her age and her disability
and that her supervisor made comments such as ‘I don’t know what
you’re doing back at your age – it’s not going to get any
better’
. She said her employment was eventually terminated.

The respondent club said the complainant’s employment was finalised
because her back injury prevented her from performing the inherent requirements
of her job. The club advised that the complainant had not made any complaints
about sexual harassment during her employment. The manager accused of sexual
harassment claimed that he always treated the complainant with respect and said
the complainant had never told him that she found anything he said
offensive.

The complaint was resolved between the parties with an agreement that the
club would pay the complainant $40 000 compensation.

Alleged sex and pregnancy discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed as a project manager with a company that
provided education services. She claimed that while on maternity leave, her
position had been restructured in a manner which reduced her responsibilities
and increased her requirement to travel. She also claimed that her request to
return to work on a part-time basis had been refused. The complainant lodged her
complaint only weeks prior to the date she was to return to work and, in the
complaint, advised that she no longer wanted to work with the company.

The company did not provide a formal response to the complaint, but agreed to
participate in conciliation discussions. The complaint was resolved, within a
month of being lodged, with an agreement that the company would pay the
complainant her outstanding entitlements, four weeks pay in lieu of notice and
provide her with a $9 000 ex gratia payment.

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4.2.3 Disability Discrimination Act

In 2007-08, HREOC received 988 complaints under the Disability Discrimination
Act. The majority of these complaints concerned employment (46 per cent) and the
provision of goods, services and facilities (31 per cent). The CHS finalised 815
complaints under this Act and 48 per cent of these finalised complaints were
conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the Disability
Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.

Complaint of disability discrimination in the provision of goods, services
and facilities

The complainants, a husband and wife, both have hearing impairments. The
complainants said they wanted to attend a film festival awards night and in
order to follow the proceedings, they would have required real time captioning
and a hearing loop or use of an infra red hearing system at the venue. They
claimed they contacted the film festival office to inquire about provision of
these adjustments and were told that they could not be provided at the
venue.

The company organising the event confirmed that the adjustments the
complainants requested were not provided. The company claimed that the
adjustments were too expensive and too difficult to arrange at the particular
venue.

The complaint was resolved with an agreement that the company would: provide
real time captioning at all live events; ensure future events are in venues
equipped with an induction hearing loop and other facilities for people with
hearing impairments; and advertise facilities and features for people with
hearing impairments on its website.

Alleged disability discrimination in employment

The complainant, who has an intellectual disability, was employed by the
respondent food production company. The complainant claimed that his supervisors
and co-workers harassed him over a number of years. Specifically, he alleged
that: his co-workers called him derogatory names relating to his intellectual
disability, such as ‘stupid’ and ‘f******
dickhead
’; pinched his arms and stomach and kicked his legs; deflated
the tyres of his pushbike; and tied up his bike so he could not access it. The
complainant said that he asked his co-workers to stop the behaviour and reported
the incidents to a supervisor, but the behaviour continued. The complainant
claimed that he could not continue to work because of stress arising from the
harassment.

Following lodgement of the complaint with HREOC, the complainant’s
disability discrimination claim and another work-related claim were resolved
with an agreement that the company would pay the complainant $57 000 and provide
him with an expression of regret.

Complaint of disability discrimination in education

The complaint was lodged by a support person on behalf of a high school
student who is legally blind. The complaint claimed that reasonable adjustments,
such as extra lighting in corridors and stairwells, white or yellow marking on
the stairs, zoom text on computers and extra classroom support had been
requested prior to the student commencing at the state government school in
2006. It was alleged that these adjustments had not been provided within a
reasonable time, not adequately provided or not provided at all. It was also
alleged that the school did not adequately consult the student and her associate
about required adjustments.

The education department denied disability discrimination. The department
claimed that a range of appropriate adjustments had been provided for the
student since she commenced at the school. The department also said that there
had been adequate consultation with the student and her associate regarding the
required adjustments.

The complaint was resolved with an agreement that the department would:
conduct a site inspection of the school with the complainant and an advocacy
group; provide any necessary additional lighting; install zoom text on every
level of the school where computer rooms were available to students; provide a
new teacher’s aide for the student; provide ongoing reasonable
adjustments; and arrange specific people who the complainant and her associate
can contact if they have any future concerns.

