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Discrimination

12 Sep 2016 - 14:47 | Version 18 |

Contributed by TraciKeys and current to 1 May 2016

The area of discrimination is covered by both Territory and Federal laws. The Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA) is the main piece of Northern Territory (NT) legislation; at the Federal level several Acts apply. The ADA is administered by the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC), located in Darwin. The Federal Acts are administered by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), which is located in Sydney (see Contact points ).

Current information about the ADA can be obtained from the ADC (see Contact points ). Current information about the Federal laws can be obtained from the AHRC (see Contact points.)

What is discrimination?

Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person treats or proposes to treat another person less favourably than they would someone else in an area covered by the ADA or the Federal law such as work, education, services or accommodation because that other person has a particular attribute as set out in the ADA or the Federal law. Attributes covered by the ADA are race, sex, age, sexuality, impairment (disability), pregnancy, marital status, breastfeeding, religion, parenthood, irrelevant criminal and medical records, a person whose details are published under s66M Fines and Penalties (Recovery) Act (see https://nt.gov.au/law/processes/fines-recovery-unit-contact-details ), political opinion and union activity, or a person associated with someone who has one of these attributes.

For discrimination to take place, a person's attribute doesn't have to be the only or even the main reason why they are treated less favourably. It also doesn't matter whether or not the person accused of discriminating sees their own behaviour as being discriminatory; their motives are irrelevant [ADA s.20(3)(4)].

Types of discrimination

Sex discrimination / Sexual harassment

Sex discrimination (unfair treatment on the basis of gender) and sexual harassment are dealt with in the ADA and the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA). The type of behaviour that may be considered to be sexual harassment includes suggestive behaviour, asking for sexual favours, unwanted physical contact, displaying sexually explicit or offensive material and sexting.

Marital status

It is against the law to treat someone unfairly because they are married or unmarried, or because of whom they are married to. For example it would be discrimination to rent accommodation only to legally married couples and not de facto couples, or to refuse to hire a successful candidate for a job because her husband already works in the agency [ADA s.19(e); SDA s.6].

Sexuality / Gender Identity

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because they are homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual or transsexual [ADA s.19(c)] or because of their sexual orientation [SDA s.5A], their gender identity [SDA s.5B] or intersex status [SDA s.5C].

Pregnancy

It is against the law to treat a woman less favourably simply because she is, or might become, pregnant [ADA s.19(f); SDA s.7]. Behaviour that may constitute pregnancy discrimination could include such things as refusing to employ or promote, dismissing or retrenching, excluding from training, or reducing hours of work against the wishes of the pregnant employee. A requirement or practice applied to everyone that disadvantages pregnant women is referred to as indirect pregnancy discrimination. An example might be a requirement or practice that people can only leave their work stations twice during the day other than for their allocated breaks. This could discriminate against a pregnant woman, because pregnant women may need to go to the toilet more frequently than their colleagues [s24 ADA].

Parenthood

It is against the law to discriminate against a person on the basis of parenthood, including guardians, foster parents and carers of children [ADA s.19(g)]. Under the SDA it is against the law to dismiss someone because of their family responsibilities [SDA s.7A]. An example of this kind of discrimination might be refusing to hire a parent because of concerns that they would take too much time off to care for children.

Breastfeeding

It is against the law to treat a woman unfairly because she is breastfeeding [ADA s.19 (f); SDA s.7AA]. The Act also creates an obligation for employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate a breastfeeding parent in the workplace. It is against the law to unreasonably refuse to accommodate a special need, such as providing a breastfeeding space [ADA s.24]. For example it would be discriminatory if an employee or the owner of an upmarket restaurant asked a breastfeeding mother to move to a secluded room to breastfeed, because it impairs her equal opportunity to enjoy eating out in the same way as other patrons who are not breastfeeding. A woman who has been asked to move from or leave a public place because she is breastfeeding should contact the ADC.

Common scenarios

Sexual harassment

I was asked by my manager to come in and see him. I went into his office and while instructing me on what work he wanted me to do he put his arm around my waist and leaned in toward my body. I felt really uncomfortable. He told me he liked the way I smelt. Later that day he came and put his arm around me while I was working. He saw a magazine on my desk and commented on the size of a women's breasts in a photo, he said I had much better breasts and he was sure many men could vouch for that. A few minutes later I received a text from him saying "I can see all of you from my office, the view is great." What can I do?

