MEDIA RELEASE: Anti-Discrimination Law Reform Welcome 15 December 2015

15 December 2015

Dr Helen Watchirs, ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner, today welcomed the release of a Report recommending changes to the ACT’s anti-discrimination, vilification and sexual harassment laws.

The ACT Attorney General yesterday released the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council’s (LRAC) inquiry into the scope and operation of ACT discrimination law. The role of the LRAC is to advise the Attorney General on important law reform.

The Commissioner handles complaints of unlawful discrimination under the current Discrimination Act 1991, and is a member of LRAC.

‘The current Discrimination Act, while subject to some amendments over the years, was primarily drafted in the early 1990s, and I advocated for some years that it be reviewed in light of the Human Rights Act 2004,’ said Dr Watchirs.

‘Discrimination law is about ensuring the most vulnerable in our community are protected, and provided with full opportunities to reach their potential. It is important that these laws keep pace with the expectations of our community, and anticipate growing needs, such as protection for victims of domestic and family violence to enable them to maintain employment.’

The report makes 68 recommendations across 25 particular areas for reform.

‘The LRAC Report is consistent with my submission to the consultation process, and previous suggestions I have made to improve the legislation, such as having an explicit duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of a person with a protected attribute, and a general positive duty to eliminate discrimination.’

‘I commend the Government’s commitment to implement the Report’s recommendations, following further targeted consultation with key stakeholders to ensure that people and businesses are aware of proposed reforms to modernise and simplify the Discrimination Act 1991.’

The LRAC Report is available on the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate’s website.