Alleged disability discrimination in the provision of airlines services

The complainant advised that her adult sister has Down Syndrome and has
undertaken air travel on her own on a number of occasions. The complainant
alleged that when she was assisting her sister to check into a flight with the
respondent airline, a staff member said that her sister could not travel alone
because children cannot fly unattended. The complainant further alleged that the
staff member openly stared at her sister.

On being advised of the complaint, the airline confirmed its willingness to
participate in conciliation. The parties agreed to resolve the complaint on the
basis that the company would provide the complainant’s sister with verbal
and written apologies and provide the complainant and her sister with four
return flights to various locations in Australia.

Complaint of discrimination in access to premises and provision of goods
and services

The complainant has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. She alleged
that her local council office was not accessible to her or other people with
mobility disabilities. Specifically, she claimed that the toilets and the ramp
into the building did not comply with Australian Standards.

The respondent council agreed that there were accessibility issues with the
premises and confirmed its willingness to rectify the problems. During the
complaint process, the council advised that it had completed work to ensure
accessibility of the toilets and that work on the ramp to the building had also
commenced.

The complainant advised HREOC that the action taken by the council resolved
her complaint.

Alleged disability discrimination by restaurant

The complainant, who has vision impairment and uses a guide dog to assist
with mobility, attended the respondent restaurant with his family. He alleged
that he was discriminated against because of his disability in that he and his
family were advised that they could not enter the restaurant with the guide dog,
but could eat at an outside table if they wanted to. The complainant said that
he and his family left without eating at the restaurant.

The respondent restaurant denied that the complainant and his family were
excluded because of the guide dog. Rather, the restaurant claimed that no tables
were available inside the restaurant at the time the complainant and his family
arrived.
The complaint was resolved through conciliation with an agreement
that the restaurant would: review its anti-discrimination policy, particularly
in relation to guide dogs; provide the complainant with a copy of the policy;
and display a copy of the policy in the restaurant. The respondent also: invited
the complainant to the restaurant for a meal; provided the complainant with a
personal apology; and made an undertaking to host a guide dog collection box to
raise money for the Guide Dog Association.

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4.2.4 Age Discrimination Act

In 2007-08, HREOC received 126 complaints under the Age Discrimination Act.
The majority of these complaints concerned employment (76 per cent). The CHS
finalised 114 complaints under this Act and 45 per cent of these finalised
complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints under the
Age Discrimination Act are provided later in this chapter.

Complaint of age discrimination in employment

The complainant advised that she is 16 years old and currently employed by a
recreational centre on a casual basis as a customer service attendant. The
complainant claimed she had not been given shifts for approximately 4 months and
alleged this was because she had been replaced by younger workers.

The respondent company confirmed that it had employed new workers, but
claimed they were the same age as the complainant and were not employed to
replace her. The company also confirmed that the complainant had not been given
shifts for a period of time, but denied that this was because of her age. The
company claimed that there were concerns about the complainant’s work
performance. The company was of the view that the complainant was not interested
in ongoing work as she had not contacted her employer to inquire about future
shifts.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process with an agreement
that the complainant would be transferred to work in a different branch of the
company.

Alleged age and sex discrimination in employment

The complainant is 56 years of age and worked as an Office Manager with the
respondent livestock company. She alleged that, during her employment, a
director of the company discriminated against her because of her age and sex by
making comments such as: ‘You would not be suitable for the position
due to your age and gender’;
Women and men should be treated
differently
’; and ‘You are not suitable for work as you are
approaching menopause’.
The complainant also claimed that the director
undermined her role within the organisation by sending an e-mail to other
directors which included, among other things, a comment that she was an
untrained ‘office girl’. The complainant alleged that she
resigned because the company did not adequately address her concerns about the
treatment she received.

The company denied age and sex discrimination, but agreed to participate in a
conciliation process.

The complaint was resolved on the basis that the company and the named
director would provide the complainant with apologies and the company would pay
her$20 000 compensation.

