Recent Activity

The Commissioner and the staff of the Equal Opportunity Commission work tirelessly to address discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in the South Australian community. We do this by conciliating complaints of discrimination according to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA), and assisting South Australian organisations to ensure that our workplaces, clubs and associations, educational institutions and goods and service providers are inclusive, and provide appropriate services and opportunities for a broad range of South Australians.  

Importantly, we also focus on the proactive prevention of discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. We do this by engaging with the community to raise awareness and understanding of their rights and responsibilities under equal opportunity laws. We also partner with South Australian industry leaders, academic institutions, businesses and government agencies to promote a culture which respects and values people regardless of their identity or their personal circumstances.



The EOC is honoured to welcome two new members to the Chiefs for Gender Equity group!

Commissioner Grant Stevens APM from SA Police and Victoria MacKirdy, Chief Executive of the Victor Harbor Council join a group of talented industry leaders who are committed to advancing gender equality in their organisations and industries. The group convenes regularly and represent a broad range of South Australian industries, the two new representatives will be adding their experience and perspectives from the local government and emergency service sectors.

The group of 14 in the lead up to International Women’s Day 2018 signed up to a new Gender Equality Accountability Framework which will hold them accountable for advancing the participation of women in the workforce. These ‘targets with teeth’ operate across the six key areas within workplaces including recruitment, retention, development, culture, leadership and workplaces’ responses to domestic violence.

The Framework will be accessible to all businesses in SA that want to set measurable targets on women securing senior executive positions. For more information, see the Chiefs for Gender Equity section.


The Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr Niki Vincent has been on the road visiting rural centres to meet with local organisations and community groups and to discuss matters relating to equal opportunity.  

Dr Vincent presented to the Rotary Club of Port Pirie about equal opportunity legislation relevant to small business, and the benefits of being proactive about equal opportunity and being open to flexible work arrangements for employees. The Commissioner will also be hosted by the Whyalla City Council in April to present to local members and the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and will also touch on sexual harassment as a relevant issue in 2018.

If you represent a organisation or business in rural South Australia, the Commissioner and her team is available for presentations to interest groups on a broad range of equal opportunity topics relevant to your region and community. Contact the EOC via the Connect page, or call us on (08) 8207 1977.  

Barry Mudge, Dr Vincent and John Howe at the Rotary Club of Port Pirie
Barry Mudge, Dr Vincent & John Howe


The EOC has partnered with the Adelaide Law School to offer free and confidential legal advice to any member of the community about matters relating to equal opportunity. The clinic is run by final year law students from the University of Adelaide under the supervision of a qualified lawyer. The Law Clinic is available to anyone to provide advice on - discrimination matters - the complaints process - how to lodge a complaint. The Clinic can also assist members of the public in preparing their documentation to lodge a complaint. To make an appointment, please go to Adelaide Law School Free Legal Clinic for more information or any queries, please email

The Commissioner and the staff of the Equal Opportunity Commission are pleased to announce the launch of our new website! The site is designed to provide simple and accessible assistance on all matters relating to equal opportunity law in South Australia.

‘What is Discrimination’ provides an overview of all the types of discrimination and how to know whether you have experienced discrimination, or have potentially discriminated against another. It also provides streamlined information about the complaints process and how to lodge a complaint online.

‘About Equal Opportunity’ outlines the principles of equal opportunity and how it applies to employment, education, accommodation, clubs and associations as well as the provision of goods and services. This is an excellent resource for South Australian businesses, service providers, clubs and associations who want to be proactive about equal opportunity to ensure that discrimination doesn’t occur. Our ‘Resources’ page also provide additional information about equal opportunity law in South Australia, and how it relates to equal opportunity and human rights laws nationally and internationally. The EOC also provides information for school-age children through the ‘EO4Schools’ page about their rights under equal opportunity laws, and includes classroom resources for teachers.

The EOC provides tailored services for South Australian institutions, businesses and organisations including training and consultancy services relating to equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion. For more information see ‘Consultancy, Training and Research,’ or see some of our projects underway at the ‘Initiatives’ page.

We welcome any feedback about the new website, if you have suggestions for improvement please contact us and let us know via the ‘Connect’ page.  Additionally if you have any enquiry relating to matters of equal opportunity, you can contact us directly through the Connect page or by calling (08) 8207 1977.


The EOC is piloting a new program to offer equal opportunity training across a broader range of topics, with more options for businesses to tailor training to their specific needs.

The EOC Training Referral Program partners with local training providers and can offer training on-site at businesses and organisations around the state. Options for training can include:
•    Preventing workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment
•    Developing or implementing programs for employees with a disability, older employees or workplaces with diverse cultural backgrounds
•    Challenging stereotypes (unconscious bias)
•    Active bystander interventions
•    Leadership in diversity and inclusion.

The EOC also continues to offer training for nominated contact persons around their roles and responsibilities both in-house or on-site at your organisation.

For more information or to discuss training options specific to your business or organisation, contact the EOC via the Connect page or call us on (08) 8207 1977.  


On 16 April, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr Niki Vincent attended the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Australia National Games. The Games are taking place/took place in Adelaide 16-20 April, and included over 1,000 athletes with intellectual disability across 11 sporting events.  The Commissioner said “that it was a fantastic experience to be at the opening ceremony and cheering on Team South Australia!”.  A full list of Team SA athletes can be found here:

On 11 April, Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)’s CEO Libby Lyons was in Adelaide presenting as part of a pay equity leaders forum. She was hosted by two of our Chiefs for Gender Equity; the CEO of Eldercare Jane Pickering, and the Managing Partner of Finlaysons Lawyers David Martin.  For more information about the Chiefs for Gender Equity, go to the Chiefs of Gender Equity section of this website.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency CEO Libby Lyons in SA with Chiefs for Gender Equity
L-R Jane Pickering, David Martin, Dr Niki Vincent, Libby Lyons


On 12 April, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr Niki Vincent and Manager for Strategy, Policy and Engagement Tricia Spargo attended a forum hosted by SBS about exploring diversity in South Australia. The forum discussed how the media reflects, recognises and celebrates diversity.

We were excited to see SBS ramping up its message of diversity and providing a unifying voice in Australian television, rather than exacerbating views which create disharmony and division. SBS executives unveiled their new content for 2018 which is set to entertain, inspire, challenge and shift the dial on attitudes as it explores diversity in culture, gender, sexuality, age and lifestyle. Much of the discussion on the night talked about diversity in the context of multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which was important.

Tricia posed the important question of what role SBS can play in the inclusion of people with disability too. SBS are keen to hear from people with disabilities who may be producers or directors, or have stories to tell. SBS is one of the few networks that truly lives diversity, not just reflecting it on and off screen, but behind the scenes too!


A recent story from @Alina Eacott on ABC TV news on Friday 31st August highlighted the benefits of shared care arrangements in helping women advance their careers faster. Case studies from SA Chiefs for Gender Equity members Deloitte (SA) and Dr Niki Vincent.

Alina Eacott - ABC News © (YouTube)

Alina Eacott - ABC News © (PDF)


South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent has welcomed what she’s described as a “seismic shift” in SA Police’s attitude towards flexible working arrangements.

Dr Vincent today released the Equal Opportunity Commission’s second progress report looking at the work done by SAPOL to tackle sexual harassment and predatory behaviour in the workplace, following the release of the Commission’s independent review in December 2016.

The report found that by September this year, of the 38 recommendations made by the EOC in its independent review, 20 had been fully implemented, 14 were underway and four were in the planning stages.

For further information about the SAPOL Monitoring Project, the reports and the full media release, see the SAPOL Monitoring Project section



EOC figures show sexual harassment and age discrimination fastest growing grounds for complaint in SA.

Figures released in the 2017/18 South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission annual report today show disability discrimination in the workplace is still the number one ground for complaint, but sexual harassment and age discrimination have moved up the ladder to take second and third place.

The annual report found in 2017/18 the number of accepted discrimination complaints were down overall (from 246 to 211), but disability discrimination remains the largest problem, comprising 33% of all complaints.

Proportionally, sexual harassment recorded an increased percentage rise from 17 per cent to 24 per cent from last financial year, while age discrimination continued to rise significantly with an increase from 4 per cent to 10 per cent.
Equal Opportunity Commissioner for South Australia, Dr Niki Vincent, said although it was pleasing to see a meaningful reduction in the total number of disability discrimination complaints this year, it was still a significant problem in the community and retail and service industries should take note.

Dr Vincent said she wanted to see more attention paid to diverse and inclusive employment practices, especially in smaller businesses in South Australia.

“Around 1 in 5 people are living with disability. We need better training for managers in recruiting and supporting staff from a variety of backgrounds, as well as providing more inclusive and welcoming experiences for customers.
“The level of workplace participation for those living with a disability is simply woeful. We are hearing stories from suitably qualified university graduates with disabilities who just can’t get employment. They should be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential as valued members of our community. Research also shows organisations that employ a diverse workforce can also gain greater brand value.”

Dr Vincent said the nature of equal opportunity complaints had changed over the years. New issues were now coming to the forefront, including both sexual harassment and age discrimination in the workplace.

“Movements like #MeToo have increased awareness about what constitutes sexual harassment at work, with people now feeling more comfortable about speaking up.

“In addition, with an ageing population and the need to work for longer, we are also seeing increased levels of complaint in regard to age discrimination and this is likely to continue into the future until workplaces address their often unconscious bias around both gender and age.”

Dr Vincent said there needed to be more proactive education in schools, workplaces and the community to drive change.
In the 2017/18 financial year the Commissioner delivered more than 50 public speeches to industry and community groups, increased the number of specific EO training sessions delivered in SA workplaces, undertook major research projects for organisations such as the SA Police Force and launched initiatives including an EO legal aid clinic in conjunction with University of Adelaide and sponsorship of specific projects by the university’s PhD students into broader equity issues in South Australia.


The Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA), which comprises the State, Territory and Federal Human Rights and Discrimination authorities, recently met in Adelaide on 18-19 October 2018 to consider a number of issues of common concern and interest.

Changes of Commissioners

ACHRA acknowledges the positive contribution of Tim Soutphommasane, who finished his term as Race Discrimination Commissioner in August 2018. We pay tribute to his inspiring leadership, wisdom, resilience, courage, and compassion. We welcome Chin Tan who began his five year term as Race Discrimination Commissioner in October 2018. ACHRA also welcomes Scott McDougall, Queensland’s new Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Tackling and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is a key priority for ACHRA as it remains an endemic problem in Australian workplaces, with young people and women most at risk. Members heard from Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, who is currently leading a world-first national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The inquiry is travelling the country to examine the extent of the problem and identify best practice solutions with a view to making recommendations to government and business stakeholders. The Australian Human Rights

Commission will be accepting submissions until 31 January 2019 and public consultations will be held in all Australian capital cities and a number of regional cities. For more information visit National Inquiry into Sexual Harrasment in Australian Workplaces

Review into Religious Freedoms

Recent media coverage of the Federal Government’s Religious Freedom Review provoked considerable community debate about the application of equal opportunity laws to religious institutions -

especially to schools run by religious institutions. The rights in equal opportunity laws are designed to co-exist. ACHRA members are of the view that the current religious exceptions in some jurisdictions require modification to better balance the legitimate interests of both LGBTIQ people and religious bodies.

No Australian student should be refused entry into, or expelled by, a school because they identify as LGBTIQ.

ACHRA calls for amendments to federal and state equal opportunity laws to remove the exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Amendments should be wide enough to ensure students are not discriminated against on any basis other than religion, including their relationship status, pregnancy, or whether they come from a same-sex family.

