Discrimination
Home :

Exceptions, exemptions and special measures

While the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it against the law to discriminate against someone because of specific personal characteristics protected by the law, it also recognises that discrimination may be justified in certain circumstances.

An exception or exemption is a defence to discrimination. People or organisations who rely on this defence must show that the exception or exemption applies.

People and organisations can also take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups by using special measures. Special measures are not unlawful discrimination and do not require an exemption from the operation of the Act.

Where an exception, exemption or special measure applies, discrimination is not against the law.

Exceptions

The Act covers two categories of exceptions – general and specific – which means that discrimination may be lawfully permitted in certain circumstances.

If you think that an exception might apply to your conduct, you should look at the relevant section in the Act and consider whether it applies to your circumstances. You may not need an exemption from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) but you will need to be able to justify this assessment if someone makes a complaint.

You might also want to seek some independent advice.

Find out more about exceptions to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Exemptions

The Act also allows VCAT to grant temporary exemptions. Exemptions provide a way for individuals and organisations to legally discriminate in certain circumstances for a limited period of time.

However, it is not necessary to apply for an exemption where an exception or special measure applies.

Find out more about exemptions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Special measures

People and organisations can also take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups by using special measures. Special measures are not unlawful discrimination and do not require an exemption from the operation of the Act.

Find out more about special measures.

Disclaimer and further advice on legal obligations

This information is not intended to cover all the exceptions available under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Please check the Act to see whether any exceptions may be relevant to your personal circumstances.

It is important to consider your legal obligations under other laws that may apply to you. Even where exceptions and exemptions apply under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, you may still have obligations under federal anti-discrimination or workplace relations laws.

There are also exceptions that apply under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.