The prohibition of racial discrimination is essential for any just society and is part of Australia’s international human rights obligations. However, since the Racial Discrimination Act was enacted in 1975, Australia continues to struggle to ensure the protection of racial, ethnic and religious minorities from unlawful discrimination.
Rights to Compensation
Federal and State courts are empowered to award significant damages for racial discrimination. The Australian Human Rights Commission can also hear complaints and assist the legal process by providing conciliation to enable the possibility of early financial settlement.
With limited exceptions, the Racial Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity, descent, nationality or immigrant status. Discrimination can occur in employment, education, and access to opportunities to rent property and other areas of public life.
Discrimination on the basis of religion is also prohibited by the Equal Opportunity Act and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Victims may also be entitled to significant compensation in state courts and tribunals.
Direct and Indirect Discrimination
Direct discrimination is when an individual is victimised or treated unfairly because of their race, ethnicity or national origin. Indirect discrimination occurs when policies or principles are applied equally to all but have a discriminatory effect on members of a particular religious or racial group. It is also unlawful to discriminate on the basis of nationality. All discrimination legislation prohibits indirect discrimination with some exceptions.
Where to now?
If you believe you have experienced racial or religious discrimination, please call us or send us an email to organise a free consultation to discuss your case.