We support amendments to equal opportunity laws to ensure that schools may only take a prospective employee's religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status into account where they relate to an 'inherent requirement' of the job. This would balance religious freedoms with the right to equality, for example by allowing these factors to be taken into account when recruiting a religious instruction teacher, but not when recruiting a maths teacher.

Disability Equality in Education

ACHRA members discussed the need for more concerted action to prevent the unlawful exclusion of students with disability from school through seclusion, suspension or expulsion to manage behaviour. Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHA), Autism Spectrum Disorder, and those exhibiting behaviours of concern are most at risk. ACHRA calls on all state and territory government and private schools to review their policies on suspension and expulsions to ensure they do not disproportionately affect students with disability. ACHRA encourages education authorities to build on existing efforts to ensure any reduced attendance patterns for students with disability are consistent with human rights and anti-discrimination laws, time-limited and accompanied by a return to school plan. ACHRA also encourages education authorities to examine and publicly report aggregate data on the number of part-time enrolments, suspensions and expulsions of students with disability from schools. ACHRA supports equality of access to education for children and students with disability and advocates for the importance of inclusive education. We are committed to working in partnership with schools and educational settings to increase awareness of the Disability Standards for Education.

School Uniform Choice in Public, Private and Faith-Based Schools

ACHRA members have seen an increase in enquiries and complaints from girls, or parents on behalf of girls, who have been prevented from wearing shorts or trousers at school and told to wear skirts or dresses as a mandatory uniform requirement.
ACHRA noted that while many schools nationwide have adopted uniform policies allowing choice for female students, others continue to discriminate on the basis of sex. Age discrimination has also been a valid area of complaint, where younger female students have been allowed to wear pants but senior students have not. ACHRA members encourage all government, private and faith-based schools to review school uniform policies to enable greater choice of formal and informal uniform options, including shorts and long pants, for girls.

Sports, Human Rights and Equality

ACHRA discussed the important work of the national inclusive sports program Play by the Rules in which ACHRA are key partners, and welcomed its current campaign focus on child safe and inclusive sport, which aligns with recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. ACHRA members also offered their congratulations to the GingerCloud Foundation’s Modified Rugby Program (MRP) which was awarded the Play by the Rules Award by Human Rights Commissioner for Children, Megan Mitchell, at the Diversity and Inclusion in Sport National Forum in Melbourne in October. The MRP is a world-first modified form of touch-only rugby specifically designed for children and young adults with learning and perceptual disabilities. In 2017 GingerCloud became an official partner of Rugby Australia with the aim of supporting the growth of the program nationally. Information about Play by the Rules is available at Play by the Rules.

Research Partnership with Professor Simon Rice and Dr Belinda Smith, University of Sydney Law School

ACHRA members have agreed to participate in a new research initiative led by Professor Simon Rice and Dr Belinda Smith from the University of Sydney Law School. The researchers are seeking to develop a deeper understanding of the educational and promotional activities undertaken by ACHRA members and their effectiveness in eliminating discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity and ensuring compliance with anti-discrimination laws. Professor Rice and Dr Smith will undertake a detailed mapping exercise of the nature and range of educational and promotional activities undertaken nationally, and will identify the similarities and difference in strategy and approach across federal, state and territory jurisdictions. They expect to identify the challenges faced in promoting compliance with the law, options for and constraints in addressing these challenges, and factors considered when choosing specific educational and promotional activities. It is anticipated that this research will be of interest and value to ACHRA by helping to facilitate a more coordinated, efficient and cost-effective national approach to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality through these initiatives.

Addressing Violence Against Women

ACHRA welcomed Patty Kinnersly, Chief Executive Officer of Our Watch, and Tracie McLeod-Howe, Chief Executive Officer of White Ribbon, to speak about their work and common vision to end violence against women and their children. Members acknowledged that gender inequality is the core driver of violence against women, and is at the heart of the solution.

Through its Workplace Equality and Respect Project, the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission is engaging in an important collaboration with both Our Watch and White Ribbon to strengthen gender equality and promote safe and respectful workplace cultures across the South Australian public sector.