Complaint of age discrimination in the provision of a traineeship

The complainant is 42 years of age and had applied for a traineeship with a
federal government training institution. The complainant was not shortlisted for
interview and claimed that, when he telephoned to seek feedback on why he was
not shortlisted, one of the selection panel members told him that the main
reason was his age.

The respondent institution denied that the complainant’s age was the
reason why he was not shortlisted. The panel member agreed that the
complainant’s age was referred to in the telephone conversation, but said
this was in the context of a discussion about the complainant’s current
career experience and the post traineeship employment level and salary. The
respondent institution also claimed that the application process was highly
competitive and the complainant’s application did not satisfy all the
essential criteria.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference. The institution
agreed to arrange for the complainant to undertake up to three of their training
courses to the value of $5 000. The institution also agreed to provide the
complainant with a statement of regret.

Complaints of age discrimination in employment

Four employees brought complaints of age discrimination against a large
retail company. The complainants, who were all over 21 years of age, alleged
that when the store underwent a staffing restructure, management changed the
status of its older workers from permanent part-time to casual, reduced their
working hours and hired more junior staff.

The respondent company denied that it had discriminated against the
complainants on the basis of their age. While the company agreed that the
complainants’ hours had been reduced, the company advised that this was
due to an overestimation of staffing requirements in the particular service area
where the complainants worked.

All of the complaints were resolved through conciliation. The company agreed
to pay compensation to the complainants ranging from $6 000 – $1 000, with
reference to their specific circumstances. The company also undertook to review
its anti-discrimination policy and conduct staff training on
anti-discrimination.

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4.2.5 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

In 2007-08, HREOC received 149 complaints under the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission Act. The majority of these complaints concerned
discrimination in employment based on criminal record (46 per cent) and alleged
breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (21 per
cent). The CHS finalised 167 complaints under this Act and 24 per cent of these
finalised complaints were conciliated. Detailed statistics regarding complaints
under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act are provided later
in this chapter.

Alleged discrimination in vocational training on the ground of criminal
record

The complainant had enrolled in an aged care training course with a
government vocational training provider and then, three months later, was
convicted of fraud. He said the conviction related to incidents that had
occurred in his employment a few years before. The complainant claimed that the
training provider advised him that, because of his criminal record, his
application for enrolment may not be accepted.

In response to the complaint, the training provider advised that the
complainant was required to undertake vocational placements as part of the
course. The provider said that, in its view, the complainant’s criminal
record would mean that he would not be able to locate vocational placements and
therefore, would be unable to complete course requirements.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation with an agreement that the
provider would accept the complainant’s enrolment and the complainant
would be responsible for locating vocational placements during the course.

Complaint of religious discrimination in employment

The complainant applied for an accountancy position with a small
manufacturing company, via a recruitment agency. After interviews with both the
recruitment agency and the company, the complainant was offered the position.
The complainant said she advised the recruitment agency that she was Muslim and
needed to arrange a room at the workplace where she could conduct daily prayers.
The complainant said she explained that she would need about three 10 minute
prayer breaks during the day and could undertake one set of prayers during her
lunch break. The complainant claimed that the recruitment agency subsequently
advised her that the company had withdrawn the offer of employment and that a
reason for this was her need to pray.

The company denied that they had discriminated against the complainant on the
ground of her religion. The company advised that there were two reasons why the
offer of employment had been withdrawn. Firstly, the company said it had
concerns about the complainant’s honesty as, in the interview, she had not
disclosed her need for additional breaks, despite being asked if there was
anything which would impact on her working normal office hours. The company said
that despite these concerns, they had attempted to find a suitable location for
the complainant to conduct her prayers but, as the office was open plan and
within a warehouse, the only options available were the meeting room, which had
a glass wall, or a nearby park. The company said the complainant had rejected
these suggestions.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference. The company agreed
to pay the complainant $3 500 compensation and provide her with a statement of
regret.

Alleged criminal record discrimination in employment

The complainant applied for a caretaker’s position with a horticultural
society. He claimed he was offered the job, subject to a police check, and was
told that he could move into the caretaker’s residence. The complainant
said he advised the society that he had prior convictions for drugs and driving
offences and was told, ‘everything should be fine’. He
accepted the offer of employment and moved into the residence. The complainant
claimed that his employment was terminated five weeks later, after the society
received details of his criminal record. The complainant said there had been no
complaints about his work performance during the five weeks he was employed.

