New federal discrimination law: simple and fair

The federal Government’s new draft discrimination Bill will simplify the law by consolidating five existing statutes. It will also help to resolve discrimination disputes in a way that is fair, just and quick. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) welcomes these reforms.

‘PIAC’s experience representing victims of discrimination is that the federal law can be overly complex. It can prolong disputes that should be resolved quickly, with a focus on allowing the parties to resolve their differences and move on,’ said PIAC chief executive, Edward Santow.

‘The new law should help streamline the discrimination complaint process. It will also reduce the costs of bringing and defending a discrimination claim. These are critical steps in making protections more accessible to victims of discrimination.’ 

‘The reform will remove “red tape” for business, and will include help for businesses to adjust to the new law. PIAC’s own consultation shows that the vast majority of businesses strongly support equality protection. This assistance package will help all businesses understand their obligations and institute policies that will ensure they comply with the law,’ Mr Santow said.

The new Bill also extends some protections, begun under the Howard Government, for people suffering discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

‘Australians believe in equality and a “fair go”. Across the Australian community and the political spectrum, such discrimination is simply not tolerated,’ said Mr Santow.

While welcoming these reforms, PIAC believes that further changes should be considered before the Bill is enacted. ‘We have particular concern about our many clients who are homeless. The new law should also protect people from discrimination on the basis of their housing status,’ Mr Santow said.

CONTACT: PIAC Chief Executive Officer, Edward Santow: 0434 353 096

Photo: flickr

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