ACHRA members welcome the valued contribution that Our Watch make to the research agenda on what works to shift the social norms, practices and structures that drive violence. Working closely with their sister organisation, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Our Watch has undertaken various research projects and identified research priorities for primary prevention. They have produced a range of resources and publications which assist governments and stakeholders to develop their own appropriate policies, strategies and programs. These include:

  • Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. This was produced in partnership with VicHealth and ANROWS and presents the evidence and a conceptual approach for preventing violence against women and their children in Australia.
  • Counting on change: A guide to prevention monitoring. This is a guide for policy-makers, researchers, and advocates on measuring population-level progress towards the prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
  • Changing the picture: preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This resource considers the main drivers, actions and principles for preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit

For more information visit and

For further information, contact:

  • South Australia: Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent, 0439 493 303
  • Australian Capital Territory: Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs, 0423 821 718
  • Northern Territory: Commissioner Sally Sievers, 08 8999 1444
  • Queensland: Commissioner Scott McDougall, 07 3021 9120
  • Tasmania: Commissioner Sarah Bolt, 03 6165 7515
  • Victoria: Commissioner Kristen Hilton, 0447 526 642
  • Western Australia: Acting Commissioner Dr John Byrne, 08 9216 3955





South Australia’s Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr Niki Vincent, has today released the Equal Opportunity Commission’s third report looking at the work done by South Australia Police (SAPOL) to tackle sex discrimination and sexual harassment (including predatory behaviour) in the workplace, following the release of the Commission’s Independent Review in December 2016.

Dr Vincent is encouraged to hear that people in senior positions within SAPOL acknowledge the need for change and are supportive of the steps being taken to promote a more positive workplace culture.

Dr Vincent went on to highlight the need for SAPOL to foster a work environment where employees feel confident and safe to challenge and report inappropriate behaviour.

“I’d encourage SAPOL leadership to consider how far they’ve come since the Equal Opportunity Commission’s Independent Review was first released - the progress that has been made but also the areas that still need improvement.

“This will continue to require persistence, engagement with staff and a relentless commitment to delivering a respectful, more positive workplace culture.”

The report found that by the end of April this year, SAPOL have completed the implementation of 25 of the 38 recommendations made by the Equal Opportunity Commission in its Independent Review, and the remaining 13 are underway.

For further information about the SAPOL Monitoring Project, the reports and the full media release, see the SAPOL Monitoring Project section

Our July 2019 Newsletter - An update from the Equal Opportunity Commissioner includes news on the key achievements of the Commission in the 2018-2019 financial year, our Law and Justice Internship for Aboriginal students, an update on the SAPOL Monitoring Project, the Reshaping the MFS - EOC report, Snapshot: EOC in the news ….. read more

No room for complacency with SA’s gender pay gap 

Fifty years on from Australia’s landmark ‘equal pay for equal work’ industrial relations ruling, women continue to be disadvantaged by the gender pay gap, with profound and lasting impacts on their financial futures, SA’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent says.

Speaking ahead of Equal Pay Day 2019 (28 August), Dr Vincent said while it was pleasing to note that South Australia had the lowest gender pay gap of any state or territory in Australia at 9.2 per cent, there was no room for complacency.

“Part of the cause of the gender pay gap is conscious and unconscious bias and discrimination – but these are just the tip of the iceberg according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency,” Dr Vincent said.

“Other causes include entrenched societal expectations and stereotypes, as well as limited access to flexible work and paid parental leave, particularly for men.

“This means that women still take on a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work and spend a greater amount of time out of the workforce, have a higher rate of part-time work and report experiencing higher levels of work-family conflict.  

“Many female-dominated industries and jobs are also undervalued and attract lower wages, and men dominate senior leadership roles in most industries. Although many employers are aware of the issues, more focussed action needs to be taken to address them. 

“Leadership buy-in is a must on this issue. Sustainable gender equality requires a workplace culture that fosters and supports this from the top down. It also requires a strategic approach and an action plan with accountability for results – just like any other business priority.”  