When advised of the complaint by telephone, the society confirmed that the
complainant’s employment had been terminated after five weeks. The society
said the complainant’s police record check had revealed a list of
offences, including ‘obtaining money by deception’. The society
advised that, in their view, the complainant could not continue in the position
as his duties included collecting money for the society and after-hours office
access. The society said the complainant had not yet vacated the
caretaker’s residence as he said he had been unable to locate alternative
accommodation.

The complaint was resolved within two days of being lodged. The parties
agreed that the society would pay the complainant the equivalent of four weeks
pay ($2 500) and assist him with relocation and accommodation costs. The
complainant also agreed that he would vacate the residence by a specified
date.

Complaint of discrimination on the ground of sexual preference and sexual
harassment in employment

The complainant was employed as a sales representative with a private company
and worked in the company’s call centre. He alleged that the manager of
the call centre discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual preference
and sexually harassed him. Specifically he alleged that the manager would
repeatedly call him ‘big gay bird’ and ‘poof’ and, on one occasion, said to him, ‘Get away from my arse, you
poof.’
He claimed that, because of the manager’s behaviour,
other staff also called him these names. He said that he raised his concerns
directly with the manger, who replied that it was ‘just a
joke’
. The complainant said the company subsequently terminated his
employment on the basis that he had failed to deal with a staff member’s
breach of policy. The complainant disputed the basis for his termination.

The individual respondent and the company agreed to participate in
conciliation discussions prior to providing any formal response to the
allegations. The complaint was resolved at conciliation with an agreement that
the respondents would pay the complainant $5 000 compensation.

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4.3 COMPLAINT HANDLING STATISTICS

4.3.1 Preliminary comments

The following complaint statistics provide information on enquiries received,
an overview of complaints received and finalised, and specific information about
complaints received and finalised under each of the Acts administered by
HREOC.

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

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4.3.2 Summary

Enquiries and complaints received

Over the previous four reporting periods, HREOC received an average of 14 160
enquiries per period. In 2007-08, HREOC received 18 765 enquiries, which
represents a 32 per cent increase in comparison with the average and a 13 per
cent increase in comparison with the number received in the previous reporting
period.

Over the previous four reporting periods, HREOC received an average of 1 623
complaints per period. In 2007-08, HREOC received 2 077 complaints, which
represents a 28 per cent increase in comparison with the average and a 17 per
cent increase in comparison with the number received in the previous reporting
period.

In 2007-08, 48 per cent of complaints received were lodged under the
Disability Discrimination Act, 21 per cent under the Sex Discrimination Act, 18
per cent under the Racial Discrimination Act, 7 per cent under the Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission Act and 6 per cent under the Age Discrimination
Act. For the past four reporting periods, the majority of complaints received
have been lodged under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Sex
Discrimination Act. There has been an 89 per cent increase in the number of
disability discrimination complaints received over the past four reporting
periods.

As in previous reporting periods, employment was the main area of complaint
under all federal anti-discrimination legislation. In 2007-08, complaints
regarding employment constituted: 50 per cent of complaints under the Racial
Discrimination Act; 87 per cent of complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act;
46 per cent of complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act; and 76 per
cent of complaints under the Age Discrimination Act.

The majority of complaints received under the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission Act related to discrimination in employment on the ground
of criminal record and alleged breaches of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. These have been the main subject areas of complaint for
the past four reporting periods. Over this period, complaints regarding criminal
record discrimination have almost tripled. In 2007-08, 73 criminal record
discrimination complaints were received which represents a 35 per cent increase
in comparison with the number received in the previous reporting period.

Conciliation of complaints

Of the complaints finalised in 2007-08, 48 per cent were conciliated. This is
10 per cent higher than the conciliation rate for the previous reporting period.
Of those matters where conciliation was attempted in 2007-08, 74 per cent were
able to be resolved. The conciliation success rate has increased from 67 per
cent to 74 per cent over the past four reporting periods.

Complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act had the highest conciliation
rate this reporting period (54 per cent) and a high conciliation success rate
(74 per cent). This high conciliation rate for race discrimination complaints,
in comparison with previous periods, is partly due to the resolution of a group
of complaints against the same respondent relating to the same subject matter.
Complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act had the second highest conciliation
rate (53 per cent) and a conciliation success rate of 72 per cent. Complaints
under the Disability Discrimination Act had a conciliation rate of 48 per cent
and a conciliation success rate of 73 per cent. In 2007-08, complaints under the
Age Discrimination Act had a conciliation rate of 45 per cent and a high
conciliation success rate of 81 per cent, while 24 per cent of finalised
complaints under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act were
successfully resolved.

Demographic data

Information on the geographical location and ethnicity of complainants is
provided in Tables 10, 12 and 13.

Demographic data obtained during the complaint process indicates that 51 per
cent of complaints were lodged by individual females, 42 per cent by individual
males and 7 per cent by other categories, for example, multiple complainants and
organisations or individuals on behalf of others.

Forty per cent of complainants reported that they knew about HREOC prior to
lodging their complaint. The main identified sources of information for others
were legal centres or private lawyers (12 per cent) and family members or
friends (9 per cent).

The majority of complainants (66 per cent) indicated that their main source
of income at the time of the alleged act was from full-time, part-time or casual
employment.

Approximately 37 per cent of complainants indicated that they were
represented at the beginning of the complaint process. Of this group, 47 per
cent were represented by privately funded solicitors. Other forms of
representation were other advocate groups, such as working women’s centres
or disability advocacy services(18 per cent), community legal centres such as
Indigenous or disability legal services (15 per cent), family members or friends
(11 per cent) and trade unions or professional associations (9 per cent).

Data collected on respondent categories indicates that, in the last reporting
period, approximately 48 per cent of complaints were against private enterprise,
14 per cent were against state departments/statutory authorities and 9 per cent
were against Commonwealth departments/statutory authorities. These have been the
main respondent organisation categories for the last four reporting periods.
Complete information on respondent categories is provided in Table 14, below.

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4.3.3 Complaint Information Service

Table 4: Website enquiries
Complaint Handling Section webpage views
299 631
Table 5: Telephone, TTY, e-mail, in-person and
written enquiries received
Enquiry type
Total
Telephone
15 564
TTY
29
E-mail
2 254
In-person
115
Written
803
Total
18 765
Table 6: Enquiries received by issue
Issue
Total
Race
2 162
Race - racial hatred
656
Sex – direct
885
Sexual harassment
1 050
Sex - marital status, family responsibilities, parental status, carers
responsibilities, breast feeding
492
Sex – pregnancy
852
Sexual preference, transgender, homosexuality, lawful sexual activity
185
Disability – impairment
2 959
Disability - HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis
54
Disability – workers compensation
295
Disability – mental health
698
Disability – intellectual/learning disability
211
Disability – maltreatment/negligence
37
Disability – physical feature
230
Age – too young
182
Age – too old
572
Age – compulsory retirement
14
Criminal record/conviction
383
Political opinion
31
Religion/religious organisations
229
Employment – personality conflicts/favouritism
297
Employment – union/industrial activity
128
Employment – unfair dismissal/other industrial issues
6 631
Employment – workplace bullying
1 891
Human rights – children
156
Human rights – civil, political, economic, social
752
Immigration – detention centres
86
Immigration – visas
289
Prisons/prisoners
235
Police
298
Court - family court
307
Court – other law matters
454
Privacy – data protection
184
Neighbourhood disputes
118
Advertising
50
Local government – administration
94
State government – administration
492
Federal government – administration
561
Other
2 743
Total*
27 943

* One enquiry may have multiple issues

Table 7: Enquiries received by state of origin
State of origin
Total
Percentage
New South Wales
7 102
38
Victoria
3 680
20
South Australia
1 382
7
Western Australia
903
5
Queensland
2 874
15
Australian Capital Territory
393
2
Tasmania
399
2
Northern Territory
303
2
Unknown/overseas
1 729
9
Total
18 765
100

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4.3.4 Complaints Overview

Table 8: National complaints received and
finalised over the past four reporting periods
 
