Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, within the Department of Premier and Cabinet has developed new guidelines to make government services and information accessible to all Victorians from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia have released walata tyamateetj, a guide to Government archival records about Aboriginal people in Victoria.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

You can help the Victorian government to do a better job for people with a disability. The government wants to improve the lives of people with a disability so that they have the same choices and opportunities as everyone in our community.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Human Rights Law Centre has released an Information Paper and a shorter guide to making submissions to help individuals and organisations give feedback to the Federal Government on its proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act Section 18C.

The paper provides an overview of the current law and the proposed changes and also summarises the Human Rights Law Centre’s views on the changes. The Commission has prepared a submission to the Attorney-General of Australia on the exposure draft which may be of interest to those wishing to submit their own.

The Government has invited submissions on the proposed changes by 30 April 2014.

Learn more about racial vilification and the law.

 

 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

As Melbourne prepares to host AIDS 2014 in July, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is the first public activation of the City and an important reminder of the global impact of HIV and continuing fight against HIV related stigma and discrimination.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Australia's largest annual not-for-profit sector gathering will feature a host of inspiring speakers, including former Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Julia Gillard.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The 2014 HRAFF program brings world-class films, art exhibitions, special guests and forums that will challenge, touch and inspire audiences from all walks of life.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Commission has made a submission to the Australian Government's consultation on proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). The Commission has serious concerns about the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s 18C) Bill 2014  Exposure Draft.

In summary, The Commission submits:

1. Effective state and federal laws proscribing racial vilification are important for multicultural communities such as Victoria. The Commission has very serious concerns that the proposal set out in the Exposure Draft will not provide the protection from racist speech and behaviour that the Australian community has a right to expect and that the Australian Government has stated that the legislation is intended to achieve.

2. Based on the experience of the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and other discrimination laws across Australia, we believe the proposed new laws will be ineffective because:

a. the new test provides that racist intimidation and vilification are unlawful only if an act is done solely because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin of a person or group which is targeted. This will be very difficult for the complainant to prove.

b. the test of 'incitement to hatred' relies on proving that the conduct moved the emotional state of a third person. This is a very high threshold to meet. The test would be more effective if it related to the abhorrence of the conduct or the impact on the person or a reasonable person in the victim's position.

c. the definition of intimidation is limited to conduct which will cause fear of physical harm (conduct which is already prohibited as criminal conduct).

d. substituting the exemption for acts done 'reasonably and in good faith' with a broad exemption for any 'words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter', will remove almost all conduct from the operation of the Act.

3. In combination, the Commission believes the proposed amendments in Exposure Draft will remove any effective mechanism to combat racist speech and behaviour which impacts the rights of others (outside of specific relationships where discrimination can occur).

4. It is essential for there to be serious consideration of these issues and the implications of any legislative amendments. Adequate community consultation and a thorough examination of the case law and the experiences of other jurisdictions should be part of any genuine law reform work in this area.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Commission has made a submission to the Australian Government's consultation on proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). The Commission has serious concerns about the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of s 18C) Bill 2014  Exposure Draft.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Centre for Ethical Leadership presents this Vincent Fairfax Fellowship Speaker Series at 5.30pm on Thursday 22 May 2014.

Monday, 14 April 2014

ME stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, better known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is estimated that about 180,000 Australians have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, yet 90 per cent of people remain undiagnosed and untreated due to lack of awareness.

Wednesday, 09 April 2014

Be Deadly Online is Australia's first comprehensive cybersafety resource offering positive, practical advice to help young people online.

Friday, 04 April 2014

A trial Third Party Reporting scheme is being developed by the Commission in partnership with Victoria Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

As a partnership, we are committed to working with the community to identify and prevent prejudice-based crime.

The trial will be piloted in two locations – Shepparton (Mooroopna) and Northern Melbourne (City of Yarra, Darebin and Whittlesea), allowing Aboriginal community members to report any incident of race discrimination including:

  • street-based harassment or vilification
  • refusal of or bad service in a shop because of race
  • discrimination at work
  • complaints about how the police have treated them.

Reports will be accepted from victims, witnesses and reporting hubs. People can also choose to report anonymously or make the report to a community organisation rather than directly to the Commission.

We are working with the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees in the pilot locations to implement the scheme.

This is the first time a third party reporting scheme has been trialled in Australia so we really appreciate all the involvement and support of the community and our partners.

The scheme is not yet live. If you would like further information about the Third Party Reporting scheme please contact Alessandra Guadagnuolo on 03 9032 3405 or Alessandra.Guadagnuolo@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

Thursday, 03 April 2014

The National Mental Health Commission has funded a team of interdisciplinary researchers from across the University of Melbourne to identify evidence of how best to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health facilities. The team is currently seeking perspectives on good practice and barriers to the reduction of seclusion and restraint through a survey. Take the survey or email social-equity@unimelb.edu.au with any questions.

Thursday, 03 April 2014

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has developed a guideline for employers outlining obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 regarding discrimination against people with mental illness in employment.

Wednesday, 02 April 2014
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

The release of the Commission's Reporting Racism: what you say matters report identified that issues around understanding the diversity of Aboriginal identity represents one of the biggest challenges facing the Aboriginal community in Victoria.

The recommendation from Reporting Racism was to develop an online resource to educate and raise awareness around the diversity of Aboriginal identity and culture in Victoria. This resource will not define or justify Aboriginal identity but will demonstrate the resilience of Aboriginal Victorians.

It will target employers and service providers to understand and meet their legal responsibilities and take affirmative action to prevent discrimination based on stereotypes and misconceptions about Aboriginal identity.

The project will rely on the expertise of the Aboriginal community reference group established to guide this project. For more information contact Melissa Saunders on (03) 9032 3426 or melissa.saunders@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

Members on the Aboriginal Reference Group include:

  • The Commission – Melissa Saunders & Megan Breen
  • Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre – Caroline Martin
  • Koorie Youth Council – Greg Kennedy
  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service – Annette Vickery
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – Nicole Cassar & Angelina Kastamonitis
  • Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council – Nellie Flagg
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

Thousands of young people aged 12 to 25 come together each year for National Youth Week (NYW), the largest celebration of young people in Australia.

Tuesday, 01 April 2014

I have been a member of the Commission's Disability Reference Group (DRG) for six years and have participated in three successful selection processes to become a member.

I must say that membership of the DRG is both an honour and a privilege because it provides an opportunity for self advocacy at the systemic level and also a chance to keep up to date with a whole range of issues that affect people with disabilities. I have been especially pleased with the outcome of my self advocacy on relinquishment of children with disabilities into state care and the project on people with disabilities as victims of crime.

I enjoy the role because the group helps to identify priority human rights and discrimination issues affecting people with a disability and provides advice to the Commission on a range of issues including policies and procedures, the Commission's Strategic Plan and the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.

It is a wonderful experience to meet four times a year and share with people who all have an interest in disability issues, whether they are parents, have a disability themselves or work in the sector. The possibilities for networking and friendship are fantastic.

The selection process is not very difficult and the Commission staff are very supportive. It involves the following steps:

  1. Self nomination to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. This involves a written or telephone Expression of Interest, which this year is due by the 30 April 2014.
  2. Short listing of applicants. This is done jointly by the Commissioner and the current elected Co-chair of the DRG. Applicants are then notified.
  3. Interviews. New applicants for the DRG are interviewed either face to face or over the telephone.
  4. Announcement of new DRG for the next two years.

At the first meeting after the new DRG is announced members elect a Co-chair for the next two years to host each meeting jointly with the Commissioner. Support to attend and participate in each DRG meeting is funded by the Commission.

I thoroughly recommend anyone who is eligible to apply to do so; it is an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience to be a member of the DRG.

Trevor Carroll

Find out more about the DRG and apply to join.

Tuesday, 01 April 2014

A trial Third Party Reporting scheme is being developed by the Commission in partnership with Victoria Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Tuesday, 01 April 2014

2014 marks 10 years since Michael Long walked to Canberra to get the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people back on the national agenda.

Friday, 28 March 2014

What is the Disability Reference Group?

The Disability Reference Group was established so the Commission could hear directly from people with disability about discrimination and human rights issues that impact upon people with disability. The DRG is made up of 18 members who provide advice and feedback to the Commission.

What does the DRG do?

The Disability Reference Group:

  • assists the Commission to identify priority human rights and systemic discrimination issues affecting people with a disability;
  • provides advice and assistance to the Commission on the development of policies and procedures towards ensuring the delivery of appropriate and effective services to people with a disability;
  • provides guidance to the Commission on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act, and
  • provides a user perspective on the ongoing implementation of the Commission’s Strategic Plan.

How often does the DRG meet?

The DRG meets quarterly (four times a year) on Thursdays from 10.30am - 3.15pm. Meetings in 2014 are tentatively scheduled for July, September and December.

How long is the term for the next DRG?

The DRG are appointed for two years, from 2014 to 2016.

Who can apply to be on the DRG?

The group includes members who have direct experience of disability, parents of children with disability, service providers and advocates.

The Commission is keen to ensure representation of:

  • people with disabilities
  • disability advocates, service providers and family carers of people with disabilities
  • young people with disabilities
  • older people with disabilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with disabilities
  • gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people with disabilities
  • people with disabilities living in rural and regional Victoria.

While some members may come from particular organisations, it is the Commission’s expectation that they will provide individual expertise and guidance to the group rather than represent the formal view of their organisation.

Can I get assistance to make my application?

If you cannot make a written application, you are welcome to apply over the phone. We can arrange language interpreters or the national relay service if you wish to make your application this way.

There is no application form. If you are applying, you will need to tell us about:

  • why you are interested in joining the DRG
  • your experience of disability and any other attributes detailed above
  • any organisations and/or networks in which you are involved.

When do I have to have my application in by?

Applications are due by 30 April 2014.

What happens with my application?

All applications are kept confidential. In May, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the current Chair of the Disability Reference Group will look at applications and make a shortlist. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for a short interview in May.

When will a decision be made? When will I know the outcome?

Short-listing and interviews will be held throughout May. All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by the 31 May 2014.

Who decides who gets to be on the DRG?

The co-chairs will shortlist an interview potential members. It is a merit-based process. The Commission is keen to ensure representation of:

  • people with disabilities
  • disability advocates, service providers and family carers of people with disabilities
  • young people with disabilities
  • older people with disabilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with disabilities
  • gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people with disabilities
  • people with disabilities living in rural and regional Victoria.

How many members are there on the DRG?

The DRG has 18 members, as well as the Commissioner and Commission staff.

Who is currently on the DRG?

Denise Allen, Christian Astourian, Thomas Banks, Andrew Barrett, Sophie Cole, Rachel Carling-Jenkins, Trevor Carroll, Frank Hall-Bentick, Suzanne Lau-Gooey, Susan Stork-Finlay, Tyrell Heathcote, Kathleen Murray, Kate Lawson, Pradeep Hawavitharana, Henrique Van Dunem, Peter Adams, and John Baxter.

Does the Commission provide reimbursement for travel?

Yes. The Commission provides taxi vouchers and reimbursements for long distance travel, including accommodation and meal costs (consistent with Victorian Government rules). The Disability Reference Group's expenses policy is available on request.

Does the Commission provide interpreters/assistance at the meetings?

Yes. The Commission provides interpreters and support costs are covered by the Commission for DRG meetings.

How long has the DRG been around?

The DRG has been around since 2006.

If I am already a member, or have been a member previously, do I still have to reapply?

Yes. Everyone has the right to apply to be on the DRG, including people who have been on the reference group previously.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Ombudsman found that Corrections Victoria is not meeting its legal obligations under the Charter in key areas including the right to life, and humane treatment when  in custody. These are very serious matters that require immediate attention.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Chairperson of the Board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Mr John Searle, today thanked outgoing Board Member Damein Bell for his significant contribution to the Commission.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission supports protection from racial and religious vilification in the community. Research has documented the detrimental impact experiences of racism have on individuals and the community, including experiences of violence, feelings of safety, levels of community engagement and mental health outcomes.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

HomeGround, one of Melbourne's largest homelessness service providers, have expanded into the real estate industry to meet the growing demand for housing and support services.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bringing together international, national and local speakers, the The 2014 VCOSS Summit will to explore issues of change, leadership and new collaborations and how we tell stories that matter in a changing media environment.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Grants are now open for emerging young leaders in the disability sector to attend the 7th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York from 10 – 12 June 2014.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Equality at the top for women in policymaking, politics and jobs that offer decision-making power still remains an aspiration. This seminar seeks to highlight the business case for gender equity in the workplace and more generally for women’s participation in the economy.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A recent decision of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) involved a matter of particular relevance to the Aboriginal community and services directed specifically towards Aboriginal people.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Commission is a member of the Coalition for Aboriginal Health Equality Victoria, which exists to help ensure that the commitments of the Statement of Intent to close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes are met in Victoria.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Did you know that, within the first two years of arriving to permanently settle in Australia, migrants can have key personal documents translated into English, at no cost, to assist with settlement into the community?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Are you interested in saving and preserving your community’s historical material for future generations?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Tens of thousands of people will gather at Federation Square in Melbourne on Sunday 23 March 2014 for the spectacular Viva Victoria festival.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Terms and Conditions

1 Introduction

1. This competition encourages people to share their stories about how they stood up to racism or a racist person.

2. Entries can be a short 2 minute video, a written story of a maximum of 120 words or up to 3 photographs.

3. Entrants to the competition will have their entry displayed on the Rant Against Racism Website.

4. Information on how to enter this competition and information on the competition's prize/s forms part of these conditions. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these conditions. Entries must comply with these conditions to be valid.

2 Entry eligibility

5. Entry is open to residents of Australia. Entrants who are under the age of 18 must seek permission from their parent or guardian to enter.

6. Employees of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) and their immediate families and its agencies associated with this competition are ineligible to enter.

7. Multiple entries will be accepted, however, each entry must be unique and submitted separately. Although individual and group entries (of a maximum of 3 people) will be accepted, only one prize will be awarded per entry.

3 Important information and dates

8. The competition commences at 9am AEDT on 21 March 2014 and closes at 5pm AEST 5 pm on 20 June 2014 (Entry Period).

9. Judging will take place in the week of 23 June 2014. Entries will be judged by a panel of judges from the AHRC and VEOHRC.

10. This competition is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining a winning entry. All entries will be judged individually on their merits based on the rules and conditions of the competition. The best five responses will receive a prize.

4 Entry requirements

http://rantagainstracism.com.au.

12. Entries must be lodged during the Entry Period. Entries received after that time will not be accepted.

13. Entrants are responsible for ensuring that the following is included in the entry form:

a. first name;

b. age, and

c. email.

d. If an entry is made up of a group of people (a maximum of 3 people), the above details must be completed for ALL group members.

14. The entry must not:

a. show images of self-harm or suicide;

b. be violent, abusive, defamatory, offensive or use copyright material;

c. include confidential or sensitive information about you or anyone else; or

d. be an advertisement for any other products or services.

Users with accessibility difficulties can contact the AHRC on communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au or 02 9284 9600.

a. by submitting a photograph or other creative work, entrants agree to the photograph or creative work being made available for public viewing;

b. any person depicted in a photograph or other creative work uploaded must be decently dressed and presented;

c. all photographs or other creative work are subject to the approval of the AHRC and VEOHRC. The AHRC and VEOHRC reserve the right to vet all entries prior to them going live on the website and reserves the right to remove any entries at any time in its absolute discretion. However, the AHRC and VEOHRC are not responsible for any photographs or other creative work uploaded to the website and visitors to the site view it at their own risk;

d. entrants must own the copyright in the photograph or other creative work uploaded or be entitled and have permission to use the photograph or creative work in the manner contemplated by these terms, including use of the photograph or other creative work for promotional purposes in accordance with clause 3 of these terms and conditions; and

e. if an entrant uploads a photograph or other creative work depicting a child, the entrant must be the parent or legal guardian of the child depicted in the photograph or other creative work and must have the permission of all other parents or legal guardians of the child and any other children pictured to submit the photograph or other creative work in accordance with these terms.

16. Video entries must be uploaded in one of the following formats:

a. WebM files - Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codecs;

b. .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files - Typically supporting h264, mpeg4 video codecs, and AAC audio codec;

c. .AVI - Many cameras output this format - typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM;

d. .MPEGPS - Typically supporting MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio;

e. .WMV; or

f. .FLV - Adobe-FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio.

17. Entries which do not follow the technology specifications set out above will not be accepted.

18. The AHRC and VEOHRC are not responsible for entries that do not meet the above specifications or for any other reason are not compatible with the technology and platforms used in the competition.

5 Prize

19. The prize consists of a $100 AUD voucher to be used at JB Hi Fi.

20. If, after using reasonable efforts and after a reasonable period of time the AHRC and VEOHRC are unable to notify an entrant of their win or deliver a prize to a winner, the AHRC and VEOHRC may assign that prize to the next best response or withdraw that prize unawarded. If a prize becomes unavailable for any reason beyond the control of the AHRC or VEOHRC, the AHRC or VEOHRC may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.

21. The prize is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash. The decision of the AHRC and VEOHRC is final and binding - no correspondence will be entered into. The AHRC and VEOHRC accept no responsibility for late, lost, malfunctioning or misdirected entries or other communications. The AHRC and VEOHRC assume no responsibility for any failure to receive an entry or for inaccurate information or for any loss, damage or injury as a result of technical or telecommunications problems, including security breaches. If any such problem arises, then the AHRC and VEOHRC may modify, cancel, terminate or suspend the competition.

22. The winners will be notified by email on or by 27 June 2014. The winners will be asked to provide their address in order for the prize to be delivered to them. Prize winners will be required to provide proof of age prior to receiving their prize. If a prize winner is under 18 years of age, they will also need to provide a completed parental consent form. The names of the prize winners will be published on www.antihate.vic.gov.au on 1 July 2014.

23. The AHRC and VEOHRC reserve the right to request verification of information from entrants relevant to entry into or participation in this competition. Verification is at the discretion of the AHRC and VEOHRC, whose decision is final. The AHRC and VEOHRC reserve the right to disqualify any individual who provides false information, fails to provide information, conspires with others to gain an unfair advantage or who is otherwise involved in any way in manipulating, interfering or tampering with the conduct of this competition.

24. Prizes are subject to the terms and conditions of JB Hi Fi. The AHRC and VEOHRC are not responsible or liable for any loss, damage or injury suffered by any winner as a result of the conduct of JB Hi Fi or otherwise as a result of the winner accepting and/or using a prize (even if caused by negligence), except for any liability which cannot be excluded by law.

25. The AHRC and VEOHRC are not responsible or liable to any person for any loss, damage or injury (economic, consequential or otherwise) suffered or allegedly suffered as a result of the winner accepting and/or using the prize (or a component of the prize) (even if caused by negligence), except for any liability which cannot be excluded by law.

6 Use of entries

26. Entrants consent to the AHRC and VEOHRC using their name, image and/or voice in the event that they are a winner in any media for an unlimited period of time without remuneration for the purpose of promoting this competition (including any outcome) and/or promoting any products or services, distributed and/or supplied by the AHRC and VEOHRC.

28. Entries remain the property of the AHRC and VEOHRC.

29. Personal information collected from entrants will be collected and used, in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988, for the purposes of conducting this competition (which may include disclosure to third parties for the purpose of processing and conducting the competition and for promotional purposes surrounding this competition).

30. By entering this competition entrants consent to the use of their information (including personal and sensitive information) as described and agree that the AHRC and VEOHRC may use this information, or disclose it to other organisations that may use it, in any media for future promotional purposes without any further reference or payment to the entrant.

31. Entrants may access, change and/or update their personal information and obtain a copy of the AHRC's privacy policy via the website www.humanrights.gov.au or the VEOHRC's privacy policy via the website www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

7 Organiser's details

32. The organisers of this competition are the Australian Human Rights Commission (ABN 47 996 232 602) Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, SYDNEY NSW 2000 and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (ABN 23 158 288 152) Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, CARLTON VIC 3053.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is offering grants of up to $150,000 to help organisations to expand their services to assist people affected by gambling issues.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Victoria’s Advantage - Unity, Diversity, Opportunity is a landmark new multicultural affairs and citizenship policy for Victoria.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (Commission) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Committee’s Inquiry into Social Inclusion for Victorians with Disabilities.

The Commission believes that the participation of people with disabilities, their families and carers in society is critically important. People with disabilities should be able to participate in all areas of public life. They should be able to access universal services on an equal basis with others. They should be supported to reach their maximum potential in important areas of their lives through the provision of high quality, specialist services. Victorian equal opportunity and human rights laws support this position.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Australia’s very first Islamic art museum, the ‘Islamic Museum of Australia’ is now open to the public.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Applications are now open for round one of the Victorian Multicultural Commission's Festival and Events Grants. Applications can be made for events between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2014.

Friday, 14 March 2014

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Tasty Bust Reunion, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival is hosting a special screening of the documentary followed by a panel discussion with Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-Convener Anna Brown and others.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Offering a wide range of discounts and benefits from businesses, local government and community organisations, the Carer Card Program provides recognition, understanding and support to Victorian carers.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The latest occasional paper from the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) suggests policy principles and strategies to support families of adults with a disability and disability service providers to work more effectively together.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Commission made a submission to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) on the Mental Health Bill 2014. The Commission welcomed the Bill as a significant improvement in the protection of human rights under mental health laws in Victoria. The Commissions notes a number of outstanding human rights issues, including the right of people with disabilities to have their capacity to consent to and refuse treatment respected.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Fitzroy Legal Service provides free legal advice and referrals to the LGBTIQ community every Thursday evening at their office. Specialist lawyers are also available to provide assistance in discrimination and family law matters.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Open Day offers visitors the chance to see inside the historic Parliament House, one of Melbourne's best-known landmarks, and explore areas of Parliament not usually open to the public.

Friday, 07 March 2014

Nothing for them, a research report by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, explores the services and referral pathways available for refugee and newly arrived young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual or who may be questioning their gender identity.

Friday, 07 March 2014

The Gaslight Festival is a three-day community festival in Wodonga, Victoria celebrating and using Auslan as the main language.

Wednesday, 05 March 2014

The Commission welcomes Victoria Police taking strong action in response to incidents of racism within the police force and making it clear there is an ongoing commitment to ensure racism is never an accepted part of Victoria Police culture.

Wednesday, 05 March 2014

What do I call the judge? explains what to call judges in court, outside court and in writing so you will never have to ask that question again.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014

Community West invites you to attend the launch of Justice Out West, the first research report on the legal needs and barriers to accessing the justice system in Brimbank and Melton.

Monday, 03 March 2014

This is the second in the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) series of Occasional Papers on 'Learning from Complaints'.

Monday, 03 March 2014

A coalition of Aboriginal Services has been established in order to respond to the Royal Commission into sexual abuse against Aboriginal people.

Monday, 03 March 2014

As we prepare to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March – it is also an opportunity to remember that in Victoria, women are still paid less than men for performing the same work, face sexual harassment in the workplace and are discriminated against in many areas of life.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Victoria’s legal profession and members of the public are encouraged to have their say on options to improve the quality and efficiency of criminal trials funded by Victoria Legal Aid.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Celebrating the unique and diverse art created by women with disabilities and showcasing their role as cultural innovators. A selection of short vignettes, spoken word, comedy and musical performances.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

To recognise the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, the Bully Zero Australia Foundation and Best Enemies are launching a 48-hour Digital Detox Program.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Victorian Department of Health is undertaking targeted consultation with the Victorian gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community and health sector in order to better understand the health and wellbeing issues experienced by the GLBTI community, including community views about health and wellbeing issues, emerging concerns and experiences.

Monday, 24 February 2014

This is the second in the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) series of Occasional Papers on 'Learning from Complaints'. The paper responds to a consistent theme in DSC work, which has been the resolution of complaints that have arisen from a lack of consultation and agreement between families and service providers on how supports are best provided.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Applications for the Department of Justice Disability Leadership Scholarship Program are now open. The Program aims to support tertiary students with disability who are undertaking study in justice-related subjects.

Monday, 24 February 2014

A recent decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) shows that not all distinctions between men and women are unlawful discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The Act allows for the balancing of different interests to meet the special needs of people of one sex.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

In Victoria, public sector employees must understand and comply with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) in their work. Find out more in our new resource.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Security Measures) Bill 2013 was introduced into the Victorian Parliament on 10 December 2013. The Bill will introduce new security arrangements for secure welfare services in Victoria, including the proposed powers to subject a child to an unclothed search, a frisk search, seclusion and/or force.

The Commission has made a submission to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee noting that the Commission:

  • is concerned that the Statement of Compatibility for the Bill does not adequately explain whether the Bill limits the rights of children in secure welfare services, or whether any of those rights are reasonable and justified
  • considers that the proposed unclothed search power may lead to situations that are not be compatible with the Charter, and
  • considers that the Bill should be amended to include more extensive procedural safeguards to protect the rights of children in secure welfare.
Monday, 10 February 2014

The Commission made a submission to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee on the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Bill 2013 which will include provision to prevent the Charter from applying to the Uniform Law. The Commission notes that human rights should inform the development of uniform schemes and outlines procedural issues if the override declaration provision in the Charter is being used.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A Bill introduced into Victorian Parliament on 10 December 2013 proposes to introduce laws which increase the scope and breadth of police move-on powers and create new exclusion orders, which can be used in ways that could impact upon rights enshrined in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Charter) such as the rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, privacy and freedom of expression.

The Commission has submitted to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee that it is concerned about a number of potential human rights implications of the proposed new laws. The Commission recognises the important policy aims of public safety, allowing people to come and go from premises, and allowing business to operate and notes that laws need to be tailored for their purpose.
The Commission submits that in considering the Bill and its implementation, there should be a strong focus on the limitation on rights being the least restrictive option available to meet the public policy aim.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Volunteers make an enormous contribution to the Victorian community. Every year, thousands of people give their time and energy on a voluntary basis to organisations in the not-for-profit, public and private sectors. In return, they gain valuable skills and strengthen their connection with their communities.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Commission welcomes the Victoria Police response to the community consultation and the actions articulated in the Three Year Action Plan released today.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Our vision

A community where every person values, understands and respects human rights and equal opportunity.

Our mission

We will work with others to eliminate inequality and build a community that respects and promotes human rights and equal opportunity.

Our values

  • Fair
  • Proactive
  • Collaborative
  • Transparent
  • Effective

Enablers

The law – We will work to achieve the legislative objectives and carry out the functions set out in our authorising laws.

Our resources – We will build a strong and sustainable resource base to enable us to carry out our statutory functions and strategic focus areas.

Our expertise – We will recruit and develop people with the skills and expertise required to deliver tangible outcomes.

Our relationships – We will develop effective working relationships with individuals and organisations to advance our work.

Evidence – We will rely on evidence in determining our priorities, including the evidence derived from our enquiries, complaints, conciliation, training, research and collaborations.

Strategic priorities

We will build on our core work, experience and strong networks over the next three years.

We will undertake work that improves outcomes for rights holders, creates systemic change and informs conversation in the wider community.

Targeted impact

We will work with people whose rights are being breached and the organisations that work with them.

Our priority groups will be:

  • People experiencing racial and religious discrimination and vilification
  • People with disability
  • Women

Systemic change

We will work with employers, government and service providers to equip them to meet their obligations and drive systemic change.

Our priority areas will be:

  • Employment
  • Sport
  • The justice system
  • The public sector

Community engagement

We will reach a wider audience of Victorians who have had little involvement with human rights and equal opportunity in the past by leading community conversation and empowering all Victorians to act.

We will continually monitor the priority areas and identify new areas of need.

Download a copy of the 2014-16 Strategic Plan (PDF, 899KB)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Commission has made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission in response to an application by the federal Department of Social Services for an exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). The Department is seeking the exemption from the DDA on its behalf, and on behalf of Australian Disability Enterprises, to allow them to continue to use a particular wage assessment tool to assess and pay wages to people working in disability enterprises. In 2012, the Federal Court found that the use of the tool indirectly discriminated against two men with an intellectual disability.

The Commission considers the exemption application raises important issues regarding rights to equality and non-discrimination at work for people with an intellectual disability.  In the Commission's view, the exemption should not be granted on the basis of the information currently provided by the Department. The Commission's submission discusses relevant considerations for the exemption application and notes some specific human rights considerations from a Victorian perspective.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission welcomes the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into children transferred from the youth justice system to the adult prison system and supports the findings and recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

Monday, 09 December 2013
Friday, 22 November 2013

This case involves a complaint of discrimination by the Applicant against his former employer on the grounds of race and physical features in the area of employment, as well as a complaint of victimisation.

The Commission's submissions relate only to the assessment and determination of remedies under section 125 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, in the event the Tribunal finds the Applicant's claim has been proven.

The Tribunal has not yet heard or made a final determination in this application.

Attached is a copy of the submissions as filed.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission are calling for expressions of interest from secondary schools wishing to participate in the 2014 Fair go, sport! supported practice project.

Thursday, 07 November 2013

This case concerns a complaint of discrimination in education on the basis of disability, and raises an educational authority's obligation to make reasonable adjustments for a student with a disability.

The Commission's submissions consider:

  • the definition of 'disability'
  • the interpretation of 'direct discrimination' and 'indirect discrimination'
  • the obligation for an educational authority to make reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability
  • victimisation.

The Tribunal dismissed the application on 21 October 2013. Read the Tribunal's decision on the Austlii website.

Note: A non-publication order applies to this matter preventing publishing of information that could lead to the identification of the applicant or her son. The Commission has amended its submission to the Tribunal to ensure that it complies with this order.

Download a copy of the submissions below.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A new Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission report has found public transport in Victoria is failing to meet the needs of Victorians with disabilities.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The report notes the results from this survey, which were also used to inform our submission to the Federal Government's review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Q. Does the right to protection from slavery have any work to do in today's world?

A. Yes. Section 11 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 says that people have the right to be free from forced work, that a person must not be held in slavery or servitude, and that they must not be made to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Although slavery and servitude have been against the law across the world for many decades, contemporary forms of slavery and servitude still happen every day.

What is slavery, servitude and forced work?

Slavery is when someone exercises ownership rights over another person, as if the person were a piece of property.

Someone in servitude may be directed where to live and may be unable to leave.

Forced labour is when someone is compelled to do work. The Charter makes clear that forced labour does not include work a person might be required to do by a court as part of a community service order, work required because of an emergency, or work that forms part of normal civil obligations, such a jury duty.

Contemporary forms of slavery and servitude include child soldiers, debt bondage, forced labour, and forced marriage. There are many people in Victoria who either experience these things or live with the consequences of them every day.

In recognition of the ongoing problem, new laws to better criminalise forced marriage, forced labour and organ trafficking are before the Australian Parliament.

What role does the Charter have to play?

We are fortunate in Victoria that our public authorities are not generally engaging in slavery or forced labour, but the Charter is there to say that government agencies still have a role to play in promoting, respecting and protecting this right – through laws, policies and programs, services and law enforcement activity. This includes things like:

  • following-up on allegations of human trafficking, slavery and forced marriages
  • implementing measures to prevent and protect people from becoming victims
  • the regulation and oversight of brothels and other areas of the sex industry
  • programs to support former child soldiers who have come as refugees to Australia, and
  • working with communities to address the practice of forcing women to marry against their will.

For more information download the Charter factsheet on the protection from forced work.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Q. Is the right to privacy just about people's information?

A. No. Section 13 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 says that people have the right to privacy and reputation. We often think about privacy as giving us rights when government agencies deal with information about us. This is an important part of the right to privacy, but our rights under the Charter are broader than this.

The right to privacy protects that part of our life that is 'private' from unlawful and arbitrary interference by government. This includes the personal autonomy we have to make decisions about our own lives, and our home and family life.

The Charter says that everyone has the right not to have their privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with. For example the right to privacy is relevant when government agencies are making decisions about public housing, mental health, guardianship, and planning decisions that affect the quiet enjoyment of people's homes.

Family has a broad meaning and it is important to remember that this includes the kinship structures of Aboriginal Victorians. Part of the concept of privacy is also the right to personal autonomy as a human being, and not having unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions on this. People also have the right not to have their reputation unlawfully attacked.

For more information download the Charter factsheet on the right to privacy.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Q. Can I only ask for financial compensation as a remedy for discrimination or sexual harassment?

A. No. When a person has been discriminated against, sexually harassed, or victimised, a broad range of remedies may be available to them under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (the Act).

Dispute resolution at the Commission is an informal, free and flexible process and parties can agree on all sorts of outcomes to help resolve the issue. Parties consider what is appropriate and possible in their circumstances. Agreements often include things like stopping the conduct of concern or reinstating the person, apologising, changing policies, undertaking training, and paying financial compensation.
When an application is made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to have a matter determined, VCAT can also make a number of different orders to remedy the situation which could include:

  • the person refraining from committing any further contravention of the Act
  • the person paying the applicant an amount the Tribunal thinks fit to compensate the applicant for loss, damage or injury suffered as a consequence of the breach of the Act
  • the person doing anything with a view to redressing any loss, damage or injury suffered by the applicant.

Since 1 August 2011, the ability of VCAT to make orders that someone refrain from committing any further contravention of the Act is no longer tied to contraventions in relation to the applicant. This should allow more systemic remedies to be sought (such as changes to discriminatory policies), even when the person is no longer in the employment relationship (or, for example, still living in the accommodation or having services provided).

There is also no cap on the compensation that VCAT can award under the Act. You can find out more about damages and other remedies under the Act in Chapter 18 of the Commission's case law handbook, Victorian Discrimination Law. This resource includes information about the different categories of damages and what VCAT will consider.

For more information download the Victorian Discrimination Law resource.

 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The 13th Human Rights Oration was presented on 19 November 2013 by Geoffrey Robertson QC.