You could make a complaint to your Human Resource Team or a more senior manager if you feel comfortable doing this. You may get advice from your union or a relevant work advocacy group or legal advice. You can also call the ADC or AHRC to talk about making a complaint of sexual harassment. It is against the law for an employer or employee to sexually harass an employee in their workplace. The individual harasser can be individually liable, and the Employer may be vicariously liable if they don't take reasonable steps to protect their employees from this conduct.

Sex discrimination

I advised my employer that I would like to be the manager on the shop floor. He said that he knew I was good enough to do the job, but that the 'blokes' wouldn't like being supervised by a woman, and also he didn't want to promote me in case I got pregnant and went on maternity leave or was sick because of 'female problems'.

The ADA and the SDA prohibit unfair treatment on the basis of sex. Refusing the promotion in this case is discrimination based on sex and is against the law. The woman should try talking to her boss about this, and if she is not satisfied with the result, make a complaint to the ADC or AHRC.

Pregnancy

I started working with my employer 1 year ago. I really enjoyed the work I was doing and I had received positive feedback about my performance. I advised my employer that I was pregnant and said that I would like to take 12 months maternity leave. The employer said they were happy for me and they would think about the leave. After telling my employer about my pregnancy I started getting negative feedback about my performance. One month before I was due to go on leave my employer called me into the office and advised me that my performance was poor and that they were not going to keep me on. I was given 4 weeks notice.

The ADA and the SDA prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy [s.19(f)] or parenthood [(s.19(g)]. A complaint could be made to the ADC or the AHRC.

Parenthood

Following maternity leave for my first child I returned to my work with a request to work part-time. My employer told me that if I was going to have children this was my problem to manage, not theirs and that part time work was not an option.

Under the ADA employers have a positive obligation [s.24 ADA] to reasonably accommodate special needs an employee may have. Saying no without exploring reasonable accommodations may leave employers in breach of the law. There may also be grounds for a finding of discrimination on the basis of parenthood [ADA s.19(g) & s.31(2);s.7SDA].

Note: If a person feels discriminated against because they have one of the attributes listed in the ADA or the Federal law, they could first raise the matter with their employer to seek a solution. If the matter remains unresolved or they feel they cannot do this, they can contact the ADC or AHRC for further information on their rights. Advice and assistance may be available from the NT Working Women's Centre, Women's Legal Services, the NT Legal Aid Commission, or a community legal service, such as Darwin Community Legal Service (see Legal Aid).

Race discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin [Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA) s.9(1); ADA s.19.1(a)].

Racial vilification is also against the law under the RDA. A person commits an act of racial hatred when they publicly use race, colour or national or ethnic origin in a way that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people [RDA s.18C(1)].

Race discrimination scenario

My kids went to the local store to get some footy jumpers. One of the staff followed them around and eventually told them to leave making derogatory comments about Indigenous kids and accusing them of wanting to steal from him. I am really tired of my kids being treated this way what can I do?

You could make a complaint to the ADA or the AHRC on their behalf. You could attend a conciliation with your children and explain to the store owner how this treatment feels. Possible outcomes could include an apology, compensation or discrimination training for the store owner.

I've been looking for accommodation for months but I keep getting turned down even though I've got a good job and good references. I reckon it's because I'm Indian, but no-one says that to you. What can I do?

It is against the law for a person who provides accommodation, to discriminate against another person in providing accommodation [ADA s.38]. It is also against the law to discriminate on the grounds of race. A way you may demonstrate you were discriminated against because of your race is if the accommodation is subsequently given to someone with a similar educational and employment background, potentially indicating there has been racial discrimination. In this scenario the person should contact the ADC to ask about making a written complaint. Any disparaging comments made by the real estate agent, or discriminatory questions asked on tenancy applications or any other evidence to support the claim should be supplied.

Disability discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their disability (called impairment in the ADA).

What is disability?

Disability is defined broadly and includes the following impairments: physical; intellectual; psychiatric; sensory (such as deafness or blindness); neurological (brain injury); learning (eg attention deficit disorder, autism, dyslexia); disease; physical disfigurement.

