PIAC’s 30 years: the story behind our work

‘As PIAC celebrates its 30th birthday, we are happily
re-telling tales of justice triumphing over unfairness,’ says PIAC chief executive, Edward Santow. ‘But we also recall that the cases PIAC has won and lost only exist because of real human suffering.

‘PIAC’s 30 years, 30 stories project invokes the names
of past PIAC greats such as founders, Peter Cashman, the Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC and
Terrence Purcell, as well as key former staff such as Andrea Durbach and Robin

‘PIAC was there for the early days of the Sex Discrimination Act, to protect equality of opportunity for women in the traditionally male-dominated steel industry.

‘The Australian Iron & Steel case was crucial, because PIAC showed the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways in which women were discriminated against, resulting in female workers being dismissed at a far higher rate following an economic downturn.

‘A particular focus of our discrimination work has been to protect the rights of people with disability. Fifteen years ago, Andy Durbach led PIAC in representing Scarlett Finney, a young girl with spina bifida who was told she couldn’t go to the Hills Grammar School.

‘We’ve represented a number of clients who have sought equal access to public transport – most recently, we represented Greg Killeen to make wheelchair-accessible taxis genuinely wheelchair accessible.

‘And just this month, Graeme Innes won his case, showing that Sydney’s commuter trains must make audible ‘next stop’ announcements – something that is crucial for people who are blind or vision impaired.

‘As we look ahead at our next 30 years, we’re acutely aware that much remains to be done to promote social justice for disadvantaged people. I know that PIAC can achieve amazing things in promoting social justice. We can’t do it alone; but we can do it with your help.’

Visit Celebrating 30 years of public interest advocacy

Photo of Ed Santow by Amanda James.

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