Mr Robertson spoke to a 500-strong audience at ZINC, Federation Square, as the audience in the main square watched him on the big screen.

Listen to an audio recording of his speech, Recent Developments in Human Rights (MP3), or read the transcript (DOC).

Listen to an audio recording of Auntie Di's welcome (MP3).

The views and opinions expressed in the Oration belong solely to the speaker/author and are not necessarily representative of the views and opinions of the Commission.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Commission's 2012/13 Annual Report is now available online and we encourage you to take some time to read about the Commission's work in 2012/13.

The report demonstrates how much has been achieved over the past 12 months across the Commission – from community engagement to education and dispute resolution, to research and legal advice.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Commission's Annual Report provides an account of our work throughout the year, including service delivery and financial management.

Friday, 04 October 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Football Federation Victoria have thrown their support behind this year's Pride Football Australia tournament to show there is no place for homophobia in football.

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is proud to reaffirm its commitment to the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) to work as as a unified body to promote an understanding of and respect for human rights throughout Australia.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission commends Victoria Police on the appointment of Sue Clark, who has been tasked with addressing racism within the police force.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The sixth annual report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is now available.

The report indicates that public authorities' understanding of the Charter is maturing to the extent that it is seen as a useful tool at a practical level.

Thursday, 05 September 2013

This matter involves applications by 16 sworn members of Victoria Police, being heard together. Each member alleges direct discrimination on the basis of physical features in the area of employment. The specific physical features claimed are long hair and facial hair. Four of the police officers also allege direct discrimination on the basis of sex in the area of employment, and one police officer also alleges direct discrimination on the basis of religion in the area of employment.

The Commission's submissions relate to the interpretation of a number of areas of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (EOA 2010), including:

  • the definition of the attribute of physical features
  • the framework for a claim of direct discrimination under the EOA 2010 including the interaction between Parts 2 and 4 of the EOA 2010, particularisation of claims, and the onus and standard of proof
  • the test for direct discrimination (s 8) including issues regarding causation and the meaning of "detriment"
  • the interpretation of the statutory authority exception (s 75)
  • vicarious liability
  • victimisation and
  • remedies and the Tribunal's power to make orders to prevent future breaches of the EOA 2010.

The Tribunal heard these applications together on 23 to 27 September 2013, and the decision of Tribunal Member Julie Grainger was issued on 29 November 2013.

Member Grainger found the applicants had been directly discriminated against on the basis of their physical features in breach of section 18(d) of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (EOA), through the promulgation and enforcement of a new "Grooming Standard" in the Victoria Police Manual, which banned police officers wearing long hair and all forms of facial hair except moustaches. However, Member Grainger found that the respondent's conduct was authorised by section 5(2)(c) and section 17 of the Police Regulation Act 1952 (PR Act). As a result, the respondent's conduct was covered by the general exception in section 75 of the EOA. This meant both the introduction and enforcement of new Grooming Standards were authorised by the PR Act, and were not unlawful under section 13(1)(a) of the EOA.

In relation to the four applicants who also claimed discrimination on the basis of sex and religious belief or activity (in relation to long hair) Member Grainger stated that even if the respondent had discriminated against those applicants, that discrimination was permitted under section 75 of the EOA for the same reasons as set out above.

In relation to the applicants' claims of victimisation, Member Grainger found the direction to not attend VCAT hearings in uniform, on duty, or by using police vehicles did not amount to victimisation. Similarly, the applicants were not victimised by the actions of the Chief Commissioner seeking to amend the Police Regulation Act 1952 (which resulted in the introduction of section 5(2)(c)).

In relation to the applicants' claim that the Chief Commissioner failed to properly take into consideration their right to freedom of expression in the Charter, Member Grainger found that the right to freedom of expression was not engaged. Member Grainger therefore did not need to go on to consider whether the right had been properly considered or reasonably limited.

A decision was issued for each applicant in the proceedings, with the primary reasons set out in Mr Kuyken's decision. A copy can be downloaded below.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

protectingusall2012 

The report reflects on all the main areas of the Charter’s operation: the way that public authorities are acting compatibly with human rights; the way that government is making laws consistently with human rights; and the way that the courts are interpreting laws compatibly with human rights.

You can download the reports below or view online as a PDF.

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Commission has made a submission to the Victoria Police community consultation on field contact reports and cross-cultural training. In its role in policing and protecting the community, Victoria Police has to exercise its powers lawfully and in a manner that maintains public trust and confidence. Victoria Police does a lot of good work in the community. The Commission makes a number of recommendations to strengthen policies, procedures and training to build on this.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Reporting racism: what you say matters, completes the first stage of a multi-tiered project to raise awareness of racism in the community and to build capacity for victims and bystanders to report racism and vilification when they experience it.

The report sets out eight key actions the Commission will undertake in partnership with other agencies to respond to the issues raised. These range from working with community groups to deliver targeted community information sessions about rights; supporting bystanders on public transport who observe instances of racist behaviour, and partnering with schools, youth groups, sporting organisations, local governments, employers and other agencies to promote and implement the Anti-Hate campaign messages (see below for more information about this campaign) into existing programs and curriculum.

Read the report: (PDF, 1.34MB)  |  (DOC, 738KB)

Read the main findings summary: (PDF, 207KB)  |  (DOC, 95KB)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has recently completed research into the experiences of Koori women and the justice system. This project is one of the Commission's key responsibilities under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement 3.

The Commission worked with four focus groups composed of Koori female prisoners at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. The Commission also conducted five case study interviews with female prisoners and with Koori women who had left prison. In addition, 15 key informant interviews with people across the justice system, community service organisations, Magistrates and academics were undertaken.

You can download the reports below or view online as a PDF.

Read the report: (PDF) | (DOC)
Read the main findings summary: (PDF) | (DOC)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Monday, 26 August 2013

Reporting improper conduct

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 encourages and assists people in making disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies. The Act provides protection to people who make disclosures about improper conduct in the public sector without fear of reprisal. These disclosures are called 'protected disclosures'.

Anyone can make a protected disclosure against the Commission. This includes employees and members of the public.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has responsibility for receiving and investigating disclosures. These procedures explain how to make a protected disclosure about the Commission to IBAC and how the Commission protects people who make protected disclosures.

The Commission does not tolerate improper conduct by employees, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct. It is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices and supports the making of disclosures that reveal corrupt conduct, conduct involving a substantial mismanagement of public resources, or conduct involving a substantial risk to public health and safety or the environment.
The Commission does not tolerate detrimental action against those who make, or co-operate with, protected disclosures about the Commission. The Commission will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure.

What is a Protected Disclosure?

The Protected Disclosure Act creates a framework for dealing with protected disclosures and the people who make them. The purpose of the Protected Disclosure Act is to:

  • encourage and assist people to make a disclosure of improper conduct and detrimental action by public officers and public bodies
  • provide certain protections for people who make a disclosure, or those who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for a disclosure
  • ensure that certain information about a disclosure is kept confidential – the identity of the person making the disclosure, and the content of that disclosure.

A protected disclosure is a report made by a person about improper conduct of public bodies or public officers performing public functions.

  • Improper conduct includes corrupt conduct, the dishonest performance of public functions, knowingly or recklessly breaching public trust, misuse of information, substantial mismanagement of public resources or conduct involving substantial risk to public health or safety, or to the environment.

A protected disclosure can also be made about detrimental action against a person by public bodies or public officers in reprisal for the making of a protected disclosure.

  •   is actual or threatened adverse treatment of a person because the person made or intends to make a disclosure, or has cooperated, or intends to cooperate, with an investigation of a disclosure.

How to make a disclosure

Who can make a disclosure?

An individual or group of individuals. A disclosure cannot be made by a business or a company.

What can I make a disclosure about?

Improper conduct engaged in, and/or detrimental action taken by, public bodies or public officers performing public functions. This includes the Commission and/or its officers.

You may make a protected disclosure about information that shows or tends to show, or that you believe on reasonable grounds shows or tends to show:

  1. a person, public officer or public body;
  2. is engaging in, or proposing to engage in;
  3. 'improper conduct' and/or 'detrimental action'.

The conduct you are disclosing must be the performance of a person or body's function as a public officer or public body.

Who can I make a disclosure to?

If you wish to make a protected disclosure about the Commission or any employee at the Commission, you must make the disclosure directly to Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC):

Under the Protected Disclosure Act, the Commission cannot receive disclosures about the Commission or its employees that alleges improper conduct or detrimental action. Employees of the Commission and members of the public can make disclosures directly to IBAC:

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
GPO Box 24234, Melbourne, VIC 3001
Phone: 1300 735 135
Fax: (03) 8635 6444
Website: www.ibac.vic.gov.au.

IBAC can also be contacted through the National Relay Service (NRS).

  • TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1300 735 135
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1300 735 135
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 1300 735 135.

See IBAC's website for more information on making a protected disclosure as well as their contact details.

How do I make a disclosure?

You may make a disclosure to IBAC:

  • in person
  • in writing (including by using IBACs complaint forms on their website)
  • by telephone (including by leaving a voicemail message)
  • by email.

You may not make a protected disclosure by fax.

You may make a disclosure anonymously.

Welfare management

The Commission is committed to ensuring the welfare of those who make or co-operate with protected disclosures. As the Commission cannot receive protected disclosures under the Protected Disclosure Act, the Commission may not be aware someone has made a protected disclosure about the Commission.

IBAC will only notify the Commission of a protected disclosure made about the Commission if it decides it is necessary. If IBAC does notify the Commission of the identity of a discloser, or someone cooperating with an investigation, such notifications are confidential and the Commission is responsible for providing that person with reasonable welfare support.

Where relevant, the Commission will consider appointing a welfare manager when a person has made a protected disclosure or is cooperating, or intending to cooperate, with an investigation of a protected disclosure.

A welfare manager is responsible for:

  • examining the discloser and/or witness' immediate welfare and protection needs and, where that person is an employee, fostering a supportive work environment
  • providing practical advice and support
  • advising the discloser and/or witness of the protections available under the Act
  • receiving and responding to any disclosures of detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure (eg harassment, intimidation or victimisation)
  • ensuring that the discloser and/or witness' expectations of the process and outcomes are realistic
  • maintaining confidentiality, and
  • operating discreetly to protect the discloser and/or witness from being identified as being involved in a protected disclosure.

In determining whether to appoint a welfare management in any particular case, the Commission will consider:

  • whether the disclosure has proceeded, or is likely to proceed, to an investigation
  • whether there are any real risks of detrimental action against the persons involved, taking into account their particular circumstances
  • whether the Commission can provide effective support to the persons involved, including keeping them informed of the progress of the disclosure, and
  • whether it is within the Commission's power to protect the person/s involved from suffering repercussions.

The Commission may appoint an internal person as welfare manager or engage a contractor to provide welfare services. The Commission will also consider referring an employee to its Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Criminal offences

There are a number of offences set out in the Protected Disclosure Act relating to breaches of the requirements of the Act.

The four key offences to be aware of are:

1. It is an offence to take detrimental action against another person in reprisal for a protected disclosure.

2. It is an offence to disclose the content, or information about the content, of a disclosure that has been notified to IBAC or information which is likely to lead to the identification of the person who made that disclosure unless permitted to by the Act

3. It is an offence for any person to:

  • provide false or misleading information, or further information that relates to a protected disclosure, that the person knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, intending that the information be acted on as a protected disclosure
  • claim that a matter is the subject of a protected disclosure knowing the claim to be false, and
  • falsely claim that a matter is the subject of a disclosure that IBAC has determined to be a protected disclosure complaint.

4. It is an offence for any person to:

  • disclose that a disclosure has been notified to IBAC for assessment unless permitted to do so by the Act, and
  • disclose that a disclosure has been determined to be a protected disclosure complaint unless permitted to do so by the Act.

Alternatives to making a 'protected disclosure'

These procedures are designed to complement usual methods of submitting complaints to the Commission.

Members of the public are encouraged to communicate complaints or concerns with the services provided by the Commission. More information on how to make a complaint is available under Our service standards.

Employees are encouraged to raise matters with their supervisors and managers at any time.

Co-operation with IBAC

The Commission co-operates with IBAC. This includes facilitating any review of these procedures by IBAC; responding – where required – to recommendations made by IBAC; and providing assistance to IBAC or any other external investigations.

Reporting

The Commission must provide information about how to access these procedures in its annual report.

Review

These procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure they meet the objectives of the Protected Disclosure Act and are consistent with IBAC's guidelines.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Chairman of the Board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Mr John Searle, today announced the appointment of Kate Jenkins as the new Commissioner of VEOHRC. Kate will commence on 9 September 2013.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Commission has made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission's Review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (CMIA).

The CMIA governs what happens when a person is charged with a crime and had a mental impairment at the time of the offense, or has disordered or impaired mental processes at the time of the trial. It sets out the criteria for determining if a person is unfit to stand trial, the defense of mental impairment, and the procedures for and what happens to people who are unfit to stand trial or who are found not guilty because of mental impairment.

The CMIA affects some of the most vulnerable members of the community in their interactions with the criminal justice system. It affects both people charged with a criminal offense who may have a cognitive or psycho-social disability. It also affects victims of crime and the family members of those affected.

The Commission's submission sets out the human rights framework that the VLRC must take into account in the Review.

More information about the VLRC review, including the Terms of Reference, the Consultation Paper and a CMIA Factsheet, is available on the Victorian Law Reform website.

The VLRC is due to report to Government in March 2014.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Q. Can I ask an employee or prospective employee to attend a medical examination?

A. Yes, in some circumstances, provided that you have a reasonable basis for doing so.

In some circumstances, employers can ask an employee or a prospective employee to attend a medical examination, including:

  • to assess whether the employee can perform the requirements of the job (including the specific skills, capabilities and attributes that are required for the job)
  • to assess whether the employer needs to make reasonable adjustments to help the employee or prospective employee to perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job
  • if the employer is concerned about the employee's health and safety at work or the health and safety of other people or property.

Employers must have a reasonable basis for asking for a medical examination to be carried out.

Under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (the Act), employers must not discriminate against an employee or a potential on the basis of a disability. Employers can set reasonable requirements of the job. For example, a flight attendant could be required to be able to lift a certain weight to be able manoeuvre doors if there is an emergency. Employers should consider these issues carefully. The process and information obtained need to be managed well to ensure that they are not discriminatory.

If the results of medical testing reveal a disability that is unrelated to the requirements of the job, this must not lead to any discrimination such as the termination of an employee's employment or denying them opportunities for promotion.

The Act includes an exception that allows employers to discriminate against a person on the basis of disability if the discrimination is reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of any person or property. For example, it might not be reasonable to have a person who has regular seizures operating a crane on a worksite in order protect health and safety. Employers also have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for an employee or prospective employee with a disability, if those adjustments would help the person to do the job. Reasonable adjustments are changes that allow people with disabilities to work safely and productively (such as installing access ramps for wheelchairs, providing flexible working arrangements or allowing a person to be absent to attend medical appointments). In many cases small adjustments can make sure people can participate in the workplace and you can get the most out of your employees. Open communication with your employees is a key factor in making this work.

This a complex area where a number of different laws, company policies and agreements may operate. Employers should seek advice about medical testing in particular circumstances.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Q. Can I refuse entry to someone because they have an assistance dog?

A. Generally, no.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This includes protection from discrimination because a person has an assistance dog.

Assistance dogs can play a significant role in increasing the independence of people with a range of disabilities.

Employers, goods and service providers and others, must not discriminate against someone because they have an assistance dog. This means that a person with an assistance dog must generally be allowed onto transport and into cafes and restaurants.

In August 2011, this protection was expanded from guide dogs working with people who have visual impairments to all assistance dogs. 'Assistance dog' is any dog that is trained to perform tasks or functions that help a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of the disability. This includes dogs trained to pick things up for people with mobility disabilities, and dogs trained to assist people who have seizures.

The Act specifically says that it is unlawful to refuse to provide accommodation to a person with a disability because they have an assistance dog. You also can't charge the person extra or ask them to keep the assistance dog somewhere else.

The Act doesn't apply this protection to other types of companion animals.

More detailed information is available in Chapter 7 of the Victorian Discrimination Law.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sport plays an important role in making our communities happier and healthier. Sport should be a safe, inclusive and fair environment for everyone. That's why equal
opportunity laws apply to sport – to ensure that we can all participate in the public life of our community free from discrimination. When you are thinking about running
single-sex sporting competitions, you need to consider your obligations under state and federal anti-discrimination law.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has released its submission to the Victoria Police community consultation on field contact reports and cross-cultural training.

Friday, 16 August 2013

More Koori women are going to prison in Victoria than ever before, with Koori women now comprising the fastest growing segment of the Victorian prison population, yet appropriate diversionary options have yet to be established to prevent this rise.

Monday, 12 August 2013

In January 2013, the Commission made a submission regarding a planning application to build a mosque at Green St, Doveton. Casey City Council had allowed time for community consultation on the issue. The submission provided information about the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and how it could assist Council deliberations regarding planning matters. The submission took note of Council’s duty as a public authority to give proper consideration to human rights. The submission highlighted a range of Charter rights relevant to planning applications.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Concerns a complaint of discrimination in employment on the basis of parental status and employment activity, and raises an employer's obligation to accommodate an employee's responsibilities as a parent or carer.

The Commission's submission consider:

  • the scope and application of an employer's obligation to accommodate an employee's responsibilities as a parent or carer
  • the interpretation of 'direct discrimination' and 'indirect discrimination'
  • the interpretation of 'employment activity'
  • the Tribunal's power to make orders to prevent future breaches of the EOA 2010, including the positive duty.

The application was withdrawn by the Applicant prior to the hearing.

Wednesday, 07 August 2013

The Commission has released this year's Local Government Charter Report. As the level of government most closely connected to the community, councils have a vital role to play in promoting and protecting the human rights of people in Victoria. Through this report, the Commission looks at the implementation of human rights in local government planning and decision making, and the outcomes it helps achieve for communities across the state.

Tuesday, 06 August 2013

Hot on the heels of Hockey Victoria, Basketball Victoria has become the next lead sport in our Fair go, sport! program.

Tuesday, 06 August 2013

The Commission is working on a research project looking at the experiences of people with disabilities in Victoria reporting crime to police. The research is focusing on people's experiences of reporting crimes against the person, including crimes such as assault, sexual assault, family violence, indecent assault and causing serious injury.

Tuesday, 06 August 2013

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all Victorians.

All public authorities in Victoria are obliged to consider human rights when they provide services, develop policies and make laws.

Monday, 15 July 2013

18 November

Expressions of interest - Fair go, sport! schools project

Creating safe and inclusive schools for SSASGD students through sport
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission are calling for expressions of interest from secondary schools wishing to participate in the 2014 Fair go, sport! supported practice project.

In 2013, Reservoir High School successfully piloted Fair go, sport!. SSCV and the Commission are now inviting applications from other secondary schools wanting to implement this project in their school in 2014.

While our starter kit will help any school to undertake a Fair go, sport! project, successful schools in the supported practice project will receive up to $5,000 to implement this project in their school and hands on support from the Commission.

What do you need to do?

1. Read the background information and watch our 5-minute video.

2. Send us an application (no more than 750 words) telling us:

  • why your school wants to get involved (e.g. why this project will make a difference in your school)
  • how you can show your school is ready for such a project (e.g. what you have already done, the feedback you have received and the results you have achieved)
  • what support you have in place to ensure the project will be successful (e.g. who and how your school community will support this project)
  • who we can contact to discuss this application.

3. Ask your principal to write and sign a short statement endorsing your participation in the project.

4. Send your application to: fgsschools@veohrc.vic.gov.au by 5pm, Wednesday 11 December 2013.

Please note:

  • To be fair to all schools who apply, we will not be able to accept any late applications.
  • After we have received applications, we will select a short list of schools for interview.
  • We will notify schools about this shortlist by COB 19 December, and arrange to interview the short-listed schools very early in Term 1 2014.
  • After the interviews we will select up to four schools, depending on the quality of applications.
  • Successful schools will need to be available for the key start up workshops in Term 1, 2014.
  • To enable SSCV to support participating schools, all successful schools will be asked to take out membership of SSCV, if they haven't already done so.

If you have any questions, please contact Penny Wolf by email at fgsschools@veohrc.vic.gov.au or on 9032 3407.

6 August 2013

Hockey Fair go, sport! Round 2013

This year Hockey Victoria again celebrated and promoted safe, welcoming and inclusive hockey environments by declaring Saturday, 27 July to Sunday, 4 August Fair go, sport! Rounds in seniors, masters and junior hockey matches across the state.

A memo circulated to all Hockey Victoria affiliates in late June announced the Rounds and provided many creative examples of how clubs could respond and celebrate.

Clubs throughout the state rose to the occasion. A few examples include:

  • Altona Hockey Club President David Burns launched its involvement and interviewed local councillor Tony Briffa (the world's first intersex mayor) on its latest edition of Prez Sez.
  • Essendon Ladies Hockey Club hosted a brunch to give members an opportunity to think about how ELHC can be a more inclusive club. Vice President, Gerry Dwyer's opening remarks through out a positive challenge to the club.
  • Doncaster Hockey Club organised a massive club day on Saturday, 3 August and invited Olympian Kookaburra Russell (Rusty) Ford to play with the Men's Premier League team to help kick off the day. A new poster was also unveiled.
  • Camberwell Hockey Club celebrated with a family day with a rainbow theme! Local federal member, Anna Burke and Fair go, sports!'s Peter Gourlay presented Fair go sport! cups to the winners of the Men's and Women's Premier League games.

Melbourne High School Old Boys, Werribee, Essendon, Kew, La Trobe University, Swinburne University and Gippsland Bulls Hockey Clubs also joined in the celebration.

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Anna Burke and Peter Gourlay with the Women's Premier League captains of Camberwell and Waverley.

 

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The best and the brightest at Doncaster Hockey Club.

31 July 2013

Fair go, sport! Starter Kit

The FGS pilot project has been a great success. In a relatively short amount of time, the project has created greater awareness and support of sexual and gender diversity amongst the RHS community. The FGS project has started conversations amongst students and staff about sexual and gender diversity, a topic that is often taboo. 

"It's kids starting conversations with other kids, which is much more powerful than being told about sexual and gender diversity from teachers", one student said. 

"I can put myself in same sex attracted people's shoes and (think about) how they must feel... playing sporting and when they're bullied. I didn't put myself in their shoes before. But because of the project I thought 'wow this is actually a really big thing not being able to be yourself'. I'm more open minded than I was," said another student.    

Given the success of the FGS pilot project, RHS will continue the FGS project and the Commission will launch an online FGS starter kit later this year. The starter kit will provide key recommendations and resources, based on what has actually works in a school setting. This will enable every school across Australia to implement the FGS project in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. 

22 July 2013

Basketball signs up to Fair go, sport!

Hot on the heels of Hockey Victoria, Basketball Victoria has become the next lead sport in our Fair go, sport! program.

Basketball Victoria chief officer Nick Honey said the Fair go, sport! project was very important and would allow clubs across Victoria to see what they can do to make basketball a more welcoming and inclusive sport for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

One club already taking action is the Torquay Swisharoos, led by their under-14 boys' team.

"The boys from the Swisharoos have sent a clear message by wearing the rainbow socks, that unfair treatment of others based on their sexuality – or assumed sexuality – has no place in our sport," Mr Honey said.

Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said it was fantastic to see new sports and clubs getting behind Fair go, sport!  "Through creating a supportive and welcoming environment, Basketball Victoria has put out the welcome mat to all players.

"Everyone, regardless of who they are, should feel safe enough to participate in sport without facing discrimination," Ms Toohey said.

View the media release: Basketball Victoria Promotes Gender and Sexual Diversity

To learn more, contact peter.gourlay@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

28 June 2013

Hockey ready and set for Fair go, sport! Round 2013

Hockey Victoria's Fair go, Sport! Round is an opportunity for all clubs to celebrate hockey's spirit of fair play, inclusiveness and to promote their club as a safe, welcoming and inclusive sporting environment.

The Fair go, sport! Round will take place from Saturday 27 July (Seniors) until Sunday 4 August 2013. The following competitions will be involved:

  • Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July: Seniors Round 14
  • Monday 29 July: Masters Round 15
  • Wednesday 31 July: Masters Round 15
  • Friday 2 August: Juniors Round 12
  • Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 August: Seniors Round 15

Further details about individual rounds and fixtures can be found on the Hockey Victoria website.

13 June 2013

Eight new clubs sign up for Fair go, sport! Phase Two

In 2011, four Hockey Clubs - Camberwell, Gippsland Bulls, Werribee and Old Carey, volunteered to assist Hockey Victoria and the project partners in piloting various initiatives within their Clubs to increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity in Hockey as part of the Fair go, sport! project.

These initiatives were extremely successful thanks to the great work undertaken by the project advocates and committees within each of the pilot clubs.

In 2013, an additional eight clubs have signed up for phase 2 of the project. These clubs are: La Trobe Uni, Doncaster, Mentone, MHSOB, Swinburne, Essendon, Essendon Ladies and Altona.

All 12 clubs met at Hockey Victoria on 30 April to explore how the original pilot clubs, Hockey Vic and VEOHRC could best support, mentor and encourage the new project clubs.

The clubs will continue to work together to build sustainability within Hockey to generate lasting cultural change that promotes diversity, inclusion and welcoming environments.

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Essendon.png  altona.jpg

News archive

Reservoir High Fair go, sport! ambassadors present at national conference

So impressed by students and staff at Reservoir High’ - a tweet from a delegate at the National Safe Schools Coalition (NSSC) Conference
The young people here today are just so awesome. Can we just put them in charge?’ - another delegate tweet


The Reservoir High Fair go, sport! (FGS) student ambassadors did a brilliant job presenting at the National Safe Schools Coalition Conference on 20 October 2012. They were selected, with just one other school, to showcase how Victorian schools are creating safe and inclusive environments for same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) students.

As Cliantha Delana Quai Hoi explained to about 150 conference delegates, ‘(All the FGS ambassadors at Reservoir High) became involved (in the project) for different reasons but all of us share a desire to make a difference for same sex attracted and gender diverse students by making school sport more inclusive and combating homophobia in school sporting environments’.

The FGS ambassadors spoke about their plans to involve as many students as possible in developing and communicating a FGS Code of Conduct to ensure that all students, irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity feel safe participating in sport at Reservoir High. They also spoke about the importance of actively spreading their message of support through initiatives such as giving FGS wrist bands to opposition players in inter-school sports competitions and holding an annual FGS themed school athletics day.

‘We all feel really proud to work with the (Victorian Equal Opportunity and) Human Rights Commission and to be the first school implementing the FGS project’, added Cilanta. Their main message however, was one of encouragement to other schools to ‘take up the FGS challenge’ and ‘to make sport a more even playing field’. As Yoana Doleva, another FGS ambassador said, ‘If we can do it, anyone can!’

Following the 12 month pilot project with Reservoir High School, the Commission plans to create a starter kit to enable schools across Victoria to implement a FGS project in their own school.  

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Reservoir High's FGS ambassadors 'representing' at the NSSC conference.

Project planning at Reservoir High

Reservoir High Fair go, sport! (FGS) staff and student ambassadors developed their own project vision, strategies and actions through interactive workshops that were facilitated by the Commission and supported by Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.

Through planning workshops the Reservoir High team developed a vision for their project by identifying what they would see if their school was safe and inclusive for same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) students. For example, they decided they would see:

  • language about sexual and gender diversity being used only in a positive way
  • students treating each other the same irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity
  • empowered student leaders acting to improve inclusion and well-being for SSASGD students.

Based on their project vision, the FGS student and staff ambassadors developed project strategies and actions that were relevant to their specific school.

The planning workshops highlighted the importance of student participation and proved to be great learning opportunities for both staff and students. As Dylan, a FGS student ambassador said, “Sure you have to plan a project but the big bonus has been that it has really cemented us as a group - because teachers and students have contributed in an equal way”. He reflected that “the students were surprised that they were obviously more aware of incidents of homophobia than the staff generally were”.

The importance of student participation was also recognised by Mel, a FGS teacher, who said her biggest learning from the project was seeing how crucial student involvement is to the success of FGS. 

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The Reservoir High team of staff and student ambassadors with their supporters

 

Victorian Vikings take the Fair go, sport! cup

Match 15 of the Australian Hockey League (Men's) saw the Victorian Vikings take on the ACT Lakers for the Fair go, sport! Cup and win 6-1.

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From L to R: Victoria Vikings Captain and Kookaburras Olympian Russell Ford, Peter Gourlay of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Federal Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy and Terry Evans, CEO of Hockey ACT

 

The Australian Women’s Masters Championship stands up for fairness and equality

The Australian Women’s Hockey Masters Championship designated Friday, September 28, 2012 as Fair go, sport! Day. And to mark Fair go, sport! Day, 36 hockey teams from around Australia threw their support behind this great initiative.

At the opening ceremony  Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said it was fantastic to see so many teams getting behind Fair go, sport! and doing what they can to send a strong message that there is no place for homophobia in sport.

“By wearing the Fair go, sport! rainbow socks and wristbands, each team is saying that a player’s sexuality should no longer be cause for comment,” Ms Toohey said. “Hockey has put out the welcome mat to all players.”

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 Women Masters showing their mettle

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 Lyn Tout of Werribee Hockey Club delivering the championships' special guest

 

Fair go, sport! is launched at Reservoir High

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission launched the Fair go, sport! school project in August 2012.  The project is designed to support sexual and gender diversity through sport in Victorian schools. The project is being supported by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria and will be run in partnership with Reservoir High for 12 months before being rolled out to other Victorian schools.

Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said that the initiative was developed out of a need to do more to ensure that schools are safe places for every student, regardless of their sexuality.  ‘Everyone should be able to be themselves and feel safe and included at school and in sport no matter who they are,’ Ms Toohey said.  ‘We know that students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or intersex are at risk of social exclusion and verbal – and even physical – abuse, which is why initiatives such as this one have never been more important’.

The project will take a human rights based approach and genuinely include student participation in all phases of the project, from planning to implementation and review.  The importance of student participation was acknowledged by a Reservoir High teacher, who said the Fair go, sport! student ambassadors’ involvement in the project launch ‘sent such a powerful message of support for sexual and gender diversity (to the whole school)’.

The Commission hopes that other schools will be encouraged by the Fair go, sport! initiative at Reservoir High and will get on board, so that the project can be rolled out to all schools, across the state. 

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Some of Reservoir High's FGS ambassadors. From L to R: Tyler Gardiner, Marc McAuliffe, Dylan Demtschyna, Naomi Bamblett, Cliantha Delana Quai Hoi. 

 

Wanted: Players for Phase 2!

The Commission and the Department of Planning and Community Development, through Sport and Recreation Victoria, are calling for sporting codes to nominate for Phase 2 of the Fair go, Sport! project.

Following the success of Phase 1 with Hockey Victoria, Fair go, sport! Phase 2 is a great opportunity for your sport to explore the issues of diversity and inclusion in a positive and practical way, to build on your strengths and make your sport safer and more welcoming for our GLBTI communities. It’s all about promoting participation, performance and member well-being.

To get involved or find out more, contact Peter Gourlay at the Commission on 03 9032 3420, email: peter.gourlay@veohrc.vic.gov.au.


Fair go, sport! makes the world go round

Ben Hartung, CEO Hockey Victoria, and Gus Johnston, Fair go, sport! Ambassador, address the Pennant A teams from Doncaster and Camberwell

Gus Johnston, Fair go, sport! Ambassador, and Ben Hartung, CEO Hockey Victoria, address the Pennant A teams from Doncaster and Camberwell

Hockey Victoria had one of its biggest weekends ever when Round 13 was played from 20to 25 July. Named the Fair go, sport! round, the event was part of their winter season and involved 650 men’s and women’s teams from across the state –under 15s, under 17s, Seniors and Masters – all playing to win and in the spirit of Fair go, sport!

The idea behind the Fair go, sport! round was to encourage local clubs to get involved and to start those conversations about sexual and gender diversity – what it means to a club and everyone involved in that club, and the difference it could make to members, present and future. 

To mark the round, each team captain wore rainbow socks while the rest of the team wore rainbow wristbands, which opposing teams exchanged with one another before the game. Many clubs made a day of it, holding a barbeque or having an afternoon tea (at least two clubs scored with rainbow cupcakes and lamingtons!). And let’s not forget what the clubs were playing for – the wins and accolades, medals, cups and trophies.

While clearly an important fixture in the hockey calendar, the Fair go, sport! round was a fantastic way of spreading the word about the project and its potential. 

P.s. Have you bought your rainbow socks?

Players from Essendon and Mentone exchange rainbow wristbands just before their SL1 match

Players from Essendon and Mentone exchange rainbow wristbands just before their SL1 match

Karen Toohey, Acting Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, with Werribee Women’s SL3 Team who retained their Fair go, sport! cup

Karen Toohey, Acting Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (far right), with Werribee Women’s SL3 Team, which retained itsFair go, sport! cup

Brunswick Hockey Club’s rainbow cupcakes against the backdrop of their Fair go, sport! wall

Brunswick Hockey Club’s rainbow cupcakes against the backdrop of their Fair go, sport! wall 

Network speaks up against homophobia

The Commission had a role as part of Fair go, sport! in not one but two events at this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). On May 17 at Brimbank City Council Offices in Sunshine, both Karen Toohey, Acting Commissioner, Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission and Ben Hartung, Chief Executive Oficer, Hockey Victoria, spoke about Fair go, sport! as part of the Council’s IDAHO flag raising event and celebratory function.

Hockey Victoria's Ben Hartung wearing the Fair go, Sport! rainbow socks

Hockey Victoria’s Ben Hartung walks the walk as he addresses the audience at Brimbank

Karen Toohey said innovative projects like IDAHO and Fair go, sport! not only promote sexual and gender diversity, inclusion and participation in sport but inspire new audiences to tackle discrimination in their communities.