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
Received
1 241
1 397
1 779
2 077
Finalised
1 233
1 205
1 656
1 883
Table 9: Outcomes of national complaints
finalised over the past four reporting periods
 
2004-05
(percent)
2005-06
(percent)
2006-07
(percent)
2007-08
(percent)
Terminated/declined
46
44
48
39
Conciliated
38
39
38
48
Withdrawn
16
16
14
13
Reported (HREOCA only)
-
1
-
-
Table 10: State of origin of complainant at time of lodgement
State of origin  
Total
Percentage (%)
New South Wales
769
37
Victoria
444
21
South Australia
219
11
Western Australia
139
7
Queensland
378
18
Australian Capital Territory
59
3
Tasmania
27
1
Northern Territory
18
1
Unknown/overseas
24
1
Total
2 077
100
Table 11: Complaints received and finalised by Act
Act
Received
Finalised
Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)
376
366
Sex Discrimination Act (SDA)
438
421
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
988
815
Age Discrimination Act (ADA)
126
114
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act (HREOCA)
149
167
Total
2 077
1 883

Figure 2: Complaints
received by Act

Pie chart of Complaints received by Act: Disability Discrimination Act 48%, Sex Discrimination Act 21%, Racial Discrimination Act 18%, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 7%, Age Discrimination Act 6%

Table 12: Country of birth – complainants
A
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)
Born in Australia
55
62
59
66
35
58
Born outside of Australia
41
13
14
28
30
21
Unknown/unspecified
4
25
27
6
35
21
Table 13: Indigenous status – complainants
A
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)
Aboriginal
46
4
2
1
3
11
Torres Strait Islander
-
-
-
1
-
-
None of the above
54
96
98
98
97
89
Table 14: Respondents by category
A
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Total
(%)
Individual male
15
25
9
10
7
14
Individual female
5
5
5
4
3
5
Private enterprise
31
55
51
58
46
48
Commonwealth government department/statutory authority
7
5
9
15
20
9
State government department/statutory authority
33
2
13
4
14
14
Local government
1
1
3
1
1.5
2
Government Business Enterprise
1
1
2
1
2
1
Educational institution
2
3
5
2
3
4
Trade union/professional association
-
1
-
-
1
-
Not for profit organisation
/non government
3
1
1
1
1
1.5
Clubs/incorporated associations
1
1
2
4
1.5
1.5
Other
1
-
-
-
-
-
Table 15: Time from receipt to finalisation for
finalised complaints
A
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
HREOCA
(%)
Cumulative Total (%)
0 - 3 months
32
21
17
20
13
21
3 - 6 months
33
27
30
36
26
51
6 - 9 months
19
28
29
26
26
77
9 - 12 months
11
18
17
13
21
93
More than 12 months
4
6
6
5
11
99
More than 24 months
1
-
1
-
3
100

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4.3.5 Racial
Discrimination Act

Table 16: Racial Discrimination Act –
complaints received and finalised
A
Total
Received
376
Finalised
366
Table 17: Racial Discrimination Act –
complaints received by ground
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages (%)
Colour
27
4
National origin/extraction
43
6
Ethnic origin
111
17
Descent
6
1
Race
400
60
Victimisation
7
1
Racial hatred
72
11
Aids, permits or instructs
2
-
Association
1
-
Total*
669
100

* One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table 18: Racial Discrimination Act –
complaints received by area
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Rights to equality before the law
4
1
Access to places and facilities
10
1
Land, housing, other accommodation
7
1
Provision of goods and services
88
13
Right to join trade unions
-
-
Employment
335
50
Advertisements
-
-
Education
12
2
Incitement to unlawful acts
6
1
Other – section 9
132
20
Racial hatred
75
11
Total*
669
100

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

Table 19: Racial hatred complaints received by
sub-area
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Media – press/TV/radio
17
30
Disputes between neighbours
5
9
Personal conflict
8
14
Employment
10
18
Racist propaganda
2
4
Internet - e-mail/webpage/chat room
5
9
Entertainment
-
-
Sport
3
5
Public debate
-
-
Provision of goods and services
6
11
Total*
56
100

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

Table 20: Racial Discrimination Act –
outcomes of finalised complaints
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
134
At complainants request – s.46PE
-
Not unlawful
2
More than 12 months old
3
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
56
Adequately dealt with already
3
More appropriate remedy available
1
Subject matter of public importance
-
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
69
Withdrawn
31
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
30
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission
1
Conciliated
195
Administrative closure*
6
Total
366

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously
lodged.