The definition of disability also includes:
  • a disability that a person has had in the past, such as an episode of mental illness.
  • a disability that a person is believed to have, such as assuming that a person has a mental illness because they don't understand their behaviour.
  • A disability that is permanent or temporary.
Disability discrimination law also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of their association with a person with disability. For example it would be discrimination by association not to hire a person because they have a child with a disability.

Types of disability discrimination

  • Direct discrimination: this occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they or their associate has a disability. An example of direct discrimination would be a school student told that they will not be allowed to go on a school camp because they have epilepsy and need medication at night.
  • Indirect discrimination: this occurs when a person with a disability or an associate is excluded by a requirement or condition that is the same for everyone but unfairly impacts on them, for example, access to premises which is the same for all, but prevents a person with a wheelchair from entering.
  • Discriminatory questions: it is also discriminatory to ask a person with a disability for unnecessary information that can be used to discriminate against them or, in the same situation, would not be asked of a person without a disability. For example, it would be unlawful to ask a job interviewee with a disability why they want the job when they can get a disability pension.
  • Harassment: it is also discriminatory to harass a person with a disability in any of the areas covered by the ADA. Harassment would include comments or actions that degrade or demean a person because of their disability or those that create a hostile working environment.
  • Guide dogs: Disability discrimination also occurs if a person with a visual, hearing or mobility impairment is treated less favourably because they have a guide dog. Provided they are registered and on a leash, assistance dogs are permitted anywhere that the general public can access.

Failure to accommodate a special need - Reasonable adjustment for a special need arising from an attribute

An accommodation or an adjustment is a change, alteration or action that needs to be made/taken to help a person with a disability achieve equal opportunity. It is against the law to not reasonably accommodate the special needs of a person with a disability in an area under the ADA [ADA s.24]. It is against the law to fail to provide an adjustment unless providing the adjustment will cause unjustifiable hardship [Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) s.11]. All circumstances must be taken into account, such as the adjustments required, the costs involved, the benefits the adjustment may have and the disadvantages the adjustment may have for others. An example would be someone who is hard of hearing and needs a modified telephone for a job with a small business. It would not cause unjustifiable hardship for the business to provide the telephone because the adjustment is not disruptive or too costly. However, the cost of installing a lift may be beyond the financial resources of a small employer.

Age discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against a person on the basis of their age.

Age discrimination

I've applied for so many jobs, but each time I'm turned down, even when I know I'm perfectly qualified. Employers don't say anything, but I believe that I'm not being given a fair go because I'm over 50. What can I do to ensure I get a fair go?

The ADA and Age Discrimination Act makes it against the law to discriminate against a person on the grounds of age in the area of work. If a person feels they have been discriminated against they should call the ADC or the AHRC.

Other types of discrimination

* Religious belief or activity [ADA s.19(m)]: it is against the law to discriminate against a person because they believe in or practise a particular religion.

* Trade union or employer association activity [ADA s.19(k)]: it is against the law to discriminate against someone because they belong to or are involved with a trade union or employer association or because they do not belong to such an organisation. It is also against the law to discriminate against a person for associating with someone in a trade union or employer association [ADA s.19(r)].

* Political opinion, affiliation or activity [ADA s.19(n)]: it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their political opinion or association with a political party. For example, it would be against the law to dismiss an employee because they attended a political rally or because they were affiliated with a different political party to their employer.

* Irrelevant medical record [ADA s.19(p)]: it is against the law to discriminate against someone on the basis of an irrelevant medical record. Examples might be a record of an injury or ailment that does not impact on a person's working ability, a history of asthma if a person is an office worker, or a record of a previous foot injury which has now healed.

* Irrelevant criminal record [ADA s.19(q)]: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record, defined as a spent record within the meaning of the Criminal records (Spent Convictions) Act (see Spent convictions ) or a record relating to arrest, interrogation or criminal proceedings where no charge was laid or the charge was dismissed, the person was found not guilty or pardoned or the circumstances relating to the offence for which the person was convicted are not directly relevant to the situation in which the discrimination arises. So, for example, it would be unlawful to refuse to hire a person who had been convicted of a drunk-driving charge if the position did not require them to operate a vehicle.

* Discrimination due to association with a person who has or is believed to have one of the attributes listed under the ADA [s.19(r)], for example being asked to leave a restaurant because you are with a person who has a guide dog.