Raising the rainbow flag at Brimbank City Council

Raising rainbows: (From left) Brimbank’s Cath Olive, Kath Brackett, Amanda Rigby, Dean Michael and Ellen Kessler.

Meanwhile, Leisure Networks (a Regional Sports Assembly) and eight sporting clubs across Geelong, Surf Coast and the Bellarine used the Fair go, sport! rainbow socks to raise awareness of sexual and gender diversity and create safe and inclusive environments in their own clubs . See how Leisure Networks showed their support of Fair go, sport! and their commitment to the principles behind IDAHO.

Back in Sunshine, Brimbank’s Amanda Rigby, Team Leader with the Youth Support Team provided an introduction to Pridentity in Action, a whole of school approach to reducing homophobia, which was followed by the screening of Gus Johnston’s video, “The reality of homophobia in sport”. To watch Gus’ engaging and insightful 12 minute video, go to the ‘Media and resources’ section below.

In support of IDAHO 2012, Gus also wrote an open letter to the hockey community, asking everyone to take a stand and speak up about homophobia.

Stepping out for a fair go

On Sunday 5 February, Fair go, sport! project partners walked alongside representatives from other sporting codes and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission at the 17thAnnual Pride March in St Kilda.

The wild weather did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd as they cheered on the 50-strong contingent that fielded representatives from the Australian Football League, Basketball Victoria, Football Federation of Victoria and Table Tennis – some of whom were making their first appearance at a Pride March.

Hockey itself was well represented with Hockey Victoria, Baw Baw HC, Camberwell HC, Mentone HC and Old Carey HC flying the flag.

The group was rounded up by VicHealth and Parkville Women (from the Fair go, sport! Steering Committee), Gus Johnston, John Searle (Commission Chair), Brendon Gale (Commission board member), Commission staff and their supporters.

Along with the 'fair go' message, the Commission continued to promote equality, giving out its 'We are not all the same but we are all equal' magnets and stickers, which were very popular with the crowd. 

Commission staff and sporting organisations at the 2012 Pride March

The contingent from Fair go, Sport! and the Victoria Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Magnet - We are not all the same but we are all equal

The ‘Equal’ magnet (also available – badges, stickers, postcards and poster)

Fair go, sport! flies the flag at Midsumma

Fair go, sport! will once again have a presence at Midsumma – Melbourne’s arts, sporting and cultural festival that celebrates the pride and diverse achievements of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people in the community. There are three events not to be missed so get your diaries out!

Midsumma Carnival, Sunday 15 January

Visit the Fair go, sport! stall and meet the team – project partners, project advocates and pilot club reps – and help yourself to some Fair go, sport! freebies. And while you’re at it, why not find out how your club or sport can get involved in the project?

“We’re here, we’re queer and we wanna play!”

A Fair go, sport! forum, Tuesday 24 January

This forum will bring together the key Fair go, sport! partners and pilot clubs to explain and explore the project – the issues, the approach and the learnings – and showcase a range of positive approaches and practical activities. If you play sport, watch sport, manage sport or just want to get involved, come and join the discussion.

The forum is free to attend but you will need to register to ensure a place. To register, email fairgosport@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3420.

Pride March, Sunday 5 February

Pride March is an important community event and always lots of fun. Marching at Pride is about showing your support of Victoria’s GLBTI community and demonstrating your commitment to the spirit of inclusiveness. So how about marching for Fair go, sport! with staff and supporters of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission? It’s a great opportunity to be in the thick of the action.

Everyone’s invited so if you’d like to join us, please email rsvp@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3429.

For more information download the 2012 Pride March flyer (PDF, 387KB).

Werribee Hockey Club shows its support for a fair go

Werribee Hockey Club celebrated the final round of the season by hosting a Fair go, sport! and Family Day on Saturday, 27 August.

Club President, Lyn Tout, said the Fair go, sport! message had been firmly embedded in the club’s code of conduct, policies and practices and underscored its commitment to fair play and inclusion at all levels in the club.

Two Fair go, sport! Cups were played on the day at the State League 3 level. In both games Werribee was victorious with the women defeating Melbourne University (4-2), and the men easily defeating Baw Baw, another of the project pilot clubs (7-2).

Over the weekend not only did all senior teams get into the spirit of the project and wear the rainbow socks, but all teams also wore rainbow wristbands as well as presenting wristbands to the opposing teams with a card that stated, “Fair go, sport! At Werribee Hockey Club this means everyone.”

The club also proudly displayed a new poster as part of its commitment to the project.

The Werribee women’s State League 3 team welcoming the players from Melbourne University

The Werribee women’s State League 3 team welcoming the players from Melbourne University

The victorious Werribee Men’s State League 3 team

The victorious Werribee Men’s State League 3 team

Old Carey turns 50, takes on inclusion and fair play

On Sunday 21 August, Old Carey Hockey Club created a bit of magic at Elgar Park when they stepped out in their Fair go, sport! socks, and then scored a 3-1 victory against Melbourne High School Old Boys. Making the evening doubly sweet, the club unveiled its new banner that not only marked its 50th year but was testament to its commitment to the Fair go, sport! ideals of inclusion and fair play.

Two Fair go, sport! medals were later presented to two ‘men of the match’ – the ‘fairest player’ from each team, as nominated by their own team.

The Old Carey team in front of their new banner

Everyone’s a winner: the Old Carey team in front of their new banner

Men of the match

Men of the match (from L to R): Ben Hartung (CEO, Hockey Victoria), Wei ‘Wedgie’ Guang Wang (Fair go, sport! medallist from Melbourne High School Old Boys), Paul Burrows (Fair go, sport! medallist from Old Carey), Polash Larsen (President, Old Carey HC)

Baw Baw Hockey gets bullish on fair play and inclusion

On Sunday 31 July, Baw Baw Hockey Club hosted its Sponsors Day staging both metro and state league matches and declaring their commitment to promoting fair play and inclusion at all levels in the club.

“We want to be known as a club that is welcoming of everyone including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex people. From Leongatha to Lakes Entrance, everyone’s invited,” said Keith Sutton, President, Baw Baw Hockey Club and the club’s Fair go, sport! project advocate.  Mr Sutton also said the Gippsland-based club had been using Fair go, sport! to implement a Play by the Rules approach within the club, to update its policies and improve its administration.

Ben Hartung, Hockey Victoria’s CEO acknowledged the change that ‘the Bulls’ were ushering in the region. “Baw Baw Hockey Club already provides the people of Gippsland the opportunity of playing in the metropolitan competition and now, with its approach to inclusive sport, creates even greater opportunity to participate in and connect with the community,” he said.

Camberwell Hockey Club strikes the perfect pitch!

On Saturday 2 July, Camberwell Hockey Club relaunched its pitch at Matlock Reserve. Camberwell is one of the four Fair go, sport! pilot clubs.

The club celebrated with a family day and hosted two Fair go, Sport! Cup games against Waverley Men's and Women's State League 1 teams. Camberwell played in rainbow socks bearing the project name. These created enormous interest and were a striking success.

Andrew Minter, President, Camberwell Hockey Club said inclusive sport provides a way of connecting with the community and offers the opportunity to ‘belong’, as he unveiled the club’s new “What you say matters” poster on the day.

“Fair go, sport! has inspired us to explore our club practices to see what is working and what we can do to make hockey more inclusive of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex people,” Mr Minter said.

The Hon Andrew McIntosh, MP, State Member for Kew, and Councillor Nicholas Tragas, Mayor of the City of Boroondara, both recognised the important role of the project and commended the club for its involvement.

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Camberwell Hockey Club's Men's and Women's State Leaue 1 team and friends

(From left: Mayor Nicholas Tragas, City of Boroondara, Mr Andrew McIntosh, State MP for Kew, [fifth from left] Ben Hartung, CEO Hockey Victoria, Ms Anna Burke, Federal MP for Chisholm, Mr Graham Watt, State MP for Burwood, Ms Georgie Crozier, State MP for Southern Metropolitan Region, Dr Helen Szoke. Commissioner, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Andrew Minter, President, Camberwell Hockey Club)

Fair go sport socks

Camberwell HC putting their best feet forward

Media launch and project champions

On 29 March 2011, we introduced Claire Prideaux and Katie Allen OAM  to the media as Fair go, sport! project champions. As project champions, Claire (a former Hockeyroo and current Hockey Australia Board Member) and Katie (an Olympic Hockey Gold Medallist and the current women’s coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport) will promote Fair go, sport!, advocate the benefits of the project and help rally support for it.  

Since then, another project champion has joined the fold, Trish Heberle, a former international national coach and Olympian, who is currently a High Performance Network Manager with Hockey Australia.

 Fair go, sport! media launch group photo.

From left: Tom Kneebone, Clare Prideaux, Andrew Skillern, Katie Allen, Dr Helen Szoke - Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Alisha Burjorjee, Ben Hartung and Mary Lofthouse

Fair go, sport! project champions Katie Allen and Clare Prideaux.

Fair go, sport! project champions Katie Allen and Clare Prideaux

Pilot clubs

An important part of the project is the opportunity to work with a small number of hockey clubs to try out some interventions to promote sexual and gender diversity, and inclusive environments in their clubs. The four selected pilot clubs are:

  • Werribee Hockey Club              
  • Old Carey Hockey Club            
  • Camberwell Hockey Club         
  • Baw Baw Hockey Club

Each pilot club has the support of its Committee and has identified at least one Project Advocate to be the primary contact and to facilitate and encourage their club’s involvement.

The project does not plan to impose any particular activities or interventions on the pilot clubs but hopes the clubs will work on activities that will suit their own needs. These activities could include updated policies and codes, education, themed events, ground announcements, banners, social media, posters or whatever the club thinks might be relevant and effective for them.

Literature review

The project evaluators at La Trobe University were commissioned to develop a literature review to inform and support the development of the project. While the literature review begins with a summary of the evidence of the existence of homophobia and transphobia in sport, its primary focus is on what has and can be done to promote safer and more inclusive sporting environments.

Download the Fair go, sport! literature review (PDF, 190KB).

Midsumma Festival and Pride March

The Midsumma Festival at Birrarung Marr on 16 January provided Fair go, sport! with the opportunity to connect with people attending Victoria’s biggest and most vibrant event for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. At the Commission’s information stall, Fair go, sport! received a lot of airplay and positive feedback.

Fair go, sport! received another plug at the Pride March – which closed the Festival – on 6 February, with a strong contingent, comprising staff from the Commission, Hockey Victoria and Hockey Australia, marched with project placards upfront.

Fair go, sport! contingent at the Pride March 2011.

Fair go, sport! contingent at the Pride March 2011

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Federal Government took an historic step in June by passing the Sex Discrimination (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Amendment Bill 2013, making it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Concerns an exemption application by DEECD to allow it to advertise for and employ a male integration aide to work with a student with a moderate to severe intellectual disability. The submissions consider the exceptions relating to the care of children (s25), genuine occupational requirements (s26) and acts done with statutory authority (s75). The submissions also consider reasonable adjustments under s40 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, and the Tribunal's Charter obligations particularly in relation to the protection of children (s17 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006). The Tribunal granted the exemption on 19 December 2012.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Concerns an application by Swinburne University of Technology to strike out Mr Tsakmakis' complaint of discrimination on the grounds of impairment in the area of education.

The Commission's submissions consider the transitional provisions set out in sections 193 and 194 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (EOA 2010) and the Tribunal's jurisdiction to hear the proceedings. The Commission submissions also consider the general principals in strike out applications.

The Applicant has now filed a notice of discontinuance of the application.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Concerns a complaint of discrimination by the Applicant against by Manningham City Council on the grounds of disability in the area of goods and services, access to public premises, and by councillors.

The Commission's submissions relate to the interpretation of a number of areas of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (EOA 2010), including the definition of disability; the test for direct discrimination (s 8) and the distinction between unfavourable treatment and less favourable treatment in s 8 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (EOA 1995); the test for indirect discrimination (s9), the scope of the provision of services by local government (s4); discrimination in the area of goods and services (s 44), access to public premises (s 57) and discrimination by councillors (s 73).

The Commission's submissions also consider:

  • the interpretation of two exceptions in the EOA 2010: the statutory authority exception (s 75) and the exception for the protection of health and safety (s 86);
  • the obligation to provide reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability (s 45);
  • the remedies available, including the Tribunal's power to make orders to prevent future breaches of the EOA 2010 and the positive duty; and
  • the application of the Charter to these proceedings.

The Tribunal upheld Mr Slattery's claim in part, finding that the Respondent directly discriminated against him on the grounds of disability, in breach of section 44 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The Tribunal also found that the actions of the Respondent were in breach of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. The matter has been listed for compulsory conference to consider remedies. A copy of the decision can be found on the Austlii website

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Commission made a brief submission to the Department of Justice regarding the regulatory impact statement and proposed Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Fee) Regulations 2013. The Commission welcomed the decision not to introduce commencement, hearing and mediation fees for the Anti-Discrimination List at VCAT (now called the Human Rights List). However, the Commission sought clarification on whether the "complex cases" hearing fee was intended to apply to the anti-discrimination list, and submitted that it should not apply. The regulations came into effect on 1 June 2013 and were amended to clarify that complex cases fees only apply to proceedings where a commencement or transfer fee was payable. This means that the Human Rights List at VCAT remains fee-free.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Commission made a brief submission to the Department of Justice regarding the regulatory impact statement and proposed Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Fee) Regulations 2013. The Commission welcomed the decision not to introduce commencement, hearing and mediation fees for the Anti-Discrimination List at VCAT (now called the Human Rights List). However, the Commission sought clarification on whether the "complex cases" hearing fee was intended to apply to the anti-discrimination list, and submitted that it should not apply. The regulations came into effect on 1 June 2013 and were amended to clarify that complex cases fees only apply to proceedings where a commencement or transfer fee was payable. This means that the Human Rights List at VCAT remains fee-free.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

This is a submission to the 2012 Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (2012 Review). The Disability Standards were made under the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to seek to remove discrimination from public transport services.

The Commission has responsibilities under a number of laws which are relevant to the provision of public transport in Victoria. For example, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 requires public authorities, which can include public transport operators, to act compatibly with human rights when they deliver public transport services. The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it unlawful for public transport operators to discriminate in the provision of public transport services and in relation to the access to, or use of, public premises (including vehicles).

The Commission's primary interest in the 2012 Review is to improve access to public transport for people with disabilities. Improving access to public transport is not only about improving participation in employment opportunities, goods and services, education, social and cultural life - it is ultimately about improving a person's quality of life and upholding their right to equality.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Developing an effective equal opportunity policy

Recommended for experienced human resource practitioners and managers with responsibility for equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion or people and culture within organisations
Compliance with equal opportunity law starts with effective equal opportunity policies and procedures. Assess your current Equal Opportunity (EO) policy, learn how to develop and implement a clear and consistent EO policy that’s easy to use and supports other key policies such as your social media policy.

This workshop will:

  • describe the key components of an effective EO policy and the key steps to develop one
  • provide a checklist for assessing your existing policy
  • help you begin to develop a new policy for your organisation
  • discuss how your EO policy supports other policies, including your social media policy. 

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal Opportunity Act 2010: an overview

Recommended for people and organisations needing a quick understanding of their key responsibilities under Victoria’s equal opportunity laws.

Whether you are an employer, a provider of goods and services (including education and accommodation), a club (including sports clubs) or a local government authority, you have obligations under Victoria’s equal opportunity laws. This free briefing will help you understand what you have to do and how the Commission can help you.

This workshop will:

  • highlight the important features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • give an overview of your obligations under the law
  • consider the implications for your organisation’s policies and practice
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415. 

Equal opportunity and volunteers

Recommended for volunteer organisations, volunteer managers or coordinators and volunteers.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, volunteers have the same protection against sexual harassment as paid employees. This workshop clarifies equal opportunity rights and responsibilities for volunteers and volunteer organisations.

This workshop will:

  • give an overview of equal opportunity law in Victoria
  • explain how the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects volunteers
  • discuss the responsibilities for organisations with volunteers
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity contact officer: new to the role

A must for newly appointed contact officers.

Equal opportunity contact officers provide information and support to help staff resolve perceived workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. Having a network of contact officers in your workplace is an important part of your organisation’s strategy to prevent discrimination and handle complaints effectively. This workshop prepares participants for this important role.

This workshop will:

  • explore the purpose and role of the contact officer
  • consider appropriate workplace behaviour under your policies andthe law
  • equip contact officers to conduct contact interviews
  • provide participants with an opportunity to practise the skills required
  • discuss how to establish a contact officer network at your workplace
  • provide a copy of the 'Contact Officer Resource Manual'.

Duration: Full day (9.30am - 4.30pm)

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415. 

Equal opportunity contact officer: practice update

Recommended for contact officers wanting to enhance their practice, upskill or learn from others.

Featuring a facilitated discussion and review session, this workshop enables contact officers to keep up-to-date with new developments in equal opportunity, debrief on some of the issues that have come their way, and learn from other contact officers as well as our expert facilitator. We recommend contact officers undertake a practice update every two years.

This workshop will:

  • provide an overview of the role of a contact officer
  • review the key elements of the equal opportunity framework
  • provide an update on equal opportunity legislation and case law
  • discuss common dilemmas experienced by contact officers
  • refresh and practise the skills required to fulfil the role effectively.

Duration: 3 hours

Prerequisites: 'Equal Opportunity contact officer: new to the role' or experience as a contact officer.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity for managers and supervisors

Recommended for groups of managers, team leaders and supervisors.

Managers and supervisors play a critical role in building inclusive, safe and flexible workplaces. Understand your obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, learn how to prevent unlawful discrimination and consider effective management strategies to foster a motivated, healthy and productive workplace.

This workshop will:

  • explain equal opportunity and discrimination as it applies to your workplace
  • outline your responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, including the positive duty obligation
  • identify the potential risk factors for workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying and explore effective strategies to prevent and resolve these before they become formal complaints
  • identify management strategies to help you build an inclusive and productive workplace and meet your positive duty. 

Duration: 3 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity, human rights and disability

Recommended for people with disability, carers and advocates.

Around one in five people in Victoria has some form of disability and discrimination features frequently in their day-to-day lives. Understanding Victoria’s discrimination and human rights laws can be a vital first step in overcoming discrimination, receiving and providing better service and creating opportunities to participate more fully in community life.

This workshop will:

  • outline the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 with a focus on disability protections
  • discuss how employers, education providers and providers of goods and services must make reasonable adjustments for people with disability
  • explain how public authorities must consider human rights when developing policies and delivering services
  • explain how the Commission can help you resolve disputes about discrimination.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity obligations for community organisations

Recommended for CEOs, human resource professionals and senior managers in community organisations.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 applies to community organisations and it’s your responsibility to make sure your organisation is compliant. Building compliance also helps you create a diverse, inclusive and healthy organisation and provide better services to your clients and community members.

This workshop will:

  • highlight the important features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • explain your obligations under the law
  • consider the implications for your organisation’s policies and practice
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity tools for unions and industrial advocates

Recommended for industrial advocates, union officials and delegates.

Learn how to use equal opportunity law to protect your members from discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation at work. Whether they are ongoing, temporary, casual or contract employees, the law protects your members from discrimination when applying for a job, seeking promotion, accessing terms and conditions and during separation, and the Commission’s dispute resolution service can help you achieve timely and effective redress when discrimination occurs. 

This workshop will:

  • explain your members’ rights under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • explain the new positive duty and reasonable adjustment obligations on employers
  • highlight how you can use the law to protect your members
  • outline how the Commission can help you and your members resolve disputes about discrimination.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

How to resolve a complaint at the Commission

Recommended for community members, advocates and organisations.

The Commission provides a free, fair and timely dispute resolution service to help people resolve complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial and religious vilification.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints can be resolved through conciliation
  • discuss real examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Inclusion, diversity and business health

Recommended for leaders and managers in business, government and community organisations.

We have all heard about the ‘business benefits of diversity’ – improvements in productivity and performance, innovation, customer and employee attraction, engagement and retention. So why aren’t we all reaping the business benefits of our increasingly diverse talent pool and workplaces? A growing body of evidence shows it’s not diversity alone, but active inclusion of diversity, that makes the big difference to wellbeing and performance. Learn the keys to doing the ‘bright thing and the right thing’ to build business health and meet equal opportunity obligations.

This workshop will:

  • explore participants’ motivation to be more inclusive
  • build knowledge and understanding of key cross-cultural differences
  • demonstrate effective techniques to minimise unconscious bias
  • strengthen respectful and inclusive behaviour around cultural diversity.

Duration: 4 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Inclusive education and equal opportunity in schools

Recommended for senior staff, teachers and school support staff.

Students, staff and parents have the right to safe and equal participation in education and the life of the school community. It is important for principals, teachers and school support staff to understand their obligations to put strategies in place that create inclusive environments and eliminate discrimination.

This workshop will:

  • explore the principles behind equal opportunity and inclusion in all areas of education
  • outline provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act (Vic) and the Disability Standards for Education (Cth)
  • explore reasonable adjustments for students with a disability
  • examine how discrimination and sexual harassment can happen in all areas of school life
  • detail the Commission’s resources to help schools achieve good practice.

This workshop aligns with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Standards 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 3.7 and 7.1

Duration: Time 2.5 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Investigating formal complaints

Recommended for human resource professionals and others responsible for undertaking internal investigations.

Successfully managing formal workplace investigations can help your organisation stay focused and productive. It also demonstrates your commitment to a positive workplace culture. Learn the skills to investigate formal workplace complaints quickly and effectively, while respecting all parties and minimising disruption.

This workshop will:

  • outline the context of formal workplace complaint investigations, including alternative dispute resolution options
  • examine the principles of effective workplace investigations, including procedural and substantive fairness, timeliness and confidentiality
  • identify the steps needed to conduct an effective workplace investigation
  • allow participants to practise the skills required to conduct investigations and make appropriate recommendations.

Duration: Full day (9.30am - 4.30pm)

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Managing return to work after injury or illness

Recommended for return-to-work coordinators and others managing ill or injured workers.

Returning to work after a physical or mental illness or injury can sometimes give rise to real or perceived discrimination. This interactive workshop, developed in consultation with WorkSafe Victoria, will help you manage this process smoothly and effectively.

This workshop will:

  • outline equal opportunity law as it applies to the return-to-work process
  • discuss stages in the return-to-work process where complaints of discrimination commonly arise and how to reduce these risks
  • explore what to do if a returning worker feels they are being treated inappropriately.

Duration: 3.5 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Mediating workplace disputes effectively

Recommended for managers and human resource professionals.

Learn hpw to resolve disagreements before they escalate, preventing working relationships from breaking down irretrievably, and increasing the likelihood of maintaining good and productive employment relations.  

This workshop will:

  • help participants understand the principles and process of successful mediation
  • identify the steps used in the mediation process
  • examine the communication skills required to mediate a dispute effectively.

Duration: Full day (9.30am–4.30pm).

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Member protection information officer (MPIO) training

A must for newly appointed sports club and association MPIOs.

MPIOs provide impartial and confidential information to help club members understand their rights and decide how they want to resolve their concerns about discrimination and sexual harassment. This workshop prepares participants for this important role in sports.

This workshop will:

  • review the roles and responsibilities of the MPIO
  • equip MPIOs to conduct contact interviews
  • provide participants with an opportunity to practise the skills required
  • consider issues related to the implementation of the MPIO role in a sport (such as establishment of a network, promoting and supervising the role, record keeping)
  • provide a resource manual.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out mre email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Prerequisites: Participants must complete a series of short, online modules at https://learning.ausport.gov.au and bring the certificate of completion to the training program.

Play by the rules: promoting fair, safe and inclusive sport

Recommended for sporting organisations' executive officers, board of management members, coaches, referees and other officials, sport development officers, recreation officers and teachers.

You've read the headlines: 'Two year ban for race slur', 'Unruly fans on notice', 'Taunt about mum costs star'. What would you do if this were your club? Where would you go for help? How would you bring about change? Learn how to recognise, prevent and deal with discrimination and harassment in sport, and create an inclusive and safe club for everyone to enjoy.

This workshop will:

  • explore how discrimination and harassment can happen in sport
  • identify the relevant laws and key responsibility to prevent discrimination and harassment
  • identify policies, complaint handling procedures and practices that should be in place to help your sporting organisations, clubs and schools comply with these laws
  • introduce you to 'Play by the rules', an interactive web resource
  • identify other organisations and resources available to help.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out mre email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Preventing workpace bullying and harassment

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors,

This workshop will help your organisation identify the risks and deal with inappropriate behaviour quickly, effectively and out of the public domain, while respecting all staff involved and safeguarding ongoing working relationships. This is a joint program between WorkSafe and the Commission.

This workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify workplace behaviour risks
  • consider how far an organisation's responsibilities extend to protectstaff from inappropriate behaviour
  • explain the relevant policies and procedures an organisation needs toprevent and eliminate sexual harassment and bullying
  • identify strategies to prevent and resolve inappropriate behaviour.

Duration: 3 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Recruitment and equal opportunity: applying the law

 Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and others responsible for recruitment and selection.

This workshop will provide practical advice about applying key equal opportunity principles and practices to common recruitment and selection processes and tools. Learn how complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 can fit in with your existing recruitment systems, and where the risks are for unlawful discrimination when making selection decisions.

This workshop will:

  • clarify how equal opportunity laws apply to key steps in recruitment processes
  • discuss the application of concepts such as genuine job requirements, reasonable adjustments, merit, cultural fit
  • review pre-employment medicals, personality and aptitude testing in recruitment
  • outline primary, accessory and vicarious liability for recruiters.

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Rights before Christmas

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Safeguard ongoing working relationships and avoid the morning after the night before by 'harassment proofing' your organisation in readiness for the festive season.

The workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify the particular risks associated with end of year celebrations
  • clarify how far your organisation's responsibilities extend to protect staff from inappropriate behavious
  • outline the relevant policies and procedures required to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment
  • identify practices to safeguard your staff at social events that may involve festive cheer, inappropriate novelties and gifts and the use of social media and personal devices
  • identify strategies tot prevent and resolve inappropriate behavior
  • encourage all staff to take steps to ensure celebrations are safe for everyone.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Small Business: equal opportunity and compliance basics

Recommended for small business operators wanting a quick overview of the key obligations under equal opportunity law.

Just as occupational health and safety laws require small business operators to take appropriate steps to prevent injuries, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 requires small business operators to take appropriate steps to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. Learn the necessary skills and strategies to identify, prevent and resolve these issues through business focused activities, real life examples and practical tips.

This workshop will:

  • provide an overview of the key features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • outline the rights and obligations of small business under discrimination law
  • consider the steps you need to take to comply with the law.

Duration: 1 hour.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Tackling race-based discrimination for CALD communities

Recommended for CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) advocates and community members.

In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate against or vilify someone because of their race or religion. Understanding Victoria's discrimination and human rights laws can be a vital first step in overcoming discrimination, receiving equal service and creating opportunities to participate more fully in public life.

This workshop will:

  • outline the protection available under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • explain the responsibilities of government and public authorities, employers, education providers, real estate agents and other service providers to eliminate discrimination
  • discuss how to advocate for equal opportunity and human rights
  • explain how the Commission can help you resolve complaints about racial discrimination and vilification.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Tackling race-based discrimination for the Victorian Aboriginal community

Recommended for members of the Victorian Aboriginal community.

The Commission can help you deal with complaints about discrimination through our friendly and effective conciliation service.

This workshop will:

  • outline the law under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints about discrimination
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints are resolved through conciliation
  • give examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

The Charter: understand your rights

Recommended for community members.

This workshop provides a practical introduction to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and shows how to use it to advocate for better services.

This workshop will:

  • introduce the human rights protected by the Charter
  • explain the responsibilities of public authorities under the Charter
  • explain how the Charter relates to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • outline how to make a complaint using the Charter.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

The Charter: understand your responsibilities

Recommended for managers, employees and office holders in state and local government agencies and public authorities.

All public authorities, including state and local government agencies, must consider the rights protected in the Charter when making decisions, developing laws and policies and providing services. This workshop provides a practical introduction to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and shows how to use it to develop and deliver better services and improve participation for all Victorians.

This workshop will:

  • introduce the human rights protected by the Charter
  • explain the responsibilities of public authorities under the Charter
  • explain how the Charter relates to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • discuss how the Charter applies to your services and day-to-day roles
  • outline how to consider complaints using the Charter.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

The Charter for local government

Recommended for local government employees and managers.

As public authorities, local governments have clear responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter). This workshop will help you understand your responsibilities and learn how other local government authorities are creatively integrating human rights into their practice and service delivery. Using the toolkit ‘From Compliance to Culture’, this course is tailored specifically to people in local government.

This workshop will:

  • introduce human rights concepts and outline how the Charter operates
  • highlight the obligations local governments have as public authorities
  • identify strategies to integrate human rights into the culture, values and leadership of your council
  • step through the key practical milestones in the ‘From Compliance to Culture’ toolkit.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Please note: Government agencies and public authorities also have responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

The Charter for state government

Recommended for government and public authority employees and managers.

Designed specifically for employees in state government agencies, this course outlines your responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and explores how using the Charter can enhance your everyday service delivery and increase participation for all Victorians.

This workshop will:

  • outline the human rights protected in the Charter
  • highlight the obligations on state government employees
  • identify Charter issues in the context of your day-to-day work
  • identify strategies to prevent and rectify breaches of Charter rights
  • outline the role of the Commission and other key complaint handling bodies.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Please note: government agencies also have responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Train-the-trainer: equal opportunity and volunteers

Recommended for volunteer coordinators and managers, volunteers, clubs and organisations with volunteers.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, volunteers have the same protection against sexual harassment as paid employees, so your employees and volunteers need to understand their rights and responsibilities. This course will equip you to deliver an interactive workshop to keep them up-to-date.

This workshop will:

  • identify coverage for volunteers under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 with an emphasis on sexual harassment
  • consider strategies to prevent and resolve sexual harassment
  • outline the training course for volunteers: ‘Sexual harassment and equal opportunity law: what you need to know’
  • explore different methods, tools and activities to train and support volunteers
  • practise using examples, scenarios, role plays and group work.

Duration: 6 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Train-the-trainer: equal opportunity for employees

Recommended for workplace trainers, human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

A crucial part of any strategy to prevent discrimination and harassment is regular employee education. This course equips you to conduct interactive and effective workshops for your employees, so you’ll have the capacity to deliver cost effective equal opportunity training whenever it’s needed.

This workshop will:

  • discuss the key messages of equal opportunity training, including practical responses to frequently asked questions
  • explore effective delivery methods, tools and activities and practise skills and methods for conducting equal opportunity training in the workplace
  • provide participants with a package that can be adapted and reproduced for in-house training delivery in your workplace.

Duration: 6 hours. This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Using equal opportunity and human rights for advocacy

Recommended for case managers, support people, other advocates or community members.

Learn how Victorian human rights and equal opportunity laws can help you overcome discrimination, advance human rights, encourage better services and build a fairer society for your clients, yourself and other community members.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws that deal with discrimination, sexual harassment, racial and religious vilification and human rights
  • discuss organisations’ obligations
  • explore how you can use equal opportunity and human rights principles and laws to prevent people being treated unfairly
  • outline the role of the Commission and other key complaint-handling bodies.

Duration: 4 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Working with people with mental illness

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Actively promoting mental health and understanding how to support and manage staff with mental illness is a key component of creating a safe and healthy workplace. This course will help managers understand the rights and responsibilities of employees with mental illness and explore the anti-discrimination framework for disability, mental illness and reasonable adjustments.

This workshop will:

  • build an understanding of the effects of mental illness in the workplace
  • provide practical tips about how to support an employee with mental illness
  • clarify equal opportunity and discrimination law in relation to mental illness
  • explore reasonable adjustments and flexibility.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Monday, 17 June 2013

There are 20 individual rights that are protected under the Charter. Download a combined factsheet of all the rights (PDF, 321KB) or choose from the individual factsheets below.

Section 8 – Right to recognition and equality before the law  
(PDF, 205KB) | (DOC, 62KB)

Section 9 – Right to life  
(PDF, 203KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 10 – Right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment  
(PDF, 212KB) | (DOC, 62KB)

Section 11 – Right to freedom from forced work  
(PDF, 202KB) | (DOC, 58KB)

Section 12 – Right to freedom of movement  
(PDF, 212KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 13 – Right to privacy and reputation  
(PDF, 215KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 14 – Right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
(PDF, 211KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 15 – Right to freedom of expression  
(PDF, 228KB) | (DOC, 70KB)

Section 16 – Right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association  
(PDF, 216KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 17 – Right to protection of families and children  
(PDF, 222KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 18 – Right to take part in public life  
(PDF, 221KB) | (DOC, 61KB)

Section 19 – Right to protection of cultural rights  
(PDF, 223KB) | (DOC, 59KB)

Section 20 – Property rights  
(PDF, 199KB) | (DOC, 56KB)

Section 21 – Right to liberty and security of person  
(PDF, 232KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 22 – Right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty  
(PDF, 235KB) | (DOC, 60KB)

Section 23 – Rights of children in the criminal process  
(PDF, 212KB) | (DOC, 59KB)

Section 24 – Right to a fair hearing  
(PDF, 212KB) | (DOC, 58KB)

Section 25 – Rights in criminal proceedings  
(PDF, 235KB) | (DOC, 65KB)

Section 26 – Right not to be tried or punished more than once  
(PDF, 223KB) | (DOC, 55KB)

Section 27 – Right to protection from retrospective criminal laws  
(PDF, 213KB) | (DOC, 59KB)

Friday, 14 June 2013

This case involved three separate appeals against supervision orders made by the County Court under the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009. The Commission received a Charter notice in each appeal after the Court of Appeal identified that there was a question regarding the impact of the Charter on the interpretation of the test as to when a court can make a supervision order. The Act provides that a person can be subject to a supervision order if they represent an "unacceptable risk" to the community.