Figure 3:
Racial Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Pie chart of Racial Discrimination Act: Conciliated 54%, Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 19%, Terminated - other reason	18%, Withdrawn 9%

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4.3.6 Sex
Discrimination Act

Table 21: Sex Discrimination Act – complaints
received and finalised
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Received
438
Finalised
421
Table 22: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints
received by sex of complainant
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages (%)
Female
369
84
Male
66
15
Joint/multiple
3
1
Total
438
100
Table 23: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints
received by ground
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages (%)
Sex discrimination
399
47
Marital status
43
5
Pregnancy
185
22
Sexual harassment
157
18
Parental status/ family responsibility
56
6
Victimisation
17
2
Aids, permits, instructs (s.105)
-
-
Total*
857
100

*One complaint may have multiple grounds

Table 24: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints
received by area
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Employment
746
87
Goods, services and facilities
75
9
Land
-
-
Accommodation
2
-
Superannuation, insurance
-
-
Education
7
1
Clubs
10
1
Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
16
2
Application forms etc
1
-
Trade unions, accrediting bodies
-
-
Total*
857
100

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

Table 25: Sex Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
142
At complainants request – s.46PE
-
Not unlawful
2
More than 12 months old
1
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
57
Adequately dealt with already
-
More appropriate remedy available
2
Subject matter of public importance
-
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
80
Withdrawn
46
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
44
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission
2
Conciliated
209
Administrative closure*
24
Total
421

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Figure 4: Sex Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints

Pie chart of Sex Discrimination Act: Conciliated 53%, Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation	20%, Terminated - other reason 16%, Withdrawn 11%

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4.3.7 Disability Discrimination Act

Table 26: Disability Discrimination Act -
complaints received and finalised
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Received
988
Finalised
815
Table 27: Nature of complainant’s
disability
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Physical disability
224
21
A mobility aid is used (e.g. walking frame or wheelchair)
94
9
Physical disfigurement
18
2
Presence in the body of organisms causing disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS)
12
1
Presence in the body of organisms causing disease (other)
9
1
Psychiatric disability
179
17
Neurological disability (e.g. epilepsy)
60
6
Intellectual disability
21
2
Learning disability
25
2
Sensory disability (hearing impaired)
54
5
Sensory disability (deaf)
33
3
Sensory disability (vision impaired)
41
4
Sensory disability (blind)
15
1
Work-related injury
93
9
Medical condition (e.g. diabetes)
89
9
Other
86
8
Total*
1 053
100

*One complainant may have multiple disabilities.

Table 28: Disability Discrimination Act - complaints received by
ground
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages (%)
Disability of person(s) aggrieved
1 888
92
Associate
64
3
Disability – person assisted by trained animal
43
2
Disability – accompanied by assistant
7
-
Disability – use of appliance
8
-
Harassment
9
1
Victimisation
10
1
Aids, permits or instructs
21
1
Total*
2 050
100

* One complainant may have multiple grounds.

Table 29: Disability Discrimination Act -
complaints received by area
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Employment
942
46
Goods, services and facilities
640
31
Access to premises
62
3
Land
-
-
Accommodation
24
1
Incitement to unlawful acts or offences
-
-
Advertisements
-
-
Superannuation, insurance
14
1
Education
149
7
Clubs, incorporated associations
27
1
Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
48
3
Sport
4
-
Application forms, requests for information
5
-
Trade unions, registered organisations
-
-
Unlawful to contravene Disability Standard
135
7
Total*
2 050
100

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

Table 30: Disability Discrimination Act - outcomes
of finalised complaints
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
310
At complainants request – s.46PE
-
Not unlawful
10
More than 12 months old
6
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
145
Adequately dealt with already
4
More appropriate remedy available
6
Subject matter of public importance
-
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
139
Withdrawn
103
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
100
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission
3
Conciliated
385
Administrative closure*
17
Total
815

