Review to ensure Queenslanders protected against discrimination
Published Tuesday, 04 May, 2021 at 03:15 PM
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Anti-discrimination laws will undergo review to ensure they better protect Queenslanders from discrimination, promote equality and meet international best practice.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman has formally requested the Queensland Human Rights Commission to undertake a review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, announcing the Terms of Reference today.
“Making sure our laws protect and promote equality for our diverse communities is a key priority for the Palaszczuk government,” Minister Fentiman said.
“I’ve written to Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall asking the Commission to review the Anti-Discrimination Act to consider whether any reforms are needed to update the laws to best protect and promote equality, non-discrimination and the realisation of human rights.
“It will consider how we can make the process easier for victims of discrimination to make and defend complaints as well options for ways to better use dispute resolution to address systemic discriminations as well as discrimination complaints that raise public interest issues.”
In undertaking its review, the independent Commission will take into account Australian and international best practices in the area and the compatibility of the Act with Queensland’s Human Rights Act, which commenced in full on 1 January 2020.
The Attorney said the Commission will consider the protected attributes under the legislation, including whether the current definitions best promote the rights to equality and non-discrimination and whether additional attributes should be introduced.
“The review will also consider the ongoing efforts of the Palaszczuk Government to implement recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report,” she said.
“I have asked the Commission to provide options for legally requiring all employers to take positive measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible in their organisations.”
Minister Fentiman said the Commission would receive $150,000 to assist it in undertaking the review and would provide its report by 30 June 2022.
“This year marks 30 years since State Parliament passed the Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure Queenslanders had adequate protection from discrimination by building on the existing Commonwealth legislation,” Minister Fentiman said.
“Introducing the Act to Parliament on 26 November 1991, the then Attorney-General Dean Wells MP said its principal objective was to promote equality of opportunity for everyone by protecting them from unfair discrimination, sexual harassment and other objectionable conduct.
“The anniversary provides a timely opportunity to conduct this holistic review of our anti-discrimination laws to ensure they continue to provide those protections in a contemporary setting.”
Mr McDougall welcomed the opportunity to review the state’s anti-discrimination legislation.
“A lot can change in 30 years, and the Queensland of today is not the Queensland of 1991,” he said.
“The Anti-Discrimination Act has made a big difference to a lot of people, but this is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that it is up to dealing with the challenges of modern Queensland, that it reflects community expectation, and that it helps us build a safe and inclusive community for everyone.”
The terms of reference are available at: https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/law-reform/anti-discrimination-act-1991
Media contact: Inga Williams 0439 949 719