The Commission submitted that while the Charter does not affect the interpretation of the phrase "unacceptable risk", it does affect the interpretation of the statutory discretion as to when a court may make a supervision order and the conditions the order imposes. Depending on the conditions imposed, an order could limit the rights to privacy, freedom of movement, liberty, freedom of association and freedom from medical treatment without consent. The Commission submitted that the discretion should be exercised compatibly with human rights so that a court only imposes conditions that are proportionate to the level and nature of the risk the person represents.

The Court of Appeal has not yet handed down its decision.

See the Commission's Submissions below.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Bill introduced into Victorian Parliament on 16 April 2013 amending the Bail Act 1977 will introduce a list of "commonly imposed" conditions which can be applied to accused people seeking bail, such as surrendering a passport, regularly reporting to a police station, residing at a particular address or geographical exclusion zones in which the person is not allowed to enter. The Bill also creates two new offences - for contravening certain bail conditions and for committing an indictable offence whilst on bail.

The Commission has submitted to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee that it may wish to seek further information from the Attorney General about the compatibility of the Bill with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Charter). In particular, the Commission submitted that further information could be sought about whether there are less restrictive means reasonably available to achieve the purpose of the limitation (under section 7(2) of the Charter), in respect of geographical exclusion zones as a bail condition; or whether the new offence provisions in the Bill engage and reasonably limit:

  • the right to equality before the law, specifically in relation to people with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues or drug addiction; or
  • the right to presumption of innocence; or
  • the right not to be tried or punished for the same offence twice.
Thursday, 06 June 2013

What is positive duty?

Positive duty requires you to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, accommodation providers in Victoria have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.

Complying with the positive duty will help you avoid potential discrimination complaints and take us a step closer to creating equal opportunity for everyone in Victoria.

Who does the positive duty apply to?

 Positive duty applies to everyone who already has responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act including landlords, tenancy database operators, and real estate agents.

  • If you are a landlord, the positive duty applies because you are an accommodation provider.
  • If you are a real estate agent or tenancy database provider, it applies to you both as a service provider and as an employer if you employ staff in your business.

The Commission has created a suit of free online tools to help employers understand and comply with the Equal Opportunity Act. Access the toolkits online at humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/employerstoolkits.

 How do I meet my legal obligations?

The law requires you to be proactive about discrimination and prevent discriminatory practices, rather than just responding to complaints of discrimination that may occur.

 What are 'reasonable and proportionate measures'?

The law states that the reasonable and proportionate measures needed to satisfy the positive duty will depend on the size and resources of each organisation.

Factors that must be considered include:

  • the size of the business or operations the resources of the business
  • the nature of the business the business and operational prioritiesthe practicability and cost of the measures in question.

 What sort of things should I do to comply with the law?

For landlords who manage their properties themselves:

  • Only seek relevant information from applicants.
  • Don't make decisions based on protected characteristics such as race, age, sex or disability.
  • Make sure your agent knows you expect them to comply with the law.

For real estate agents:

  • Provide training and have written policies for your staff about the Equal Opportunity Act and unlawful discrimination.
  • Review your application forms to ensure they are provided in accessible formats and do not seek irrelevant information from prospective tenants.
  • Look for ways that people applying for properties may be unfairly disadvantaged in the application process and interviews and adopt practices to minimise the risk of discrimination.
  • Do not accede to landlord requests to discriminate.

 Requesting information from applicants

Rental agents and landlords have a legitimate interest in finding tenants who will not damage the property and can pay the rent. However, they can do so without engaging in unlawful discrimination or allowing irrelevant personal characteristics to influence their decisions.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act, it is unlawful to collect information that could be used to discriminate against a person, whether orally or in writing. In planning to meet the positive duty, providers of private rental accommodation should carefully consider what information they need from applicants and why. For example, you do not need to know about someone's sexual orientation or marital status to determine whether they will be able to pay the rent and maintain the property.

 Vicarious liability

In planning to meet the positive duty, you need to be aware that you could be liable for actions carried out by your employees. To avoid vicarious liability, you must be able to show you that you took reasonable precautions to prevent someone else acting in a discriminatory way.

 Authorising and assisting discrimination

It is against the law for you to request, instruct, induce, encourage, authorise or assist another person to discriminate. This means it is against the law for a landlord to request that a real estate agent carry out a discriminatory request and for a real estate agent to carry out such a request. In this situation, both can be liable and who is the principal actor will depend on the circumstances.

Consider the scenario below:

A real estate agent puts forward an application to a landlord, but the landlord is reluctant to accept their recommendation. The conversation could go something like this:

Landlord: '...but it's a one bedroom. Why are two women applying?'

Rental Agent: 'I've done checks and they have a great rental history and a solid combined income.'

Landlord: 'I don't want people like that in my house.'

Rental Agent: 'Having looked at all the applications, I think these two were the most suitable applicants. I'm concerned you could be missing out on tenants who'll really enjoy and look after this property. It's part of my role to manage our legal obligations as well – so if it's their sexual orientation you're assuming or you're concerned about, you need to remember we could both be liable for discrimination if we don't offer them the property for that reason.'

 Tips to meet your positive duty

  • Understand the law.
  • Look at your policies, practices and procedures (written and unwritten).
  • Look at your client base and consider how you can improve your services to reach groups who may be unfairly excluded.
  • Set out your plan of action. Take an approach that is relevant to your size, resources and functions.
  • Develop new policies and change practices where needed.
  • Implement your plan and train your staff.
  • Monitor what happens and revisit your approach where necessary.

 Examples of positive duty in practice

Mark is the manager of a real estate agency and receives an informal complaint about one of his staff members, Bill, from a prospective tenant (Amol) who says Bill treated him unfairly when applying for a property because of his race.

Amol has a heavy accent and says that during an early interview and application process Bill was patronising to him and quickly drew his attention to a section in the rental form asking about his passport details and citizenship status. According to Amol, Bill asked him 'how long he had been here' and said 'we have a lot of applicants who are keen for the property and the owner wants someone who will stick around.'

The agency identifies a risk that complaints of discrimination could occur. In order to minimise this risk, Mark decides to train all staff about Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act. Mark also:

  • conducts a review of rental application forms to make sure that only relevant information is collected
  • reviews existing processes for seeking information from prospective tenants, including when interviews and phone discussions occur
  • provides cultural awareness training for all staff
  • makes sure all new staff are aware of their obligations under the law
  • makes sure all staff are aware of  the agency's equal opportunity policy to ensure it is being implemented in practice.

These measures are likely to constitute reasonable and proportionate measures under the positive duty.

 What are the consequences of non-compliance?

If you deny someone a rental property because of their race, sex, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or other legally protected characteristic, then the person can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

If someone makes a complaint against you and the Commission accepts the complaint we will give you a copy of it and ask for your comments. The Commission helps to resolve complaints of discrimination by conciliation. Complaints can be resolved in many different ways, for example by an apology, a change in policy, staff training or compensation.

The Commission and positive duty

The positive duty encourages organisations to work with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission before any complaints are made.

We provide assistance in a number of ways, including:

  • promoting awareness about the law and good practice
  • delivering general education and training workshops
  • delivering tailored education and training specific to your organisation
  • working in partnership to encourage and support good practice
  • reviewing policies and practices to give guidance
  • providing a free dispute resolution service
  • monitoring and enforcement.

An individual cannot pursue a complaint against a landlord or agent for not meeting its positive duty. However, if the Commission becomes aware of a serious issue that relates to a group or class of people, we may decide to investigate the matter further.

You can contact us for more information about the positive duty or to discuss any aspects of your organisation's equal opportunity plans.

Resources

Access the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 – quick guide.

Thursday, 06 June 2013

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their race, sex, age, disability, marital status, family responsibilities and sexual orientation, among other personal characteristics.

It is unlawful for you to treat applicants unfavourably when they are renting or applying to rent a property because of a personal characteristic (e.g. race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or having children) by:

  • refusing or not accepting an application
  • processing an application in a different way
  • offering the property on different terms (e.g. requiring a higher amount for the bond)
  • not making reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability
  • refusing to provide accommodation to a person because they have an assistance dog.

Discrimination against people with disabilities in accommodation

In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a disability. Disability includes physical, mental or intellectual conditions and may be short term, long term or permanent.

It is against the law for a rental agent or landlord to deny a person a rental property because they have a disability or use an aid such as a wheelchair, crutches, or scooter.

People have a right to make reasonable alterations

If a person with a disability would like to make alterations to the property to accommodate their disability (e.g. handrails or ramps), they have to pay for the alterations themselves. Rental agents and landlords must allow the person to make such alterations to the property provided that:

  • the alterations will not alter the premises of another occupier (i.e impact on a neighbour's property)
  • things can be put back the way they were before the alterations
  • the person agrees to restore the accommodation to its previous state before they leave.

If a tenant has an assistance dog, it is unlawful for you to request that they keep the dog elsewhere, or to require an additional fee.

Are there any excep­tions to the law?

The Equal Oppor­tu­nity Act 2010 includes some excep­tions, which mean that dis­crim­i­na­tion will not be against the law in par­tic­u­lar circumstances.

Pos­i­tive steps can also be taken to help dis­ad­van­taged groups using spe­cial mea­sures, which is not dis­crim­i­na­tion under the law.

If an excep­tion or spe­cial mea­sure does not apply, in some cir­cum­stances an excep­tion from the Act may be sought from the Vic­to­rian Civil and Admin­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal (VCAT).

The Act also includes spe­cific excep­tions in the pro­vi­sion of accom­mo­da­tion where dis­crim­i­na­tion may be permitted.

Addi­tional excep­tions apply in rela­tion to shared accom­mo­da­tion and access to, or use of, pub­lic premises. To avoid doubt about whether an excep­tion might apply, please check the Act or seek fur­ther advice.

Resources

Access general information about using a property manager in Victoria on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Thursday, 06 June 2013

How can dis­crim­i­na­tion in accom­mo­da­tion happen?

Dis­crim­i­na­tion can hap­pen when accom­mo­da­tion providers, such as real estate agents, land­lords or ven­dors, treat you unfavourably because of a per­sonal characteristic pro­tected by the law by:

  • refus­ing to sell or rent a prop­erty to you. For exam­ple, because you have children.
  • pro­cess­ing your appli­ca­tion in a dif­fer­ent way to other appli­ca­tions for the same prop­erty. For exam­ple, because you have a disability.
  • offer­ing you a prop­erty on dif­fer­ent terms or chang­ing the orig­i­nal terms. For exam­ple, requir­ing a higher amount for the bond or requir­ing some­one to be your guar­an­tor because of your age.
  • stop­ping you from access­ing a ben­e­fit or facil­ity that is avail­able to other ten­ants. For exam­ple, because of your race or religion.
  • refus­ing to extend or renew the terms of access to the prop­erty. For exam­ple, because you are a gay couple.
  • evict­ing you. For exam­ple, because you become a sin­gle parent.

It is also against the law for accommodation providers to:

  • refuse accom­mo­da­tion because you have an assis­tance dog. The term assis­tance dog applies to a dog trained to assist you with any dis­abil­ity or impair­ment, to alle­vi­ate the effects of that impair­ment, such as a guide dog or hear­ing dog
  • require you to keep your assis­tance dog away from your accommodation
  • charge extra for an assis­tance dog.

Alter­ations to premises for peo­ple with a disability

If you have a dis­abil­ity you can make rea­son­able alter­ations to the accom­mo­da­tion to meet your spe­cial needs if:

  • you as the ten­ant pay for the alterations
  • you as the ten­ant agree to restore the accom­mo­da­tion to its pre­vi­ous state before you leave
  • the alter­ations will not alter the premises of another occu­pier. For exam­ple, a neighbour's property
  • things can be put back to the way that they were before the alterations.

In some cases, a prop­erty owner may be required to make alter­ations to premises to help accom­mo­date a per­son with dis­abil­ity, but only where this would not cause the owner 'unjus­ti­fi­able hardship'.

To deter­mine whether alter­ations would cause 'unjus­ti­fi­able hard­ship' to the prop­erty owner, all the cir­cum­stances must be con­sid­ered, includ­ing any ben­e­fit or detri­ment the adjust­ments may cause, the costs involved in mak­ing the alter­ations and the finan­cial cir­cum­stances of the owner.

Exam­ples of dis­crim­i­na­tion in accommodation

Tiffany meets with a real estate agent to look through a prop­erty she wants to rent. Tiffany has her two chil­dren with her and the agent advises that he can­not rent the prop­erty to her because her chil­dren are under five and likely to dam­age the property.

David speaks to a real estate agent on the phone about his appli­ca­tion form for a rental prop­erty. The agent has seen David's sur­name and asks about his eth­nic back­ground. David hears from the agent the next day that his appli­ca­tion was not suc­cess­ful. When David asks why, the agent says he's had prob­lems with 'peo­ple from your coun­try' in the past.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Resources

An audio guide providing advice and information for anyone renting a home in Victoria is available on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Subscribe to our monthly training update

Your details will not be disclosed outside the Commission, and you may unsubscribe at any time by return email to education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by calling the Commission on 1300 891 848

The Commission complies with Victorian privacy laws and the confidentiality provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. View the Commission's Website Privacy Statement.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The following opinion editorial by CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Jill Gallagher AO accompanied the launch of the Commission's Reporting Racism report.   

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission today launched a report that has found racism is a daily event in the lives of many Victorians and calls for all Victorians to do more to stand up to hate.

View the report online.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Small Business: equal opportunity and compliance basics

Recommended for small business operators wanting a quick overview of the key obligations under equal opportunity law.

Just as occupational health and safety laws require small business operators to take appropriate steps to prevent injuries, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 requires small business operators to take appropriate steps to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. Learn the necessary skills and strategies to identify, prevent and resolve these issues through business focused activities, real life examples and practical tips.

This workshop will:

  • provide an overview of the key features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • outline the rights and obligations of small business under discrimination law
  • consider the steps you need to take to comply with the law.

Duration: 1 hour.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Monday, 27 May 2013

How to resolve a complaint at the Commission

Recommended for community members, advocates and organisations.

The Commission provides a free, fair and timely dispute resolution service to help people resolve complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial and religious vilification.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints can be resolved through conciliation
  • discuss real examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Inclusion, diversity and business health

Recommended for leaders and managers in business, government and community organisations.

We have all heard about the ‘business benefits of diversity’ – improvements in productivity and performance, innovation, customer and employee attraction, engagement and retention. So why aren’t we all reaping the business benefits of our increasingly diverse talent pool and workplaces? A growing body of evidence shows it’s not diversity alone, but active inclusion of diversity, that makes the big difference to wellbeing and performance. Learn the keys to doing the ‘bright thing and the right thing’ to build business health and meet equal opportunity obligations.

This workshop will:

  • explore participants’ motivation to be more inclusive
  • build knowledge and understanding of key cross-cultural differences
  • demonstrate effective techniques to minimise unconscious bias
  • strengthen respectful and inclusive behaviour around cultural diversity.

Duration: 4 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

The Charter: understand your responsibilities

Recommended for managers, employees and office holders in state and local government agencies and public authorities.

All public authorities, including state and local government agencies, must consider the rights protected in the Charter when making decisions, developing laws and policies and providing services. This workshop provides a practical introduction to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and shows how to use it to develop and deliver better services and improve participation for all Victorians.

This workshop will:

  • introduce the human rights protected by the Charter
  • explain the responsibilities of public authorities under the Charter
  • explain how the Charter relates to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • discuss how the Charter applies to your services and day-to-day roles
  • outline how to consider complaints using the Charter.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

The Charter for local government

Recommended for local government employees and managers.

As public authorities, local governments have clear responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter). This workshop will help you understand your responsibilities and learn how other local government authorities are creatively integrating human rights into their practice and service delivery. Using the toolkit ‘From Compliance to Culture’, this course is tailored specifically to people in local government.

This workshop will:

  • introduce human rights concepts and outline how the Charter operates
  • highlight the obligations local governments have as public authorities
  • identify strategies to integrate human rights into the culture, values and leadership of your council
  • step through the key practical milestones in the ‘From Compliance to Culture’ toolkit.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Please note: Government agencies and public authorities also have responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

The Charter for state government

Recommended for government and public authority employees and managers.

Designed specifically for employees in state government agencies, this course outlines your responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and explores how using the Charter can enhance your everyday service delivery and increase participation for all Victorians.

This workshop will:

  • outline the human rights protected in the Charter
  • highlight the obligations on state government employees
  • identify Charter issues in the context of your day-to-day work
  • identify strategies to prevent and rectify breaches of Charter rights
  • outline the role of the Commission and other key complaint handling bodies.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Please note: government agencies also have responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

If you are a HR professional, manager, team leader or contact officer, you should also consider those pathways.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Developing an effective equal opportunity policy

Recommended for experienced human resource practitioners and managers with responsibility for equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion or people and culture within organisations
Compliance with equal opportunity law starts with effective equal opportunity policies and procedures. Assess your current Equal Opportunity (EO) policy, learn how to develop and implement a clear and consistent EO policy that’s easy to use and supports other key policies such as your social media policy.

This workshop will:

  • describe the key components of an effective EO policy and the key steps to develop one
  • provide a checklist for assessing your existing policy
  • help you begin to develop a new policy for your organisation
  • discuss how your EO policy supports other policies, including your social media policy. 

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity and volunteers

Recommended for volunteer organisations, volunteer managers or coordinators and volunteers.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, volunteers have the same protection against sexual harassment as paid employees. This workshop clarifies equal opportunity rights and responsibilities for volunteers and volunteer organisations.

This workshop will:

  • give an overview of equal opportunity law in Victoria
  • explain how the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects volunteers
  • discuss the responsibilities for organisations with volunteers
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity, human rights and disability

Recommended for people with disability, carers and advocates.

Around one in five people in Victoria has some form of disability and discrimination features frequently in their day-to-day lives. Understanding Victoria’s discrimination and human rights laws can be a vital first step in overcoming discrimination, receiving and providing better service and creating opportunities to participate more fully in community life.

This workshop will:

  • outline the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 with a focus on disability protections
  • discuss how employers, education providers and providers of goods and services must make reasonable adjustments for people with disability
  • explain how public authorities must consider human rights when developing policies and delivering services
  • explain how the Commission can help you resolve disputes about discrimination.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity obligations for community organisations

Recommended for CEOs, human resource professionals and senior managers in community organisations.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 applies to community organisations and it’s your responsibility to make sure your organisation is compliant. Building compliance also helps you create a diverse, inclusive and healthy organisation and provide better services to your clients and community members.

This workshop will:

  • highlight the important features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • explain your obligations under the law
  • consider the implications for your organisation’s policies and practice
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity tools for unions and advocates

Recommended for industrial advocates, union officials and delegates.

Learn how to use equal opportunity law to protect your members from discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation at work. Whether they are ongoing, temporary, casual or contract employees, the law protects your members from discrimination when applying for a job, seeking promotion, accessing terms and conditions and during separation, and the Commission’s dispute resolution service can help you achieve timely and effective redress when discrimination occurs. 

This workshop will:

  • explain your members’ rights under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • explain the new positive duty and reasonable adjustment obligations on employers
  • highlight how you can use the law to protect your members
  • outline how the Commission can help you and your members resolve disputes about discrimination.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

How to resolve a complaint at the Commission

Recommended for community members, advocates and organisations.

The Commission provides a free, fair and timely dispute resolution service to help people resolve complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial and religious vilification.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints can be resolved through conciliation
  • discuss real examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.


Tackling race-based discrimination for CALD communities

Recommended for CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) advocates and community members.

In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate against or vilify someone because of their race or religion. Understanding Victoria's discrimination and human rights laws can be a vital first step in overcoming discrimination, receiving equal service and creating opportunities to participate more fully in public life.

This workshop will:

  • outline the protection available under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • explain the responsibilities of government and public authorities, employers, education providers, real estate agents and other service providers to eliminate discrimination
  • discuss how to advocate for equal opportunity and human rights
  • explain how the Commission can help you resolve complaints about racial discrimination and vilification.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Tackling race-based discrimination for the Victorian Aboriginal Community

Recommended for members of the Victorian Aboriginal community.

The Commission can help you deal with complaints about discrimination through our friendly and effective conciliation service.

This workshop will:

  • outline the law under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints about discrimination
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints are resolved through conciliation
  • give examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours. Tailored program.

The Charter: understand your rights

Recommended for community members.

This workshop provides a practical introduction to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) and shows how to use it to advocate for better services.

This workshop will:

  • introduce the human rights protected by the Charter
  • explain the responsibilities of public authorities under the Charter
  • explain how the Charter relates to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • outline how to make a complaint using the Charter.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Train-the-trainer: equal opportunity and volunteers

Recommended for volunteer coordinators and managers, volunteers, clubs and organisations with volunteers.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, volunteers have the same protection against sexual harassment as paid employees, so your employees and volunteers need to understand their rights and responsibilities. This course will equip you to deliver an interactive workshop to keep them up-to-date.

This workshop will:

  • identify coverage for volunteers under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 with an emphasis on sexual harassment
  • consider strategies to prevent and resolve sexual harassment
  • outline the training course for volunteers: ‘Sexual harassment and equal opportunity law: what you need to know’
  • explore different methods, tools and activities to train and support volunteers
  • practise using examples, scenarios, role plays and group work.

Duration: 6 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Using equal opportunity and human rights for advocacy

Recommended for case managers, support people, other advocates or community members.

Learn how Victorian human rights and equal opportunity laws can help you overcome discrimination, advance human rights, encourage better services and build a fairer society for your clients, yourself and other community members.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws that deal with discrimination, sexual harassment, racial and religious vilification and human rights
  • discuss organisations’ obligations
  • explore how you can use equal opportunity and human rights principles and laws to prevent people being treated unfairly
  • outline the role of the Commission and other key complaint-handling bodies.

Duration: 4 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Inclusive education and equal opportunity in schools

Recommended for senior staff, teachers and school support staff.

Students, staff and parents have the right to safe and equal participation in education and the life of the school community. It is important for principals, teachers and school support staff to understand their obligations to put strategies in place that create inclusive environments and eliminate discrimination.

This workshop will:

  • explore the principles behind equal opportunity and inclusion in all areas of education
  • outline provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act (Vic) and the Disability Standards for Education (Cth)
  • explore reasonable adjustments for students with a disability
  • examine how discrimination and sexual harassment can happen in all areas of school life
  • detail the Commission’s resources to help schools achieve good practice.

This workshop aligns with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Standards 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 3.7 and 7.1

Duration: Time 2.5 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Member protection information officer (MPIO) training

A must for newly appointed sports club and association MPIOs.

MPIOs provide impartial and confidential information to help club members understand their rights and decide how they want to resolve their concerns about discrimination and sexual harassment. This workshop prepares participants for this important role in sports.

Objectives

This workshop will:

  • review the roles and responsibilities of the MPIO
  • equip MPIOs to conduct contact interviews
  • provide participants with an opportunity to practise the skills required
  • consider issues related to the implementation of the MPIO role in a sport (such as establishment of a network, promoting and supervising the role, record keeping)
  • provide a resource manual.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out mre email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Prerequisites: Participants must complete a series of short, online modules at https://learning.ausport.gov.au and bring the certificate of completion to the training program.

Play by the rules: promoting fair, safe and inclusive sport

Recommended for sporting organisations' executive officers, board of management members, coaches, referees and other officials, sport development officers, recreation officers and teachers.

You've read the headlines: 'Two year ban for race slur', 'Unruly fans on notice', 'Taunt about mum costs star'. What would you do if this were your club? Where would you go for help? How would you bring about change? Learn how to recognise, prevent and deal with discrimination and harassment in sport, and create an inclusive and safe club for everyone to enjoy.

This workshop will:

  • explore how discrimination and harassment can happen in sport
  • identify the relevant laws and key responsibility to prevent discrimination and harassment
  • identify policies, complaint handling procedures and practices that should be in place to help your sporting organisations, clubs and schools comply with these laws
  • introduce you to 'Play by the rules', an interactive web resource
  • identify other organisations and resources available to help.

Duration: 3 hours.

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out mre email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Equal opportunity contact officer: new to the role

A must for newly appointed contact officers.

Equal opportunity contact officers provide information and support to help staff resolve perceived workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. Having a network of contact officers in your workplace is an important part of your organisation’s strategy to prevent discrimination and handle complaints effectively. This workshop prepares participants for this important role.

This workshop will:

  • explore the purpose and role of the contact officer
  • consider appropriate workplace behaviour under your policies andthe law
  • equip contact officers to conduct contact interviews
  • provide participants with an opportunity to practise the skills required
  • discuss how to establish a contact officer network at your workplace
  • provide a copy of the 'Contact Officer Resource Manual'.

Duration: Full day (9.30am - 4.30pm)

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity contact officer: practice update

Recommended for contact officers wanting to enhance their practice, upskill or learn from others.

Featuring a facilitated discussion and review session, this workshop enables contact officers to keep up-to-date with new developments in equal opportunity, debrief on some of the issues that have come their way, and learn from other contact officers as well as our expert facilitator. We recommend contact officers undertake a practice update every two years.

This workshop will:

  • provide an overview of the role of a contact officer
  • review the key elements of the equal opportunity framework
  • provide an update on equal opportunity legislation and case law
  • discuss common dilemmas experienced by contact officers
  • refresh and practise the skills required to fulfil the role effectively.

Duration: 3 hours

Prerequisites: 'Equal Opportunity contact officer: new to the role' or experience as a contact officer.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

How to resolve a complaint at the Commission

Recommended for community members, advocates and organisations.

The Commission provides a free, fair and timely dispute resolution service to help people resolve complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial and religious vilification.

This workshop will:

  • outline the laws under which the Commission helps people resolve complaints
  • provide a step-by-step guide on how to bring a complaint to the Commission
  • explain how complaints can be resolved through conciliation
  • discuss real examples of successful conciliations.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Train-the-trainer: equal opportunity for employees

Recommended for workplace trainers, human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

A crucial part of any strategy to prevent discrimination and harassment is regular employee education. This course equips you to conduct interactive and effective workshops for your employees, so you’ll have the capacity to deliver cost effective equal opportunity training whenever it’s needed.

This workshop will:

  • discuss the key messages of equal opportunity training, including practical responses to frequently asked questions
  • explore effective delivery methods, tools and activities and practise skills and methods for conducting equal opportunity training in the workplace
  • provide participants with a package that can be adapted and reproduced for in-house training delivery in your workplace.

Duration: 6 hours. This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Working with people with mental illness

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Actively promoting mental health and understanding how to support and manage staff with mental illness is a key component of creating a safe and healthy workplace. This course will help managers understand the rights and responsibilities of employees with mental illness and explore the anti-discrimination framework for disability, mental illness and reasonable adjustments.

This workshop will:

  • build an understanding of the effects of mental illness in the workplace
  • provide practical tips about how to support an employee with mental illness
  • clarify equal opportunity and discrimination law in relation to mental illness
  • explore reasonable adjustments and flexibility.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Developing an effective equal opportunity policy

Recommended for experienced human resource practitioners and managers with responsibility for equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion or people and culture within organisations
Compliance with equal opportunity law starts with effective equal opportunity policies and procedures. Assess your current Equal Opportunity (EO) policy, learn how to develop and implement a clear and consistent EO policy that’s easy to use and supports other key policies such as your social media policy.

This workshop will:

  • describe the key components of an effective EO policy and the key steps to develop one
  • provide a checklist for assessing your existing policy
  • help you begin to develop a new policy for your organisation
  • discuss how your EO policy supports other policies, including your social media policy. 

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity for managers and supervisors

Recommended for groups of managers, team leaders and supervisors.

Managers and supervisors play a critical role in building inclusive, safe and flexible workplaces. Understand your obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, learn how to prevent unlawful discrimination and consider effective management strategies to foster a motivated, healthy and productive workplace.

This workshop will:

  • explain equal opportunity and discrimination as it applies to your workplace
  • outline your responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, including the positive duty obligation
  • identify the potential risk factors for workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying and explore effective strategies to prevent and resolve these before they become formal complaints
  • identify management strategies to help you build an inclusive and productive workplace and meet your positive duty. 

Duration: 3 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Inclusion, diversity and business health

Recommended for leaders and managers in business, government and community organisations.

We have all heard about the ‘business benefits of diversity’ – improvements in productivity and performance, innovation, customer and employee attraction, engagement and retention. So why aren’t we all reaping the business benefits of our increasingly diverse talent pool and workplaces? A growing body of evidence shows it’s not diversity alone, but active inclusion of diversity, that makes the big difference to wellbeing and performance. Learn the keys to doing the ‘bright thing and the right thing’ to build business health and meet equal opportunity obligations.

This workshop will:

  • explore participants’ motivation to be more inclusive
  • build knowledge and understanding of key cross-cultural differences
  • demonstrate effective techniques to minimise unconscious bias
  • strengthen respectful and inclusive behaviour around cultural diversity.

Duration: 4 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Investigating formal complaints

Recommended for human resource professionals and others responsible for undertaking internal investigations.

Successfully managing formal workplace investigations can help your organisation stay focused and productive. It also demonstrates your commitment to a positive workplace culture. Learn the skills to investigate formal workplace complaints quickly and effectively, while respecting all parties and minimising disruption.

This workshop will:

  • outline the context of formal workplace complaint investigations, including alternative dispute resolution options
  • examine the principles of effective workplace investigations, including procedural and substantive fairness, timeliness and confidentiality
  • identify the steps needed to conduct an effective workplace investigation
  • allow participants to practise the skills required to conduct investigations and make appropriate recommendations.

Duration: Full day (9.30am - 4.30pm)

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Managing return to work after injury or illness

Recommended for return-to-work coordinators and others managing ill or injured workers.

Returning to work after a physical or mental illness or injury can sometimes give rise to real or perceived discrimination. This interactive workshop, developed in consultation with WorkSafe Victoria, will help you manage this process smoothly and effectively.

This workshop will:

  • outline equal opportunity law as it applies to the return-to-work process
  • discuss stages in the return-to-work process where complaints of discrimination commonly arise and how to reduce these risks
  • explore what to do if a returning worker feels they are being treated inappropriately.

Duration: 3.5 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Mediating workplace disputes effectively

Recommended for managers and human resource professionals.

Learn hpw to resolve disagreements before they escalate, preventing working relationships from breaking down irretrievably, and increasing the likelihood of maintaining good and productive employment relations.  

This workshop will:

  • help participants understand the principles and process of successful mediation
  • identify the steps used in the mediation process
  • examine the communication skills required to mediate a dispute effectively.

Duration: Full day (9.30am–4.30pm).

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Recruitment and equal opportunity: applying the law

 Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and others responsible for recruitment and selection.

This workshop will provide practical advice about applying key equal opportunity principles and practices to common recruitment and selection processes and tools. Learn how complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 can fit in with your existing recruitment systems, and where the risks are for unlawful discrimination when making selection decisions.

This workshop will:

  • clarify how equal opportunity laws apply to key steps in recruitment processes
  • discuss the application of concepts such as genuine job requirements, reasonable adjustments, merit, cultural fit
  • review pre-employment medicals, personality and aptitude testing in recruitment
  • outline primary, accessory and vicarious liability for recruiters.

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

 

Preventing workpace bullying and harassment

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors,

This workshop will help your organisation identify the risks and deal with inappropriate behaviour quickly, effectively and out of the public domain, while respecting all staff involved and safeguarding ongoing working relationships. This is a joint program between WorkSafe and the Commission.

This workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify workplace behaviour risks
  • consider how far an organisation's responsibilities extend to protectstaff from inappropriate behaviour
  • explain the relevant policies and procedures an organisation needs toprevent and eliminate sexual harassment and bullying
  • identify strategies to prevent and resolve inappropriate behaviour.

Duration: 3 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Rights before Christmas

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Safeguard ongoing working relationships and avoid the morning after the night before by 'harassment proofing' your organisation in readiness for the festive season.

The workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify the particular risks associated with end of year celebrations
  • clarify how far your organisation's responsibilities extend to protect staff from inappropriate behavious
  • outline the relevant policies and procedures required to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment
  • identify practices to safeguard your staff at social events that may involve festive cheer, inappropriate novelties and gifts and the use of social media and personal devices
  • identify strategies tot prevent and resolve inappropriate behavior
  • encourage all staff to take steps to ensure celebrations are safe for everyone.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Working with people with mental illness

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Actively promoting mental health and understanding how to support and manage staff with mental illness is a key component of creating a safe and healthy workplace. This course will help managers understand the rights and responsibilities of employees with mental illness and explore the anti-discrimination framework for disability, mental illness and reasonable adjustments.

This workshop will:

  • build an understanding of the effects of mental illness in the workplace
  • provide practical tips about how to support an employee with mental illness
  • clarify equal opportunity and discrimination law in relation to mental illness
  • explore reasonable adjustments and flexibility.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Friday, 17 May 2013
Thursday, 16 May 2013

Developing an effective equal opportunity policy

Recommended for experienced human resource practitioners and managers with responsibility for equal opportunity, diversity, inclusion or people and culture within organisations
Compliance with equal opportunity law starts with effective equal opportunity policies and procedures. Assess your current Equal Opportunity (EO) policy, learn how to develop and implement a clear and consistent EO policy that’s easy to use and supports other key policies such as your social media policy.

This workshop will:

  • describe the key components of an effective EO policy and the key steps to develop one
  • provide a checklist for assessing your existing policy
  • help you begin to develop a new policy for your organisation
  • discuss how your EO policy supports other policies, including your social media policy. 