The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average weekly full-time base salary earnings of women and men and expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles. 

The Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports that nationally, the gender pay gap stands at 14 per cent for full-time employees, a difference of $241 per week.

As of May 2019, South Australia has the lowest percentage gap of the states and territories at 9.2 per cent, which is down 0.6 per cent from May 2018.  

Nationally, in the age group 35-44 years old, the pay gap is 17.3 per cent, while for women aged 55 years and over, the pay gap is 17.7 per cent.

Research shows that on average, superannuation balances for women at retirement (aged 6064) are 42 per cent lower than those of men.

 “If you are earning less, then your superannuation balance is also affected, meaning many women end up disadvantaged further, with not enough money to support a comfortable and wellearned retirement,” Dr Vincent said. 

“On Equal Pay Day, I urge South Australian employers to do more to foster a workplace culture that supports gender equality, that is inclusive and recognises the enormous contribution women

can and do make in the workplace, including in leadership positions.” For more on the gender pay gap visit


For media enquiries contact the 24-hour AGD Media Line 0422 007 069   



Here is the latest statement from the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) which comprises the state, territory and federal human rights, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination authorities. The statement has been issued following their meeting (via videoconference) on 16 and 17 April 2020, to consider a number of issues of common concern and interest. The statement includes their consideration of the various human rights implications of the restrictions implemented to manage the COVID-19 pandemic that featured prominently in their discussions during the conference.

Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities Statement - April 2020 by ACHRA | updated Apr 29, 2020

The Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA) which comprises the state, territory and federal human rights, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination authorities, met via videoconference on 16 and 17 April 2020 to consider a number of issues of common concern and interest. Consideration of the various human rights implications of restrictions implemented to manage the COVID-19 pandemic featured prominently in discussion.

In addition to the issues outlined in the statements below, topics discussed included the right to education for children, particularly children with disability and additional needs, Australia’s Universal Periodic Review process with the United Nations Human Rights Council, and a number of additional issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic including considerations regarding Australia’s First People, approaches of the judiciary in conducting jury trials and best practice approaches for conciliating anti- discrimination complaints.

The ACHRA members listed at the bottom of this document endorse the following statements. We thank Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and her fellow federal Commissioners for their assistance in shaping these statements.

Decision-making in the provision of healthcare

ACHRA members are monitoring efforts to address discrimination and unconscious (implicit) bias in the health system’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Sadly, it has been the experience of several other nations responding to the pandemic that health resources are insufficient to deal with the crisis, particularly in the emergency care setting.

We acknowledge that health practitioners seek to apply a sophisticated set of ethical frameworks in decision making. Significant work has been done by the Australian, and state and territory governments and professional bodies in this area. This work is ongoing.

However, these frameworks must continue to ensure that human rights, and especially the operation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, are considered in decision making throughout the health system, particularly regarding critical care. While there is capacity in the acute health sector, we have the opportunity to provide some certainty for health professionals and the community about how critical decisions will be made.

ACHRA members support this work and look forward to continuing to engage with governments at all levels to prevent unconscious (implicit) bias and discrimination in the provision of health.

COVID-19 and the rise in race-based vilification and discrimination

ACHRA is deeply concerned by reports of racist abuse and discrimination across Australia since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such incidents deeply affect individuals and their communities and undermine our ability to respond effectively to the pandemic. They harm our collective wellbeing at a time when we need to be working together. Social cohesion is more important now than ever.

COVID-19 has nothing to do with race or nationality, and neither fear of the virus nor frustration at the difficulties we all face are excuses for abusing people or treating them unfavourably based on race, nationality or ethnicity. We urge all people in Australia to show kindness and to support each other in these difficult times.

ACHRA considers it is the responsibility of all Australians to stand up to racism. We are all in this together.

