Anti-discrimination laws will be reviewed to ensure they protect Queenslanders from discrimination, promote equality and meet international best practice.
Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman this week formally asked the Queensland Human Rights Commission to undertake a review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, and released its terms of reference on Tuesday.
“Making sure our laws protect and promote equality for our diverse communities is a key priority,” Ms Fentiman said. “I’ve written to Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall asking the Commission to review the Anti-Discrimination Act to consider whether any reforms are needed to update the laws to best protect and promote equality, non-discrimination and the realisation of human rights.
“It will consider how we can make the process easier for victims of discrimination to make and defend complaints as well as options for ways to better use dispute resolution to address systemic discriminations as well as discrimination complaints that raise public interest issues.”
In undertaking the review, the independent commission will take into account Australian and international best practices in the area and the compatibility of the Act with Queensland’s Human Rights Act, which commenced in full on 1 January 2020.
Ms Fentiman said the commission would consider the protected attributes under the legislation, including whether the current definitions best promoted the rights to equality and non-discrimination, and whether additional attributes should be introduced.
“The review will also consider the ongoing efforts of the Palaszczuk Government to implement recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s ‘Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report’,” she said.
“I have asked the Commission to provide options for legally requiring all employers to take positive measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible in their organisations.”
Ms Fentiman said the commission would receive $150,000 to assist it in undertaking the review and would provide its report by 30 June 2022.
“This year marks 30 years since State Parliament passed the Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure Queenslanders had adequate protection from discrimination by building on the existing Commonwealth legislation,” Ms Fentiman said. “The anniversary provides a timely opportunity to conduct this holistic review of our anti-discrimination laws to ensure they continue to provide those protections in a contemporary setting.”
Mr McDougall welcomed the opportunity to review the state’s anti-discrimination legislation.
“A lot can change in 30 years, and the Queensland of today is not the Queensland of 1991,” he said.
“The Anti-Discrimination Act has made a big difference to a lot of people, but this is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that it is up to dealing with the challenges of modern Queensland, that it reflects community expectation, and that it helps us build a safe and inclusive community for everyone.”
See the terms of reference.