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Equal Opportunity Act 2010: an overview

Recommended for people and organisations needing a quick understanding of their key responsibilities under Victoria’s equal opportunity laws.

Whether you are an employer, a provider of goods and services (including education and accommodation), a club (including sports clubs) or a local government authority, you have obligations under Victoria’s equal opportunity laws. This free briefing will help you understand what you have to do and how the Commission can help you.

This workshop will:

  • highlight the important features of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • give an overview of your obligations under the law
  • consider the implications for your organisation’s policies and practice
  • outline how the Commission can help you comply and work towards good practice.

Duration: 2 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Equal opportunity for managers and supervisors

Recommended for groups of managers, team leaders and supervisors.

Managers and supervisors play a critical role in building inclusive, safe and flexible workplaces. Understand your obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, learn how to prevent unlawful discrimination and consider effective management strategies to foster a motivated, healthy and productive workplace.

This workshop will:

  • explain equal opportunity and discrimination as it applies to your workplace
  • outline your responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, including the positive duty obligation
  • identify the potential risk factors for workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying and explore effective strategies to prevent and resolve these before they become formal complaints
  • identify management strategies to help you build an inclusive and productive workplace and meet your positive duty. 

Duration: 3 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

Inclusion, diversity and business health

Recommended for leaders and managers in business, government and community organisations.

We have all heard about the ‘business benefits of diversity’ – improvements in productivity and performance, innovation, customer and employee attraction, engagement and retention. So why aren’t we all reaping the business benefits of our increasingly diverse talent pool and workplaces? A growing body of evidence shows it’s not diversity alone, but active inclusion of diversity, that makes the big difference to wellbeing and performance. Learn the keys to doing the ‘bright thing and the right thing’ to build business health and meet equal opportunity obligations.

This workshop will:

  • explore participants’ motivation to be more inclusive
  • build knowledge and understanding of key cross-cultural differences
  • demonstrate effective techniques to minimise unconscious bias
  • strengthen respectful and inclusive behaviour around cultural diversity.

Duration: 4 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Investigating formal complaints

Recommended for human resource professionals and others responsible for undertaking internal investigations.

Successfully managing formal workplace investigations can help your organisation stay focused and productive. It also demonstrates your commitment to a positive workplace culture. Learn the skills to investigate formal workplace complaints quickly and effectively, while respecting all parties and minimising disruption.

This workshop will:

  • outline the context of formal workplace complaint investigations, including alternative dispute resolution options
  • examine the principles of effective workplace investigations, including procedural and substantive fairness, timeliness and confidentiality
  • identify the steps needed to conduct an effective workplace investigation
  • allow participants to practise the skills required to conduct investigations and make appropriate recommendations.

Duration: Full day (9.30am - 4.30pm)

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Managing return to work after injury or illness

Recommended for return-to-work coordinators and others managing ill or injured workers.

Returning to work after a physical or mental illness or injury can sometimes give rise to real or perceived discrimination. This interactive workshop, developed in consultation with WorkSafe Victoria, will help you manage this process smoothly and effectively.

This workshop will:

  • outline equal opportunity law as it applies to the return-to-work process
  • discuss stages in the return-to-work process where complaints of discrimination commonly arise and how to reduce these risks
  • explore what to do if a returning worker feels they are being treated inappropriately.

Duration: 3.5 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Mediating workplace disputes effectively

Recommended for managers and human resource professionals.

Learn hpw to resolve disagreements before they escalate, preventing working relationships from breaking down irretrievably, and increasing the likelihood of maintaining good and productive employment relations.  

This workshop will:

  • help participants understand the principles and process of successful mediation
  • identify the steps used in the mediation process
  • examine the communication skills required to mediate a dispute effectively.

Duration: Full day (9.30am–4.30pm).

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Recruitment and equal opportunity: applying the law

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and others responsible for recruitment and selection.

This workshop will provide practical advice about applying key equal opportunity principles and practices to common recruitment and selection processes and tools. Learn how complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 can fit in with your existing recruitment systems, and where the risks are for unlawful discrimination when making selection decisions.

This workshop will:

  • clarify how equal opportunity laws apply to key steps in recruitment processes
  • discuss the application of concepts such as genuine job requirements, reasonable adjustments, merit, cultural fit
  • review pre-employment medicals, personality and aptitude testing in recruitment
  • outline primary, accessory and vicarious liability for recruiters.

Duration: 2 hours

This workshop is tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. To find out more email education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9032 3415.

 

Preventing workpace bullying and harassment

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors,

This workshop will help your organisation identify the risks and deal with inappropriate behaviour quickly, effectively and out of the public domain, while respecting all staff involved and safeguarding ongoing working relationships. This is a joint program between WorkSafe and the Commission.

This workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify workplace behaviour risks
  • consider how far an organisation's responsibilities extend to protectstaff from inappropriate behaviour
  • explain the relevant policies and procedures an organisation needs toprevent and eliminate sexual harassment and bullying
  • identify strategies to prevent and resolve inappropriate behaviour.

Duration: 3 hours

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register to attend a workshop in Melbourne or regional Victoria or find out more about a tailored program by contacting us at education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or (03) 9032 3415.

Rights before Christmas

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Safeguard ongoing working relationships and avoid the morning after the night before by 'harassment proofing' your organisation in readiness for the festive season.

The workshop will:

  • help your organisation identify the particular risks associated with end of year celebrations
  • clarify how far your organisation's responsibilities extend to protect staff from inappropriate behavious
  • outline the relevant policies and procedures required to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment
  • identify practices to safeguard your staff at social events that may involve festive cheer, inappropriate novelties and gifts and the use of social media and personal devices
  • identify strategies tot prevent and resolve inappropriate behavior
  • encourage all staff to take steps to ensure celebrations are safe for everyone.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Train-the-trainer: equal opportunity for employees

Recommended for workplace trainers, human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

A crucial part of any strategy to prevent discrimination and harassment is regular employee education. This course equips you to conduct interactive and effective workshops for your employees, so you’ll have the capacity to deliver cost effective equal opportunity training whenever it’s needed.

This workshop will:

  • discuss the key messages of equal opportunity training, including practical responses to frequently asked questions
  • explore effective delivery methods, tools and activities and practise skills and methods for conducting equal opportunity training in the workplace
  • provide participants with a package that can be adapted and reproduced for in-house training delivery in your workplace.

Duration: 6 hours. This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Working with people with mental illness

Recommended for human resource professionals, managers and supervisors.

Actively promoting mental health and understanding how to support and manage staff with mental illness is a key component of creating a safe and healthy workplace. This course will help managers understand the rights and responsibilities of employees with mental illness and explore the anti-discrimination framework for disability, mental illness and reasonable adjustments.

This workshop will:

  • build an understanding of the effects of mental illness in the workplace
  • provide practical tips about how to support an employee with mental illness
  • clarify equal opportunity and discrimination law in relation to mental illness
  • explore reasonable adjustments and flexibility.

Duration: 3 hours.

This session is delivered as a scheduled calendar workshop or can be tailored to your organisation and delivered on-site. Register online to attend a calendar workshop or find out more about a tailored program by emailing education@veohrc.vic.gov.au or calling (03) 9032 3415.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

 Acting Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Karen Toohey has called on all Victorians to band together to stamp out all forms of homophobia, discrimination and harassment this IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia).

Friday, 10 May 2013

This was an appeal by the DPP of Justice Lasry's ruling to stay the criminal trial of Mr Chaouk because his trial was "likely to be unfair in the sense that it carries a risk of improper conviction" unless he had a solicitor to instruct counsel on a day-to-day basis for duration of the trial. The Court of Appeal upheld Justice Lasry's decision and confirmed that courts can stay criminal trials where they consider the absence of an instructing solicitor will result in an unfair trial.

Under Victoria Legal Aid's New Criminal Law Guidelines on County Court and Supreme Court criminal trials (in force since 3 January 2013) , Mr Chaouk would only receive funding for an instructing solicitor for two half days of his 2-3 week trial.

In response to the Court of Appeal's decision, Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) introduced an interim eligibility guideline. The interim eligibility guideline allows for "more flexibility in the funding of second lawyers in criminal trials" and recognises "the importance placed by the Victorian Court of Appeal... on having instructing solicitors present during criminal trials." See VLA's Media Release (7 May 2013) and Interim Instructing/co-counsel Guideline.

In the appeal proceedings, lawyers for Mr Chaouk argued that the human rights in the Charter to a fair hearing and rights in criminal proceedings provided a further basis on which the Court could stay the trial. They also argued that VLA's New Criminal Law Guidelines were incompatible with the human rights to a fair hearing and rights in criminal proceedings. Because the matter was able to be decided in favour of Mr Chaouk without referring to these arguments, the Court of Appeal considered it unnecessary to make a ruling on these human rights arguments.

The Commission intervened in the appeal under section 40 of the Charter and made written submissions on the human rights issues.

A copy of the Commission's submissions are available for dowload below. View the Court of Appeal's decision.

Thursday, 09 May 2013

Use our learning pathways to identify workshops for your human resource professionals, managers, team leaders and contact officers - all key drivers of equal opportunity and human rights in your workplace.

HR Professionals Managers and team leaders Contact officers
Sporting clubs and schools Small business Government agencies and public authorities
  Community members, organisations or advocates  

 Or view the full list of all courses offered.

Thursday, 09 May 2013

Q. Is setting aside a special area in a cemetery for a particular religion unlawful discrimination?

A. No

This issue was raised with the Commission when a local council received a complaint about their introduction of a separate area for Muslims to be interned in the public cemetery. They were told it was discriminatory.

While the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (EOA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion in the provision of goods and services, it also makes allowances for the different needs of different groups. The EOA also recognises that Parliament has the power to make decisions about the balance of interests in the community.

Section 20 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 authorises the setting aside of areas for the internment of human remains of persons of a particular religious denomination or faith or community or other group. The EOA operates subject to this legal authority.

Section 75 of the EOA sets out what is known as a 'statutory authority exception' which says that:

(1) A person may discriminate if the discrimination is necessary to comply with, or is authorised by, a provision of:

(a) an Act, other than this Act; or

(b) an enactment, other than an enactment under this Act.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), it is not necessary that the provision refer to discrimination, as long as it authorises or necessitates the relevant conduct that would otherwise constitute discrimination.

The special needs exception in section 88 of the EOA can also be relevant in these kinds of situations. Section 88 allows people to provide special services that meet the special needs of people with a particular attribute (like a religious practice). However, it isn't necessary to address section 88 in these circumstances because the Cemeteries Act allows the conduct.

Tuesday, 07 May 2013

Right to request

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right seek access to documents about your personal affairs and the activities of the Government of Victoria and of Government Agencies, including the Commission.

This means you have the right to:

  • request access to documents about your personal affairs and the activities of the Commission, where those documents are held by the Commission
  • request that the Commission amend or remove incorrect or misleading information we hold about you.

The Commission can refuse a request where:

  • the documents are covered by an exemption under the FOI Act
  • the documents or information is publicly available
  • the documents requested are not held by the Commission but may be held by another agency
  • either the document/s cannot be found after a thorough search, or the documents do not exist.

Where the information or documents you want to access relates to your own personal information, you may not need to make a formal FOI request in order to access the document. If you are unsure whether you need to make a formal FOI request, please contact the Commission on 1300 891 848 or TTY 1300 289 621.

Making a request

If you wish to make a FOI request to the Commission, you must:

  1. Make your request in writing.
  2. Provide a clear and detailed description of the particular document/s or types of documents you want to access.
  3. Pay an application fee.

A FOI request cannot be processed unless all three criteria are met.

Don't forget to provide us with your contact phone number or email, in case we need to clarify your request.

The application fee is $25.70 and can be paid by cheque or money order, made out to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The Commission will consider requests for waiver of the fee in cases of financial hardship.You can email your request to foi@veohrc.vic.gov.au or send it by post to:

The Freedom of Information Officer
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street
Carlton 3053

Proof of identity

Where your request relates to documents containing personal information about yourself, the Commission may request that you provide proof of your identity. This could be in the form of a driver's license, passport, or other photo ID.

If you have a representative or advocate making the request, we will also need to see a written and signed statement from you stating that you give permission for that person to communicate with us on your behalf and access the documents.

Seeking proof of your identity is to ensure that private and confidential records are not improperly disclosed.

Processing requests

The Commission's FOI Officer will assess your request to ensure it is a valid request under the FOI Act, and to see whether it has enough information to search for and identify the document/s. If we need more information or clarification about your request, we will contact you.

We will then undertake a search for the requested documents, and will write to you with a decision about whether your request is granted in full or in part, or if it is refused. We will also tell you the reason/s for our decision. The Commission has up to 45 days to process and respond to your request.

If you are granted access to requested documents, the Commission will discuss with you how access will be provided. You may be required to pay access charges depending on the nature of the request.

The Commission is bound by a "secrecy" provision in the Equal Opportunity Act. This means that, unless we have the consent of the parties involved, the Commission is legally not allowed to disclose documents or information which has been collected by the Commission in the course of performing its functions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (such as documents obtained during dispute resolution). This secrecy provision is an exemption under the FOI Act. 

Challenging a decision

If you are unhappy with a FOI decision made by the Commission, you have the right under the FOI Act to ask the FOI Commissioner to review any decision refusing access to documents.

You also have the right to complain to the Freedom of Information Commissioner about a FOI process or if you have been told the documents requested cannot be found or do not exist.

To contact the FOI Commissioner, call 1300 842 364 or visit www.foicommissioner.vic.gov.au.

More information

The FOI Online website contains further information to help you access government documents. On the site you can download a request form and find out more information about the FOI request process.

You can also download a copy of the Commission's "Part II Statement" under the FOI Act below.

Friday, 03 May 2013

Thank you for your interest in the Commission’s project looking at the experiences of people with disabilities reporting crime.

The data collection period for the project is now closed. We are currently analysing data for use in a report that we will publish in mid-2014.

Thank you very much to everyone that participated.

Should you have any questions about the project at all, or any further information for us, please contact:

Wendy Sanderson, Senior Advisor, Strategic Projects
         Phone: (03) 9032 3492
         TTY: 1300 289 621
         Email: research@veohrc.vic.gov.au
         Post: Confidential Research
         Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
         Level 3, 204 Lygon Street
         Carlton VIC 3053

If you would like to sign up to the Commission’s monthly e-bulletin, to keep in touch with the work of the Commission, including progress on this Report, you can email to communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by calling the Commission on 1300 891 848.

Your details will not be disclosed outside the Commission, and you may unsubscribe at any time by return email to communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by calling the Commission on 1300 891 848.

Thanks again for your interest.

Thursday, 02 May 2013

The Commission has been conducting research into the experiences of people with disabilities in Victoria when they report crime. The project aims to:

  • identify the nature and extent of crimes against people with disabilities in Victoria
  • understand what barriers people with disabilities face when reporting crime and gaining redress
  • work with Victoria Police and other authorities to break down these barriers and provide better services to people with disabilities.

The project is focusing on crimes against the person. These include assault, family violence, sexual assault, indecent assault, and causing serious injury and covers crimes that occur at home, on the street, on transport, and in services such as disability services and hospitals.

The research will not include property crimes such as theft and fraud or the experiences of people with disabilities who have committed crimes. The project is limited to those who have been victims of crime.

The data collection period for the project has now closed. Thank you to those who assisted us with the research.

How we gathered information

From June to November 2013, the Commission gathered information from:

  • confidential surveys for people with disabilities, carers and family members, service workers and advocates, including an Easy English version
  • focus groups with people with disabilities, as well as focus groups of service providers who work with people with disabilities, and with police
  • interviews with key informants and experts
  • case study interviews with people with disabilities who have experienced crimes against the person. We also interviewed family members, carers and supporters who wished to provide case studies
  • de-identified statistics from Department of Justice, Victoria Police, Department of Human Services, the Disability Services Commissioner, and the Office of the Public Advocate.

We will publish a report on our findings, including recommendations for action in mid-2014.

How you can keep updated

Should you have any questions about the project at all, or any further information for us, please contact Wendy on the details below.

If you would like to sign up to the Commission's monthly e-bulletin, to keep in touch with the work of the Commission, including progress on this Report, you can email to communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by calling the Commission on 1300 891 848.

Your details will not be disclosed outside the Commission, and you may unsubscribe at any time by return email to communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by calling the Commission on 1300 891 848.

Contact details

Should you have any questions about the project at all, or any further information for us, please contact Wendy on the details below.

Wendy Sanderson, Senior Advisor, Strategic Projects
         Phone: (03) 9032 3492
         TTY: 1300 289 621
         Email: research@veohrc.vic.gov.au
         Post: Confidential Research
         Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
         Level 3, 204 Lygon Street
         Carlton VIC 3053

A Reference Group including representatives from the Office of the Public Advocate, Disability Services Commissioner, Victoria Police, Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability, Victims Support Agency, Women with Disabilities Victoria, University of Ballarat and the Commission's Disability Reference Group will oversee the project.

All information is kept confidential. No individual will be identified in the research. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission complies with Victorian privacy laws and the confidentiality provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. View our privacy policy.

Thursday, 02 May 2013

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, launched the Melbourne event of Twenty Years: Twenty Stories film project.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Equal Opportunity Act in Victoria.

To celebrate this milestone, the Commission launched Victorian Discrimination Law – a new handbook and online resource developed to provide a guide to equal opportunity case law in Victoria. This resource will provide a valuable tool for legal practitioners, advocates and people with an interest in discrimination law in Victoria.

Monday, 29 April 2013

This resource provides an overview of the Equal Opportunity Act and an analysis of the case law that helps to guide the application of the Act in practice. It also provides
guidance on the scope of, and interaction between, exceptions and exemptions under the Equal Opportunity Act in light of its objective to promote substantive equality.

Dowload the full text (PDF or Word) or chapter sections available below.

Chapter contents

1: Introduction
2: Types of discrimination
3: Protected attributes
4: Areas of public life in which discrimination is prohibited
5: Reasonable adjustments for somebody with a disability
6: Accommodating responsibilities as a parent or carer in employment and related areas
7: Refusing accommodation to a person because they have an assistance dog
8: Permanent exceptions
9: Temporary exemptions by the tribunal
10: Sexual harassment
11: Victimisation
12: Authorising and assisting discrimination and sexual harassment
13: Vicarious liability
14: The positive duty
15: Special measures
16: Compliance powers
17: Disputes
18: Other common procedural issues
19: Offences

Monday, 29 April 2013

In May and June 2013, the Commission ran a survey inviting people with disabilities to tell us about the accessibility of buses, trams, taxis and trains.

The report notes the results from this survey, which were also used to inform our submission to the Federal Government's review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.

The Commission has met with Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and the key public transport providers in Victoria to inform them of the findings of this survey and discuss the steps they are taking toward accessible services.

Some key points to note are:

  • PTV will soon be releasing the Accessible Public Transport Action Plan 2013-2017, which will be available on their website
  • Following a procedural review in September, V/Line will no longer allow customers to travel in the conductor's van (baggage compartment). This will be compulsory as of 15 October 2013. V/Line will arrange alternative transport for wheelchair customers wishing to travel on services without appropriate accessible carriages.
  • Yarra Trams provided a detailed response to the report, available here (PDF/RTF).

Thank you to all those who took the time to complete the survey.

If you want to make a complaint about discrimination in transport please contact our enquiry line on 1300 292 153 or (TTY) 1300 289 621, or send an email to enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Commission advocates for human rights and equality by making submissions into a range of government and legal processes. Through our submissions, we provide specialist and independent views on human rights and equal opportunity issues.

Our policy submissions engage in government policy processes, inquiries and law reform activities to help ensure human rights and equality issues are considered. We make recommendations to improve human rights and equality outcomes in government activities and public life.

The Commission also makes legal submissions to courts and tribunals. In this role, the Commission makes submissions to advocate for and explain the laws we work with. We do this to assist the court. We do not represent individual parties.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Colleen is the newest member of the Commission's Board, joining in November of 2012. Colleen's appointment was widely welcomed by both the staff of the Commission and the communities we work with in recognition of the wealth of knowledge and expertise she brings to the role through more than 30 years of working in the community and health sectors.  

In 2007, Colleen became Victoria's first female Public Advocate where she leads the organisation in protecting and promoting the rights and interests of people with a disability in Victoria, especially those with a cognitive disability.

Colleen is also a board mem­ber of Con­nect­ing Home, an organ­i­sa­tion estab­lished in response to the rec­om­men­da­tions aris­ing from the Stolen Gen­er­a­tions Task­force Report and she is also a member of the Dax Cen­tre Ethics Committee.

Colleen said that promoting the rights of people who are disadvantaged has been the central motivating force in her career.

"All of my life I have worked with people who because of their circumstances have been marginalised and not surprisingly, I am passionately committed to achieving a just and equitable society and redressing disadvantage. I have a firm belief in the need for equality, as well as the knowledge that is not going to be given to us, but that we have to fight for it."

"I really enjoy the advocacy part of my work at the Office of the Public Advocate and the opportunity to work towards improving the human rights and dignity of people, all while working with a team of passionate people who are deeply committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities."

Colleen brings to the Commission an interest in the prevention and elimination of discrimination, with a special focus on disability and Indigenous issues, and says she is looking forward to helping the Commission fight the insidious and persistent effects of discrimination and racism in our community.

People with a disability have the right to participate in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. For far too long, this has not been the case for people with disabilities.

"Many people in our community face racism day in and day out but the majority of us don't see it because we don't directly experience it and will never experience racism in the way others do.

"It is difficult to stand up to hate but if we do not take on these issues they will grow and they will fester."

Colleen feels very honoured to have been appointed to the board of an organisation that is committed to fighting discrimination and racism while at the same time promoting respect for the human dignity and human rights.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Thirty-five years ago, Victorian Parliament passed an Act that made it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sex and marital status. This was the birth of the anti-discrimination legislation in Victoria.

The Equal Opportunity Act received bipartisan support that signalled our aspirations for equality with strength and clarity. It was the product of significant lobbying and determination, and aimed to establish a new normative standard in civilised behaviour.

The Act followed steps taken to reduce discrimination against women in the Victorian public service – equal pay for equal work, maternity leave, and the elimination of discrimination in advertisements for public service jobs, to name a few.

The Act had a substantive and symbolic impact, as a tool to address individual instances of discrimination and promote social change, and a framework to debate equality. In 1977, Deborah Lawrie applied to become a trainee pilot with Ansett, then one of Australia's largest airlines. She was well qualified, being flight instructor with extensive flight experience, and more qualified than many of her male students who had already been accepted as trainee pilots. Her application was rejected by the General Manager of Ansett with the explanation that:

We have a good record of employing females in a wide range of positions within our organisation but have an adopted policy of only employing men as pilots.

Thirty-five years on, we can marvel at this comment knowing that no major public company would adopt, or admit to holding, such a blatantly discriminatory policy. Lawrie (now Wardley) challenged the rejection, lodging a sex discrimination claim with the Commission (then the Victorian Equal Opportunity Board), and won.[1] In 1979, the Board ruled that women's childbearing potential could not be used to limit their role in society. It also ordered Ansett to employ Ms Wardley in its next pilot intake. This was the first sex discrimination complaint determined by an Australian Equal Opportunity Board.

Following this landmark decision, protection from discrimination was extended to people with disabilities, race, religion, political belief and de facto status. In 1984, sexual harassment became unlawful.

Gradually, its scope has changed to reflect the diversity of our community. In 1995, protection from discrimination was extended to (amongst other things) carer status, age and pregnancy. In 2000, breastfeeding, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination were included. In 2008, it was amended to protect employees who requested flexible working arrangements to accommodate their family responsibilities.

After decades of relying on individual complaints to address discrimination, the introduction of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 marked a new approach to tackling all forms of discrimination - individual and systemic.

Importantly, the Act focuses on achieving substantive equality. It recognises that access to opportunities are not equitably distributed throughout society, and that equality in terms of outcomes – as well as access to opportunities – is required to eliminate discrimination to the greatest possible extent.

The Act enhanced the role of the Commission from a complaints-handling body to one that educates and facilitates dispute resolution, best practice and compliance. It also provided the Commission with power to intervene in legal proceedings involving issues of equal opportunity or discrimination, and conduct investigations on systemic issues.

Though progressive in its day, the legislation of a generation ago does not reflect the diversity of today's society. Reforms to the Equal Opportunity Act in the last 35 years have encouraged our community to prevent discrimination, rather than just react to it, and assume the responsibility for eliminating discrimination together.

Find more information on the history of the Equal Opportunity Act.

[1] Ansett Transport Industries (Operations) Pty Ltd v Wardley (1984) EOC 92003 at 75,260

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Commission receives a large number of requests from journalism students seeking assistance with assignments.

In an effort to assist students and ensure there is readily available information on the Commission's positions and public statements, every effort is made to ensure the media centre is up-to-date with media releases, opinion pieces and submissions.

Please note, however, that due to extremely busy workloads the Commissioner is not available to undertake media interviews for student projects.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Concerns a complaint by the Applicant that she was discriminated against and victimised by WorkSafe Victoria.

The Commission made submissions about the interpretation of the term 'services' in the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 and whether the nature of the activities performed by the Respondent in relation to the Applicant's complaint constituted 'services'.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Mt Evelyn Special Development School (a school for students with developmental delay and/or intellectual disability) applied for an exemption to enable the applicant to advertise for two male School Support Officer positions. 

The Tribunal granted the exemption, which was sought because 20 male students need assistance with personal care including toileting, showering and other personal supervision matters and only eight of their 75 staff were male. The school argued that the lack of male staff affected the school's ability to deliver its programs with dignity and respect.

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

The Ian Potter Museum of Art applied for an exemption to enable it to advertise for and employ only an Indigenous person in an Assistant Curator role.

The Tribunal found the proposed conduct was a special measure under section 12 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and accordingly an exemption was not required.

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Concerns an exemption application to enable Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-Operative Ltd to advertise for and employ a female mental health worker. The program already employed a male mental health worker and wanted to employ a female because some female clients would not engage in counselling and other services provided by a male worker.

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Concerns an exemption application to advertise for and employ only Indigenous persons, with preference to be given to Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation & Cultural Heritage Council members, in field and office based positions working to care and protect Wurundjeri country.

The Tribunal found the conduct proposed was a special measure under section 12 and, accordingly, that an exemption was not required.

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Concerns an exemption application to limit employment to women only by a peak body that aims to eliminate domestic violence against women and children.

Considers the application of the welfare services exception (section 28) and the special needs exception (section 88).

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Concerns an exemption application by a women's refuge to limit services and accommodation to women and children and limit employment to women only.

Considers the application of special measures (section 12), the welfare services exception (section 28), the welfare measures (accommodation) (section 60) and the special needs exception (section 88).

Monday, 08 April 2013

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Equal Opportunity Act in Victoria.

To celebrate this milestone, the Commission launched Victorian Discrimination Law – a new handbook and online resource developed to provide a guide to equal opportunity case law in Victoria. This resource will provide a valuable tool for legal practitioners, advocates and people with an interest in discrimination law in Victoria.

Monday, 08 April 2013

This was an appeal to VCAT against the decision of the Mental Health Review Board.

The main issue was whether the failure of the Board to conduct a review of Mr Kracke's community treatment order as required under the Mental Health Act 1986 meant that order was invalid. The Board's conclusion was that while the failure to review was extremely regrettable, it did not invalidate the order. The Board therefore determined that the appellant's treatment as an involuntary patient was in accordance with the Act.

The Commission made submissions that the Board was acting in an administrative capacity when conducting hearings under the Mental Health Act 1986 and required to act compatibly with human rights.

VCAT considered that both the Board and itself were acting in an administrative capacity when reviewing Community Treatment Orders under the Act and, as public authorities, were obliged to act compatibly with human rights under section 38 of the Charter. VCAT held that the Board's failure to review the treatment order within the period required by the Act was a breach of Mr Kracke's rights under the Charter. In particular, the circumstances of the case engaged Mr Kracke's rights to freedom from medical treatment without his full, free and informed consent (section 10(c)), to freedom of movement (section 12) to privacy (section 13(a)), to liberty (section 21), and to a fair hearing (section 24(1)).

Monday, 08 April 2013

This was an appeal by the Director of Public Transport against a VCAT decision to grant XFJ taxi driver accreditation.

The Director had refused XFJ taxi driver accreditation because XFJ had killed his wife in 1990. In 1992 XFJ was acquitted of his wife's murder on the grounds of insanity and treated in a psychiatric facility until 1998, following which he lived in the community, undertaken voluntary and paid work, and cared for his children.

The appeal involved questions about the interpretation of a statutory provision in accordance with the Charter – namely, how section 169(1)(b)(ii) of the Transport Act 1983 and the expression "suitable in other respects to provide the service" should be interpreted in light of the Charter, particularly the right to equality.

The Commission made submissions on the effect of the interpretive obligation in section 32 on the relevant provisions of the Transport Act 1983. The Commission argued that XFJ's equality rights would be unreasonably limited if the Court accepted the Director's arguments as to what constitutes a relevant consideration for the purposes of eligibility to drive a taxi.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed XFJ's suitability for accreditation. The case was not decided on Charter grounds but Justice Ross did comment on the Charter and the Commission's submissions in obiter.

Monday, 08 April 2013

Travel Sisters applied for an exemption from provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 to enable them to conduct women only travel tours. The Tribunal was required to assess the application in light of the Charter.

The Commission made submissions opposing the granting of the exemption because the applicant had not provided sufficient evidence to justify the limitation on the human right to recognition and equality before the law in section 8 of the Charter.

The Tribunal did not grant the exemption, not being satisfied that the limitations were reasonable or necessary.

Friday, 05 April 2013

This case was a judicial review of a Magistrates' Court decision to sentence Mr Taha to 80 days imprisonment for unpaid traffic and public transport fines of more than $11,000. Mr Taha has an intellectual disability.

Under section 160 of the Infringements Act 2006, an offender who receives an infringement notice for a public transport offence and does not pay the fine may be imprisoned by an order of the Court, or the fine may be discharged in whole or in part where the Court is satisfied that the offender has a mental or intellectual impairment or that imprisonment would, in the offender's situation be excessive, disproportionate or unduly harsh. When sentenced, the magistrate did not know that Mr Taha had an intellectual disability, did not waive the fines and sentenced Mr Taha to imprisonment.

The Commission intervened to make submissions on the application of the Charter to the Magistrates' Court and the human rights relevant to the interpretation of section 160 of the Infringements Act 2006, including the right to equality, right to liberty and the right to a fair hearing.

The Supreme Court held that an interpretation of the Infringements Act 2006 in accordance with the Charter and ordinary principles of interpretation Mr Taha's disability to be considered before imprisonment orders were made. It held that the Magistrates' Court was required to make reasonable enquiries to ascertain whether an individual has an intellectual disability or special circumstances. The Supreme Court ordered that the sentencing decision be returned to the Magistrates' Court for reconsideration.

The decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal (see Victorian Toll & Anor v Taha and Anor; State of Victoria v Brookes & Anor – November 2012) and ordered that the sentencing decision be returned to the Magistrates' Court for reconsideration.

Friday, 05 April 2013

In this appeal of a County Court sentencing decision a question was raised as to the interpretation of a transitional provision in the Sentencing Act 1991 compatibly with the human right to liberty in the Charter.

The transitional provision concerned the transition between the old sentencing regime which included community based orders to a new scheme of community corrections orders. A literal interpretation of the provision would have meant that – at the time of sentencing – although the option to sentence someone to a community-based order had been repealed, the option to sentence someone to a community corrections order had not yet entered into force. On a literal interpretation, the only sentencing options available would be a fine or imprisonment.

The Commission intervened under the Charter to make submissions on the proper application of the obligation in section 32 to interpret laws compatibly with human rights and the meaning of the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention in section 21 of the Charter.

The Court of Appeal agreed that a literal interpretation of the provision was unacceptable, however it was unnecessary to rely of the Charter to reach this conclusion, because the same conclusion was reached on ordinary principles of interpretation.

See the decision here.

Thursday, 04 April 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, invites you to the Melbourne launch of Twenty Years: Twenty Stories, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

This Bill establishes a process for issuing infringement notices (fines) to parents who have not enrolled their child at school, or whose child is not attending school without a reasonable excuse. It potentially engages rights to equality before the law, privacy, freedom of expression; and the right to be presumed innocent under the Charter

The Commission is concerned that the infringements system exacerbates financial hardship and may have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people with disabilities.

Whilst the Commission appreciates that infringements are part of a broader suite of interventions aimed at addressing the underlying causes of non-attendance, our submission argues that the Bill requires additional safeguards to ensure that it does not disproportionately affect disadvantaged people, with unintended consequences. In particular, stronger safeguards are needed to ensure that infringements are only issued as a last resort after all compliance strategies have been explored.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

197778

 

Equal Opportunity Act 1977 (Vic) created the Equal Opportunity Board and the Office of Equal Opportunity Commissioner. The Act outlawed discrimination because of marital status and gender in employment, education, accommodation and provision of goods and services.

The Act received royal assent on 24 May 1977, however it did not come into operation on that day and instead dates were fixed by further proclamation: Sections 5, 7, 8 and 13 of the Act came into operation on 1 December 1977; Parts 1, 2 and 5 and section 58 of the Act came into operation on 1 February 1978, and the balance of the provisions of the Act came into operation on 3 April 1978.

1982

Equal Opportunity (Discrimination against Disabled Persons) Act 1982 (Vic) extended protection against discrimination to people with a disability.

1984

Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (Vic) added race, religion, ethnic origin, political belief and de-facto spouse status to the list of protected characteristics. Sexual harassment also became unlawful.

1985

Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (Vic) introduced provision for the appointment of part-time members of the Board, for the introduction of preliminary conferences into the complaints resolution procedure, for the transfer of certain functions from the Board to the Commissioner and for the removal of gender specific language – including the re-naming of the 'Chairman' of the Equal Opportunity Board to be the 'President'.

