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:
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
- Age Discrimination Act 2004
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 – A number of standards sit under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 concerning access to premises, public transport and education.
– Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport
– Disability Standards for Education
– Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
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.
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.
Useful websites for case law research.
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.
This is a searchable database of decisions made by VCAT.
Legal submissions to case law regarding the Charter and the EOA.
This is a guide to equal opportunity case law in Victoria. It provides many case examples.
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.
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.
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
This database contains information about the UN treaty system including ratifications and reservations made by countries and State reports and concluding observations.
Full copies of treaties Australia is a party to, information about when signed, ratified and any reservations.
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.
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.
This site contains news about human rights developments, links to international human rights bodies and 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)
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.
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.
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).
A library of conciliated complaint summaries sorted by attribute.