Obligations to your members and players
Clubs and sports organisations have a responsibility to ensure people are treated equally and fairly when meeting, playing, coaching or umpiring. The Commission can work with you to help you meet your legal obligations and develop policies to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in your club or organisation.
Why does equal opportunity matter?
Playing sport or being part of a club are an important part of life for many Victorians, regardless of their age, disability, sex or gender identity.
The Commission receives complaints about discrimination in sport, often due to sex, disability and age.
As a club or sports organisation, your responsibilities are set out in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.
The Commission can help you make sure you are meeting your obligations.
What are my obligations?
Clubs or sports organisations have a responsibility to operate without discrimination or victimisation, including not discriminating against applicants for membership of the club.
They may also have a responsibility to make sure their premises and activities are safe and free from sexual harassment.
Your obligations apply to your prospective and current members, and people who take part in your sporting activities, including players, coaches, umpires and managers.
While a person is responsible for their own unlawful behaviour, their clubs or sports organisations, as an employer, can also be held responsible.
You can be held legally responsible for incidents of:
‘Sporting activities’ under the law includes a wide range of activities, including some not traditionally thought of as sport, such as chess and debating.
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 your sports team is recognised as a club under the Equal Opportunity Act, sexual harassment is against the law, whether it is committed by:
- other players
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 also need to take action to protect patrons from sexual harassment.
You also have responsibilities under federal anti-discrimination laws.
The positive duty
Equal opportunity is about more than just fixing issues as they arise. Genuine equal opportunity means creating an environment where unfair treatment and problem behaviour is unlikely to happen in the first place.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, organisations have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible. This means that positive action should be taken to prevent these behaviours – regardless of whether someone has made a complaint.
Victoria is unique in having a positive duty, which creates an opportunity to prevent unlawful behaviour. It helps organisations put a healthy workplace culture in place, just as occupational health and safety laws require employers to take appropriate steps to ensure injuries don’t occur.
To ensure they are complying with the positive duty, organisations should also put measures in place to ensure that complaints are responded to swiftly and appropriately when they do arise.
Meeting your positive duty to members and players might include:
- surveying your players and members about their experiences in playing sport and being part of your club
- reviewing the survey data to find out if there are any problems or barriers to equal opportunity
- designing policies that address barriers to equal opportunity and prevent sexual harassment
- educating staff on their obligations to your members and players, including an awareness of diversity and inclusion.
Does the Charter apply?
The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (the Charter) is a Victorian law that sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all people in Victoria. It is about the relationship between government and the people it serves.
The Charter requires public authorities, such as Victorian state and local government departments and agencies, and people delivering services on behalf of government, to act consistently with the human rights in the Charter.
If your club or organisation is a public authority you can find more about your responsibilities under the Charter in the For public sector section of our website.
How can the Commission help?
The Commission has a range of tools and services to help businesses, employers and organisations meet their responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act.
We provide education and consultancy services including:
- tailored organisational reviews
- compliance and best practice reviews of equal opportunity and human rights education programs
- working in partnership with organisations to encourage and support good practice
- reviewing policies and practices to give guidance.
We can carry out organisational reviews to strengthen policies, processes and systems to improve workplace safety.
Our reviews are suitable for organisations of all sizes and across all industries. We always tailor the size and scope of the work to meet an organisation’s needs and budget. We also have experience in major organisational review that reflects our expertise, for example see our Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, in Victoria Police.
We welcome calls from businesses, organisations and employers who would like more information about how we can help them meet their obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act.
You might also be interested in
Human rights and equality courses
We are the experts in Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (2006), the Equal Opportunity Act (2010) and the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act (2021). Our courses can help you and your organisation develop, adopt and drive leading practice on equal opportunity and human rights, and prevent discrimination.