Setting the standards: building partnerships for change
Kevin Cocks - Director, Queensland Advocacy Inc
Most organisations want to do the right thing by their employees, clients and others with whom they work. To reduce the potential for complaints, HREOC produces guidelines to help employers and organisations meet their obligations under federal anti-discrimination laws.
Many of the guidelines address concerns that employers have raised with us or which have been the source of a large number of complaints: employment advertising (1998), pay equity (1998), sexual harassment (1996; updated 2004), pregnancy (2001) and criminal record (2005).
Guidelines are developed following consultations with employers, business and industry, and draw on the latest research, complaint information and court decisions.
While employment is a major area of discrimination, people with disability face a much broader range of barriers that can greatly limit their participation in the community.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, the federal Attorney-General can set legally-binding ‘disability standards’ in a range of areas, such as employment, education, accommodation and public transport.
HREOC has played a leading role, in partnership with disability groups, industry and others, in the development of these disability standards.
The first standards to come into effect covered access to public transport (2002). The second addressed access to education (2005). Draft standards on employment of people with disability and access to premises have also been developed.
These standards provide clearly defined benchmarks for improving accessibility, as well as timetables for achieving those targets. In areas where large investment is required, such as public transport infrastructure, these standards provide the certainty needed to plan and roll out services.
While not legally binding, HREOC has also developed guidelines and resources to assist organisations provide improved access to insurance, superannuation and online information.
Find out more at www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/