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:
- 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.