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Healthcare, hospitals and GPs

Everyone should be able to feel safe and be treated with dignity when accessing services from healthcare places like hospitals and GPs. Healthcare providers 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 healthcare 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
  • gender identity.

Discrimination could include:

  • refusing to treat you or admit you
  • offering different terms on which you may be treated or admitted
  • being subjected to any other unfavourable treatment when at healthcare services.

Find out more about discrimination.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also against the law, whether it is committed by doctors, nurses or other medical practitioners and staff. It is against the law for people using the service to sexually harass doctors, nurses or other medical practitioners and staff.

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.

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

Guideline for General Practices > Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 when providing services – Jan 2014