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Victorians love sport and while it may unite us and divide us, it should always feel safe and inclusive. We all have a right to be treated equally and fairly when playing, coaching, umpiring and administrating sports.

A male tennis player hits a backhand at the Australian Open.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

How does the law protect me?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, sports clubs and organisations have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination and victimisation as far as possible.

The law protects you from discrimination

When participating in sports, it is against the law for someone to treat you unfairly or bully you because of a personal characteristic that is protected by law, such as your:

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

‘Sporting activities’ under the Equal Opportunity Act includes a wide range of activities, including activities not traditionally thought of as ‘sport’, such as chess and debating.

In sport, discrimination could include:

  • refusing to allow you to play sport because of your sexual orientation
  • refusing to select you in a sporting team because of your height
  • excluding you from a sporting activity because of your disability.

Find out more about discrimination.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

The Equal Opportunity Act makes sexual harassment against the law in a number of areas of life where people participate in sport, for example, goods and services, employment and clubs.

For example, if the sports team you play for is recognised as a club under the Equal Opportunity Act, sexual harassment is against the law, whether it is committed by:

  • other players
  • coaches
  • umpires
  • managers.

Many, but not all, sporting clubs have legal obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act (that is, if they are clubs with more than 30 people and an ongoing license to supply liquor).

It is important to note that a lot of people play sport in facilities run by service providers and such providers need to take action to protect patrons from sexual harassment and ensure that they act on all complaints respectfully, promptly and impartially.

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 us.

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 we help 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 Charter rights, including the right to equality, 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.

Equal opportunity in lawn bowls: What you need to know about holding single-sex competitions – Sep 2012

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries

1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

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1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

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0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.