Victorian Discrimination Law

Victorian Discrimination Law

Published by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

current to 24 March 2023

Message from the Commissioner

As we near 50 years of Victoria's equal opportunity laws, our understanding of the impact of discrimination in our community continues to deepen.

Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act 2010 recognises that discrimination can cause social disadvantage, and access to opportunities is not equitably distributed throughout society. It acknowledges that we have a duty to be proactive about addressing and preventing unlawful behaviours. The law recognises rights not to be treated unfairly and aims to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation as much as possible.

As our understanding of the nature and impact of discrimination has progressed, so have our laws. In 2013, the Commission released the first edition of Victorian Discrimination Law to give the community clear, accessible information about our legislative framework. At that time, Victoria's Equal Opportunity Act had been substantially revised, with key changes to legal definitions of discrimination, a new, simpler dispute resolution process, and greater scope to address systemic discrimination.

Victorian Discrimination Law quickly became an essential tool for navigating the anti-discrimination landscape in Victoria. We update this resource as changes are made to the Equal Opportunity Act.

In recent times, reforms to the Equal Opportunity Act have narrowed the religious exceptions, reducing the capacity of religious bodies and schools to discriminate in relation to students, employment and when providing government funded goods and services. The changes will better protect LGBTIQA+ people and other communities from discrimination.

New attributes are now listed in the Equal Opportunity Act: profession, trade or occupation; sex characteristics and spent conviction. The definitions of the attributes of gender identity and sexual orientation have also been updated to be more inclusive.

The Commission hopes that this resource will continue to provide valuable guidance to those engaging with our discrimination laws, to support a fairer and more equitable Victorian community for everyone.

Ro Allen, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner

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