Other illegal behaviour

Other prohibited conduct includes the following:

Victimisation [ADA s.23]: victimisation takes place when a person subjects or threatens to subject another person or their associate to any detriment because they have made or intend to make a complaint or have given or intend to give evidence or information, in connection with proceedings under the ADA . In other words, a person must not be treated unfairly because they want to or do complain about their discriminatory behaviour under the ADA.

Discriminatory advertising [ADA s.25]: it is against the law to publish or authorise the publication of an advertisement that could reasonably be understood to be promoting discriminatory conduct or the intention to engage in discriminatory conduct. For example, it would be an offence to publish an advertisement for a rally against Palestinians, or for a job restricted to white persons only.

*Requesting unnecessary information* [ADA s.26]: it is against the law for a person to ask another person to supply information on which unlawful discrimination might be based. An example might be an employer asking a potential employee for information on their racial background, which is not relevant to the position. This conduct is not prohibited if it can be proved that the information was reasonably required for a purpose that did not involve discrimination. It also does not apply if it is a request that is necessary to comply with a law of the Territory or Commonwealth, an order of a court, a provision of an industrial agreement or an order of the ADC.

Aiding an act of discrimination [ADA s.27]: it is an offence for a person to cause, instruct, induce, incite, assist or promote another person to contravene the ADA.

Where do discrimination laws apply?

It is against the law to discriminate in many areas of public life.

A complaint of discrimination on the basis of an attribute can be made under the ADA if it occurred in one of the following areas of activity:
  • work
  • education
  • accommodation
  • goods, services and facilities
  • clubs
  • insurance and superannuation.
Complaints under the Federal laws can be made in the following areas:
  • work/employment and occupation
  • access to goods, services and facilities
  • education
  • accommodation
  • access to premises (age, disability)
  • land
  • clubs (sex, disability)
  • sport (disability)
  • administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.
Complaints of race discrimination under the RDA can be made in any area of public life.

What isn't discrimination?

Not all discrimination is against the law. It is not against the law to discriminate against a person for reasons that are not attributes under the Act eg tattoos, smoking, hair colour, sideburns, being from south of the Berrimah line or being overweight, unless the obesity is due to a medical condition. In this case, the condition might be an impairment under the ADA or Disability Act. The ADA and the Federal laws also has exemptions, these are exceptions that permit types of discrimination (see Exemptions).

Exemptions: When is discrimination allowed?

Sometimes it is lawful to discriminate on the basis of attributes. Examples might include:
  • where an attribute is a genuine qualification for a particular job or discrimination is required to adequately perform the inherent requirements of the job. Examples include requiring an Indigenous Australian man to work at an Indigenous Australian men's health clinic, a female to work at a female only women's shelter, refusing to employ a person with a disability because the disability would not allow the person to carry out the inherent requirements of the job.
  • a discriminatory act carried out to achieve equal opportunity, such as actively hiring women in a field where women are under-represented or Indigenous Australian-designated jobs
  • an insurance policy or superannuation fund that has used reliable data to discriminate on the basis of age or medical history
  • renting accommodation in your own home that you also live in
Contact the ADC or the AHRC for more information on any exemptions that might be relevant to your situation.

Making a complaint of discrimination

Who receives complaints?

Complaints of discrimination can be made to either the ADC or the AHRC . Both agencies use similar complaint-handling procedures. The ADC is located in Darwin. AHRC is located in Sydney. The Federal laws do not permit lodging of complaints with both agencies, so Complainants must choose between the two agencies.

Time limits

Complaints to the ADC and AHRC must be made within 12 months of the events occurring. Both agencies can extend these time frames in certain circumstances.

Who can complain?

The person who believes they have been discriminated against must be the Complainant; however, the ADC can also authorise another person to lodge a complaint on behalf of the person who alleges the discrimination [ADA s.60].

Against whom can a complaint be made?

A complaint can made against a person or institution alleged to have engaged in discriminatory behaviour in any of the areas listed in section 28 of the ADA (see Where do discrimination laws apply ) [ADA s.28].

The scope of the ADA is restricted to certain public areas and does not apply in peoples' private lives. For example, the ADA wouldn't apply to someone refusing to have a gay person at a private party, or to a neighbour making a racist comment to another neighbour.

The ADC complaint process

The Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC) handles all complaints confidentially and fairly. It does not take sides. In most cases complaints are resolved through conciliation by helping the parties to reach an agreement.

