The role of the Commission
The Commission has a number of functions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Under sections 159 and 160of the Act, the Commission may intervene in cases or appear as amicus curiae, to assist a court or tribunal considering equal opportunity issues. The Commission has a discretion about when it gets involved in a matter and can only exercise these functions when the relevant court or tribunal agrees.
The key difference in the two roles is that an intervener can be made a party to the court or tribunal proceedings. An amicus curiae, or friend of the court, is someone who volunteers or is invited by the court to give advice or make submissions to the court on some matter before it. An amicus curiae has no rights in the case and cannot file proceedings, motions or appeals.
In performing these functions, the Commission does not represent any of the parties to a dispute. The Commission’s role is to advocate for the purposes and objectives of the Equal Opportunity Act and to be of assistance to the court or tribunal.
View a full list of court cases in which the Commission has intervened, and download our submissions.
Equal Opportunity Act-related matters in courts and tribunals
Equal opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation are relevant to the work of Victorian courts and tribunals in a number of ways. Most frequently, cases will arise when complaints under the Act itself are brought before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), or are on appeal from VCAT to a higher court.
Parties may also apply to VCAT for an exemption from the operation of the Act in particular circumstances. Equal opportunity issues may also occasionally arise in the context of other types of proceedings.
Guidelines: Intervention and amicus curiae function
The Commission may only intervene in proceedings involving issues of equality of opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation with the agreement of the relevant court or tribunal. In addition, the Commission may seek to act as amicus curiae, with the leave of the relevant court or tribunal, in proceedings where:
a) there is a likelihood that orders sought may significantly affect the right to protection against discrimination of persons who are not parties to the proceedings
b) there is a likelihood that the proceedings will have significant implications for the administration of the Equal Opportunity Act, or
c) the Commission is satisfied that it would be in the public interest for the Commission to assist the court or tribunal.
The Commission will only consider intervening in proceedings where:
- the equal opportunity issues are significant and not peripheral to the proceedings, and/or
- the orders that could be made in the proceedings may significantly affect the equality rights of persons who are not parties to the proceedings, and/or
- the proceedings may have significant implications for the ongoing interpretation or operation of the statutory provision being interpreted, and/or
- the proceedings may have significant implications for the ongoing application, implementation and/or operation of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
Contacting the Commission
There is no requirement under the Equal Opportunity Act for parties to notify the Commission about a matter. However, if you want to let the Commission know about a case that may fall within the Commission’s guidelines, you can contact us by:
Telephone: 1300 891 848
Fax: 1300 286 834
Please provide information about:
- the facts of the case
- if already before a court or tribunal, the name of the proceedings, the court/tribunal it is before
- the equal opportunity issues that are being raised
- any submissions that have already been made, and
- any court or tribunal timetable or other relevant directions that have been set.