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Below you can find news on current events, website updates and developments in equal opportunity matters.

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Disability Standards for Access to Premises

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In March 2010, the Australian government launched Disability Standards for Access to Premises. For the first time, this sets the minimum access requirements for people with a disability to publicly accessible buildings.

FOUR CORNERS - "Breaking Point"

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Wendy Carlisle reports on Australia's disability support system and its effects on families in "Breaking Point" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation's FOUR CORNERS, 15 February 2010).

5 Simple Steps for a Fairer Workplace

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The Equal Opportunity Commission has recently developed a new free CD resource to help employers understand and apply equal opportunity practices in their workplace.

New equal opportunity laws start

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The new equal opportunity laws introduced by the Equal Opportunity (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2008 came into effect on 2 October 2009.

Recent Equal Opportunity Tribunal decisions

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A man with a guide dog was refused service in a restaurant because staff thought he had a 'gay dog'.

Paid Parental Leave - A Step in the Right Direction

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The Commissioner has welcomed the announcement of a Paid Parental Leave scheme as part of the Federal Government's 2009/10 Budget.  The government funded scheme, which will provide 18 weeks paid leave at the Federal minimum wage for eligible parents, is due to commence on 1 January 2011.

Burqa law would fuel fear, suspicion

I would like to put to bed some misleading comments implying that equal opportunity legislation is somehow putting the public at risk, by allowing people to cover their faces with certain apparel.

This past week, there have been calls for a new law allowing banks and government offices to require customers to show their faces or be refused entry, where there is a security issue.  I worry that this might simply fuel fear and suspicion against people who look different.

Paid Parental Leave Scheme passed

Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity (SA), Anne Burgess, welcomed the announcement yesterday of a long awaited Paid Parental Leave scheme for Australian men and women.

The government funded scheme, which was passed yesterday by Federal parliament, will provide up to 18 weeks paid leave to eligible parents for children born or adopted after 1 January 2011. Eligible parents will be paid the National Minimum Wage (currently $570 per week).

International Day against Homophobia

Speaking about Silence - Homophobia in the Sports World

 - Kylie O’Connell, Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity

Gay dogs not welcome

Ian Jolly, who has a hereditary eye disease, was barred from dining at the Thai Spice restaurant with his guide dog. This was despite the fact that the restaurant displays a “guide dogs welcome” sign and Mr Jolly showed staff a guide dogs fact card. The restaurant owner said a staff member mistook his guide dog for a “gay dog.”

International Day of People with Disability

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On 3 December every year International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is celebrated worldwide recognising the achievements and contributions of people with disability.

IDPwD brings together people with disability and the general community and aims to:

Human rights of international students

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Australia and New Zealand Race Relations Roundtable 2009

The rights of international students are a significant human rights concern for national, state and territory human rights commissions in Australia and New Zealand.

State of discrimination complaints

The 2008-09 Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report was tabled in parliament on 27th October 2009.

Local media published information from our report, and The Advertiser interviewed Commissioner Linda Matthews on the subject of discrimination cases.

280 complaints were received in the last financial year, showing an increase in sexual harassment as well as disability and sexuality discrimination.

Tribunal case - Strickland v Neptar Jam Pty Ltd

Ms Strickland, from Western Australia, tried to book a room at the East West Motel in Ceduna. But the proprietor refused her because she was Aboriginal.

She made a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission. We attempted conciliation between Ms Strickland and the motel proprietor, but no resolution could be reached. The case was referred to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal, but on 18 June 2009 it settled on the court doorstep without a hearing.

SANFL Plea for Respect

Article from the Portside Messenger, 27 May 09

BY Reece Homfray

THE SANFL has ordered every footballer in its under-18 competition to undergo training to improve attitudes towards women.

And the SA Amateur Football League is working on a "member protection policy", which includes the importance of respecting women.

Paid parental leave - A step in the right direction

The Commissioner has welcomed the announcement of a Paid Parental Leave scheme as part of the Federal Government's 2009/10 Budget.  The government funded scheme, which will provide 18 weeks paid leave at the Federal minimum wage for eligible parents, is due to commence on 1 January 2011.

Comment lands Red Square in hot spot

Mr Emmanuel Jalil said that he went to the Red Square nightclub wearing a buttoned collarless shirt, jeans and white shoes.  While waiting in line he was told that he could not enter the club.  He asked why and was eventually told to go home and change his shoes.  Mr Jalil asked security if there was anything else he should change, and the response was "Go cut your hair and change your colour."

Tribunal says no to costs

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Mr Watkins said he was refused employment as a bus driver because his weight was an occupational health and safety risk.  He said he fulfilled the requirements of the job, without incident, while employed by Serco and questioned the validity of the risk.  He said he was discriminated against because of a presumed disability.

The complaint did not proceed to full hearing because Mr Watkins did not attend the hearing and said he was ill.  The complaint was subsequently discontinued.  Southlink sought costs against both Mr Watkins and the Commissioner.

Vale Tony Fitzgerald

South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission staff wish to pay tribute to Tony Fitzgerald, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, who died on 24 February 2009. Tony was 56 and had fought bravely for 12 years against cancer.

Tony was a fearless defender of those affected by discrimination and disadvantage, and his work extended beyond the Northern Territory's borders. I will greatly miss his contributions to our national work through the Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies.