The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has unveiled a new website, www.equalitylaw.org.au, to encourage and facilitate discussions about the Australian Government’s consolidation process of federal anti-discrimination laws. There are a number of federal anti-discrimination laws in Australia which aim to tackle discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability and age. In April 2010, the Australian Government committed to examining gaps in the existing anti-discrimination laws and consolidating them into a single Equality Act.
The HRLC’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Rachel Ball, said the move towards a single Equality Act is a welcome one.
“The consolidation process presents an important opportunity to not only simplify and streamline the laws, but also to strengthen and modernise them. Promoting equality and fairness for all, requires a well-resourced, comprehensive system of prevention, regulation, enforcement and monitoring,” Ms Ball said.
Currently, anti-discrimination laws are reactive and complaints-based. The law is passive until discrimination occurs, at which point it requires individual victims to enforce compliance with complex legal standards through burdensome proceedings.
Ms Ball said despite Australia’s long-held aspiration to provide ‘a fair go’ for all, Australia could do better when it comes to equality and is hoping the website will become a focal point of activities for and by organisations with an interest in improving equality and anti-discrimination laws.
“Some of our most pervasive problems - violence against women, barriers to participation in public life for people with disability and Indigenous disadvantage, to name a few - are all mired in discriminatory frameworks, institutions and attitudes. We’ll be encouraging all interested parties to bring their ideas to the table and help Australia take a leadership role when it comes to some our most important human rights laws,” Ms Ball said.
The website, created and moderated by the Human Rights Law Centre, was created with financial assistance from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, but will be published independently and will showcase the opinion and views of a range of organisations, through guest blogs, comments boards, a twitter feed and various resources.
The Government has said it will release an exposure draft of the proposed Equality Act some time this year.