1987

Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (Vic) changed the method of appointment of the Commissioner, and empowered the Commissioner to initiate an investigation into discrimination against a class of persons in circumstances where an individual lodging a complaint would not be appropriate. The amendment Act also further removed discriminatory language in other enactments.

1993

Structural and operational changes replaced the Equal Opportunity Commissioner with a five-member Equal Opportunity Commission. One of the five members was the Chief Conciliator, and a Chairperson, in a further amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (Vic).

1995

Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic) made it against the law to sexually harass or treat someone unfairly because of their age, carer status, disability, industrial activity, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status, physical features, pregnancy, race, religious belief/activity, sex and personal association with someone else perceived to have one or more of the listed attributes.

Unfair treatment on the basis of these personal characteristics was against the law in the areas of employment, accommodation, education, provision of goods and services, disposal of land, sport, local government and clubs.

1997

The attribute of 'parental status' was redefined in the Law and Justice Legislation (Further Amendment) Act 1997 to mean the status of being a parent or not being a parent.

2000

Equal Opportunity (Breastfeeding) Act 2000 and Equal Opportunity (Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation) Act 2000 (Vic) added breastfeeding, sexual orientation and gender identity as protected attributes, the latter aimed at protecting people who are transgender and intersex from discrimination

2001

Statute Law Amendment (Relationships) Act 2001 (Vic) and Statute Law Further Amendment (Relationships) Act 2001 (Vic) (the Relationships Acts) changed more than 50 Victorian Acts of Parliament to ensure that all couples are treated equally in relation to property rights, compensation and superannuation. These changes ensured that same sex couples are treated the same as other couples under these areas of the law. The Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic) was amended as a result, to remove the term 'de facto spouse' (defined to only include de facto spouse of the opposite sex) and replaced with the term 'domestic partner' which is inclusive of same sex relationships and forms part of the protected attribute of 'marital status'.

2002

Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) took effect on 1 January, making it against the law to incite hatred against or serious contempt for a person because of their racial or religious background and practices.

2006

Amendments made by the Equal Opportunity and Tolerance Legislation (Amendment) Act 2006 (Vic) strengthened the Equal Opportunity Commission's investigation powers, tightened procedures relating to racial and religious vilification complaints, and clarified the operation of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic).

2006

Amendments made by the Justice Legislation (Further Amendment) Act 2006 (Vic) provided a mechanism for complaints to be lodged with the Commission by representative bodies, and broadened the definition of discrimination on the grounds of 'industrial activity'.

2006

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 was passed, spelling out civil and political rights and responsibilities. The Charter compels state and local government (public authorities) to take human rights into consideration when making laws, setting policies and in the provision of services. As a consequential amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic), the Commission’s name was changed from the Equal Opportunity Commission to the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The Charter also conferred on the Commission new powers and functions, such as:

  • the power to intervene in any proceeding before any court or tribunal in Victoria where a question of law arises in relation to the application of the Charter or the interpretation of a statutory provision in accordance with the Charter;
  • the ability to provide education to the public about the Charter and Human Rights
  • the requirement to prepare and present to the Attorney General an annual report on the operation and application of the Charter.

2007

Amendments made by the Equal Opportunity Amendment Act 2007 (Vic) were passed, which introduced 'employment activity' as a new ground of discrimination (coming into force on 31 March 2008). This made it unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis that they have made a reasonable request to their employer for information about their employment entitlements, or that they have communicated to their employer a concern about those entitlements.

2008

Amendments made by the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Family Responsibilities) Act 2008 (Vic) introduced stand-alone provisions that made it unlawful for employers to unreasonably refuse to accommodate parental or carer responsibilities of their employees.

2009

The Equal Opportunity (Amendment) Governance Act 2009 (Vic) was passed. This was the first stage of the implementation of the recommendations arising from the Equal Opportunity Act review by Mr Julian Gardner. The governance reforms amended the governance structure of the Commission to create clearer lines of responsibility and accountability. The amendments created a new full-time position of Commissioner and abolished the position of chief conciliator/chief executive officer.

The amendments also established a board to govern the Commission (as a separate entity to the Commission and appointed by the Governor in Council), and provided that the Commissioner chaired the board. The board has a strategic oversight function and the power to make strategic decisions and to set the strategic direction for the Commission. The amendments removed the board members' complaint handling functions and powers completely, and allocated complaint handling powers and functions to the Commissioner who can delegate them to appropriately skilled staff.

2010

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) was passed. This was the second stage of the implementation of the recommendations arising from the Equal Opportunity Act review by Mr Julian Gardner. The Act came into force on 1 August 2011. The Act’s statutory framework was designed to address systemic discrimination, and was based on clear objectives that target both the causes and manifestations of discrimination.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) aimed to address the systemic causes of discrimination and achieve the progressive realisation of equality. It introduced a positive duty, held by all organisations covered by the Act, to take reasonable, proportionate and proactive steps towards eliminating discrimination. The Act extended protection from sexual harassment to volunteers and unpaid workers.

The Act clarified and extended key concepts in equal opportunity law, and simplified the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination. In addition, it included a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees, clients and students with disabilities and impairments. The definition of impairment was extended to include genetic predisposition and behaviour that is a manifestation of a disability. The Act also clarified, amended and repealed a number of exceptions to unlawful discrimination contained in the 1995 Act.

The Act set out a range of new and enhanced functions for the Commission, including conducting public inquiries and investigations into systemic discrimination. The amendments aimed to provide the right balance between educational and compliance functions of the Commission, to ensure that Victoria has a pro-active and effective response to discrimination.

One of these key functions was a new dispute resolution framework, which was voluntary, flexible and informal, and aimed to assist parties with disputes about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and racial or religious vilification to resolve their disputes. This was a substantial change of the Commission’s focus from the previous, more formal, paper-based complaint handling process.

2011

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) was amended further by the Equal Opportunity Amendment Act 2011 (Vic) to

  1. remove the new power of the Commission to conduct public inquiries and amend the power of the Commission to conduct investigations
  2. make the compulsion of evidence or witnesses during an investigation available through an order of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, rather than being own-motion powers
  3. remove the 'inherent requirements test' in the exception for employment in a religious body or school to allow faith-based organisations to engage staff who have the same values as the organisation
  4. introduce exceptions relating to youth wages and same sex clubs.  

The protected attribute 'impairment' was replaced in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) with the term 'disability', but retained the same definition.

 

The Amendment Act also altered the governance structure of the Commission created in 2009. The Board now consists of up to seven members, appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney-General for a term not exceeding five years. The Board now has overall responsibility for the Commission’s general functions and duties, including determining its strategic direction. However, the Commissioner is no longer a member of the Board and no longer presides over the Board. Instead, a chairperson is to be appointed from the Board members, independent of the Commissioner. The Commissioner reports to the Board.

The Board is also now responsible for determining whether the Commission conducts an investigation.

(NB: Hyperlinks are to the law as passed at that date, not the most recent version.)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Commission's response to theVictorian Governments Vision for Citizenship in a Multicultural Victoria.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

This brief submission focuses on the value of a justice reinvestment approach for tackling the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prison.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

This year, Harmony Day carries the theme 'Many Stories - One Australia' and reminds us that Australia is a multicultural success story because we recognise the things that bind us as human beings. Harmony Day is about cultural respect, it’s about celebrating our similarities and it’s about recognising our differences.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

At its March 2013 meeting in Brisbane, the Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies (ACHRA) identified three matters for urgent action.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Yesterday, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission proudly launched the evaluation of Phase One of the Fair go, Sport! project.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Fair go, sport! project aimed to increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity in hockey and promote safe and inclusive environments, and develop a flexible model of engagement that can be adapted for other sporting codes and their governing bodies.

Friday, 08 March 2013

International Women's Day is a day for celebration and a call to action for both men and women. Because equality is not just a "women's issue" – things that are good for women also benefit the whole community.

Friday, 08 March 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has today launched a new guideline on sexual harassment in the workplace and has called on employers to ensure they comply with their legal obligations to stamp it out.

Thursday, 07 March 2013

People can take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups. These are called 'special measures' in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The law makes clear that these actions are allowed and are not unlawful discrimination.

This is one of the ways the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 promotes substantive equality.

For example, a local council identified a high proportion of unemployed youth in the area and set up a program to assist people between the ages of 18 and 24 to find jobs. The scheme was a special measure for the benefit of a disadvantaged group.

Substantive equality is about levelling the playing field to give everyone a fair go. It recognises the need for different approaches to overcome the practical effects of disadvantage and discrimination. Some groups that have been disadvantaged by discrimination in the past may need special assistance to address that disadvantage, rather than simply being treated equally or the same in a formal sense.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 describes in more detail what a special measure is. The elements set out in the Act have to be met for something to be a special measure.

You can read on for more details about special measures or contact us for more information.

Application forms to apply for an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 are available from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal website.

What is a special measure?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, it is not discrimination for a person (or body) to take a special measure that promotes substantive equality for a group of people who have one (or more than one) protected attributes, for example race, sex, disability.

Section 12 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 sets out the rules and relevant criteria for special measures. A person seeking to establish a special measure to promote a group of people should consider the steps they propose to take against the criteria in section 12.

Special measures have some essential characteristics. They must:

  1. be undertaken in good faith to help promote or achieve substantive equality for members of the group
  2. be reasonably likely to achieve this purpose
  3. be a proportionate way of achieving the purpose, and
  4. be justified because the members of the group have a particular need for advancement or assistance.

These elements are discussed in more detail below.

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Elements of a special measure: purpose of the actions to be taken

To qualify as a special measure under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, an action or program needs to be done in good faith for the remedial purpose of promoting or realising substantive equality. This means that a person setting up a special measure does so for the purpose of promoting equality for a group – rather than for another dominant reason, such as promoting commercial interests.

For example, an education provider decides to create a bursary to provide accommodation at the school for one Indigenous student who lives remotely each year. This could be a special measure.

or

An educational provider decides to offer 60 per cent of new places at the school to international students, charging these places at an increased fee rate, for the purpose of funding improvements to school buildings. This would not be a special measure and could be unlawful discrimination.

In some cases, a person can set up a measure for two purposes: one of which is the remedial purpose of addressing discrimination and promoting equality for a group. In this case though, it is important to think about what elements of the program or measure are for a remedial purpose, and how you could explain what the measure does for the protected group.

For example, a government department wants to limit recruitment for an Indigenous Cultural Liaison Officer to Aboriginal candidates only. The department is taking this measure for two purposes. Firstly, because the requirements of the role will be best met by someone who has a unique understanding of Aboriginal culture, spiritual connections to the land and good connections with the Aboriginal community. Secondly, because it recognises that limiting an employment opportunity to Indigenous candidates will promote substantive equality in employment for Indigenous Australians (the remedial purpose). This could be a special measure.

Elements of a special measure: is it a necessary and proportionate step?
To be a special measure under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, a measure also needs to be:

  1. appropriate
  2. proportionate, and
  3. justified.

When considering whether a measure is appropriate, necessary and justified you should look at the group being protected and promoted by the measure, and ask whether members of the group have a particular need for advancement or assistance that is met by taking the measure.

For example, an IT company wants to limit its advertising and recruitment for 10 new cadets to female university graduates only. It is doing this because it wants to promote employment for women in the IT industry. The company considers whether the measure is a special measure under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and decides that it is not, because the target group of the measure is not appropriately limited – it applies to all women in Australia with tertiary qualifications. The company looks at the evidence and decides that this is not a group that has a particular need for assistance. It might be more appropriate for the company to apply for an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 instead.

The measure must also be 'reasonably likely' to achieve its remedial purpose. This means that you do not have to prove that the measure will, in all circumstances, promote substantive equality for a group – rather that it is likely to do so. A good way of determining this is to look critically at your reason for the measure, and ask whether the measure or action you are taking is matched to the need for assistance.

When does a special measure stop being a special measure?

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 does not permit a special measures program or service to continue after substantive equality has been achieved, unless removal of it would result in the target group again becoming disadvantaged.

This means that special measures are a balancing mechanism designed to facilitate equality but not to unfairly advance one group over another once the playing field is even.

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Do I need to make an application for a special measure?

No. You do not need to apply or get approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a special measure like you do for an exemption from the Act.

But you will need to consider whether the proposed actions meet the test for a special measure and whether everything you propose to do falls within this test. You may need some advice to help you look at this.

If a discrimination complaint is made against your measure you will need to be prepared to give good reasons to explain how and why what you're doing is a special measure.

If what you propose to do is not a special measure you may need to reconsider your approach or apply for an exemption.

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Special measures and exemption applications

If a measure is a special measure, do I still need to apply for an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010?

No. Where a measure or action is a special measure it will not constitute discrimination. This means that a person taking a special measure to promote substantial equality for a particular group will not need to apply for an exemption under section 89 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to exempt it from the operation of the Act.

In four cases in 2011, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal made orders that certain measures were special measures under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The Tribunal found that there was no need for the applicants (a corporation, a university, a council and a government department) to be granted an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Further information about these cases is provided below.

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Examples of special measures

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has made a number of decisions about exemption applications under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 that help illustrate what a special measure is.

The Commission intervened in these matters to provide assistance to the Tribunal in its work.

In each of the cases below, the Tribunal held that these were special measures so there was no discrimination breaching the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. This meant there was no need for an exemption and the applications were dismissed.

  • Darebin City Council Youth Services sought an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 so that it could host two women's-only events, targeted towards young women within the Darebin community who, due to cultural and religious reasons, wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to attend mixed gender events. The council also sought an exemption to employ women only for the duration of the two events. The Tribunal found that the proposed conduct amounted to a special measure for the purposes of section 12 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the conduct therefore was not discrimination. The Tribunal dismissed the application for an exemption as it was not necessary. In addition, the Tribunal made a declaration that the council's conduct was a special measure. > read more
  • Parks Victoria wanted to advertise for and employ Indigenous people to care for Wurundjeri country. The Tribunal found that the purpose of the activity was to provide employment opportunities to Indigenous people, to increase the number of Indigenous people employed by Parks Victoria, to provide opportunities for connection and care for the Wurundjeri country by its traditional owners, and also for the maintenance of the culture associated with the country. The Tribunal was satisfied that the measure was proportionate because at the time the application was made only 7.6 per cent of Parks Victoria's workforce were Indigenous. > read more
  • Cummeragunja Housing and Development Aboriginal Corporation wanted to advertise for and employ Indigenous people in the positions of mental health worker, Aboriginal health worker, trainee Aboriginal health worker and administration trainee. The Tribunal found that the purpose of the activity was to provide employment opportunities for Indigenous applicants, as well as to provide health services to local Indigenous people in a manner that is culturally appropriate. At the time of making the application there were almost equal numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff employed at Cummeragunja, while 95 per cent of people using the services were Indigenous. These statistics satisfied the Tribunal that the measures were proportionate. > read more
  • The Ian Potter Museum of Art wanted to advertise for and employ an Indigenous person in the role of Vizard Foundation assistant curator. The Tribunal found that the purpose of the activity was to increase the number of Indigenous people employed by the Museum. The Tribunal held that the measure was proportionate, as the number of Indigenous staff was dramatically lower than the number of Indigenous people in the wider population. > read more

In all of these cases the Tribunal was satisfied that the proposed conduct would be undertaken in good faith and that it was reasonably likely to achieve the various purposes.

The examples above recognise the reality that not all groups have the same access to opportunity in employment. Factors including poverty, geographic isolation, a lack of skills and historical discrimination have disadvantaged particular groups. These groups will often include Indigenous people, people with disabilities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and, in some circumstances, women.

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More information

For more information about special measures contact us.

Download a one-page flyer with this information:

Wednesday, 06 March 2013

An accused sought to appeal pre-trial decision to allow a taped phone conversation between him and the complainant to be used as evidence against him in his criminal trial.

The tape recording is what is referred to as a "pretext conversation": a conversation initiated by the complainant to elicit admissions from the person alleged to have committed an offence against them. As they do normally, the pretext conversation took place at the suggestion of investigating police and was recorded at a police station with police equipment. The accused sought to exclude the use of the conversation as evidence on the basis that it was obtained in breach of the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 and in breach of Victoria Police's obligation to act compatibly with the human rights in the Charter.

The Commission intervened to make submissions about the nature of the Victoria Police's obligations under the Charter and the application the Charter's interpretation obligation to Victorian surveillance and evidence laws due to the extent evidence gathering by police can interfere with the right to privacy.

The Court of Appeal held that there had been no breach of the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 because the complainant had made the recording in her capacity as a private citizen and there had been no breach of the accused's right to privacy. The Court held that, even if there had been, the recording should not be excluded from evidence in his trial.

See the WK v The Queen - Court of Appeal decision (30 November 2011) here

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

This was an application by a man who is in a homosexual relationship for a grant of adoption in respect of a child who had been in his and his partner's care as a foster child for the past four years. The Adoption Act 1984 does not permit adoption by a same-sex couple, but does permit adoption by one person in limited circumstances, so the Court was concerned that it may not have jurisdiction to grant adoption to one person where it is aware that the person is in a same-sex relationship.

The Commission made a submission on the interaction between the Charter and the Adoption Act. The Commission had a particular focus on the rights of children to decisions in their best interests. The Commission argued that Parliament's purpose in providing an avenue for adoption by one person who may be in a couple (whether same-sex or heterosexual) was to protect and promote the best interests of the child in the particular circumstances. Section 11(3) of the Adoption Act, when construed compatibly with the "best interests" of the child, does not preclude one person in a same-sex couple from making an application for an adoption order.

The Court found that it did have jurisdiction to grant an adoption order in favour of one person, notwithstanding that the person was in a same-sex relationship. Having regard to all of the prescribed factors, and the paramount consideration of what is in the best interests of the child, the court decided to grant the adoption order in the applicant's favour. It was argued, and accepted by the court, that the Charter imposes a positive obligation to protect the best interests of the child and to interpret the Adoption Act in light of the child's rights. Using the Charter as a tool of statutory interpretation, and having regard to international jurisprudence on this issue, the court ultimately found that it did have jurisdiction to grant an adoption order in favour of one person who is in a same-sex relationship, and did so.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

The Commission made submissions in this review of a Community Treatment Order under the Mental Health Act 1986 as to how the Charter applied.

The Commission's submissions outline that section 32 of the Charter requires the Act to be interpreted compatibly with human rights and that section 38 places a direct obligation on the Mental Health Review Board and the relevant mental health service to act compatibly with human rights since they are public authorities under the Charter.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

Cobaw Community Health Services lodged a representative complaint of discrimination against Christian Youth Camps (CYC) on the basis that CYC had refused to allow Cobaw's suicide prevention support group for same-sex attracted young people to run a two-day program at its Phillip Island youth camp. CYC acknowledged that the reason access was denied was that the gathering was intended to explore homosexuality in a positive light, which would be contrary to their religious beliefs and principles.

The Commission made submissions that the religious exceptions in sections 75(2) and 77 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 should be interpreted in a manner which required CYC to establish their relevant religious doctrine of belief, and to demonstrate the nexus between adherences to those beliefs and why it is necessary in the circumstances of this case to discriminate on the ground of sexual orientation. The Commission submitted that the religious exceptions can be interpreted in a manner which is compatible with the Charter and strikes a fair balance between the competing rights to equality and freedom of religion.

VCAT held that when interpreting the religious exemptions under the Act, it was necessary to consider their purpose of protecting religious freedoms in a manner consistent with the Charter. The religious exception provision of the Equal Opportunity Act was not found to apply based on the evidence in this case. The right to freedom of religious belief does not confer the right on members of a religion to impose their beliefs on a secular society. Further, this right must be interpreted in a way that recognises its co-existence with the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination in section 8 of the Charter.

VCAT found that CYC had discriminated against Cobaw Community Health Services by denying access to its facilities on the basis of sexual orientation which contravened the EOA and ordered CYC to pay compensation of $5000.

CYC appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. See Christian Youth Camps v Cobaw Community Health Services (Court of Appeal) – Charter Intervention – June 2012.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

Under the Confiscation Act 1997 property used in connection with the commission of serious offences under the Act can be confiscated and the proceeds forfeited.

In this case, the DPP applied to confiscate and forfeit Mr Ali's property and family home where he lived with his wife and four children.

The case turned on whether the court should exercise its discretion in section 38(2) of the Confiscation Act 1997 to exclude a home from the operation of a civil forfeiture order on the basis that Mrs Ali would suffer hardship as a consequence and it would infringe her human rights.

The Commission made submissions as to how the Court should exercise its discretion in section 38(2) of the Confiscation Act 1997 compatibly with the rights in the Charter, in particular the right to protection from arbitrary interference with the home, the right to protection of families and children, and the right to equality and freedom from discrimination.

The Supreme Court ultimately ordered that the property should be forfeited, but that Mrs Ali should be compensated $125,000 by the State of Victoria for the forfeiture, acknowledging her interest in the property and the hardship that would be suffered by her. The decision examines the obligation in the Charter to interpret laws compatibly with human rights and to exercise statutory discretions compatibly with human rights, with reference to the rights not to have family or home arbitrarily interfered with, the entitlement of families to protection by society and the state, and the right of children to protection in their best interests.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

This case was an application for leave to appeal a VCAT decision to appoint the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) as the guardian of RB, a 28-year-old man with a disability. The application was brought by RB's mother, Mrs Waters, who had applied to VCAT for appointment as RB's plenary guardian.

The case raised issues about the interpretation of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 compatibly with Charter rights and in light of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It also raised questions regarding whether OPA and to VCAT were public authorities bound to act compatibly with human rights. The Commission sought to bring an independent perspective to the court's consideration of these significant issues in the context of a matter where the person whose rights were most acutely engaged was not able to participate in the proceedings.

The Supreme Court ordered the parties to attend mediation and the matter settled.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

In this case a co-accused sought to have his proceedings severed from that of the other accused because otherwise he would not be tried without unreasonable delay.

The Commission intervened to make submissions on the "speedy trial" aspects of the Charter's right to a fair trial. The Commission wanted to ensure that the court understood the way in which section 6(2)(b) of the Charter imposes obligations on the court itself where it has functions in relation to those rights, such as the right to be tried without unreasonable delay.

The Supreme Court decided to sever the trial on the basis of its common law discretion to avoid undue delay, after hearing argument on both the common law and Charter rights.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

The Peel Hotel sought an exemption to enable it to refuse or restrict entry to its venue where it believes on reasonable grounds that unrestricted entry would either adversely affect the safety or comfort of those within the venue, or would adversely affect the character of the venue as primarily a venue for male homosexual patrons.

The Commission made submissions on the interpretation of section 83 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (which gives a discretion to grant exemptions from the Equal Opportunity Act's provisions in certain circumstances) in a manner that is compatible with the human rights in the Charter. VCAT's task is to determine whether granting the exemption in this context engages a human right and, if so, whether there is a reasonable justification for any interference.

VCAT held that it was consistent with human rights and the objective of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 to provide special measures to redress disadvantage suffered by those who experience discrimination and granted the exemption.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

 Raytheon sought a three-year exemption from provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 to be able to seek information from their prospective employees and contract workers about their nationality and place of birth, and to refuse to employ them based on this information. This information was sought to comply with US laws relating to defence contracts.

The Commission made submissions that the applicant's exemption application be refused. The Commission argued that the exemption power should be construed narrowly and that in determining the meaning of a statutory provision, regard should be had to the object, purpose and scope of the legislation. Courts and tribunals should not impute an intention to abrogate or curtail fundamental rights. The Commission argued that the Tribunal should adopt an interpretation of section 83 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 which only allows exemptions that are objective, reasonable, proportionate and for legitimate purposes, and, if an exemption is granted, that it is demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. In this case, the Commission submitted that the applicant had not discharged the onus required to demonstrably justify the limits to the equality right that it seeks to have excused by the granting of the proposed exemption.

VCAT held the proposal amounted to reasonable limit on the rights to equality and privacy. VCAT held that although these rights were of fundamental importance, that the purpose of the limitation was also vitally important for national security as it enabled the Australian Government to maintain its defence capability and develop its defence industry.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

This case concerned Patrick, a 58-year-old man with a mental illness, who had been living as an involuntary patient in a hospital. He appealed an order by VCAT appointing an unlimited administrator who may sell his home against his wishes on the basis that it infringed his human rights.

The Commission intervened to make submissions on the interpretation of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 in light of the obligation in section 32 of the Charter to interpret laws compatibly with human rights and the obligations of public authorities to act compatibly with human rights.

The Supreme Court considered Patrick's human rights in the Charter and in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Supreme Court held that the order of VCAT appointing an administrator unjustifiably interfered with his human rights under the Charter and ordered that VCAT's order appointing an administrator be set aside. See decision here.

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

The Commission intervened in this application for judicial review of a decision by the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) to refer a complaint of police violence against Mr Bare to Victoria Police for investigation rather than investigating it themselves.

Among other things, Mr Bare complained to OPI that he was capsicum sprayed by police while handcuffed, had his teeth chipped on the gutter during his arrest and was racially abused by officers.

The Commission made submissions about the content of the Charter right not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way, arguing that it requires allegations of such treatment to be independently investigated. The Commission also raised the equality right, in the context of a possible racial motivation for Mr Bare's mistreatment.

The Commission made submissions about what obligations section 38 of the Charter imposes on OPI when considering complaints that police have breached human rights, and about how section 32 of the Charter should influence the interpretation of the Police Integrity Act. The Commission argued that section 32 of the Charter requires the Court to consider human rights when interpreting the phrase 'public interest' in that Act.

See the Supreme Court's decision here.

Friday, 01 March 2013

Speaking notes – Sun 24 February 2013
Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, 124 Main Road, Hepburn Springs Victoria.

Good morning.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, and to pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I would also like to thank the Law Institute of Victoria and the LIV president Reynah Tang for inviting me to participate today. LIV and the Commission have a longstanding relationship and we have appreciated the support for the Commissions work from Caroline Counsel, Michael Holcroft and now Reynah.

I would also like to acknowledge distinguished members of the legal profession here today - way to numerous to name in a 15-minute presentation.

The theme for today's conference 'embracing change and diversity in a dynamic and evolving legal profession' is one clearly closely linked with the Commissions work and shows LIV's commitment to tackling contemporary issues facing the profession, as well as other business and professional sectors.

I have been asked to present today on two topics:

  • Changing the Rules: the experiences of female lawyers in Victoria – the Commission's report on women in the law in Victoria released in December.
  • and briefly the implications and requirements of the recently released Workplace Gender Equity Act 2012.

1. Changing the rules: the experiences of female lawyers in Victoria

About the research

Changing the rules was developed in cooperation with the Law Institute of Victorian and Victorian Women Lawyers.

It was prompted by concerns about the high attrition rates of women from the profession. Since the 1990s, more than half the graduates from law schools have been women yet retention, promotion and attrition are a cause for concern for the whole profession. A NSW report found 50 per cent of women taking out their first practicing certificate won't be in the law 5 years after admission.

The findings of the report indicate a profession with systemic barriers to effective workforce participation of women. Despite the high numbers of women entering the profession it hasn't adapted to that changed demographic.

The barriers identified in the report relate to our jurisdiction - discrimination and sexual harassment – gender pay gap, access to flexible work hours and other supports for family and carer responsibilities, access to promotion, hostile workplace and workplace culture issues and sexual harassment. But we also wanted to know what was working well and how we can work with the LIV and others within the sector to share those good practices.

The research was guided by a critical friends group, which included: Michael Holcroft and Caroline Counsel, Michael Gorton AM, Debbie Mortimer SC, Associate Professor Beth Gaze and Patricia Athanasiadis. The report is based on a survey of over 400 responses, focus groups, interviews with key informants to identify leading practice and inform recommendations for future change.

Thanks to all of you in this room who participated in the research and attended the launch. The launch was interesting as there were about four men there, including Michael, out of around 80 people.

If there's a key theme you could draw from this report it was evident at the launch – gender equality is not just a 'women's problem' – it's a sector wide issue that requires active attention and proactive steps.

Discrimination

Overall the report shows that despite the prevalence of women in the law, there is evidence that the sector is struggling with, or some elements are resistant, to change to meet the needs of the changed demographic.

  • 196 women or close to 50 per cent of respondents said they had personally experienced discrimination or witnessed it while working as a lawyer or legal trainee.
  • Discrimination included a hostile work environment (84), workplace bullying (67), unfair work allocation (65) and unequal pay (64).
  • 70 per cent of those reporting discrimination in current or former workplace worked in a private law firm.
  • 110 said the discriminator was their employer or a partner and 80 said it was their immediate supervisor.

We also asked about sexual harassment.

  • 100 or almost 24 per cent said they had experienced sexual harassment – most of which was in the form of suggestive comments (76), intrusive questions about their private life (50), unwelcome or inappropriate physical contact (47) or unwelcome staring and leering (44).
  • Sexual harassment was likely to occur in the early stages of a career with 63 per cent of incidents occurring in the first 12 months.
  • 52 per cent said there was more than one harasser – suggesting a culture where these attitudes are the norm.

We asked about Accommodating parental and carer responsibilities.

The feedback we received was that having a family is a major barrier to women progressing their careers.

  • 35 per cent of survey participants had asked for flexible work arrangements.
  • 95 per cent of women who asked for flexible work arrangements had the request approved or partially approved.

But many women reported that there were repercussions – they experienced hostility, while some felt pressure to increase their work hours, working more hours than agreed due to technology, or the work allocation changed. So employers tend to comply with their requests – but the backlash is significant.

It was also significant that six out of 10 women who had experienced discrimination did not make a complaint. And one in four did not tell or seek help from anyone at all, including family or friends. What we found was that often when women feel unsupported in a workplace, they fear the repercussions of complaining and they don't report, they simply leave that workplace – or the profession. Most of all, women are reluctant to complain in case they are labelled – it's a small well networked profession and people were concerned about being labelled a problem.

We also had a look at other data sources like EOWA which showed women were not progressing at anywhere near the same rates of men through key career steps from graduate through to partner- even allowing for time out for children, part time work etc. So the systemic nature and experiences of discrimination and issues around unconscious bias must contribute in part to the high levels of attrition.

But there is good news too...

We did hear of many good examples of positive practice in the profession and many very successful women – lawyers, partners, barristers and judges have demonstrated what a great profession the law can be.

It is clear that individual legal practices, the Law Institute of Victoria, Victorian Women Lawyers and other professional bodies are tackling these systemic and organisational issues. One firm we spoke to started work on this 10 years ago when the CEO realised that women were 60 per cent of graduates entering the firm, but they made up only 13 per cent of partners.

Policies around bullying, flexible work etc weren't enough. The issue required proactive steps. The firm now has even attrition rates between men and women and around 60 per cent of senior associates are female. The key point of change identified was where senior supporters, particularly male supporters got on board with the diversity plans. Another implemented key triggers like pay equity audits, setting KPIs around gender targets and, importantly, embedding flexible work practices for ALL employees.

While anecdotally it's argued that culture around billable hours is a significant issue – we know there are many success stories. We also know that better work life balance, and a sense of inclusion in the workplace leads to higher productivity, better motivation and better bottom lines. So we're not suggesting the sector should do this only because its 'fair' or the 'right thing to do'- and of course there's the Equal Opportunity Act to think about. There are genuine business benefits in diversity – and as we all know getting more out of existing staff is by far a better strategy than battling churn.

We recently partnered with Deloitte on a project to try and put some numbers around the business benefits of diversity and inclusion. What it showed was that employees who think their organisation is committed to, and supportive of, diversity and who feel highly included are more likely to make a positive contribution to the bottom line. You can have a lot of women in your firm; you can have a flexible leave policy but unless they feel valued and included - the rest doesn't work. And not only is it good for business, there are those pesky legal obligations under Equal Opportunity Law, but also the new workplace gender equality act.

From this year (2013-14) the new Workplace Gender Equality Act will require employers to report against standardised gender equality indicators, which may include gender workforce and governance data, pay gap analysis and availability and take up of flexible conditions. The act has changed from equal opportunity for women in the workplace to a focus on gender equality, highlighting equal pay, underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, and caring responsibilities as key dimensions.

The new Act still requires that all non- public sector employers with 100 or more employees report annually to the agency. Employers must notify employees, members and shareholders that the report has been lodged with the Gender Equality Agency, provide access to the report, and inform its employees and employee organisations/unions who can comment on the report to the employer or the Agency.

As of 2013-14 changes will be made to the substance of the report. employers will be required to report against yet to be determined standardised gender equality indicators that focus on outcomes. This will allow for results to be measurable and comparable, and to track trends.

Gender equality indicators are defined in the Act as meaning 'gender composition of workforce, gender composition of governance, equal remuneration, availability of flexible conditions, consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality and the catch-all, 'any other matter specified in an instrument.'

In the 2014-15 reporting period, employers will need to continue to report against gender equality indicators, but minimum standards will also be introduced after consultation with industry and business.

If an employer submits a report that does not meet a minimum requirements, and does not improve by the end of two further reporting periods, it may be deemed to be non-compliant. The consequences of non-compliance are similar to the current Act a non-compliant employer may be named in a report to the Minister, they may not be eligible to tender for Commonwealth contracts. They will no doubt also have recruitment and retention issues in an increasingly competitive market.

Overall, the changes to the Act require employers to focus on measuring progress on gender equality rather than just reporting.

Next steps from the research and conclusion

So the focus on gender equality is more than just a sector imperative. The Gender equality act and laws like the Equal Opportunity Act make it an obligation but the business case shows gender equality must be a priority for the legal profession.

Workforce equality and participation, workforce diversity, inclusion don't happen by accident or through large amounts of hope – after 30 years of discrimination law we know that – they require positive, proactive steps be taken to identity the barriers and address them. It requires leadership, sharing of information, and practical incremental steps. Much like how the positive duty in the Act now obliges us all to do anyway.

