The NSW Labor Government has taken another step toward fulfilling its election promises by launching a review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.
It has asked the Law Reform Commission to consider whether the Act could be modernised and simplified to better promote the equal enjoyment of rights and reflect contemporary community standards.
“The Act came into place almost half a century ago and our attitudes have changed significantly even since then,” Member for Campbelltown Greg Warren said.
“It is important that as we evolve as a society our laws evolve with us.”
The Commission has been entrusted with carefully examining several critical aspects of the Act, including assessing whether the range of attributes protected against discrimination should be reformed and whether the areas of public life where discrimination is unlawful require updating to ensure comprehensive coverage.
Attorney General Michael Daley emphasised the importance of this review, in the wake of “monumental shifts” in society, demographics, and attitudes over the past half-century.
“We are a far more multicultural and accepting community than we were when the current laws were drawn up almost 50 years ago and social mores and our way of life have changed,” Mr Daley said.
“It is essential to conduct reviews of this nature to ensure our laws represent who we are today as a community.”
The Commission will also consider:
- whether the existing tests for discrimination are clear, inclusive and reflect a modern understanding of discrimination
- the adequacy of protections against vilification, including whether these protections should be harmonised with the criminal law
- the adequacy of protections against sexual harassment and whether the Act should cover harassment based on other protected attributes
- whether the Act should include positive obligations to prevent harassment, discrimination and vilification, and to make reasonable adjustments to promote full and equal participation in public life
- exceptions, special measures and exemption processes
- the adequacy and accessibility of complaints procedures and remedies
- the powers and functions of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW and its President, including potential mechanisms to address systemic discrimination.
Furthermore, the Commission will examine the protections, processes and enforcement mechanisms in other Australian and international anti-discrimination and human rights laws, the interaction between the NSW Act and Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws, and any other matters the commission considers relevant.
The NSW Law Reform Commission is calling for preliminary submissions at https://www.lawreform.justice.nsw.gov.au/