The NSW Law Reform Commission today released a two volume report on its review of the Anti-Discrimination Act. The Commission has made 161 recommendations for reform of the Act.
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) ('ADA') came into force in 1977. It initially prohibited discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and marital status. Over the years, many other grounds have been added and many changes have been made. Yet, this is the first comprehensive review of the Act.
The Commission critically examined the way in which the ADA has been operating. In the Commission's view, the Act has been successful in bringing about significant changes to community attitudes and behaviour. However, the Act must remain relevant and up to date. For this reason the Commission has recommended the introduction of three new grounds of discrimination: religion, political opinion and carer responsibilities (in employment). It also recommends reducing the number of exceptions to the Act's application, in particular the exceptions relating to small business and partnerships of fewer than five persons and limiting the scope of the exception for private educational authorities in the area of employment.
According to the Commissioner in charge, Mr John Basten QC:
While the Anti-Discrimination Act has been working well, the Commission's review provided an opportunity to rewrite the Act to overcome some of its weaknesses to ensure that it remains an important tool in protecting individual rights. The Report provides a major benchmark on anti-discrimination law for the use of all those affected by or interested in this area.
MEDIA COMMENT: Contact John Basten QC (Commissioner in charge) on 9229 7333 or Sharminie Niles (Snr Legal Officer) at the NSW Law Reform Commission, Level 17, Goodsell Building, 8-12 Chifley Square, Sydney; tel: (02) 9228 8230; fax: (02) 9228 8225.