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Banking and insurance

Providers of goods and services, such as banks and insurance companies, have a legal responsibility to make sure that everyone who uses their services is treated fairly and with respect.

How does the law protect me?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, providers of goods and services have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

While a person who discriminates against or sexually harasses someone else is primarily responsible for their own behaviour, in some cases the goods and services provider can also be held responsible for the actions of their staff or agents.

Services run by or for the Victorian Government have additional responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and more information is available under the For public sector part of our website.

The law protects you from discrimination

It is against the law for someone to treat you unfairly because of a personal characteristic that is protected by law, such as your:

  • disability
  • race
  • religion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

Discrimination could include:

  • refusing to serve you or provide you with a service because of your religion
  • declining your application for travel insurance because you have a mental health condition
  • offering different terms on which they provide you with a good or service because of your disability.

Find out more about discrimination.

An example from our previous work

An insurer was found to have discriminated against a young woman with a mental health condition. She had purchased travel insurance for a school trip but decided not to go due to her mental health. The insurer denied her claim relying on a blanket mental health exclusion in the policy. Despite VCAT finding that this insurer had discriminated against this young woman, the insurer refused to change its exclusionary policy. After this discovery, the Commission launched an investigation into mental health discrimination in the travel industry. Find out more about this investigation.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also against the law. It is against the law for staff members to sexually harass people using their service. It is also is against the law for people using the service to sexually harass staff members.

Find out more about sexual harassment.

It is also against the law to victimise a person, which means treat them badly or unfairly, because they have made a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification, or have helped someone else to make a complaint.


You can make a complaint

Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:

If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you.

Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.

We can also give you information about your rights.

Disability access to banks and insurers

Under the Equal Opportunity Act goods and services providers are required to make changes, known as reasonable adjustments, to allow people with disabilities to access goods and services on the same basis as others.

For example, a bank provides flexible ‘at home’ services for people with disability who may have difficulty going to a branch.

Making reasonable adjustments requires a goods and services provider to balance the need for change with the cost or effort required to make this change. If the cost or disruption is disproportionately high, the change is not likely to be reasonable.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

There are some exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act that mean it’s not against the law to discriminate in particular circumstances. For example, discrimination is not against the law if there is a real risk to someone’s health, safety or property.

Find out more about exceptions.

My human rights under the Charter

Every Victorian has the right to equal and effective protection against discrimination, and to enjoy their human rights without discrimination.

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities contains 20 basic rights that promote and protect the values of freedom, respect, equality, and dignity.

The Victorian Government, local councils and other public authorities must always consider these rights when they create laws, develop policies and deliver their services.

Find out more about your human rights under the Charter and what to do if you think they have been breached.

Related resources

Fair-minded cover: Investigation into discrimination in the travel insurance industry – Jun 2019

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.