In Australia, the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 continues to stumble through the legislative process. The Bill will, among other things, amend the Age Discrimination Act to introduce a new dedicated position of Age Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland today expressed disappointment the Opposition has voted down amendments to strengthen protections against discrimination in the workplace in the Senate.
The protections proposed by the Government as part of the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 included protections against both direct and indirect forms of discrimination on the grounds of a person’s family responsibilities.
These amendments were put forward following a comprehensive inquiry by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee.
The Committee specifically recommended the Sex Discrimination Act be strengthened to prohibit discrimination, including indirect discrimination, on the grounds of family responsibilities in all areas of employment.
“By today moving to delete protections against indirect discrimination, the Opposition has demonstrated a lack of genuine commitment to effective protections against discrimination,” Mr McClelland said.
“The original provisions would have brought the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 into line with similar protections already available in State and Territory anti-discrimination legislation.
“Because of the Opposition’s actions today, protections at a federal level will be weaker.
“The rights of Australian families to work in an environment that is free from discrimination have been dealt a blow by the Opposition today.”
Age discrimination in Australia
The Age Discrimination Act 2004 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age in a number of areas of public activity, including work, accommodation, education, access to goods, facilities, services and premises, requests for information and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.
The Age Discrimination Act helps to promote positive attitudes about the contributions that both younger and older people make to society. The Act also allows benefits and other assistance to be given to people of a certain age in recognition of their individual circumstances.
On 30 September 2010, the Government introduced the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010. The Bill will, among other things, amend the Age Discrimination Act to introduce a new dedicated position of Age Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission. More information about the Bill is available on the Australian Parliament website.
The Age Discrimination Commissioner, who is expected to commence duties on 1 July 2011, will address age discrimination by educating the community about discrimination and combating the attitudes and stereotypes which can contribute to discrimination on the basis of age.
For speeches, drafts and text of the Bill, follow this link.