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Legal resources

A list of federal human rights, equal opportunity and workplace law, and links to case law sites.

Federal human rights and discrimination laws

The Australian Parliament has passed laws that aim to protect people from certain types of discrimination in public life and from breaches of their human rights by Commonwealth departments and agencies.

They include the:

These laws operate in conjunction with Victorian human rights legislation.

The Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department has responsibility for administering these laws.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has responsibility for overseeing the application of these laws.
Find out more about what they cover and how they work.

Case law associated with these laws is available on AustLII and various subscription legal databases.

Workplace law

Employers in Victoria have a responsibility to make sure that people who work with them are treated fairly and with respect. Not only is this good for business, it is the law.

Successful employers ensure that their workplaces are free from discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.

These responsibilities are set out in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and federal human rights laws (see above).

In addition, employers have responsibilities to provide fair and safe working conditions under Victoria’s Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, as well as federal laws such as the:

State public sector employers in Victoria are also covered by the Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Public Administration Act 2004, and Australian public service employers are covered by the federal Public Service Act 1999.

For more information on federal workplace laws see:

The Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Ombudsman is there to give advice and help you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities. The role of the Fair Work Ombudsman is to work with employees, employers, contractors and the community to promote harmonious, productive and cooperative workplaces. They investigate workplace complaints and enforce compliance with Australia’s federal workplace laws.

The Fair Work Commission, the national workplace relations tribunal. It is an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions including:

  • providing a safety net of minimum conditions, including minimum wages, in awards
  • facilitating good faith bargaining and the making and approving of enterprise agreements
  • conducting annual wage reviews
  • granting remedies for unfair dismissal
  • regulating the taking of industrial action
  • resolving a range of collective and individual workplace disputes through conciliation, mediation and in some cases arbitration
  • functions in connection with workplace determinations, equal remuneration, transfer of business, general
  • workplace protections, right of entry and stand down.

Case law

Useful websites for case law research.

State

AustLII

The Australian Legal Information Institute contains legislation and decisions of courts and tribunals across Australian jurisdictions and some secondary legal materials, (for example, law reform and royal commission reports and law journals). Note: It does not provide a completely comprehensive coverage for some years of case law. The cases and legislation are not official versions. Austlii also provides links to international legal information institutes, referred to below.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘VCAT’) on AustLII

This is a searchable database of decisions made by VCAT.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission – submissions

Legal submissions to case law regarding the Charter and the EOA.

Victorian Discrimination Law Resource

This is a guide to equal opportunity case law in Victoria. It provides many case examples.

National

AustLII

AustLii provides public legal information. This includes primary legal materials such as legislation, treaties and decisions made by courts and tribunals, and secondary materials created by public bodies including law reform and royal commission reports. Law journals are also available.

Federal Register of Legislation

This site contains Acts, Bills and Legislative Instruments of the Australian Parliament. It includes the federal anti-discrimination laws. It also contains explanatory memoranda and statements of compatibility.

Human Rights Law Resource Centre

The website provides a database of legal decisions within Australian and other jurisdictions with human rights instruments, a monthly bulletin containing Australian and International human rights case notes, news and commentary, opinion pieces and formal submissions on a range of human rights issues.

International / human rights treaties

Bayefsky

This database contains information about the UN treaty system including ratifications and reservations made by countries and State reports and concluding observations.

DFAT Treaties Database

Full copies of treaties Australia is a party to, information about when signed, ratified and any reservations.

European Court of Human Rights

This site contains case law resolutions and reports of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution whose purpose is the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) Documentation Site
(As of 2015, these databases are available through the website of the United Nations)

A collection of databases providing case-law of UN treaty monitoring bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee views and general comments.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

This site contains news about human rights developments, links to international human rights bodies and treaties.

UN Treaties

This database provides a source to check the status of treaties (ratifications, reservations etc)

Legal information institutes

These sites contain comparative legal jurisprudence within international frameworks. The sites provide legislation, case law, law reform commission reports, and legal journal articles.

British and Irish Legal Information Institute
(This site also contains European Union Case-law)

Canadian Legal Information Institute

New Zealand Legal Information Institute

Southern African Legal Information Institute

Legislation

Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (‘SARC’)

This site provides SARC’s Alert Digests on Bills tabled in Parliament. The Digests contemplate the human rights implications of bills, raise questions for parliamentary and ministerial consideration and record ministerial correspondence.

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents

This site features proposed and existing legislation. It provides the full texts of Bills and accompanying statements of compatibility, second reading speeches and explanatory memoranda. It has a link to parliamentary debate recorded in Hansard, the full text and explanatory memoranda of existing Acts and statutory rules, in addition to updated versions of legislation.

Case studies

Australian Human Rights Commission – Conciliation register

This site contains a range of legal resources including legal and policy submissions, case-notes, human rights reports to Parliament and a register of conciliated complaints (de-identified case studies of conciliated matters and outcomes).

Equal Opportunity Commission of WA

A library of conciliated complaint summaries sorted by attribute.

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.