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Equal Opportunity Act intervention guidelines

The Commission's functions under the Equal Opportunity Act

The Commission has a number of functions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Under sections 159 and 160of the Act, the Commission may intervene in cases or appear as amicus curiae, to assist a court or tribunal considering equal opportunity issues. The Commission has a discretion about when it gets involved in a matter and can only exercise these functions when the relevant court or tribunal agrees.

The key difference in the two roles is that an intervener can be made a party to the court or tribunal proceedings. An amicus curiae, or friend of the court, is someone who volunteers or is invited by the court to give advice or make submissions to the court on some matter before it. An amicus curiae has no rights in the case and cannot file proceedings, motions or appeals.

In performing these functions, the Commission does not represent any of the parties to a dispute. The Commission’s role is to advocate for the objectives of the Equal Opportunity Act and to be of assistance to the court or tribunal.

Equal Opportunity Act-related matters in courts and tribunals

Equal opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation are relevant to the work of Victorian courts and tribunals in a number of ways. Most frequently, cases will arise when complaints under the Act itself are brought before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), or are on appeal from VCAT to a higher court.

Parties may also apply to VCAT for an exemption from the operation of the Act in particular circumstances. Equal opportunity issues may also occasionally arise in the context of other types of proceedings.

Guidelines: Intervention and amicus curiae function

The Commission may intervene in proceedings involving issues of equality of opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation with the agreement of the relevant court or tribunal. In addition, the Commission may seek to act as amicus curiae, with the leave of the relevant court or tribunal, in proceedings where:

  • there is a likelihood that orders sought may significantly affect the right to protection against discrimination of persons who are not parties to the proceedings
  • there is a likelihood that the proceedings will have significant implications for the administration of the Equal Opportunity Act
  • the Commission is satisfied that it would be in the public interest for the Commission to assist the court or tribunal.

The Commission will consider intervening in proceedings where:

  • the equal opportunity issues are significant and not peripheral to the proceedings
  • the orders that could be made in the proceedings may significantly affect the equality rights of persons who are not parties to the proceedings,
  • the proceedings may have significant implications for the ongoing interpretation or operation of the statutory provision being interpreted
  • the proceedings may have significant implications for the ongoing application, implementation and/or operation of the Equal Opportunity Act.

Please refer to the intervention guidelines below for further information or email legal@veohrc.vic.gov.au.

Alerting the Commission to a relevant case

There is no requirement under the Equal Opportunity Act for parties to notify the Commission about a matter. However, if you want to let us know about a case that may fall within our guidelines, you can contact us by:
Phone: 1300 891 848
Email: legal@veohrc.vic.gov.au
Fax: 1300 286 834

Please provide information about:

  • the facts of the case
  • if already before a court or tribunal, the name of the proceedings, the court/tribunal it is before
  • the equal opportunity issues that are being raised
  • any submissions that have already been made, and
  • any court or tribunal timetable or other relevant directions that have been set.

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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.