The Anti- Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) (‘Act’) was revolutionary when it was introduced in Queensland in 1991. It was implemented to modernise Queensland laws and offered the promise of equal and effective protections to a range of disadvantaged groups. Since this time, however, the world has changed rapidly.
The #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements have highlighted that the laws created to protect the most vulnerable are perhaps outdated, and after 30 years, the Attorney General asked the Queensland Human Rights Commission whether the Act required updating. Since this request, extensive consultation has been undertaken with relevant organisations and more than 1,100 submissions from individuals have been assessed to determine how the laws can be updated to reflect the challenges present in today’s society.
The Building Belonging report has recommended significant reform to ensure that the law is effective in protecting people from discrimination and sexual harassment. The 5 key reform areas are:
- Eliminate discrimination which would see the introduction of a new Act to protect and promote the right to equality and eliminate discrimination and sexual harassment to the greatest extent possible.
- Refine the key concepts to ensure the legal tests for discrimination respond effectively to the problems they are seeking to address and are easy to understand and apply.
- Shift the focus to prevention by promoting compliance by shifting the focus to preventing discrimination and sexual harassment before it happens.
- Improve the complaints system by reorientating the dispute resolution process to ensure it is flexible and efficient, and to enhance access to justice.
- Increase protection which will ensure all people who require protection under the Act are included, and that coverage of the law extends to all contexts and settings where unfair discrimination occurs, subject to reasonable exceptions.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman said the QHRC had made a total of 122 recommendations to strengthen and enhance the Anti-Discrimination Act after the Palaszczuk Government commissioned a review. “I thank the QHRC for its comprehensive, consultative, inclusive and evidence-based review,” Minister Fentiman said. “The Queensland Government will now carefully consider the report and its recommendations.”
What does this mean for you?
Right now, the government will need to carefully consider the report and how the Act is to be amended to implement the recommendations. However, significant change is coming. We will provide further information and training on the amendments when they are enacted however in the meantime, if you need any assistance with matters that fall under the Anti- Discrimination Act, please contact Preston Law.