Communtity Law Manual | Discrimination | Taking action: What you can do if you’re discriminated against

Taking action: What you can do if you're discriminated against


Human Rights Act 1993, s 76

If you believe you've been discriminated against illegally, you can complain to the Human Rights Commission.

If it was a private body or individual who discriminated against you, the Human Rights Commission will apply the rules in the Human Rights Act 1993 to work out whether the particular conduct amounted to illegal discrimination. The Commission will try to help you resolve the matter with the other person or organisation. If your complaint can't be resolved in this way, you can take it to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (OHRP). The OHRP may decide to take your complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The OHRP may also try to resolve the complaint between you and the other party.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal is like a court. The Tribunal hears from both sides and then makes a decision, rather than acting as a mediator between the two sides. The Tribunal can award you damages (money) or other remedies.

Complaining about discrimination by government bodies

If your complaint is about a public body or official, the Commission will apply the rules in the Bill of Rights, which include the exception for reasonable and justifiable discrimination. (However, the Human Rights Act 1993 will apply if your complaint is about employment).

The Human Rights Commission cannot receive complaints about the following types of discrimination by state bodies:

  • Discrimination within Parliament – This is dealt with by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Human Rights Act 1993, s 79(3)

    Discriminatory court decisions – These are challenged using the court system's normal appeals process.
  • Immigration laws, policies and decisions – The Human Rights Commission can't receive complaints about the Immigration Act or the government's published immigration policies, nor about how immigration officials apply that Act or those policies.
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