South Australian vs. Commonwealth Law
Whether you complain to the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission or the Commonwealth Australian Human Rights Commission depends mostly on the type of discrimination.
Some types of discrimination - such as social origin or political opinion - are only dealt with by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Other types of discrimination are covered by both South Australian and Commonwealth laws, and complaints may be lodged with either the state or Commonwealth body, but not both.
There are some differences between the state and Commonwealth jurisdictions that may help you decide where to lodge a complaint.
- There may be differences in time limits for lodging complaints.
- The Australian Human Rights Commission does not have offices in South Australia. The head office is in Sydney, but officers travel interstate when required.
- In some cases, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity can arrange and pay for a party's lawyer if a complaint cannot be resolved and is referred to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This is not the case in the Commonwealth system.
- In cases of indirect discrimination under South Australian law, the person complaining has to show that a certain discriminatory requirement was unreasonable. Under Commonwealth law the reverse applies and the person complained about has to show that the requirement was reasonable.
Type of discrimination
Covered by South Australian laws?
Covered by Commonwealth laws?
Race Yes Yes Age Yes Yes Disability Yes Yes Mental illness Yes Yes Sexual Orientation Yes Yes * Sex Yes Yes Gender Identity Yes Yes Intersex Status Yes Yes Pregnancy Yes Yes Marital Status Yes Yes Sexual harassment Yes Yes Victimisation Yes No Religion No Yes Religious dress Yes Yes Political opinion No Yes Medical record Yes ** Yes Criminal record No Yes Trade union activity No Yes Learning disorder Yes Yes Caring responsibilities Yes Yes Identity of spouse or partner Yes Yes Association with a child Yes No
* Sexual Orientation - Discrimination at work based on sexual preference is covered by the Fair Work Act s. 351.
** Medical Record - If it relates to a past or presumed disability.