While complying with legislation alone won’t always lead to successful inclusion in sport activities it is important that clubs and sports organisations at all levels understand and comply with Australian discrimination laws.
Over the past 30 years the Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments have introduced laws to help protect people from discrimination and harassment.
Commonwealth laws and the state/territory laws generally overlap and prohibit the same type of discrimination. As both state/territory laws and Commonwealth laws apply, you must comply with both. Keep in mind though that there are some differences and gaps in the protection that is offered between different states and territories and at a Commonwealth level.
To work out your obligations you will need to check the Commonwealth legislation and the state or territory legislation in each state in which you operate. There are also exemptions and exceptions in both the Commonwealth and state/territory legislation. You will need to check both the state or territory legislation and Commonwealth legislation as an exemption or exception under one Act will not necessarily mean you are exempt under the other.
Check out the sections below for summaries of the various acts. For more detail follow the links.
Federal Discrimination Legislation
At a national level the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under these laws.
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
Age Discrimination Act 2004
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities
- promote community acceptance of the principle that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as all members of the community, and
- ensure as far as practicable that people with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as other people in the community.
Racial Discrimination Act 1975
- promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin,
- and make discrimination against people based on their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.
Sex Discrimination Act 1984
- promote equality between men and women
- eliminate discrimination based on sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities, and
- eliminate sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision of goods and services, in the provision of accommodation and the delivery of Commonwealth programs.
State and Territory Discrimination Legislation
The state and territory equal opportunity and anti-discrimination agencies have statutory responsibilities under their own laws.
Australian Capital Territory – Discrimination Act 1991
New South Wales – Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
Northern Territory – Anti-Discrimination Act 1996
Queensland – Anti-Discrimination Act 1991
South Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984
Tasmania – Anti-Discrimination Act 1998
Victoria – Equal Opportunity Act 2010
Western Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984
Australian Capital Territory
Sexual harassment and vilification based on race, sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status are also prohibited under this Act.View the Act
New South Wales
Sexual harassment and vilification based on race, homosexuality, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status are also prohibited under this Act.View the Act
Vilification based on race or religion is prohibited under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (VIC).View the Act
Discrimination based on having a spent conviction is prohibited under the Spent Convictions Act 1988 (WA).View the Act
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This article provides general information only. It is not intended, nor should it be relied on, as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Information is current at the time of publication however changes may be made from time to time. It is recommended readers refer to the information sources and documents.