26 September 2023

New rules on way to extend PS equality

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ACT Government Departments are to be given positive duties to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful vilification in the Service under new legislative reforms.

Welcoming the changes to the Discrimination Act 1991, the Minister for Human Rights, Tara Cheyne said the reforms were aimed at ensuring Canberra was a city of equality, inclusiveness and respect for diversity.

“Importantly, the law reforms introduce a positive duty or responsibility on Government, organisations and businesses to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful vilification,” Ms Cheyne said.

“This positive duty will encourage a proactive approach to preventing discrimination in our community and shift the responsibility away from individuals having to make a complaint,” she said.

“The new obligation to eliminate discrimination applies to public authorities initially, coming into effect in 12 months’ time.”

Ms Cheyne said the positive duty would be extended to other organisations after three years to ensure there was enough time to provide education and support.

She said the reforms also expanded the areas in public life where anti-discrimination laws applied, including formally organised sporting activities, formally organised competitions and the administration of ACT laws and Government programs.

“In addition, the exceptions in the Act (situations where it is not unlawful to discriminate) have been refined, including exceptions relating to employment, workers in private homes, sport, clubs and voluntary bodies, insurance and superannuation providers and religious bodies,” the Minister said.

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