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Commission submission (MS Word) - Australian Human Rights

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Commission submission (MS Word) - Australian Human Rights

     Australian

    Human Rights

    Commission

    everyone, everywhere, everyday

The Disability Discrimination

    and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2008

    …………………………

    Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

    15 January 2009

     Human Rights and Level 8 Piccadilly Tower GPO Box 5218 General enquiries 1300 369 711

    Equal Opportunity 133 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2001 Complaints infoline 1300 656 419

    Commission Sydney NSW 2001 TTY 1800 620 241

    ABN 47 996 232 602 www.humanrights.gov.au

    Australian Human Rights Commission

     DDA Amendment Bill 2008 12 January 2009 Table of Contents

    1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 3 2 Definitions of discrimination in the DDA ..................................................... 4 2.1 Definition of ‘discriminate’: sch 2, items 10-11 - s 4(1) ........................... 4 2.2 Direct disability discrimination: sch 2, item 17 s5 ................................ 5

    (a) The Bill’s proposed definition .................................................................... 5

    (b) Removing the ‘comparator’ ....................................................................... 6

    (c) A simplified test ......................................................................................... 7 2.3 Indirect discrimination: sch 2, item 17 s6 ............................................. 8

    (a) The Bill’s proposed definition .................................................................... 8

    (b) Simplification and harmonisation .............................................................. 9

    (c) Focus on disadvantage, not ‘ability to comply’ .......................................... 9

    (d) Problems with the focus on ‘ability to comply’ ......................................... 10

    (e) Alternative submission: defining ‘ability to comply’ ................................. 12 3 Reasonable adjustments ............................................................................. 12 3.1 Complexity and uncertain operation of the proposed model of

    reasonable adjustments .......................................................................... 13 3.2 The Commission’s proposed model for reasonable adjustments ....... 13

    (a) The Commission’s model gives effect to the intention of the Bill ............ 14 3.3 Provide examples of reasonable adjustments ....................................... 15 3.4 Alternative submission: technical changes ........................................... 15

    (a) Definition of reasonable adjustments ...................................................... 15

    (b) Wording of s 6(2)(b) ................................................................................ 16 4 Discrimination in relation to associates: sch 2, item 17 s 7 .................. 17 5 Discrimination in relation to carers, assistants, assistance animals and

    disability aids: sch 2, item 17 ss 8 & 9 .................................................... 17 5.1 Include guide dogs ................................................................................... 17 6 Employment agencies: sch 2, item 40 s 21(2) ........................................ 18 7 Contract workers: sch 2, item 40 s 4 ....................................................... 18 8 Requests for information: sch 2, item 60 s 30 ........................................ 19 9 ‘Best practice’ options for reform of unlawful discrimination laws

    identified by the 2008 SDA Report ............................................................. 20 10 New legal name for the Australian Human Rights Commission .............. 20 11 Implement additional HREOC Act recommendations made in the 2008

    SDA Report ................................................................... 错误;未定义书签。20 Appendix - List of recommendations.................................................................... 21

    2

    Australian Human Rights Commission

     DDA Amendment Bill 2008 12 January 2009

    1 Introduction

    1. The Australian Human Rights and Commission (the Commission) makes this

    submission to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in its

    Inquiry into the Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation

    Amendment Bill 2008 (the Bill).

    2. The Commission is Australia‟s national human rights institution and is

    responsible for, amongst other things, the administration of the Human Rights

    and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (HREOC Act) and the 1Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA).

    3. The Commission strongly supports the general aims of the amendments to the

    DDA and the HREOC Act proposed by the Bill: namely to improve the

    effectiveness of both laws in promoting and protecting human rights. 4. The Commission particularly welcomes the following proposed changes:

    ; the removal of the dominant reason test in the Age Discrimination Act 2004

    (Cth) (see sch 1, item 1, proposed s 16);

    ; the statutory recognition of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of 2Persons with Disabilities (Disabilities Convention) in the DDA (see sch 2,

    items 4 and 20);

    ; clarification that the DDA applies to associates and discrimination in relation

    to carers, assistants, assistance animals and disability aids in the same way

    as it applies in relation to having a disability (see sch 2, item 17, proposed

    ss 7-9);

    ; the change of the Commission‟s legal name to the Australian Human Rights

    Commission (see sch 3, pt 1); and

    ; technical changes to provisions concerning the Commission‟s complaint

    handling functions (see sch 3, pt 2).

    5. However, the Commission has a number of particular concerns about the

    proposed changes to the DDA. The most significant of these concerns relate to:

    ; The definition of direct discrimination. The Commission

    recommends that the definition of direct discrimination be further

    simplified to remove the explicit requirement for a „comparator‟.

    ; The definition of indirect discrimination. The Commission

    recommends that the definition of indirect discrimination be

1 Sections 11 and 31 of the HREOC Act set out the Commission‟s functions relating to unlawful

    discrimination and human rights and equal opportunity in employment. The Commission also has functions under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Racial Discrimination Act 1975

    (Cth), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth). 2 Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities opened for signature 30/03/2007, U.N. Doc

    A/61/611 (entered into force 3 May 2008).

    3

    Australian Human Rights Commission

     DDA Amendment Bill 2008 12 January 2009

    harmonised with the provision in the SDA to focus on disadvantage

    caused by a requirement or condition to persons with the aggrieved

    person‟s disability. An aggrieved person should not be required to

    show that they cannot comply with a requirement or condition.

    Alternatively, the proposed section should specify that where an

    aggrieved person is disadvantaged by a requirement or condition, this

    will be sufficient to make out an „inability to comply‟.

    ; The duty to provide reasonable adjustments. While the

    Commission strongly supports the express provision of the duty to

    provide reasonable adjustments, the proposed provisions in ss 5(2)

    and 6(2) are unnecessarily complicated and may be difficult to apply.

    The Commission proposes an alternative model to ensure that effect

    is given to the intention of the Bill to create an explicit positive duty to

    make reasonable adjustments.

    6. A number of other concerns with the proposed provisions are also raised below. 7. This Committee‟s recent inquiry into the operation of the Sex Discrimination Act

    1984 (Cth) (SDA) (the SDA Inquiry) and its Report on the effectiveness of the

    Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in eliminating sex discrimination

    and promoting gender equality (the 2008 SDA Report), highlighted a range of

    „best practice‟ options for reform of unlawful discrimination laws. The

    Commission submits that the Committee‟s recommendations in that report

    provide a very useful guide to changes that might also be made to the DDA and

    the HREOC Act. In addition to the changes proposed in the Bill which, with

    appropriate amendment, the Commission submits should be introduced as

    soon as possible, the Commission submits that there would be considerable

    value in government considering how the changes proposed by the 2008 SDA

    Report might be implemented for the DDA.

    2 Definitions of discrimination in the DDA

    2.1 Definition of