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Project 111 – Review of the Equal Opp Act 1984 (WA)

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia is currently reviewing the state’s EO legislation. This review will include an examination of religious exemptions in discrimination law, whether to include terms such as ‘vilification’ and a positive duty not to discriminate, an investigation of the powers held by the EO Commissioner and other related matters.

The Commission will release a discussion paper next year and a call for submissions and public consultation will follow.

AACS has begun liaising with WA MPs and schools on the matter. We will be heading over to WA in the new year and gather AACS Principals together for a meeting to help prepare.

Terms of Reference

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia is to provide advice and make recommendations for consideration by the Government on possible amendments to enhance and update the EO Act 1984 (WA) (“the Act”) taking into account Australian and international best practices regarding equality and non-discrimination.

In carrying out its review, the Law Reform Commission should consider whether there is a need for any reform, and if so, the scope of reform regarding:

  1. the objects of the Act and other preliminary provisions;
  2. the grounds of discrimination including (but not limited to) introducing grounds of gender identity and intersex status;
  3. the areas of public life to which the Act applies;
  4. definitions in the Act including (but not limited to) discrimination, harassment (including a requirement for disadvantage in a definition of sexual harassment), impairment (including a requirement to make reasonable adjustments for persons with an impairment), victimisation, services and employment;
  5. the inclusion of vilification, including racial, religious, sexual orientation and impairment vilification;
  6. the inclusion of a positive duty not to discriminate on grounds covered by the Act;
  7. exceptions to grounds of discrimination including (but not limited to) those for religious institutions;
  8. the burden of proof;
  9. the functions and investigative powers of the Commissioner for EO including (but not limited to) the functions of the Commissioner (either personally or by counsel) assisting complainants in the presentation of their case to the State Administrative Tribunal (“SAT”);
  10. requirements around the referral of complaints to SAT;
  11. the role and jurisdiction of SAT under the Act, including the requirement for leave if the complaint is dismissed by the Commissioner;
  12. interaction with the Commonwealth Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 and with other relevant Commonwealth laws or proposed laws;
  13. any other element of the Act or other laws relevant to equal opportunity and non-discrimination; and
  14. any related matter.
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