Yes. Discrimination is unlawful both at the ACT and federal level. A successful complaint can result in change of behaviour, an apology, compensation and other outcomes depending on the complaint.
In the ACT, under the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT), direct and indirect discrimination can be unlawful. Discrimination on the basis of the following ‘protected attributes’ is unlawful:
- Gender identity
- Sex including record of a person's sex having been altered under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997
- HIV/AIDS status
- Immigration status
- Accommodation status
- Breastfeeding or pregnancy
- Employment status or profession
- Industrial activity
- Irrelevant criminal record
- Parent, family, carer or kinship responsibilities
- Physical features
- Political conviction
- Subjection to domestic or family violence
- Relationship status
- Association with a person who has a protected attribute above
Direct discrimination is when someone treats you less favourably because of one or more of the protected attributes.
Indirect discrimination is when a condition or requirement that applies to everyone is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging you because you have a ‘protected attribute’, unless it is ‘reasonable in the circumstances’.
Discrimination is unlawful in the workplace, educational institutions, when you access premises, goods, services and facilities, in accommodation and clubs (holding licence under the Liquor Act).
These laws protect you only from discrimination by institutions, and not from discrimination by individuals. However, an institution can be responsible for its employees and other people acting on its behalf.
You can make a complaint about discrimination falling under the ACT legislation to the ACT Human Rights Commission.
At the federal level there is specific legislation that can protect you against discrimination.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes it unlawful for someone to discriminate against you, either directory or indirectly, due to your sexual orientation, gender identity and/or intersex status.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) makes it unlawful for a person to do any act involving discrimination on the basis of race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) makes it unlawful for a person to treat you unfairly because of your disability.
The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) makes it unlawful for someone to discriminate against you due to your age in employment, education, accommodation and during the provision of goods and services.
These provisions can protect you against discrimination by an individual, as well as an institution.
You can make a complaint about discrimination falling under federal legislation to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
As well as protecting you against discrimination, these laws also protect against unlawful vilification (e.g. hate speech) and against victimisation if you make a complaint.
As well as being unlawful discrimination can be student misconduct under the Student Discipline Rule 2020.
Staff members are also required to ensure they don’t discriminate under the ANU Code of Conduct.