Skip to content
Get help

Police, the courts and government departments

Everyone should be able to feel safe and be treated with dignity and respect. This includes when in the criminal justice system. Police, the courts and government departments 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.

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

When providing a service, it is against the law for the police, a court of law or a government department 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:

  • staff making offensive comments about your gender identity
  • not making reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disability so you can take part in a trial or court process
  • failing to provide safety checks because of your racial background.

Find out more about discrimination.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also against the law, whether it is committed by:

  • police
  • lawyers, judges or court staff
  • public servants or politicians.

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.

What we can’t help with

The Commission can’t help you with general complaints about police conduct. Instead you should contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

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

Beyond doubt: the experiences of people with disabilities reporting crime – Jul 2014