26 September 2023

Equal opportunity laws brought up to date

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The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia report, Review of Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) has been tabled in State Parliament.

The final report makes 163 recommendations aimed at more fair and effective anti-discrimination laws.

The Government has broadly accepted the recommendations of the report with further consideration to be given to the extent they will be implemented.

Several key reforms are expected to be included in the legislation resulting from the report however, including removing the outdated ‘disadvantage test’ for sexual harassment complainants, and strengthening equal opportunity protections for LGBTIQA+ staff and students in religious schools.

Attorney General, John Quigley said the Equal Opportunity Act had been one of the most significant social reforms in the State’s history when it was introduced by the then Labor Government 38 years ago.

“Since these nation-leading anti-discrimination laws were first introduced, community expectations regarding discrimination have progressed and WA now lags behind most other jurisdictions,” Mr Quigley said.

“These changes will be a significant reform in promoting equality in Western Australia and will bring the State in line with the rest of the country.”

He said the proposed legislation was not about granting additional rights to any one group of people, but ensuring all Western Australians were free from discrimination, harassment, vilification and victimisation.

“Importantly, these changes will make Parliament and our court system safer workplaces and ensure action can be taken against cases of sexual and racial harassment,” Mr Quigley said.

“Whilst still subject to drafting and further consideration, it is our ambition that the new Bill will achieve a balance between the rights and interests of a wide variety of Western Australians and ensure that employers are not unnecessarily burdened with complex legislation.”

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