Family or Domestic Violence

In the ACT it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a characteristic that you have, or that someone thinks you have, in an area of public life such as employment, education, accommodation, provision of goods and services, clubs.

Domestic or family violence occurs when one family member in an intimate relationship uses violent, abusive or controlling behaviour against another family member or person in that relationship.

It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because you are being, or have been, subject to family violence or domestic violence.

Example of family violence or domestic violence discrimination.

Inga worked for a short time in a small boutique in a regional town. Inga had to go to hospital have a CAT scan after her husband had been physically violent towards her. She let the owner know about this. He then told her she had to “choose” between her job and her husband because they couldn’t afford her taking time off. Inga was later dismissed after a claim she took money from the till.

Jean had been working with her employer for over a year, and was highly regarded by her team and supervisors. Her husband came into the workplace angry one day and caused problems. After another incident at home she rang her employer to say she would be in a bit late as she had been delayed at the police station reporting a domestic violence incident. Her employer said that her abusive partner represented a work health and safety risk for other staff members and terminated her employment.

Holly was being supported by a family violence refuge where she had been resident for five months to access a private rental property. The application process was proceeding with a real estate agency but when the agent discovered that she was exiting a family violence refuge she was told that she could no longer apply for a tenancy. When questioned about the decision, the real estate agent said that she would not be a reliable tenant. The property was then allocated to a couple.

Are there any exceptions?

It is not unlawful to take special measures to help groups or individuals who are disadvantaged or have been unfairly treated and need support to fully enjoy their human rights. For example, some disadvantaged groups experience greater social and economic disadvantage than other groups in society and may therefore require special assistance to enjoy their rights to the same level that others enjoy those rights. A service created to provide accommodation services only to people who have been the victims of domestic or family violence would be an example of a special measure which is not unlawful discrimination.

The law contains specific exceptions making it lawful to discriminate in some circumstances, including in relation to employment or contract work where a person is employed with domestic duties in someone’s home, or caring for a child in the child’s home.


To find out more or make a complaint.

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