COVID-19 measures and implications for older people

ACHRA is concerned about the potential for increased targeting of older people by scammers, and strongly advises heightened vigilance among older Australians and their supporters to ensure the safeguarding of personal information. The Australian Government’s Scam Watch website provides information on known scams, including scams related to COVID-19. For more information, see
ACHRA notes there has been a reported increase in requests for legal assistance to write wills since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and advises older people and their legal representatives to ensure wills completed during this time of increased family and financial pressure are truly reflective of the testator’s wishes.
ACHRA is concerned about the impact on people in aged care facilities where regular visits by volunteers, family and friends have been curtailed, where they were previously involved in assisting to meet the daily care needs of high-needs residents.

Impacts of COVID-19 on people with disability

ACHRA is concerned by the increase in many jurisdictions of disability discrimination inquiries and complaints. Overcoming this public health emergency will require social cohesion. The adoption of discriminatory practices will impact adversely on individuals, undermine our community response to overcome the pandemic and leave individuals and businesses open to liability for unlawful discrimination.
ACHRA welcomes the release of the Management and Operational Plan for COVID-19 for People with Disability and emphasises the need for government to take all necessary steps to ensure the protection and safety of people living with disability during public health emergencies.
ACHRA cautions that in the absence of a clear provider of last resort in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, people with disability who are unable to receive services from their usual provider may forego adequate care or be forced to seek assistance from hospitals.
ACHRA is concerned about equal and informed access to healthcare for people with disability if capacity constraints occur in the emergency healthcare system.

Law enforcement of COVID-19 measures

ACHRA cautions against the incidental criminalisation of a public health pandemic and urges fines for breaching social distancing to be issued as a last resort and with careful and proper discretion. ACHRA also recommends a rigorous collection of data to analyse which communities are most at risk of receiving infringements.

COVID-19 measures in detention settings

ACHRA acknowledges the work of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in providing advice to Government on preventing and managing a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in detention settings. Overcrowding and the use of shared facilities remain active concerns.

Isolation impacts of physical distancing measures

ACHRA is concerned about the safety, wellbeing and mental health impacts on people in vulnerable situations as a result of the increased social isolation associated with physical distancing measures.

Isolation and loneliness have significant and potentially devastating impacts on the health and wellbeing of all people, especially those with reduced social networks or a predisposition to loneliness.

Australian Government’s contact tracing application

ACHRA welcomes the development of a contact tracing app by the Australian Government. An app of this type could more accurately identify and inform the public of their possible exposure to COVID-19 and is consistent with the right to life.
ACHRA urges that the app, and the legal and policy framework that supports it, protect individual’s human rights—for example, through strong security features and restrictions against use of personal information for any purpose other than contact tracing. Further, the app must include accessibility features, particularly for people with limited exposure to technology.

National Inquiry into Workplace Sexual Harassment

 ACHRA supports the findings and endorses the recommendations of the respect@work-sexual-harassment-national-inquiry-report-2020 by federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins. A key finding of the report is that workplace sexual harassment is prevalent and pervasive across all levels, locations and industries in Australia. The report is the first of its kind to attempt to quantify the impact of workplace sexual harassment on a country’s economy, conservatively estimated to be $3.8billion to Australia in 2018, contributing to our existing understanding of the significant economic, health and wellbeing costs experienced by victims.

ACHRA calls for the consideration and implementation of all 55 recommendations in the report by governments, employers and industry associations, including the expeditious establishment of Workplace Sexual Harassment Council to improve consistency of approach between the multiple legislative schemes involved in workplace sexual harassment.

For further information contact the following ACHRA members:

Dr Niki Vincent, South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner & Chair of ACHRA - 0439 493 303
Ms Sarah Bolt, Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner - 03 6165 7515
Dr John Byrne, Western Australian Commissioner for Equal Opportunity -
Ms Kristen Hilton, Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner - 0447 526 642
Mr Scott McDougall, Queensland Human Rights Commissioner - 07 3021 9120
Ms Sally Sievers Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner - 08 8999 1469
Ms Karen Toohey, Acting Human Rights Commissioner, Australian Capital Territory - 02 6205 2222

Ms Elizabeth Wing, Executive Manager, Anti-Discrimination NSW – 0408 027 185