Introduction

Once a complaint has been lodged with the ADC, the person who has complained is known as the complainant and the individual, agency or organisation against whom the complaint is made is known as the Respondent. The person handling the complaint (the delegate/conciliator) has powers under the ADA which have been delegated by the Commissioner.

The role of the ADC staff is to assist with the handling of the complaint; to be impartial; and, if possible, to resolve the complaint by conciliation, that is, by agreement between the parties.

Procedure

1. Complaint accepted or declined

Complaints must be in writing and must be lodged within twelve months of the alleged discriminatory conduct taking place, although, where appropriate, complaints can be accepted out of time.

Once the ADC has received a written complaint, the first step is to decide if the complaint is covered by the ADA. The delegate has 60 days in which to decide whether to accept or reject a complaint (usually this decision is made within two weeks). A complaint may be declined if it is frivolous, vexatious, trivial, lacking in substance, misconceived, or fails to disclose any prohibited conduct. This first stage is a low threshold test and initial acceptance of a complaint does not mean that the ADC has found that discrimination has occurred.

2. Respondent notified

If the complaint is accepted, the Respondent will be notified in writing of the allegations which have been made; the relevant sections of the ADA; and the name of the delegate who has been appointed to investigate and conciliate the complaint. The Respondent is generally not asked to respond but required to attend a compulsory conciliation conference.

3. Representation

A party must get permission for legal representation or another support person from the ADC. Usually the ADC will permit parties to have legal representation or a support person, provided that the involvement of the solicitor or support person will support the conciliation process.

4. Conciliation

The ADC will direct the parties to participate in a compulsory conciliation process.

The role of the conciliator is to be impartial, to provide expert advice and suggestions regarding possible resolutions of the complaint, and to assist the parties in reaching agreement to resolve the complaint.

Conciliation conferences can occur at any time in the complaint-handling process if the parties agree to meet to attempt to resolve the issues.

If the matter is conciliated and the parties reach agreement, ADC can help to write it up. A written agreement marks the end of ADC's involvement.

5. Evaluation

If the complaint is not settled by conciliation, the Complainant will be given 21 days to elect the matter to be evaluated in order to assess the evidence to determine whether there is a reasonable prospect of success if the matter were to go to hearing.

At the evaluation stage the role of the evaluator is that of impartial fact finder, investigating both sides of the complaint.

During an evaluation, an evaluator may need to:
  • interview the Complainant, Respondent and any other witnesses
  • request or compel documentary support to assist the evaluation.
Evaluations are carried out formally and are generally completed within 2 months.

6. Hearing

If the matter is found to have a reasonable prospect of success, it is referred to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) for a hearing to determine whether or not there has been discrimination or other prohibited conduct. In this case the ADC has 60 days to file a report to the NTCAT.

If the matter is found to have no reasonable prospect of success, the Complainant can still lodge their complaint with NTCAT within 21 days.

Hearings are usually open to the public. If the NTCAT decides that unlawful discrimination has occurred, orders can be made including to cease prohibited conduct; to pay damages (up to maximum of $60,000); to apologise; to undertake training; and to amend policy and procedures.

7. Appeals

All final decisions of the NTCAT can be appealed to the Supreme Court within 28 days.

CASE STUDY

The Complainant worked as a labourer/gardener on a three-month temporary contract. Near the end of this period a similar position at a higher level became available. The complainant applied for this position, and, because his supervisor and work mates had said his work performance was good and he was the only applicant, he believed the interview was only a formality and the job was going to be his. During the interview he was asked questions about a previous injury which might affect his ability to do the job. When he didn't get the job he became convinced that the reason was because of his injury.

At a conciliation meeting the parties had the opportunity to discuss the Complainant's work performance and performance at interview and the Complainant was made aware that the position had been given to a person with considerably more training and skills. However, the respondent acknowledged that the matter had been badly handled and that the Complainant had some basis for feeling his injury had been a factor in the decision not to hire him.

A settlement was reached on the basis that:
  • The sum of $2500 was paid to the Complainant
  • An apology was given to the Complainant for the way the matter had been handled and the distress caused to him
  • The Complainant also apologised for some of his actions towards the Respondent after he learned he did not receive the position
  • The Respondent acknowledged that the Complainant had been a good worker and agreed to reconsider him for a position at an appropriate level and to do so without any victimisation in regard to the dispute that had occurred between them.

