Disability was the most common issue in the complaints we received, reported 595 times. Race was the next most common (188), followed by sex (169) and sexual harassment (122). In total, 1877 issues were raised across 890 complaints. The issues raised in 2018–19 are consistent with recent years.
“Every day at the Commission, we speak to people who have missed out on opportunities at work or in education, people who have been denied services because of how they look or where they’re from, people who have been vilified or harassed because of who they are,” said the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, Kristen Hilton.
“As the anti-discrimination regulator, it’s our job to support individuals who’ve experienced discrimination, harassment and vilification and to help all Victorians exercise their human rights.”
Just over half of the complaints received in 2018–19 occurred in the workplace (52%), while a further quarter (26%) related to provision of goods and services. The remaining complaints occurred mainly in education and accommodation, with a small number of issues reported in clubs, sports and local government.
“The data tells us that discrimination can occur in many different parts of public life,” said Commissioner Hilton. “This year, we’ve worked closely with government, public authorities, private organisations, community organisations and members of the public to better understand the issues, respond effectively and work together towards a fairer, safer and more inclusive Victoria.”
The Annual Report also highlights our recent work to build a human rights culture across the state. Last year, we published two landmark reports: the third report from our independent review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Victoria Police; and Fair-minded cover, the report from our first-ever investigation, focused on the discrimination experienced by people with mental health conditions when seeking travel insurance.
“Independent reviews and investigations are a crucial tool for bringing about systemic change,” said Commissioner Hilton. “While there’s no doubt this kind of work is complex and can be challenging, we know from experience that independent reviews and investigations can be a real catalyst for change, improving conditions for individuals, organisations and the community.”
During 2018–19, we continued our education programs, including the launch of Raise It!, a dynamic toolkit to help employers and employees tackle difficult conversations about sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and flexible work. We also intervened in a number of legal cases to champion human rights and equality, and advocated for greater enforcement powers under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.