- Law Reform Commission is reviewing the Equal Opportunity Act
- Review open for public submissions as discussion paper released
- Gender identity, sexual harassment and religious body exemptions among issues
Attorney General John Quigley is urging people to have their say about reforming Western Australia's anti-discrimination laws.
The Law Reform Commission (LRC) today released a discussion paper as part of its review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA).
These laws were enacted to ensure people are treated equally and to prevent discrimination based on their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, impairment or other characteristics.
The Attorney General instructed the Commission to review the laws and propose possible amendments to enhance and update the Act.
The discussion paper suggests more can be done to protect and encourage equal treatment, helping ensure WA continues to be a fair, respectful and non-discriminatory community.
The document discusses and poses questions about potential changes and additions to the Act, making reference to comparable laws in other States and Territories, and those of the Commonwealth.
It also cites preliminary views sought from a range of stakeholders in regard to relevant issues.
Potential areas for reform of the laws identified by the paper include:
- expanding protections to include gender identity;
- including physical features as a ground for discrimination;
- removing the disadvantage requirement for sexual and racial harassment;
- changing exemptions for religious bodies and schools, charities and voluntary groups;
- increasing or removing the $40,000 cap for compensation.
The LRC is an independent statutory authority which examines laws with respect to any matter referred to it by the Attorney General, who in turn tables the Commission's reports in Parliament. Government considers the recommendations, however, it is not bound by those recommendations.
The discussion paper and information on how to make a submission can be accessed on the Commission's website. The deadline for submissions to be received is October 29, 2021.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"It's time these laws were examined and revised to bring them into line with contemporary values and expectations.
"That's why I sought this comprehensive review by the Law Reform Commission.
"I urge all those with an interest in the Equal Opportunity Act to make a submission so their voices can be heard.
"I look forward to considering the recommendations once this process has been completed."
Comments attributed to Law Reform Commission Chair Lindy Jenkins:
"Western Australia's anti-discrimination laws were designed to ensure people are treated equally. Yet many people report that they continue to experience discrimination.
"Community expectations have also evolved since the Act was introduced, so we have been tasked to consider ways to make the legislation reflect those changes.
"The discussion paper is designed to inform people about the existing laws and make them think about what improvements could be made.
"We invite them to tell the Commission their ideas and opinions about the very important topics covered by these laws."
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800