Discrimination is treating a person or group of people differently – less favourably – because of a characteristic, trait or feature that the person or group of people has.
For example, a person might be treated differently – less favourably – because they have intellectual disability or because of their race, religion or gender.
Discrimination can take two forms: direct which is open and apparent or indirect which is more frequent and more difficult to recognise and deal with; it is where rules, practices or policies, which appear to be neutral, actually have a disproportionate and detrimental impact on a person or a group of people.
An example of direct discrimination is refusing to employ people with intellectual disability or flatly refusing to lease a house or unit to a person with intellectual disability.
An example of indirect discrimination is insisting that membership to a club requires reading and writing skills to complete the application form or a public venue that has steps and no access for people who use wheelchairs.
Not all discrimination if unlawful. To be unlawful, the type of unfair treatment and the area of public life that it happens in must be covered by a law.
The areas where certain types of discrimination are unlawful include employment, education, accommodation, registered clubs and the provision of goods and services.
What legislation applies to Discrimination?
There are two primary pieces of legislation that protect people with intellectual disability from discrimination on the ground of their disability. They are the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act and the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act. There are also laws that provide that discrimination may be unlawful if it is based on the attributes listed below:
- HIV / AIDS
- Sex (including sexual harassment)
- Transgender status
- Carer’s responsibilities
- Marital or domestic status
How do you make a complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against?
If you have intellectual disability and live in NSW and you feel you need legal help with the steps below then you can contact our team before you take action.
- First, it is always best to try and resolve the matter directly with the organisation or service. This is not always easy and often an attempt or multiple attempts can fail to resolve the matter.
- If you decide to make a complaint formally you can do this by contacting the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). Both organisations will have standard complaint forms which may help, but you do not have to use these forms you can just call them for help. It is a good idea to get legal advice about which agency to approach.