Anti-Discrimination Reforms: The Proposed Harmonisation of Anti-Discrimination Laws

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The Federal Government has released an exposure draft for a new Anti-Discrimination Bill, which proposes to harmonise, into a single statute, the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination laws and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 into one piece of legislation, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 (Draft Bill).

The proposed changes to the current laws are:

Altered Definition of Discrimination -

The Draft Bill proposes to simplify the definition of direct discrimination by defining direct discrimination as 'unfavourable treatment because of a protected attribute'. In consequence of this change, the comparator test that is currently applied under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 and Sex Discrimination Act 1984 will be replaced by a 'detriment test' that is currently applied under State anti-discrimination legislation in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

The Draft Bill also proposes to simplify the test for indirect discrimination to limit indirect discrimination to circumstances where an employer imposes a condition, practice or requirement that would have the effect of disadvantaging an employee with a protected attribute.

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