Overview of Federal and State Anti-Discrimination Laws
FEDERAL ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwth) prohibits any discriminatory conduct on the basis of race. The Act states "It is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life." Racial discrimination is defined as treating someone differently based on their colour, racial background or national and ethnic origin. The Act protects and sets out a variety of rights that all Australians are entitled to. The law outlaws discrimination in areas such as employment, education, provision of goods, services and facilities, accommodation, sport and the administration of Commonwealth laws and services. The Act only covers public/direct discrimination that may occur in the workplace for example. If a migrant feels that he/she has been discriminated against in their private life by, for example, families refusing to employ a migrant babysitter, they are not able to seek remedies under this Act. Amendments to this Act in 1995 outlawed racially vilifying behaviour which are piblic actions which encourage others to feel hatred or contempt to those from a different racial background. This includes graffiti, public speeches or vilifying posters. The extent to which names given to certain racial groups are described to be racially vilifying can be argued. An unreported HREOC decision in 1997 involved complaints made by the use of the words "filthy Poms" in a couple of newspaper articles. It was argued that using this word was vilifying English people by referring to them as Poms however the president of the HREOC found that this was a common nickname for British people. He concluded that using words on their own is not vilifying but the context in which the name is used must be considered. Names such as "wogs" or "kiwis" only really amount to vilification if they are used in a malicious manner.

The Act also appoints a Commission to perform the certain functions. They are outlined here: Functions of the Commission If migrants believe that they have suffered from racial discrimination, they can contact the Australian Human Rights and Equal Oppurtunity Commission (HREOC). Complaints are lodged in writing and there are a number of avenues where complaints can be made, making it easier for a migrant to do this. Complaints can also be lodged in a language other than english and an interpretor can also be provided. If sufficient grounds are founded for the complaint then the HREOC will contact the Race Discrimination Commissioner (set out in the Racial Discrimination Act 1975) who will investigate the matter. Complaints are resolved by the Commissioner by means of conciliation where the two conflicting parties meet and talk through the issue to meet a decision. The Commissioner cannot force a person to end their discriminatory behaviour, however. Outcomes of conciliation range from an apology, compensation, reinstatement of a job, changes to policy or anti-discrimination policies. If disputes are not resolved, then the case is referred to the Federal Court where a legally binding decision is made and compensation will be paid to the winning party.


STATE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) focuses on protecting people from being denied access to rights and services like employment and education because of their racial background, sexuality, gender, marital status or disability. What constitutes discriminatory behaviour is outlined here: **Discriminatory behaviour** This Act allows migrants to make claims if they have been treated unfairly in ares such as accomodation or the provision of goods and services. Protection under this Act is also considered broader than the Federal Racial Discrimination Act because it not only prohibits direct discrimination, but also indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination is when people are treated equally but this has a discriminatory effect. In 1989, the NSW Government amended this Act to oulaw racial vilification. The laws set out in this amendment were much the same as the Federal piece of legislation but acts of racial vilification were to be reported to the Attorney-General where they would face criminal prosecution. The amendment also outlawed racial harrassment which is when a person is subject to offensive, humiliatin or intimidating behaviour because of their race.

If migrants believe they have been discriminated against in ways covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act they can seek remedies from two bodies- the Anti-Discrimination Board or the Equal Opportunity Division (EOD) of the Adminstrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT). Complaints made to the Anti-Discrimination Board are to be made in writing and do not need to demonstrate a prima facie case, meaning, they do not need substantial evidence. Investigated complaints are often solved by conciliation. The Board is also active in educating New South Wales citizens about their rights and responsibilities under the Act. They do this by holding consultations, distributing written information, holding seminars and talks etc. If matters in the Anti-Discrimination Board are not solved, then the President refers the complaint to the EOD of the ADT. Complaints of discrimination, harassment, vilification or victimisation to the ADT cannot be lodged directly but must come through the Anti-Discrimination Board first. Once the complaint is received, a case conference will be held between the two parties and legal advice is given to those without legal representation. From here, mediation is conducted with an experienced and unbiased mediator. If a decision is not met between both parties, the case is prepared for a hearing. The ADT can order a number of punishments for the perpetrator such as, paying compensation, making a public apology or ordering the person responsible not to repeat their discriminatory behaviour.

sources used:
textbook
**HREOC webpage**
Anti-Discrimination Board
Administrative Decisions Tribunal