Our services for First Nations peoples
If you (or someone you know) has experienced discrimination, harassment or racial vilification, you have the right to speak up and be heard.
This page includes information on how we can support you in speaking up, stories from other First Nations peoples and other services available.
Brenda's story: discrimination in renting
‘It’s been so difficult for me to find the right home for me and my kids. To be told I was not able to rent this home because I am a single mum was a huge blow.’
Brenda, an Aboriginal woman with four children, was told by a rental agent that the landlord preferred applicants without children and who were not single parents.
It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their race, marital status, or parental and carer status.
Scroll down to read more stories from First Nations peoples.
How can we support you?
We can listen to your story and provide you with information about your rights under our laws.
You can ask to speak with a First Nations staff member, if someone is available.
All of our staff are specifically trained to support First Nations peoples when making an enquiry or complaint.
You can contact us by:
Call 1300 292 153 – weekdays from 10am–3pm.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your issue and whether you would like to speak with a First Nations staff member.
Talk with us through our live online chat. Available weekdays from 10am–3pm.
Online complaint form
Send us your complaint through our online complaint form.
Send us a letter to our address: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053
We can support you if you have been treated badly or unfairly in your employment, goods and service, education, accommodation, or sport because of your:
- sex, pregnancy, parental/carer status
- sexual orientation
- physical features
- or another characteristic of unlawful discrimination covered under the law.
We can also provide support if you have:
- experienced sexual harassment
- been vilified because of your race or religious belief
- been victimised – treated badly or unfairly because you have made a complaint.
You may have experienced something personally, seen something happen or you may want to ask questions on behalf of someone else.
What happens when you contact the Commission?
- ask if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander at the start of our conversation with you
- ask if you want to speak to somebody about your rights
- ask if you want to talk directly to a First Nations staff member (if one is available)
- provide information about our services
- ask if you would need support to draft a complaint or show you how to make a complaint via our website if you don’t need any assistance.
We may also provide you with a referral to a range of First Nations or non-First Nations organisations and services to support you in whatever way is most helpful to you.
We will talk to you about any specific needs you might have to:
- feel culturally safe
- make any adjustments you might need for your disability (if required)
- ensure flexibility you might need given family, community, and other commitments.
What is conciliation?
When you make a complaint, we will take it through our conciliation process.
Conciliation is an informal, flexible approach to finding an outcome to a complaint.
It allows both parties to tell their stories, be listened to and work together to find an outcome that works for everyone.
Conciliation involves a Commission staff member – called a conciliator – who supports people to explore ways and options to resolve a complaint or issue.
How does conciliation work?
You can make your own decision on how conciliation would work best for you.
One option is for us to run a conciliation conference. This is an informal meeting of everyone involved held by phone, video or in person (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).
If it suits everyone, conciliation can be done without a conference or meeting, with the conciliator sharing information between those involved.
Our processes are voluntary. If you make a complaint, we cannot provide your details to anyone else unless you say we can.
You can discontinue at any point without consequence. If you are not able to continue, we will talk with you about your options and any assistance that may be available.
You will always be able to return to us, if, and when you are ready to go ahead.
We ensure conciliation processes are conducted in a way that is respectful, safe, flexible, and supportive to everyone involved.
You can have a support person throughout the process such as a friend, family member or Elder.
What outcomes are available?
Your conciliator will help the parties reach an outcome that works for everyone. You can ask for outcomes that are important for you and your community. Some examples are:
- telling your story and being heard
- an acknowledgement of your experience
- an apology made to you or within the community
- a promise to change or stop the behaviour that has affected you
- being given your job back
- a statement of service or reference
- accessing a service
- cultural awareness or cultural safety training
- training in equal opportunity laws so they know the behaviour should not happen again
- reviewing and updating equal opportunity and diversity policies.
Other types of complaints
We can give you information about Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, but we do not handle complaints related to the Charter.
If you think you’ve been treated wrongly by a Victorian public organisation, you should contact the Victorian Ombudsman. The Victorian Ombudsman’s role is to ensure fairness when dealing with the public sector.
If you want to make a complaint about police conduct, contact the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
External support services
Reading our website and stories may have caused distress – or you might be looking for support somewhere else. Find emergency, immediate counselling, healthcare and legal services and support below.
Brenda’s experience trying to rent a house
‘It’s been so difficult for me to find the right home for me and my children. To be told I was not able to rent this home because I am a single mum was a huge blow.’
Kate and her friends denied entry to a local hotel
‘My friends and I were having a laugh as we got to the front door. The security guard glared at us and said there was no way we were coming in tonight as Aboriginal people had a fight here last week.’
Kirra’s manager comments on her looks and tries to kiss her
‘He made me feel so uncomfortable at work. I was so happy with my job but not long after he grabbed me, I had to quit.’
Leah is booed and hears racist comments while playing netball
‘I love playing netball but as soon as I realised the boos and comments only happened when I had the ball, I just didn’t want to play anymore.’
Richard makes a complaint at work and loses his job
‘My supervisor said a lot of things about my work not being good enough. I heard him talk to the other brickies about me being lazy, like he thinks all black people are.’
Call us - 1300 292 153
We provide a free phone service with information about discrimination, victimisation, sexual harassment, racial or religious vilification and equal opportunity and human rights. Call 1300 292 153 on weekdays from 10 am to 3 pm