Townsville Community Legal Service Inc
About Townsville Community Legal Service
Areas of law and how we deliver our services
Contact us

Key issues

Accessibility is a big issue for an organisation, particularly if it is not accessible. In Queensland, the law relating to discrimination and human rights is contained in six major pieces of legislation. They are:

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
Age Discrimination Act 2003 (Cth)

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) administers all five Commonwealth human rights and anti-discrimination Acts. The Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission administers the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act.

There is a significant overlap of the jurisdiction of both State and Commonwealth Acts, and in many cases, complainants will be faced with a choice whether to proceed under the State legislation or the Commonwealth legislation. For example, a complaint of discrimination on the basis of impairment or disability might be lodged under either the state or the federal legislation.

Likewise a similar choice might arise in the areas of race, age and sex discrimination.

In most cases, the greater flexibility of the state legislation and the wider range of grounds (known under the Anti-Discrimination Act (Qld) as “attributes”) together with the enforceability of conciliation agreements and decisions of the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal (Queensland) will mean that it will be better to proceed under the State legislation. The choice of where to proceed should always be considered carefully and it may be appropriate to seek legal advice about options available.

There are some areas where the State legislation has exclusive application. For example, the State legislation prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of gender identity, sexuality, religious belief and religious activity, whereas the Commonwealth legislation does not provide similar protections. People who are not covered by the State legislation (e.g., Commonwealth Government employees or who are complaining about the actions of a Commonwealth Government agency) must proceed under the Commonwealth legislation. This can lead to gaps in protection afforded to people, such as a complaint of discrimination on the basis of religious belief by a Commonwealth authority.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission