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Changes to the EO Act 2009

Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act came into force on 2 October 2009. The new laws give additional protections to:

  • parents with dependent children
  • carers for family members with disability
  • workers sexually harassed by customers
  • persons with disabilities such as mental illness, learning disabilities, asymptomatic infections and persons who may be at risk of developing a disability in future
  • people who wear religious dress to work or study
  • contract workers
  • persons of chosen gender.

The new laws also repeal outdated provisions that excluded homosexual people from full participation in small business partnerships and in clubs and associations.

When do the new laws apply?

The new laws that began on 2 October 2009 apply to events that happen on or after that date. The old laws continue to apply to events that happened before then.

For example, if a school student was treated unfavourably for wearing religious dress at school in July 2009, he or she cannot use the new laws to make a complaint.

In some cases, it is possible that the same event could be covered by both the old and the new laws.  For example, discrimination against a woman on the ground that she might in future become pregnant is covered by the new law as 'potential pregnancy', but could also be considered sex discrimination under the old law.

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