Sweeping reforms proposed for Queensland’s anti-discrimination laws
Published Thursday, 01 September, 2022 at 11:08 AM
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) has recommended new anti-discrimination legislation to further prevent sex discrimination and sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the QHRC had made 122 recommendations to strengthen and enhance the Anti-Discrimination Act after the Palaszczuk Government commissioned a review.
“It has been over 30 years since the Goss Government introduced Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act. At the time, the legislation was ground-breaking, but three decades on our society is a different place with different values,” the Minister said.
“The QHRC’s Building Belonging report clearly shows it is essential our laws are protecting and promoting equality to the greatest extent possible.”
The Attorney-General said the report recommended reforms in a range of key areas, including a greater focus on the proactive prevention of discrimination and sexual harassment.
“Current anti-discrimination legislation is generally concerned with resolving complaints about discrimination that has already occurred, rather than preventing it from happening in the first place,” she said.
“The QHRC reforms would create legal obligations on individuals and organisations to actively take reasonable and proportionate steps to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and other discriminatory conduct as far as possible.
“Introducing a ‘positive duty’ upon employers to take reasonable measures to eliminate sexual harassment and discrimination was also a recommendation of the Respect@Work report.
“The QHRC report further recommends that victims of domestic and family violence are better protected from discrimination, such as when applying for a rental property or in workplace.
“Importantly, the QHRC recommended strengthening protections for the LGBTIQ community.
“The actions of Citipointe Christian College at the start of this year highlighted the importance of having specific protections for LGBTIQ+ students and staff at religious schools,” the Minister said.
“This report recommends reforms that will mean LGBTIQ+ students and staff feel safe in religious schools, while still protecting religious freedoms.”
The QHRC consulted widely during its review, holding more than 120 stakeholder consultations, four public consultations and six roundtables.
The QHRC also released a public discussion paper, which attracted 159 written submissions in response, and conducted an online survey which received 1,109 responses.
“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.”
The QHRC Building Belonging report is available: https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/law-reform/documents
Media contact: Clare Barnes 0497 829 747 Inga Williams 0439 949 719