The Commission helps people resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification, and victimisation. Our dispute resolution service is free, impartial, confidential, and timely. We use a process called conciliation to help both sides discuss what happened, understand the impact it had and find an outcome that they can agree on.
Do I need a lawyer for advice or to represent me at conciliation?
No – you do not need a lawyer to participate in conciliation, but you can bring a legal representative or advocate to give you advice. A conciliator manages dispute resolution. They ensure the process is fair and help both sides to talk to each other to reach a resolution. A conciliator will provide information about the law and how similar complaints have been resolved. You may also bring a support person to give you moral support.
Does the Commission undertake an investigation into my complaint?
The Commission does not investigate or make a decision whether there has been a breach of the law. We offer a voluntary dispute resolution service which is an alternative to you taking your complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – Human Rights List (VCAT). VCAT makes decisions as to whether discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification or victimisation has occurred.
What happens if the respondent does not agree to participate in dispute resolution?
The dispute resolution process is voluntary. A respondent or complainant may at any time decide not to participate. We cannot compel a party to engage in dispute resolution. If a party withdraws from dispute resolution, we will close the complaint.
How is a conference conducted?
How the conference is conducted depends on the views of the parties involved. We consider how the parties wish to engage and the process most suitable to meet the needs of the parties to assist resolution. The conference can be with everyone meeting face-to-face, by teleconference, video conference or with the conciliator talking to each party separately and relaying information which is called shuttle negotiation.
How long do conciliations go for?
The time set aside for a conciliation conference can be flexible and dependent on the needs of the participants. Usually, a conciliation conference goes for about 2-3 hours.
What if resolution cannot be reached on the day of the conciliation?
Conciliation conferences can sometimes continue into post-conference negotiations so there is an opportunity for additional time to consider resolution proposals or to gain independent advice on the details of a settlement.
What happens if we can’t agree to an outcome?
If resolution cannot be reached, we will close the complaint and the complainant has the option of taking their complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – Human Rights List. For further information visit VCAT’s website.