Submission to the Inquiry into the Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023 Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
PIAC has made a joint submission with the Grata Fund to a Commonwealth parliamentary inquiry into proposed legislation aimed at reforming the way legal costs are awarded in federal discrimination law matters, consistent with the recommendations of the landmark Respect@Work Report.
Our submission expressed support for the passage of the proposed legislation as a breakthrough development for victim-survivors of discrimination and harassment. The ‘equal access costs model’ that is proposed will go some way to removing adverse costs risk as a barrier to justice for victim-survivors. It also rightfully recognises the public interest that is served when perpetrators are held to account for unlawful behaviour.
While supporting passage of the proposed legislation, our submission suggested two further amendments which would further strengthen the proposed legislation. These suggestions were aimed at removing some ambiguity from the proposed legislation about when the equal access model would not apply and removing an exception for small businesses, both of which we say would provide greater confidence for victim-survivors advocating for their rights in court.
The inquiry is due to report by 9 February 2024.