Anti-discrimination laws to be consolidated

Date: Nov 21, 2012

If all goes to plan, some changes to Australia's anti-discrimination laws are set to be implemented.

Yesterday (November 20) attorney-general Nicola Roxon and minister for finance and deregulation Penny Wong released exposure draft legislation to consolidate anti-discrimination laws.

Ms Roxon believes this will make it easier for people to understand the laws and also to make complaints if they have been discriminated against.

Currently, the laws span across five different acts – this means processing complaints is a very complicated and often time-consuming process.

"It's ridiculous that at the moment an African woman for example, who has been discriminated against needs to separately make complaints of sex and race discrimination – now she can make a single complaint recognising the discrimination was because she was both a woman and African," Ms Roxon said in a statement.

Under the updated laws the entire process will be streamlined and made easier for organisations and individuals.

"Making protections and obligations clearer for individuals and organisations will help everyone understand what behaviour is expected and will provide certainty for all users of the system," Ms Roxon said.

Discrimination is an issue that should be taken very seriously. One common place for discrimination to occur is in the workplace. If you are a victim of unfair treatment in the work environment then you may want to claim compensation.

There are lawyers in Sydney who specialise in this area of law and who also operate on a no win no fee basis, meaning that they do not charge you unless your case is successful.

Compensation lawyers exist to protect your rights and ensure that you are adequately reimbursed if you have been treated unfairly.

The good news for businesses is that new anti-discrimination laws may minimise the risk of this type of behaviour occurring in the workplace.

"Consolidating anti-discrimination laws will make compliance easier, reduce costs and shift the focus from redressing wrongs to preventing discrimination from occurring in the first place – this is particularly good news for small business," Senator Wong explained.

Ms Wong added that these small businesses will also be able to refer to the Australian Human Rights Commission "to certify codes or standards that will act as a full defence to claims of discrimination".

People interested in learning more about the exposure draft legislation are invited to read it on the attorney-general's website: www.ag.gov.au/antidiscrimination.

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