With the focus on diversity today and for LIV's work this year, building on the lessons from the gender experience, we are keen to continue to work with LIV and the sector on seeing the principles translate in to practice.

Thank you for your time.

Friday, 01 March 2013

Earlier this month, the Federal Government announced plans to broaden the scope of the right to request flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The National Employment Standards currently provide for a limited right to request flexible working arrangements. Employees, including casual employees with at least 12 months continuous service, responsible for care of a child under school age, or for care of a child under 18 with disability, have the right to make a written request for flexible working arrangements. The employer must provide a written response granting or refusing the request within 21 days. The employer may only refuse on reasonable business grounds and detail these in the written refusal.

The Federal Government now intends to amend the Fair Work Act to include a right to request flexible and part-time work. It will also permit women returning to work from a period of maternity leave, men returning to work after looking after children, workers with caring responsibilities, those over 55, workers with a disability, or experiencing domestic violence to request more flexibility from their employers.

It is important to note that Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act 2010 also provides vital protections for working parents and carers, and people with disabilities. Under the EOA, employees may request flexible working arrangements to accommodate their responsibilities as a parent or carer. An employer must also make reasonable adjustments for a person offered employment or an employee with a disability which can include for example, flexible working hours.

Some examples of discrimination:

• a change in roster has been implemented that requires all employees to work on a rotating shift. This may indirectly discriminate against those employees who cannot work afternoon or evening shifts as they are the sole carer of young children.

• an employee has suffered a back injury outside of the workplace and whilst they have a medical clearance to return to work for reduced hours, the employer is insisting a return to work can only occur when the employee is able to resume full time hours.

• an employee has taken 12 months maternity leave and is seeking a return to work on a part-time basis. The employer insists that the complainant return full-time or resign from their employment.

The EOA applies to all employers and employees in Victoria. Unlike the Federal scheme, length of service at an organisation does not affect a worker's rights under the EOA.

You can contact the Commission on 1300 292 153 to find out more about making a complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against. The Commission will try to help you resolve your complaint through our free and fair dispute resolution service. This is a fast, flexible and confidential process that encourages people to resolve the complaint. Complaints can be resolved in many different ways such as the provision of flexible work arrangements, change of policy and apology. You can find out more about dispute resolution via the Commission's website www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

Useful Resources

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Bill introduced into Victorian Parliament on 5 February 2013 amending the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 will limit the entitlement of children aged under 10 to legal representation in child protection proceedings and prevent all children aged under 10 from giving direct instructions to lawyers in these proceedings.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

 List of useful websites for case law research.

State

AustLII
http://www.austlii.edu.au/

The Australian Legal Information Institute contains legislation and decisions of courts and tribunals across Australian jurisdictions and some secondary legal materials, (for example, law reform and royal commission reports and law journals).  Note: It does not provide a completely comprehensive coverage for some years of case law. The cases and legislation are not official versions. Austlii also provides links to international legal information institutes, referred to below.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ('VCAT') on AustLII
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/

This is a searchable database of decisions made by VCAT.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission - Charter factsheets
http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/resources-publications/charter-factsheets

The factsheets provide information about how the Charter works and contain case examples.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission - submissions
http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/charter-submissions

Legal submissions to case law regarding the Charter and the EOA.

Victorian Discrimination Law Resource
http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php/our-resources-and-publications/victorian-discrimination-law

This is a guide to equal opportunity case law in Victoria. It provides many case examples.

National

AustLII
http://www.austlii.edu.au/

AustLii provides public legal information. This includes primary legal materials such as legislation, treaties and decisions made by courts and tribunals, and secondary materials created by public bodies including law reform and royal commission reports. Law journals are also available.

ComLaw
http://www.comlaw.gov.au/

This site contains Acts, Bills and Legislative Instruments of the Australian Parliament. It includes the federal anti-discrimination laws. It also contains explanatory memoranda and statements of compatibility.

Human Rights Law Resource Centre
http://www.hrlc.org.au/

The website provides a database of legal decisions within Australian and other jurisdictions with human rights instruments, a monthly bulletin containing Australian and International human rights case notes, news and commentary, opinion pieces and formal submissions on a range of human rights issues.

International / human rights treaties

Bayefsky
http://www.bayefsky.com/

This database contains information about the UN treaty system including ratifications and reservations made by countries and State reports and concluding observations.

DFAT Treaties Database
http://www.info.dfat.gov.au/treaties/

Full copies of treaties Australia is a party to, information about when signed, ratified and any reservations.

European Court of Human Rights
Factsheets: http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=press/factsheets&c= 
Document collection: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/search.asp?skin=hudoc-en 

This site contains case law resolutions and reports of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights
http://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.cfm?CFID=736769&CFTOKEN=36256761

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution whose purpose is the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) Documentation Site
http://sim.law.uu.nl/SIM/Dochome.nsf?Open

A collection of databases providing case-law of UN treaty monitoring bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee views and general comments.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/WelcomePage.aspx

This site contains news about human rights developments, links to international human rights bodies and treaties.

UN Treaties
http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ParticipationStatus.aspx

This database provides a source to check the status of treaties (ratifications, reservations etc)

Legal information institutes

These sites contain comparative legal jurisprudence within international frameworks. The sites provide legislation, case law, law reform commission reports, and legal journal articles.

British and Irish Legal Information Institute
http://www.bailii.org/ (This site also contains European Union Case-law)

Canadian Legal Information Institute
http://www.canlii.org/

New Zealand Legal Information Institute
http://www.nzlii.org/

Southern African Legal Information Institute
http://www.saflii.org/

Legislation

Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee ('SARC')
http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/sarc

This site provides SARC's Alert Digests on Bills tabled in Parliament. The Digests contemplate the human rights implications of bills, raise questions for parliamentary and ministerial consideration and record ministerial correspondence.

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents
http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/

This site features proposed and existing legislation. It provides the full texts of Bills and accompanying statements of compatibility, second reading speeches and explanatory memoranda. It has a link to parliamentary debate recorded in Hansard, the full text and explanatory memoranda of existing Acts and statutory rules, in addition to updated versions of legislation.

Case studies

Australian Human Rights Commission - Conciliation register 
http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/register/index.html

This site contains a range of legal resources including legal and policy submissions, case-notes, human rights reports to Parliament and a register of conciliated complaints (de-identified case studies of conciliated matters and outcomes).

Equal Opportunity Commission South Australia - Complaint summaries
http://www.eoc.sa.gov.au/eo-resources/complaint-summaries/browse

This site contains summaries of de-identified conciliated complaints.

Equal Opportunity Commission of WA 
http://www.eoc.wa.gov.au/complaintsandinvestigations/CompliantSummarytest.aspx

A library of conciliated complaint summaries sorted by attribute.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Employers in Victoria have a responsibility to make sure that people who work with them are treated fairly and with respect. Not only is this good for business, it is the law.

Successful employers ensure that their workplaces are free from discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.

These responsibilities are set out in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and federal human rights laws.

In addition, employers have responsibilities to provide fair and safe working conditions under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, as well as federal laws such as the:

State public sector employers in Victoria are also covered by the Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Public Administration Act 2004, and Australian public service employers are covered by the federal Public Service Act 1999.

External links

For more information on federal workplace laws visit:

  • The Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Ombudsman is there to give advice and help you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities. The role of the Fair Work Ombudsman is to work with employees, employers, contractors and the community to promote harmonious, productive and cooperative workplaces. They investigate workplace complaints and enforce compliance with Australia's federal workplace laws.
  • Fair Work Commission, the national workplace relations tribunal. It is an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions including:
    • providing a safety net of minimum conditions, including minimum wages, in awards
    • facilitating good faith bargaining and the making and approving of enterprise agreements
    • conducting annual wage reviews
    • granting remedies for unfair dismissal
    • regulating the taking of industrial action
    • resolving a range of collective and individual workplace disputes through conciliation, mediation and in some cases arbitration
    • functions in connection with workplace determinations, equal remuneration, transfer of business, general workplace protections, right of entry and stand down.
Monday, 18 February 2013

Human rights are the basic entitlements that belong to each and every one of us, regardless of our background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe.

Based on the principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, they have been agreed upon by governments from all around the world.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all men, women and children.

It has become the most important document of its kind and although not legally-binding itself, forms the basis of many legally-binding international agreements.

These includes two major international agreements: one on civil and political rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom from torture, and one on economic,social and cultural rights, such as the right to health and the right to education.

International human rights laws protect people from racial discrimination, from torture and from enforced disappearances. They also recognise the rights of specific groups of people, including women, children, people with disability, indigenous peoples and migrant workers.

Some of these treaties are complemented by optional protocols that deal with specific issues or allow people to make complaints.

The Australian Government has agreed to uphold many of these fundamental human rights. These commitments are reflected in our national laws, as well as government policies and programs. They are not automatically enforceable through the Australian courts.

Australia is a party to the seven major human rights treaties:

External links

For more information on these international human rights standards and how they work, visit the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

For information on Australia’s reports under these treaties, see the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Some useful websites for conducting further research on international human rights law are set out below (this is only a sample of what is available):

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) Documentation. A collection of databases including full text searching of UN Human Rights Committee views and general comments.

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. The Library houses a large collection of human rights documents and provides links to a wide range of human rights sites.

Bayefsky. A useful database with materials associated with the UN treaty system

WorldLII. The World Legal Information Institute contains legislation and cases from a large number of countries.

BAILII. British and Irish case law and legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports and other law-related British and Irish material.

European Court of Human Rights. Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers. The judgments, decisions, resolutions and reports of these bodies are held in a database.

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission is charged with three major functions: the protection of human and peoples’ rights; the promotion of human and peoples’ rights; and the interpretation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution whose purpose is the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Interrights. The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights aims to enforce human rights through law; to strengthen human rights jurisprudence and mechanisms through the use of international and comparative law; and to empower legal partners and promote their effective use of law to protect human rights. Searchable database of Commonwealth international and human rights law and jurisprudence.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The research and consultations conducted indicate that discrimination is a significant issue for many community members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and impacts on their full participation and contribution to the Victorian community. The project was a collaboration between the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Have you been on a bus and heard someone yelling racist abuse? Know anyone who's been called homophobic names at school?

Many people have told us they've seen this sort of behaviour and didn't know what to do about it – so we've put together these suggestions on how you can make a difference to someone facing discrimination.

Why you should do something

Sometimes it's really hard to be the one to speak up - but remember, if you're feeling uncomfortable about a situation, or feel like you should say something, other people around are probably thinking the same thing, too.

If you don't act you might later feel guilty that you didn't! But, more importantly, research shows that when people watching don't do anything, it increases the impact of the incident. That is, by everyone staying quiet while someone is yelling hateful things, it makes it seem like they all agree with what's going on. This can be far more hurtful than the abuse itself.

So by making an effort to let the target know you don't support the hate, you can make a huge difference to how someone feels about themselves and the community.

But what can I do?

There is no easy answer to this because it depends on the situation. We would never recommend that you put yourself in physical danger, for instance if the hater is drunk, on drugs or appears violent. Of course, if violence or a crime occurs, call the Police on 000 immediately.

Here are some ideas for you to think about:

In situations where the risk of violence is low – such as someone making a nasty comment or 'joke' about someone's background or sexuality at school, it can be a good opportunity to say something to encourage the person to think about what they are saying, as well as those listening to them).

Keeping it casual rather than getting angry can help – for example saying, "why do you think it's funny to call him that?" Or "she's alright, why don't you just leave her alone?" might be more effective than yelling back or calling someone racist or homophobic.

Often people who yell things assume they have the support of the crowd. So in public or where a group is listening to what's going on, you could say "who else thinks this is not OK?" You can try to get others to help make it clear that the abuser is the odd one out. If you are at school or work you can gather a few people who think the same way and together approach a person or group who has been behaving in a hateful way – this can take the pressure off you as an individual.

In a situation where you and the target may be at risk, the best course of action is to not confront the abuser directly or yell threats or abuse back at them, that can just inflame the situation.

Think about how you can demonstrate to the target that they are supported. Examples include asking them if they are OK, turning your back to the abuser and asking the target to come and sit with you, taking them away from the offender or other such non-confrontational action.

If you've seen something online, report it at Anti-Hate and we can see what we can do to get the page taken down. Check out our range of letters that you can send to people – they range from a funny note to a friend to let them know you don't think their views on their Facebook page are OK, right through to warning someone their blog may be in breach of the law.

All schools have an anti-bullying policy – ask a teacher or student support officer what you can do. You can think about setting up a support group, ask for an Anti-Hate kit for your workplace or school and put the Anti-Hate posters around, making it clear that hate is not tolerated.

If you see an incident take place in a shop, at work, in a nightclub or sports club for example, you can report it to us at the Commission. We can write to them and let them know that what they have done may be against the law. If someone makes a formal complaint to us, it can go to conciliation and this can result in things like a formal apology or monetary compensation, depending on the complaint.

Other things you can do:

  • Make it clear to your friends that you won't be involved in discrimination or bullying.
  • Never stand by and watch or encourage a hater.
  • Do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others, this includes on social networks like Facebook.
  • Never forward on or respond to discriminatory messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting.
  • Support the person who is being abused to ask for help, e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help.

About Anti-Hate

The Commission developed the Anti-Hate website to give people a way to do something about racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour.

We ask that if people see hateful behaviour that they remove it, report it, but most importantly, make it clear that as a community we will not tolerate it.

Download a PDF of this document

Monday, 11 February 2013

About the Anti-Hate campaign

The ‘Anti-Hate Spray’ campaign is part of the Commission’s work to address vilification, hate and other forms of discrimination.

The campaign was developed in response to our own research as well as academic work on preventing and responding to discrimination. We also drew on data from the complaints we receive at the Commission, as well as working closely with community and stakeholders on the Reporting Racism Reference Group.

The campaign is aligned with the National Anti-Racism Strategy and No To Homophobia campaign. Other supporters include the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Multicultural Arts Victoria as well as Victorian Government departments and agencies.

The campaign is designed to make it easy for people to do something without feeling afraid or that they are being judged. Importantly, one of its key aims is to reach people where they are – and where much of the discrimination is now occurring – online.

It also provides a place for people who would usually be unable, or unwilling, to make a formal report to let us know about their experiences.

Aims of the campaign

The campaign has three main aims:

1. To encourage people to understand that there is something you can do about hate. By walking past offensive graffiti on a wall or sitting silently on a train while someone else is being abused, we inadvertently contribute to an environment where this sort of behaviour is seen as OK. It’s important that we don’t put up with hate, both for the target of that hate and for the whole community.

2. To give people a way of reporting what has happened to them if they experience discrimination such as racism, homophobia or sexism. It also offers a place for people to go if they witness discrimination in their community or see it online, and when they come across graffiti that is hateful and offensive.

3. To enable people share stories of how they have stood up against hate – from calling a council to remove graffiti to responding to people taunting others in the street. We hope this will encourage and inspire other people to take a stand.

The Anti Hate Help section of the website http://www.antihate.vic.gov.au/antihatehelp/ has links to other agencies that can assist, such as Victoria Police, local councils and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

It also offers online tools, including sending images of the campaign with links to the site, letters and  Anti-Hate message that users can post to haters on Facebook, blogs and online forums as well as tips for bystanders on how to Spray Back against hate.  

Visit antihate.vic.gov.au

If you would like to make a formal complaint please contact the Commission on 1300 292 153.

Download a poster for your workplace

Anti-hate-hate poster with a space to fill in your organisation's name

Anti-hate poster general

Download a bystander tips brochure or view it online

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Friday, 08 February 2013

The Commission strongly supports the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to provide a rights-based model of disability services that has immense potential to better meet the long-term needs of people with disability, their families and carers.

Wednesday, 06 February 2013

Services provided by the Commission include:

  • a telephone Enquiry Line providing free information on discrimination, victimisation, sexual harassment, racial or religious vilification, equal opportunity and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter).
  • online delivery of comprehensive information about the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • education, training and consultancy services on equal opportunity and human rights and responsibilities under the law
  • a free, fair and timely dispute resolution service for people who may have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification or victimisation
  • seminars that debate and explore issues and developments in equal opportunity and human rights law.

You can contact Melanie Fraser directly on (03) 9032 3452 or by email at melanie.fraser@veohrc.vic.gov.au

You can also download a copy of Know your rights in employment - Information for indigenous Victorians

The Commission does not handle complaints related to the Charter. Complaints about breaches of the Charter can be made to the Victorian Ombudsman in relation to most public authorities and to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission in relation to police misconduct.

The Enquiry Line can be contacted by calling 1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583 on weekdays from 9am–5pm, emailing enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au or webchat at humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/chat. Alternatively you can make a complaint online.

To receive regular updates about the Commission's work, training workshops and new developments register for our free eupdate service.

For a full report on our operations and service delivery read our Annual Rport.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body with responsibilities under three laws:

The Commission is committed to working closely with public authorities, organisations and employers to help them meet their obligations under the Charter and equal opportunity laws.

The Commission promotes and protects equal opportunity and human rights and through education, consultancy, dispute resolution and monitoring.

Tuesday, 05 February 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission invites you to attend a presentation and roundtable discussion led by Professor Axel Gosseries from the University of Louvain, Hoover Chair (Belgium). Professor Gosseries will be presenting on the topic "Is age special? Confronting EU and Victoria anti-discrimination Law".

Friday, 01 February 2013
Friday, 01 February 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with Deloitte Australia have launched new research into the business benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Download a PDF of the report.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

In some circumstances, employers can ask an employee or a prospective employee to attend a medical examination, including:
• to assess whether the employee can perform the requirements of the job (including the specific skills, capabilities and attributes that are required for the job)
• to assess whether the employer needs to make reasonable adjustments to help the employee or prospective employee to perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job
• if the employer is concerned about the employee's health and safety at work or the health and safety of other people or property.

Employers must have a reasonable basis for asking for a medical examination to be carried out.
Under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (the Act), employers must not discriminate against an employee or a potential on the basis of a disability. Employers can set reasonable requirements of the job. For example, a flight attendant could be required to be able to lift a certain weight to be able manoeuvre doors if there is an emergency. Employers should consider these issues carefully. The process and information obtained need to be managed well to ensure that they are not discriminatory.

If the results of medical testing reveal a disability that is unrelated to the requirements of the job, this must not lead to any discrimination such as the termination of an employee's employment or denying them opportunities for promotion.

The Act includes an exception that allows employers to discriminate against a person on the basis of disability if the discrimination is reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of any person or property. For example, it might not be reasonable to have a person who has regular seizures operating a crane on a worksite in order protect health and safety. Employers also have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for an employee or prospective employee with a disability, if those adjustments would help the person to do the job. Reasonable adjustments are changes that allow people with disabilities to work safely and productively (such as installing access ramps for wheelchairs, providing flexible working arrangements or allowing a person to be absent to attend medical appointments). In many cases small adjustments can make sure people can participate in the workplace and you can get the most out of your employees. Open communication with your employees is a key factor in making this work.

This a complex area where a number of different laws, company policies and agreements may operate. Employers should seek advice about medical testing in particular circumstances.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The final Taxi Inquiry report Customers First: Service, Safety, Choice, was tabled in the Parliament of Victoria on 12 December 2012. This long awaited report of the Taxi Industry Inquiry makes 139 recommendations to reform the taxi industry to improve the way taxis are licensed, operated and regulated.

The Commission's submission to Government on the recommendations in the final report focuses on the need to improve the poor standards of service to people with disability, including unacceptably long wait times or non-attendance, a need for improved driver training, and safety issues.

The submission refers to the Commission's Time to Respond reports, as well as previous submissions (July 2012 and June 2011) made to the Inquiry.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies, of which the Commission is a member, made a submission to Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee about the exposure draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 on 21 December 2012. The submission focuses on the practical issues associated with the Bill and makes a series of recommendations that would strengthen and improve the Bill. The submission also responds to concerns that have been raised since the Bill was released for comment, such as the definition of discrimination, exceptions to discrimination, and compliance powers and mechanisms.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Information for Jewish people about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, and racial and religious vilification at work, and how the law can help.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Information for Muslim people about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, and racial and religious vilification at work, and how the law can help.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

This guide provides tips and things to think about when working with Indigenous people. It explains some common cultural practices amongst Indigenous people.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

This guide provides tips and things to think about when working with Jewish employees. It explains some common Jewish practices such as observance of Shabbat (Sabbath), religious festivals and kosher dietary requirements.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

This guide provides tips and things to think about when working with Muslim employees. It explains some common Islamic practices such as daily prayers, observance of Ramadan, wearing the hijab, beards, and halal dietary requirements.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission will join in Victoria's celebration of queer culture by putting its support behind the community during the annual Midsumma Festival.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Wearing the Fair go, sport! rainbow socks shows your commitment to creating sporting clubs, schools and workplaces that are safe, supportive and inclusive.

You could be a player, a coach, an umpire or administrator. You could be a student, a teacher or a principal, the CEO or a staff member. But if the sock fits, wear it. 

 socks web

Sizes and price

The rainbow socks are currently available in small/medium (SML/MED) and large (LGE) and are made from a combination of 100% wool (on the foot), and 80% cotton and 20% nylon on the leg. Fair go, sport! rainbow socks are made in Australia.

Each pair sells for $9.50 plus GST. (plus postage & handling for mail orders. Orders can also be picked up from our offices.)

Pickup address

Level 3, 204 Lygon Street

Carlton, VIC 3053

For further information or enquiries, please contact the Administration and Research Officer on 9032 3415 or by email: education@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

For pick-up orders, please allow 5 working days.

 


 

Mail order

Pickup order

Sizes
Sizes

Wednesday, 09 January 2013

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provides an impartial, fast, flexible, and free dispute resolution process to help people resolve discrimination complaints and complaints of sexual harassment, and racial and religious vilification.

Through our dispute resolution services we can help parties:

  • identify the disputed issues
  • develop options
  • consider alternatives
  • try to reach an agreement

Complaints can be made in any language and the Commission can arrange a free interpreter in your language or a sign language interpreter, if required. We can also help you complete your complaint form if you require assistance.

In Victoria it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a characteristic that you have, or that someone assumes you have. These personal characteristics include:

It is also against the law to sexually harass or victimise someone, or to vilify someone because of their race or religion.

How are complaints resolved?

Complaints to the Commission are resolved through a process known as conciliation. This is where the people involved in a dispute talk through the issues with the help of the Commission, and with the aim of reaching an agreement on how the dispute will be resolved.

Conciliation is a very successful way of resolving complaints. Feedback shows that people find our process fair, informal and easy to understand. It also helps them to better understand their rights and responsibilities and come up with good solutions.

The aim of conciliation is for the complainant and respondent to reach an agreement about resolving the complaint. The Commission does not have the power to make orders or award compensation. Many complaints are resolved at conciliation and outcomes may include:

  • an apology (verbal or written, private or more public)
  • financial compensation
  • a job reinstatement or reference
  • access to a previously denied job opportunity or service
  • an agreement to change or stop behaviour
  • an agreement to amend or develop policies
  • an agreement to undertake human resources and equal opportunity training.

The Commission does not handle complaints related to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Complaints about breaches of the Charter can be made to the Victorian Ombudsman in relation to most public authorities and to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission in relation to police misconduct.

A complaint can be made in any language and the Commission can arrange a free interpreter in your language or a sign language interpreter, if required. We can also help you draft your complaint if you need assistance.

For more information or to discuss a complaint contact us.

Wednesday, 09 January 2013
Friday, 14 December 2012

What is the Fair go, sport! schools project?

The Fair go, sport! (FGS) schools project aims to make schools safer and more inclusive for same sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) students, primarily through sport.

Why?

Because research shows SSASGD young people experience most (80 per cent) abuse at school and feel least safe in sport. This negative experience has a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. Feeling comfortable to participate in sport helps create a sense of belonging and provides physical, mental and social benefits.

How does it work?

FGS projects are relevant – they are developed to suit your school's strengths and opportunities and are designed and implemented by a team of staff and students working together.

FGS projects are flexible – they encourage continuous reflection and improvement and can adapt or change as your school changes.

FGS projects are positive – they build on the good work already in place and encourage and inspire positive change and involvement.

For a quick overview of the project, watch our video:

Has anyone tried it?

Yes! Following the success of the FGS project in hockey in 2010-11, the Commission, with the support of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) , piloted the FGS project at Reservoir High School.

Did it work?

Yes! An independent evaluation conducted by La Trobe University, shows the FGS pilot project is successfully helping to create a safer and more inclusive school environment for SSASGD students at RHS.

Most importantly, after only 12 months, students and teachers can see and feel a change, and they want to keep building on it. The school conducted a survey of all staff and all students in year 9 before the project began and after the 12-month pilot project. They found:

  1. the project has made a difference
  2. people at RHS have become more respectful when they speak about sexual and gender diversity and staff and students are stepping in when people are disrespectful
  3. the use of homophobic language has decreased
  4. staff now feel more confident to challenge homophobic behaviour or language.

'I didn't use to think about some of the words I used like 'gay'. But now with FGS it makes me think that I shouldn't say these things and I should think before I talk because it could offend people.' – RHS student

'Students are more compassionate towards others and more accepting. The frequency of 'gay' as a derogatory comment has lessened'. – RHS staff member

What makes it successful?

Based on what worked at Reservoir High, schools who want to run a Fair go, Sport! Project should be ready to follow five key principles:

  1. Show school leadership and commitment
  2. Use external organisations, networks and events
  3. Support staff and students to work together to drive the project
  4. Use strategic, action learning processes
  5. Use positive, participatory approaches.

Our starter kit, which will be available soon, provides guidance, tips and resources for each of these principles.

Contact us

If you are interested in running this project in your school, email us at fgsschools@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

Reservoir High School

This project was developed to respond to this research and explore opportunities to apply the Fair go, sport! processes and learnings within the context of a school sporting programs, and so contribute to safer learning and sporting environments.

The project will adopt the asset based, action-learning approach successfully piloted in the Commission's Fair go, sport! project in hockey. Using this approach, the project aims to:

  • build a safe and inclusive school community for SSASGD young people
  • develop a model of practice and starter kit that can be adapted by other schools.

The Commission will use its funding and in-kind support from Reservoir High School to work in partnership to implement the following strategies:

  1. Engage SSASGD supporters and key Reservoir High staff to identify existing assets and current experiences, practices, attitudes and perceptions in order to plan and develop pilot interventions that promote a safe and inclusive school environment.
  2. Implement pilot interventions.
  3. Evaluate and report.
  4. Develop a starter kit for use by other schools.

Fair go, sport! School Athletics

Reservoir High held its first Fair go, sport! (FGS) whole-school athletics day earlier this year. The FGS theme sent a strong message that RHS supports sexual and gender diversity. The overwhelming majority of RHS staff and students voluntarily wore FGS rainbow socks, tattoos, badges and wristbands to show their support.  Staff and students embraced the rainbow-dress competition and FGS Champions proudly accepted their medals for demonstrating respect and encouragement.

The FGS theme started many students talking about the importance of creating safe and inclusive environments for same-sex attracted and sex and gender diverse students.  As one student stated, the FGS athletics "let people know that if they are gender diverse or same sex attracted they are supported around the school" ... "You can just be who you are." 

"The atmosphere was hugely positive and infectious", according to a staff member. Many students and staff continued to wear their FGS badges and wristbands after the event to show their continued support for sexual and gender diversity. The FGS athletics was so well received that it will become an annual event on the Reservoir High School calendar. 

Project partners

The project is funded by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and supported by the Safe Schools Coalition.

Evaluation

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University will evaluate the project.

Friday, 14 December 2012

About Phase 2

Fair go, sport! Phase 2 will undertake the following broad strategies:

  1. Maintain momentum and respond to community interest
    • provide information and collateral to Victorian state sporting associations (SSAs), sporting clubs and others with an interest or commitment to promoting diversity
    • share learning and promote the project
  2. Build sustainability within hockey to generate lasting cultural change
    • support the practice of Hockey Victoria and the initial project advocates
    • develop a peer mentoring approach that enables initial project advocates to mentor project advocates in another four to six pilot clubs
    • link all project advocates to capacity building resources and support
    • trial and refine the flexible model of engagement developed through Phase 1
  3. Extend reach into another sporting code
    • support another state sporting association to adopt the flexible model and implement a sustainable project
  4. Strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders and SRV
  5. Evaluate and report
    • evaluate effectiveness of Phase 2 and produce evaluation and project reports.

Project partners

The project is funded by the Department of Community Development and Planning (Sport and Recreation Victoria), VicHealth and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Evaluation

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University will evaluate the project.

More information

Contact VEOHRC Project Manager, Peter Gourlay P/ 03 9032 3420 peter.gourlay@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Friday, 14 December 2012

About Phase 1

Commencing in March 2010, Phase 1 of the project is now complete.

This project aimed to increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity and to promote safe and inclusive environments in hockey; and develop a flexible model of engagement that can be adapted for other sporting codes and their governing bodies. Using an asset-based action learning approach, the project:

  • engaged key stakeholders in identifying existing policies, codes and procedures, and map experiences, practices, attitudes and perceptions in order to develop pilot interventions at all levels of hockey
  • implemented, with key stakeholders, pilot interventions to promote safe and inclusive environments and reduce homophobia
  • developed a flexible model for creating safe and inclusive environments in hockey that can be transferable to other sports.

Resources

  • Fair go, sport! Literature review  (PDF)  |  (RTF)
  • Fair go, sport! Evaluation report  (PDF)  |  (RTF)
  • Fair go, sport! Model of engagment  (PDF)

Project partners

The project was funded by the Australian Sports Commission and managed by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission through our project manager, Peter Gourlay.

Evaluation

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University evaluated the project.

More information

Contact VEOHRC Project Manager, Peter Gourlay P/ 03 9032 3420

peter.gourlay@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The long awaited report of the Taxi Industry Inquiry tabled in Parliament today makes 139 recommendations to reform the taxi industry to improve the way taxis are licensed, operated and regulated.

Friday, 07 December 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is very concerned about reports of Protective Services Officers targeting Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens by issuing fines for minor infringements.

Thursday, 06 December 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission welcomes the decision to screen advertisements tackling homophobia each day during the biggest international men’s hockey event since the London Olympics, the Hockey Champions Trophy, which is underway in Melbourne this week.

Monday, 03 December 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission helps people resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment and racial and religious vilification by offering a free, fair, confidential and informal conciliation service.

Through our Indigenous Engagement Program, we also help Indigenous people in Victoria know and understand their rights and responsibilities about equal opportunity laws, human rights and the work we do to prevent discrimination. We do this by:

  • talking with Victorian Indigenous communities about issues they are facing  
  • building strong relationships with the Victorian Indigenous community
  • working with community members to provide education programs and  projects about equal opportunity and human rights and the role of the Commission.

If you would like us to come and talk with your community, please call or email:

Email: taryn.lee@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Telephone: 03 9032 3426

Monday, 03 December 2012

Have you ever…

  • had comments made about your race at a job interview?
  • been knocked back by a real estate agent or property owner because you are Aboriginal?
  • been subjected to racist comments, slogans or pictures in public places?
  • experienced sexual harassment at work, at a school, when renting or going shopping?

You have a right to equal treatment

Everyone has the right to a fair go. In Victoria, equal opportunity and vilification laws protect your right to a fair go.

Discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, and racial and religious vilification are against the law.

Contact us on 1300 292 153 or enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au to make a complaint or for further information.

What is race discrimination?

Discrimination is treating someone unfairly because of a personal characteristic.

In Victoria it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their race, colour, descent, nationality, ancestry, ethnic background or any characteristics associated with these attributes.

Deb and Max are Aboriginal Victorians. When they telephone a local kindergarten to see if there are any places for their son Henry, they are told: “Yes, there’s plenty of room.” But when Deb takes Henry to the kindergarten, the teacher tells her that she didn’t realise Henry was Aboriginal and that Deb should take him to a place where he’ll fit in better.

Where discrimination can happen

Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act makes discrimination against the law when it happens in:

What is vilification?

Vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

This might be comments to you at work, while playing sport, information on a website, newspaper articles or media comments.

The law says it is conduct that “incites hatred, serious contempt, or revulsion or severe ridicule”.

Some comments, jokes or other acts related to the race or religion of a person may not be vilification, but they could still be the basis for a complaint of discrimination if they happen in one of the eight areas of public life covered by the law.

Some behaviour may not be vilification if it is reasonable and done in good faith. This includes art or a performance, a media statement, published work, discussion or debate in the public interest, and a fair and accurate report in the media.

Read more about race discrimination and racial and religious vilification for more information.

Victimisation

It is also against the law to victimise a person for making a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or racial and religious vilification.

Belinda is fired because she complains to her boss that her coworkers called her racist names.

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities protects 20 basic human rights, such as the right to privacy and reputation, protection of families and children, the right to join groups and meet freely, and the right to enjoy your culture.

Under the Charter, the Victorian Government, public servants, local councils, Victoria Police and other public authorities must consider human rights when they make laws, develop policies and provide their day-to-day services.

More information

For information on Indigenous issues from a national perspective visit the Australian Government Indigenous website.

Other links

Aboriginal Affairs Victoria http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/indigenous
Koori Heritage Trust http://www.koorieheritagetrust.com/
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service http://vals.org.au/
Social Justice Commissioner ( Mick Gooda) http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/index.html

 

 


 

NOTE: The Expert Panel on Recognising ATSI Peoples in the Constitution stated: "After much discussion, the Panel decided to use the term 'indigenous' rather than 'Indigenous' throughout this report, except where it occurs as part of the name of an entity, in a title or in a quote. The term 'indigenous' is therefore used to refer both to the first peoples of other continents and occasionally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, although 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' is preferred as the more inclusive and precise term."