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Figure 5: Disability
Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Pie chart of Disability Discrimination Act: Conciliated	48%, Terminated - other reason 22%, Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 17%, Withdrawn 13%

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4.3.8 Age Discrimination Act

Table 31: Age Discrimination Act - complaints
received and finalised
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Received
126
Finalised
114
Table 32: Age Discrimination Act – complaints
received by age group of complainant
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages (%)
0 – 14 years
1
1
15 – 24 years
12
10
25 – 34 years
9
7
35 – 44 years
11
9
45 – 54 years
28
22
55 – 64 years
37
29
> 65 years
14
11
Unknown
14
11
Total
126
100
Table 33: Age Discrimination Act - complaints
received by area
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Employment
182
76
Goods, services and facilities
41
17
Access to premises
-
-
Land
-
-
Accommodation
1
-
Incitement to unlawful acts or offences
-
-
Advertisements
-
-
Superannuation, insurance
2
1
Education
9
4
Clubs, incorporated associations
-
-
Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
4
2
Sport
-
-
Application forms, requests for information
-
-
Trade unions, registered organisations
-
-
Total*
239
100

* One complaint may have multiple and different areas.

Table 34: Age Discrimination Act - outcomes of
finalised complaints
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
44
At complainants request – s.46PE
-
Not unlawful
3
More than 12 months old
3
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
26
Adequately dealt with already
-
More appropriate remedy available
-
Subject matter of public importance
-
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
12
Withdrawn
18
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
17
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission
1
Conciliated
50
Administrative closure*
2
Total
114

*Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Figure 6: Age
Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Pie Chart of Age Discrimination Act: Conciliated 45%, Terminated - other reason 28%, Withdrawn 16%, Terminated - no reasonable prospect of conciliation 11%

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4.3.9 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act

Table 35: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act - complaints received and finalised
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Received
149
Finalised
167
Table 36: Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act - complaints received by
ground
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Race (ILO 111)
-
-
Colour (ILO 111)
-
-
Sex (ILO 111)
-
-
Religion (ILO 111)
19
12
Political opinion (ILO 111)
3
2
National extraction (ILO 111)
-
-
Social origin (ILO 111)
-
-
Age (ILO 111)
1
0.5
Medical record (ILO 111)
1
0.5
Criminal record (ILO 111)
73
46
Impairment (including HIV/AIDS status) (ILO 111)
1
0.5
Marital status (ILO 111)
-
-
Disability (ILO 111)
-
-
Nationality (ILO 111)
-
-
Sexual preference (ILO 111)
15
9
Trade union activity (ILO 111)
11
7
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
33
21
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
2
1
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of
Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief
1
0.5
Not a ground within jurisdiction
-
-
Not a human right as defined by the Act
-
-
Total*
160
100

*One complaint may have multiple grounds.

Table 37: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act - complaints received by area
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage (%)
Acts or practices of the Commonwealth
32
20
Employment
126
79
Not act or practice of the Commonwealth (not employment cases)
2
1
Total*
160
100

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

Table 38: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act - non-employment complaints received by sub-area
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Prisons, prisoner
2
6
Religious institutions
-
-
Family court matters
-
-
Other law court matters
1
3
Immigration
20
59
Law enforcement agency
-
-
State agency
1
3
Other service provider (private sector)
-
-
Local government
-
-
Education systems
-
-
Welfare systems
2
6
Personal or neighbourhood conflict
-
-
Health system
-
-
Other
8
23
Total
34
100
Table 39: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act - outcomes
of finalised complaints
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act
Total
Declined
118
Does not constitute discrimination
22
Human rights breach, not inconsistent or contrary to any human right
7
More than 12 months old
2
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
37
Adequately dealt with already
3
More appropriate remedy available
7
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
9
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside the Commission
2
Withdrawn or lost contact
29
Conciliated
41
Referred for reporting*
8
Administrative closure**
-
Total
167

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

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

Figure 7: Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act - outcomes of finalised complaints

Pie Chart of Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act: Declined 47%, Conciliated 24%, Withdrawn 24%, Referred for reporting 5%

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