Making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is responsible for handling complaints under the RDA, SDA, DDA and the ADA. The Commission can only hear discrimination complaints that come within the scope of these Federal anti-discrimination laws.

The AHRC has no power to make determinations following an unsuccessful conciliation.

The Federal Magistrates Service or Federal Court can consider complaints and make binding orders (see Taking a complaint to court ).

Against whom can a complaint be made?

A person can complain against Federal, State or Territory governments, private bodies and private citizens.

Lodging a complaint

Complaints must be lodged in writing. The complainant (person complaining) can simply write a letter to the AHRC detailing:
  • their name, address and telephone number
  • who they are complaining about and their contact details
  • what happened, when it happened and who was involved
  • what law was breached
  • whether a complaint has been made anywhere else and what happened in that incident.
A complaint can also be made using a complaint form available from the Australian Human Rights Commission offices or on its website at www.humanrights.gov.au.

On receiving a complaint, the AHRC first decides if the discrimination is covered by one of the Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. The Commission may contact the complainant for more information before they make that decision. If the complaint falls outside the scope of the federal anti-discrimination Acts, the Commission writes a letter of explanation to the complainant.

Investigating a complaint

In the first instance, an investigation/conciliation officer makes contact with the complainant to discuss the complaint. This person may require more information about the incident. Generally, a complaint is handled by the same officer through the whole process of investigation and conciliation, but may change hands if someone is on leave.

The officer then contacts the person who is the subject of the complaint (the respondent) to inform them about the complaint. The respondent is provided with a copy of the complaint, and asked to respond. They may ask the complainant or the respondent to provide further documents. The officer may also interview witnesses, visit workplaces or other relevant premises, and inspect relevant records.

If there is not enough evidence to support the complaint, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission can decide to stop the investigation and terminate the complaint. Written reasons are provided for terminating a complaint. If the complaint appears to have substance, an officer of the Commission tries to resolve the matter through conciliation.

A complainant who disagrees with the decision to terminate their complaint can apply to the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Service to have the matter reviewed. An application to the court has to be made within 28 days of the date on the termination notice sent by the Commission.

Conciliation

The Australian Human Rights Commission may ask a complainant and respondent to attend a conciliation conference. During this process a conciliation officer, usually the same person who has investigated the complaint, tries to help the two parties find agreement. The conciliator determines who is to be involved in the conciliation and the process followed, and discusses these with both parties before the conference. A conciliation conference provides the complainant and the respondent with the opportunity to talk about their problems and look for solutions.

If the matter is conciliated and the parties reach agreement, the AHRC can help to write it up. A written agreement marks the end of the AHRC's involvement.

If the complainant and respondent can't agree, the complaint is terminated. A complainant who still wants to pursue the matter must apply to the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court for a hearing.

Taking a complaint to court

If a complaint is terminated by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the complainant can apply to have the matter heard in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court. An application must be made within 60 days of the date of the termination notice from the AHRC. Hearings in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court are formal, and can involve lawyers on both sides. Usually, hearings are open to the public. More detailed information about proceedings in these courts can be obtained from the local Federal Court registry (see Contact points) or on its website at: www.fedcourt.gov.au or www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au. If the court decides that a complainant has a valid complaint, it can make an order against the respondent. If the court dismisses the complaint, it may order the complainant to pay the legal costs of the respondent.

If the court upholds the complaint, it may order the respondent to do certain things, such as:
  • compensate the complainant by paying a sum of money
  • provide a service to the complainant
  • stop the discrimination.

Time limits

A complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission must be made with 12 months of the discriminatory incident unless there are reasonable grounds for the delay.

Contact information

Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
7th Floor, 9-11 Cavenagh St,
Darwin Postal address: LMB22, GPO Darwin
Telephone: 08 8999 1444
Free call: 1800 813 846
Fax: 08 8981 3812
E-mail: antidiscrimination@nt.gov.au
Website: www.adc.nt.gov.au

Australian Human Rights Commission
Level 3, 175 Pitt Street SYDNEY NSW 2000
GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001
Telephone: (02) 9284 9600
National Information Service: 1300 656 419
General enquiries and publications: 1300 369 711
TTY: 1800 620 241
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/

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