Monday, 03 December 2012

The biggest survey into women who work in the law undertaken in recent years shows that women are exiting the legal profession because of systemic discrimination, sexual harassment and cultural and structural factors.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) website has been developed to ensure its content is available to the widest possible audience by complying with the Victorian Government's minimum requirements for accessibility – Level A of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.

If you have problems or suggestions on how we can improve the accessibility of this website, please let us know .

Most (historical) publications exist within the Commission's website as Portable Document Format (PDF) versions. While some of these documents may not comply with web accessibility standards, we also provide accessible rich text format (RTF) versions. Printed copies can be requested by emailing samuel.santana@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by phoning (03) 9032 3414.

Special requests for publications in Braille can be made to samuel.santana@veohrc.vic.gov.au or by phoning (03) 9032 3414.

Download Adobe® Reader®

Friday, 30 November 2012

This website is presented by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) for the purpose of disseminating information free of charge for the benefit of the public.

VEOHRC monitors the quality of the information available on this website and updates the information regularly.

However, VEOHRC does not guarantee, and accepts no legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material contained on this website or on any linked site.

VEOHRC recommends that users exercise their own skill and care with respect to their use of this website and that users carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance of the material on the website for their purposes.

This website is not a substitute for independent professional advice and users should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.

The material on this website may include the views or recommendations of third parties, which do not necessarily reflect the views of VEOHRC, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action or point of view.

Reference should be made to authorised versions of legislation for official purposes.

Electronic mail disclaimer
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) does not accept responsibility for delays in transmission of email messages. Confirmation of receipt of urgent messages is the responsibility of the sender and should be confirmed with the appropriate recipient.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with Deloitte Australia have launched new research into the business benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Friday, 30 November 2012

RANT AGAINST RACISM : Please click here for a copy of the Australian Human Rights Commission Privacy Policy


The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission's (Commission) privacy policy has two components:

Website privacy statement

This Website Privacy Statement applies to the Commission's website with the domain name www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au ('website'). It explains how the Commission handles your personal information (being information capable of identifying you as an individual) when you use this website. Personal information is any information that is capable of identifying you as an individual.

The practices outlined in this Statement are subject to any rights the Commission may have to handle personal information in accordance with law.

This Statement only relates to the Commission's website. When following links to other sites from this website, you should access the privacy statement of that site for information about its privacy practices.

Collection of personal information

You can access the Commission website anonymously, without disclosing your personal information.

The personal information we may collect via this website includes:

  • information submitted by you to enrol in a training course or join a mailing list
  • any messages or comments you submit to us via this website or to an email address displayed on this website, which may include personal information such as your name, email address, telephone number and opinions.

Use and disclosure of personal information

In addition to providing our services to you and carrying out your requests, we may use or disclose personal information that we collect about you via our website for the following:

  • any purpose disclosed on our website for the collection of the information
  • purposes connected with the operation, administration, development or enhancement of this website
  • where we suspect that fraud or unlawful activity has been, is being or may be engaged in
  • any other purposes required or authorised by law.

We may share personal information within the Commission. We may preserve the content of email or other electronic messages that we receive. Any personal information contained in that message will be used and disclosed in accordance with the Commission's privacy policy.

If you have made an online application, your application will be forwarded to the appropriate Commission business unit to whom your application relates or who can assist in processing your application.

We will only add email addresses and any other contact details you provide to a mailing list with your consent.

We will not disclose your personal information to any third party without your consent, unless we are required or authorised to do so by law. A law enforcement agency or government agency may exercise its legal authority to inspect the web server's records when investigating suspected unlawful or improper activity (for example, in relation to hacking or abusive messages). 

Clickstream data

The following clickstream data are automatically recorded by the website's web server for statistical and system administration purposes only:

  • your server address
  • your top level domain name (for example, .com, .au, .gov)
  • the date and the time of your visit to the site
  • the pages you accessed and downloaded
  • the address of the last site you visited
  • your operating system
  • the type of browser you are using.

To the extent that any clickstream data could make you identifiable, we will not attempt to identify you from clickstream data unless required by law or to investigate suspected improper activity in relation to the website or to assist in law enforcement. 

Cookies

We do not use cookies on our site. A cookie is a block of data that is shared between a web server and a user's browser. Cookies give the server information about a user's identity and website visiting patterns and preferences.

Access and correction

If you want to access your personal or health information or believe that your personal or health information is inaccurate and would like it corrected, you can contact the Commission's FOI Officer at foi@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

The Commission will consider requests in accordance with the following laws:

  • Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • Information Privacy Act 2000
  • Health Records Act 2001
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

Any request to access or correct personal or health information will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures set out in the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Visit the Freedom of Information page for further information. 

How the Commission collects and manages personal and health information

The Commission's commitment to privacy

The Commission is committed to protecting the privacy of your personal and health information. Section 176 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 requires the Commission to only disclose information about individuals it collects in the course of its work in connection with its functions, powers and duties.

The Information Privacy Act 2000 regulates the collection and handling of personal information in the Victorian public sector. It requires the Commission to only use and provide to other people or organisations, personal information for the purposes the Commission collected it. Occasionally, the Commission may be authorised by law to use or provide personal information for another reason.

The Commission also has obligations to deal with health information in accordance with the Health Records Act 2001.

Personal information is recorded information about a living identifiable or easily identifiable individual (including work-related information and images).

Sensitive information is personal information about a living person's race or ethnicity, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record, or membership details, such as trade union or professional, political or trade associations.

Health information is information that is able to be linked to a living or deceased person about a person's physical, mental or psychological health.

 This document explains:

  • what the Commission does
  • what sort of information the Commission collects and why
  • what the Commission does with the information
  • how to access or correct the information
  • how to complain about the Commission's handling of personal information.

What does the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission do?

The Commission is an independent statutory body with functions under three laws:

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it against the law to discriminate against people on the basis of a number of different personal characteristics.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 makes it against the law to vilify people because of their race or religion.

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) requires government and public bodies to consider human rights when developing laws and making decisions.The Commission fulfils its role under these Acts by:

  • providing a free and impartial dispute resolution service for individuals and groups who wish to seek redress for discrimination, sexual harassment or racial/religious vilification
  • conducting research into areas of discrimination and human rights
  • conducting investigations into serious matters that affect a class or group of people
  • undertaking information and education programs in the community about discrimination and human rights
  • reporting annually on the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • promoting equality of opportunity and
  • intervening in certain court proceedings where the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities or the Equal Opportunity Act may be relevant.

What sort of personal and health information does the Commission collect and why?

The type of personal or health information the Commission collects depends on the nature of a person's contact with the Commission.

Many people contact the Commission for information, advice, training or complaint services. The Commission collects personal and health information from people in order to provide an appropriate service to them.

Personal information is required to assist the Commission to resolve disputes under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. This may include a person's contact details, and details about their job, employer, co-workers, medical/health condition, interests and recreational activities, family, and other information about a person's personal circumstances relevant to their complaint.

Some people contacting the Commission may wish to remain anonymous. No identifying details will be collected by the Commission in these circumstances. In some cases, however, the Commission will be unable to provide assistance to a person without collecting some personal information. For example, some personal information will need to be collected before a dispute can be lodged with the Commission.

The Commission uses closed circuit television (CCTV) to monitor and record activity in the public areas of the Commission. This does not include party or interview rooms, bathrooms or training rooms. The purpose of the monitoring and recording is to help provide a safe and secure environment for visitors to the Commission and Commission staff, and to protect the Commission's property.

When collecting personal or health information, the Commission will take reasonable steps to advise you of what information is being sought, for what purpose, whether any law requires the collection of the information and the main consequences, if any, of not providing the information.

What does the Commission do with personal and health information?

The Commission uses personal and health information for the purposes that it was provided. 

The Commission also uses information gathered from disputes, investigations and enquiries for related secondary uses. For example, to help identify equal opportunity issues that need further research and education, compile statistics, report publicly on our activities, and to find better ways to eliminate discrimination.

The Commission will not disclose information in a way that identifies an individual or organisation, unless the individual or organisation consents.

However, there are some limited circumstances in which the Commission may release information. For example, under sections 176A and 177 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010,it is lawful for the Commission todisclose information where a court orders disclosure of that information. It is also lawful for the Commission to disclose information relating to disputes, complaints and investigations for the purposes of carrying out the educative functions of the Commission.

It is important to note that any disclosure of information for educative purposes (for example, including information in report to Parliament or a training package) must be consistent with the Commission’s obligations under other relevant legislation including the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and the Information Privacy Act 2000.

You can obtain more information about the disputes, complaints and investigations process from our website or by phoning the Commission's enquiry line on 1300 292 153.

The Commission may keep contact details, such as a postal or email address, in certain circumstances, where a person has:

  • forwarded a registration form to attend a Commission training course, workshop seminar or other public event
  • submitted an order form for any of the Commission's publications/promotional material
  • experienced the Commission's dispute resolution service and the Commission is seeking feedback to evaluate that service.

Copies of recorded images from CCTV may be provided to police for the purposes of investigating an alleged offence. The Commission may also supply copies to third parties where required by law (for example, a court order) or to investigate a complaint made about the Commission.

The Commission has a separate Website Privacy Statement that outlines how the Commission may collect, use and disclose information obtained from its website: The Commission's website privacy statement.

How does the Commission store and protect personal and health information?

The Commission uses a number of procedural, physical, software and hardware safeguards, together with access controls and back-up systems to protect information from misuse and loss, unauthorised access, modification and disclosure.

Generally, information is destroyed or permanently de-identified when it is no longer required. However, most information is required to be stored and archived in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973.

How can people access or correct their personal and health information held by the Commission?

 If you want to access your personal or health information or believe that your personal or health information is inaccurate and would like it corrected, you can contact the Commission's FOI Officer at foi@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

The Commission will consider requests in accordance with the following laws:

  • Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010
  • Information Privacy Act 2000
  • Health Records Act 2001
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

Any request to access or correct personal or health information will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures set out in the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Visit the Freedom of Information page for further information.

How does the Commission handle complaints about privacy?

The Commission will attempt to resolve any privacy complaint in a fair and timely way.

Complaints can be made by phoning the Commission and asking to speak with a Privacy Coordinator, or by writing to the following address: Privacy Coordinator, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria, 3053.

Any individual dissatisfied with the Commission’s handling of their privacy complaint has the right to complain to Privacy Victoria if their complaint concerns personal information or to the Health Services Commissioner if their complaint concerns health information.

Expert bodies you can contact about your personal and health information

The following organisations have specific responsibilities for protecting health and information privacy in Victoria.

Privacy Victoria (personal information)

Telephone (03) 8619 8719
Toll free 1300 666 444
Fax (03) 8619 8700
privacy.vic.gov.au

The Office of the Health Services Commissioner (health information)

Telephone (03) 8601 5200
Toll free 1800 136 066
Fax No: (03) 8601 5219
health.vic.gov.au/hsc/

 

Policy last updated June 2013 

Friday, 30 November 2012

This report (PDF | RTF) addresses some of the myths and stereotypes that have a direct impact on older Victorians in relation to their experiences behind the wheel.

Friday, 30 November 2012

This report examines the experiences of women in the legal profession – focusing on discrimination, sexual harassment and the accommodation of parental and carer responsibilities (RTF | PDF).

Friday, 30 November 2012

Working parents and carers are protected from discrimination when trying to balance their work arrangements with family and caring responsibilities. 

Sometimes people experience difficulties in managing their work and family responsibilities effectively. While they know how important it is to get the job done, they also know they need to look out for the people they care for. This is a challenge that many Victorian employees face daily. 

Key terms

A parent may be a biological parent, a step-parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, or guardian. 

A carer is a person on whom another person is totally or substantially dependent for ongoing care and attention. This does not include people who are paid to provide care. 

Parental or carer responsibilities relate to the employee’s role as a parent or carer – their care of a child or of another person (such as a parent, spouse, domestic partner, relative or friend) who is totally or substantially dependent on the employee for care. 

Employer responsibilities

Employers must accommodate their employees’ family and carer responsibilities where it is reasonable to do so. This requires an employer to seriously consider all requests for flexible work arrangements in relation to an employee’s responsibilities as a parent or carer. Whether a refusal to accommodate an employee’s parental or carer responsibilities is unreasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation.

The law

In Victoria it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because they are a parent or a carer

It is also against the law to discriminate against a woman because she is pregnancy or breastfeeding, presumed to be pregnant, because she may become pregnant in the future, or in the return to work process after parental leave.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, employers have a positive duty to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010:

  • applies to employers of all sizes 
  • covers all types of workers 
  • applies to all stages of employment.

Employers may have legal obligations to parents and carers under the National Employment Standards. Under these standard, an employee with 12 months continuous service may request a change in working arrangements to assist with a child’s care if they are parents or carers of:

  • a child under school age, or 
  • a child under 18 with disability.

Make a complaint

Find out about your organisation’s process for resolving complaints and ask how it incorporates issues to do with being a parent or carer, for example flexible work or breastfeeding. 

An employee can lodge a complaint of discrimination with the Commission if they believe they have been discriminated against at work because of their status as a parent or carer.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Victorian Law Reform Commission is presently conducting a review of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1996 (Vic), examining whether processes for registration and certification are accessible to people in the community, especially those from Aboriginal communities, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and other groups experiencing disadvantage.

In November 2012, the Commission provided a submission in response to a Consultation Paper. This submission addressed the human rights implications of themes raised in the Consultation Paper's terms of reference. These themes included:

  • human rights implications of the birth registration system
  • barriers associated with the registration and certification process
  • how the process for birth registration and certification can be made more accessible.
Friday, 30 November 2012

Concerns an exemption application by a community health organisation to enable it to recruit and employ a male orderly for an after hours clinic. The application was withdrawn by the organisation after the Commission's submissions were filed and a direction hearing held.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Why we undertook the research

The ability to drive is important for many older people’s independence. The freedom it provides when public transport options are limited contributes to social connectedness and areas of life including health and wellbeing, social participation, access to employment, health care, cultural life, and community involvement.

In Victoria, self-reporting and third party reporting obligations require drivers, professionals, family and community members to make a report to VicRoads if they are concerned about someone’s ability to drive safely. While for some, declining driving skills are a genuine issue, concerns were raised from the Commission’s previous research: Rights in Focus: Report on the rights of older Victorians that in some circumstances ageism and age discrimination may be leading some people to make these reports to is unwarranted circumstances, leading to unnecessary testing and reviews of older drivers’ licences.

For these reasons, the Commission, in partnership with the Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA), researched older drivers’ experiences in being unfairly treated because of their age.

The survey

We conducted a survey to hear from people about things such as being reported for unfit driving, licence re-testing and medical review, and the role of family members, health professionals, and police in these processes. The Commission received 445 responses to the survey, which was a fabulous response, and we would like to thank all who participated.

We also consulted with key informant organisations to hear more about the issue, including COTA, VicRoads, the Monash University Accident Research Centre, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Australian Driver Training Association.

The Commission would like to thank these organisations and all those who shared their stories with us.

The report

The report of the research, Rights on the road: the experiences of older Victorian drivers, was launched on 28 November 2012 at COTA’s Annual General Meeting.

Download a copy of Rights on the road: the experiences of older Victorian Drivers

For more information about this project, please contact Julian Alban on (03) 9032 3435 or email research@veohrc.vic.gov.au

VicRoads response

The Commission would like to thank VicRoads for its assistance with the research, particularly in providing data on reports about fitness to drive. The report is a much more comprehensive study of what is a complex issue because of their involvement. Download the report below.

Information on age discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their actual or assumed age. Find out more about age discrimination and your rights under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
If you think you have been discriminated against because of your age, you can contact the Commission for information or to make a complaint.

You can also contact Seniors Information Victoria at COTA for support and advice on a range of issues including housing, health and wellbeing, financial and legal issues.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has recently completed research into the experiences of Koori women and the justice system. This project is one of the Commission's key responsibilities under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement 3.

The Commission worked with four focus groups composed of Koori female prisoners at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. The Commission also conducted five case study interviews with female prisoners and with Koori women who had left prison. In addition, 15 key informant interviews with people across the justice system, community service organisations, Magistrates and academics were undertaken.

The research also found that in 2012, 80 per cent of Koori women entering Victorian prisons were mothers. A high proportion of Koori women prisoners were themselves clients of child protection services as children. Many now have their children in informal or formal out-of-home care.

The report entitled Unfinished business: Koori women and the justice system is now available.

You can download the reports below or view online as a PDF.

Read the report: (PDF) | (DOC)
Read the main findings summary: (PDF) | (DOC)

Background

The recently evaluated Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 2 (AJA2), identified that the development of effective diversionary options for Koori women remains one of the main unfinished tasks and was a priority recommendation. There has also been considerable advocacy and research on this issue.

Studies have shown that imprisoning Koori women on remand and during pre-sentence periods can have crippling, long-term effects on their families and the broader community, particularly when less than 15% of Koori women on remand ultimately receive custodial sentences.

These women are generally young and often impacted by violence and trauma. Their offences are predominantly property related, infringements and the execution of warrants.

Research reveals high rates of psychological affective disorders (depression, anxiety), and post traumatic stress disorder among Koori women in prison. These findings come from interim results from the Victorian Aboriginal Community Control Health Organisation (VACCHO)

What we found

While at any one time around 30 Koori women will be in Victorian prisons, many cycle through the system multiple times, often on short sentences, or on remand and then not sentenced. Koori female prisoners are generally young, and many have experienced family violence, sexual abuse and intergenerational trauma. Homelessness before and after prison is common.

Offending and imprisonment patterns for Koori women differ from those of Koori men. They also differ from those of other women, noting that Koori women's health and wellbeing depends on a strong connection to culture. Thus, connection to culture is a crucial protective factor and must lie at the heart of any intervention.
While a range of successful initiatives have been established in Victoria for Koori men and other groups, there remains a lack of effective diversion options for Koori women.

Next steps

The report makes 29 recommendations to agencies across government, including Victoria Police, Magistrates' Court, Corrections Victoria, Justice Health, Department of Justice, Department of Human Services, the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Victorian Auditor-General.

The recommendations address over-representation of Koori women across the criminal justice system, as well as specific recommendations regarding the establishment of a culturally and gender appropriate model of diversion. The report also identifies principles of effective intervention to guide the further development of prevention, diversion and post-release programs.

The Commission looks forward to progressing these recommendations through the Aboriginal Justice Forum over the coming months.

More information

For more information about this project please contact us at research@veohrc.vic.gov.au or call Melissa Saunders (Senior Adviser, Indigenous Projects and Policy) on (03) 9032 3426.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Following the success of the Everyday People, Everyday Rights pilot project in the City of Hume in 2009 (funded by the Legal Services Board) and the City of Yarra in 2010 (funded by the Neighbourhood Justice Centre), the Commission has started developing an Everyday People, Everyday Rights toolkit.

Launched at our local government forum in November 2012, the toolkit aims to equip local councils to engage with their communities on human rights through Everyday People, Everyday Rights-type projects. The kit, which will be available online and in hard copy, will provide tools and information on:

  • identifying human rights issues and concerns
  • conducting human rights education and engagement sessions
  • conducting human rights communication campaigns.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Council on the Ageing (COTA) today launched a report into the issue of age discrimination against older drivers.

Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said that while Victoria’s driver licensing system is working well for many, it is not working well all the time and for everyone. Moreover, when a bad experience occurs, the impacts are profound.

Ms Toohey said that one of the key themes that persisted in the research was around the stigma still attached to ageing.

“Older drivers are often portrayed as a risk or a danger, when in fact statistics show this is not the case. Yet in Victoria each year many older people are required to provide evidence that they are safe on the roads because they have been reported as a risk on the roads by family members, health professionals or just people on the street.

“For some people this is a genuine issue, but many who spoke to us had done nothing to be considered a risk – other than be seen as being old. These attitudes are evidence that ageism and age discrimination remain significant issues in our community,” Ms Toohey said.

Other key issues revealed in the report include being required to undergo medical testing or review in situations where it didn’t seem warranted, only being allowed to renew their license for three year periods at a time, being treated unfairly by members of the public, being dealt with unfairly by officers at VicRoads and being treated unfairly by Victoria Police.

Ms Toohey said that people should be able to stay on the road for as long as they are safe to do so without being subjected to discrimination and unnecessary intervention. The recommendations from the Commission's research are aimed at getting this balance right.

“People who had their licence suspended or cancelled can’t access to the services they need, visit friends and family or participate generally. One respondent said they had to give up their car and home and live in a hostel. These stories highlighted why it is so important that we ‘get it right,’” Ms Toohey said.

“This research not only uncovers the persistent challenges facing older drivers. It also provides practical solutions and a framework for the Commission to work with the relevant authorities to help ensure that older drivers are not discriminated against on the basis of their age,” Ms Toohey said.

Key recommendations include working with the people and organisations that have responsibilities for making decisions about licensing so their decisions are fair, accurate and evidence based, and educating and raising awareness among older drivers about their rights and responsibilities with regard to driver licensing.

David Craig, CEO of COTA Victoria (Council on the Ageing) said that he was not surprised that there is discrimination against older drivers. “Age discrimination is endemic in our community and it shows up across the community in work places, access to suitable housing and in attitudes towards older people.  We need a public information campaign to help change these entrenched and harmful attitudes,” David Craig said.

Report can be accessed here www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/olderdrivers

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Council on the Ageing (COTA) today launched a report into the issue of age discrimination against older drivers.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

When you have a disability, taxi services are a critical means of public transport. Melbourne’s bus, tram and train networks will not be completely accessible for another twenty years. The Time to Respond reports discuss that despite recent reform to the taxi industry, waiting times and reliability continue to be serious barriers to accessible taxi services for people with disabilities.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Deadly People and Their Stories is a collection of stories from unsung heroes – people who work tirelessly for their families and communities, but who may not be recognised for their achievements. This collection is a way to celebrate these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working to better their communities. The project produced a calendar featuring each person’s story with portraits by photographer James Henry.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Rights of passage research found that experiences of racism against young Australian-Sudanese people prevented them from moving freely in the community and limited their access to services, employment and education.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A brochure for young women to help explain their rights in the workplace.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Melbourne has a reputation as a city that welcomes cultural diversity. When patrons of certain racial backgrounds are refused entry into nightclubs, pubs and bars it is offensive and distressing to the individuals concerned. It also damages the reputation of the entertainment and hospitality industries.

The Commission has been working with Yarra City Council on a campaign to address this race discrimination and is now expanding this to other councils.  

Tell us about your experiences

We want to hear about your stories and experiences so if you have had an experience of racism that you would like to share, you can:

Get involved

Would you like to see this campaign happen in your neighbourhood? Let us know or ask your local council to get involved.

We have decals and flyers for your club, pub or bar. Email us at communications@veohrc.vic.gov.au and we will send you what you need to get started. Alternatively, you can download the flyer below. A sample of the decal is also attached below.

Background 

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, it is against the law for business owners, their staff and agents to discriminate in the provision of goods and services on the basis of characteristics such as race.

In 2011 the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Yarra City Council  received a number of formal and informal complaints about discrimination by nightclubs in inner Melbourne. These complaints have been made by patrons who allege that they have been refused entry by security guards because of their race. In some instances, they were explicitly told that their race was the basis for the refusal.

In response, the Commission worked with Yarra City Council on a campaign to address race discrimination in local nightclubs, pubs and bars.

We are now aiming to expand this campaign to other key metropolitan and regional areas, and extend it to other industries.

Find out more 

For more information about the Commission’s research into race discrimination, visit our race discrimination pages.

Commission news

Subscribe to our e-bulletin for updates on the Commission’s work and related issues.

Discrimination

Read through more information about discrimination based on race or racial and religious vilification in Victoria. 

Related projects

Other related Commission projects include:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Every year, thousands of Victorians support their community by volunteering with a wide range of organisations.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 volunteers and unpaid workers are protected from sexual harassment in the same way as paid staff. The law may also protect volunteers from discrimination in certain circumstances.

Volunteers and sexual harassment

Volunteers have the same rights and responsibilities in regard to sexual harassment as paid workers. This means that:

  • organisations have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment
  • volunteers have the right not to be sexually harassed by their employer, a paid staff member, another volunteer or a client
  • volunteers have an obligation not to sexually harass an employer, a paid staff member, another volunteer or a client
  • an organisation’s sexual harassment policies must cover volunteers as well as paid staff.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, an ‘employee’ includes a volunteer or unpaid worker and an ‘employer’ includes a person who employs a person on an unpaid or voluntary basis.

The law also covers a body corporate or unincorporated association, where the board or committee of management is taken to be the ‘employer’. 

Find out more about sexual harassment in employment.

Examples of sexual harassment

Katie is a volunteer worker with a home care agency. One day when she is visiting John, a client, he starts stroking her arm and telling her how pretty she is. Katie asks him to stop but he pulls her onto his lap and tries to kiss her.

Martin is a voluntary committee member of a youth service. In his role he has access to staff personal information. Martin obtains contact details for Kathy, a staff member, and calls her to ask her out. Kathy refuses but Martin continues to text and email her suggesting she go out with him.

Volunteers and discrimination

Volunteers may be protected from discrimination in certain circumstances. This will depend on where the volunteering is taking place and what the role involves.

Volunteers are more likely to be protected if their club or organisation:

Examples of discrimination in volunteering

While volunteering at a function at their bowls club two club members, May and Xiu speak in their first language, Mandarin. The club secretary tells them they should be speaking English as it is an Australian club and if they didn’t want to speak English, they shouldn’t volunteer anymore.

James volunteers as a coach for his son’s soccer team. When the parents of another team member find out that James is in a same-sex relationship they contact the club and insist he no longer coach the team, as they believe he is not an appropriate role model. The club president tells James that, while the club is sorry to lose him, it has no choice but to dismiss him as the coach.

Disability and volunteering

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, an organisation may be required to make reasonable adjustments for a volunteer with a disability in certain circumstances. This will depend on where the person is volunteering and what they are doing.

Reasonable adjustments for people with disability could include things like:

  • adjusting the requirements of a role
  • providing a hearing loop at training events
  • installing a ramp to allow access to a building.

Making reasonable adjustments involves the organisation balancing the need for the change with the expense or effort involved in making the change. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances.

Resources for volunteers and organisations

The Commission has produced a series of fact sheets about how the law applies to volunteers and organisations that work with volunteers:

Download information for organisations: Volunteers and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 - Information for organisations.

Download information for volunteers: Volunteers and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 - Know your rights.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Monday, 12 November 2012

It is against the law for employers to treat their employees or contractors unfairly because they make reasonable requests and/or voice concerns about their employment entitlements or workers' rights. This is known as discrimination on the basis of employment activity.

An employer cannot treat you unfavourably or penalise you if you make a reasonable request about your employment entitlements. Employers cannot do things like:

  • cutting your hours or regular overtime
  • denying your annual leave
  • transferring you to undesirable duties
  • not granting you a promotion
  • not providing you with access to services and training in the workplace
  • terminating your employment.

For example, Jill has been working as a hairdresser for six months and has not received a payslip. She raises the matter with her employer and is told to stop asking questions. A few days later, she is instructed to not attend to customers and is given cleaning duties instead. She believes she has been treated unfavourably because she raised a concern about her entitlements, so she seeks advice from the Commission.

What are reasonable requests and concerns?

Making a reasonable request about your employment entitlements includes asking things like:

  • What is my rate of pay? How much leave have I accrued?
  • Can I vary my hours to pick up my child from school?
  • Do I have an entitlement to maternity leave?
  • Am I meant to be paid overtime?
  • I’ve heard the company is going under. Will I get my redundancy payout?

When making a reasonable request or communicating your concerns:

  • be clear about the request and ensure it is reasonable
  • check your contract, employment agreement or payslip for the information in case it is already available
  • consider putting your request in writing
  • make the request to your employer, manager or designated human resources or payroll officer.

What is an unreasonable request?

Unreasonable requests may include things like:

  • requests that are made at an impractical or inappropriate time
  • requests that have an unrealistic or excessive demand
  • requests that are made in a violent or threatening manner.

For example, Cliff works as machinist for a medium-sized sheet metal fabrication business. Cliff is concerned about the way his overtime has been allocated. He calls his employer at home on Sunday afternoon and asks him for a report of all the overtime allocation and how much other employees have been paid in the last two years. This request may be unreasonable because it was made at an inappropriate time – outside work hours – and asks for private information about other employees.

Friday, 09 November 2012

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 makes it against the law to vilify a person or group of people because of their race or religion. 

What is racial or religious vilification?

Vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

The legal definition is conduct that ‘incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule’.

Behaviour that is likely to be seen as racial or religious vilification

Behaviour that could be seen as vilification includes:

  • speaking about a person’s race or religion in a way that could make other people hate or ridicule them
  • publishing claims that a racial or religious group is involved in serious crimes without any proof
  • repeated and serious spoken or physical abuse about the race or religion of another person
  • encouraging violence against people who belong to a particular race or religion, or damaging their property
  • encouraging people to hate a racial or religious group using flyers, stickers, posters, a speech or publication, or using websites or email.

It is also against the law to give permission or help someone to vilify others.

For example, Michael is a Muslim and complains that a social networking site publishes offensive material  that encourages people to hate Muslim people.

Behaviour that is unlikely to be seen as racial or religious vilification

Behaviour that is not likely would not be seen as vilification includes:

  • being critical of a religion or debating racial or religious ideas in a way that does not encourage others to hate racial or religious groups
  • actions that offend people of a particular race or religion, but do not encourage others to hate, disrespect or abuse racial or religious groups.

Comments, jokes or other acts related to the race or religion of a person may not be seen as vilification, but they could still be the basis for a complaint of discrimination if they take place in one of the areas of public life covered by the Equal Opportunity Act.

For example, Ranjit complains that a local bus driver asked him where he was from, told him to sit at the back of the bus and sniffed loudly as he walked past. This is not racial or religious vilification but Ranjit might be able to make a complaint about racial discrimination in the area of goods and services.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 includes some exceptions. This means that behaviour that is likely to be seen as vilification may not be against the law in particular circumstances.

This includes where a person can show that their conduct:

  • was reasonable, done in good faith and undertaken for discussion, reporting or as part of an artistic work
  • was for a genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific purpose, or any purpose in the public interest
  • was meant to be private, that is, seen and heard only by them.

Victimisation

It is against the law to victimise a person for making a complaint about racial and religious vilification.

For example, Ravi’s employer dismisses him after he complains that his co-workers called him a terrorist at a staff meeting and put up posters saying terrorists should go back to their own country.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Friday, 09 November 2012

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 education providers are required to make changes, known as reasonable adjustments, to allow students with disability to participate in education on the same basis as other students. 

Reasonable adjustments in education

Making reasonable adjustments requires an education provider to balance the need for change with the cost or effort required to make this change. If the cost or disruption is disproportionately high, the change is not likely to be reasonable.

To determine whether an adjustment is reasonable, an education provider should take into account information about:

  • the nature of the student’s disability
  • the student’s preferred adjustment
  • the effect on the person if the adjustment is made
  • the effect on the person if the adjustment is not made
  • the consequences for the educational body if the adjustment is made, including the financial impact
  • if the educational body has an action plan under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the terms of that action plan.

This information might come from the student, a parent or associate of the student, the educational body, the teacher of a particular program, independent experts or a combination of these.

Types of adjustments

Adjustments will vary depending on the student’s disability, but could include:

  • modifying educational premises, for example providing ramps, modifying toilets and ensuring that classes are in rooms accessible to the student
  • modifying or providing equipment, for example lowering lab benches, enlarging computer screens, or providing specific computer software or an audio loop system
  • changing assessment procedures, for example allowing for alternative examination methods, such as oral exams, or allowing additional time for someone else to write an exam for the student
  • changing course delivery, for example providing study notes or research materials in different formats.

For example, a school makes a voice recognition software package for computers available to assist students with learning or physical disabilities.

When are adjustments not reasonable?

Under Victorian law it is up to the education provider to establish whether or not it is reasonable to make certain adjustments for a student with disability.

Educational providers should consider all the likely costs and benefits – both direct and indirect – for the institution, the student, any associates of the student, the teachers, other students and the wider community.

These considerations can include:

  • costs associated with additional staffing, providing special resources or modifying the curriculum
  • costs resulting from the student’s participation in the learning environment, including any adverse impact on learning and social outcomes for the student, other students and teachers
  • benefits of the student’s participation in the learning environment, including positive learning and social outcomes for the student, other students and teachers
  • any financial incentives, such as subsidies or grants, that are available to the provider if the student participates.

Disability Standards for Education

The Disability Standards for Education (Education Standards) provide practical advice about the responsibilities of education and training service providers.

They aim to make sure students with disability enjoy the same rights, and can achieve equal outcomes, as other students.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some exceptions, which mean that discrimination will not be against the law in particular circumstances.

Positive steps can also be taken to help disadvantaged groups using special measures, which is not discrimination under the law.

If an exception or special measure does not apply, in some circumstances an exemption from the Act may be sought from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

There are also some specific exceptions in relation to disability access to education.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Friday, 09 November 2012

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 it is against the law to discriminate against people in the provision of goods and services, including public transport.

People with disability can experience significant barriers to using public transport including:

  • timetables that are not accessible
  • no lifts or ramps to access train stations
  • no clear signage available for people with vision impairment
  • limited access to multipurpose taxis.

Transport Standards

The federal Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (Transport Standards) came into effect in 2002 and set out minimum accessibility requirements for public transport providers and operators. 

Find out more about the Transport Standards.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some exceptions, which mean that discrimination will not be against the law in particular circumstances.

Positive steps can also be taken to help disadvantaged groups using special measures, which is not discrimination under the law.

If an exception or special measure does not apply, in some circumstances an exemption from the Act may be sought from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Transport operators and providers are required to comply with the Transport Standards to the maximum extent possible, without involving unjustifiable hardship.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Friday, 09 November 2012