Effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality

Effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 in eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality

12 December 2008

© Commonwealth of Australia 2008
ISBN 978-0-642-71945-4

View the report as a single document - (PDF 859KB)

View the report as separate downloadable parts:

Members of the Committee (PDF 10KB)
Abbreviations (PDF 14KB)
Recommendations (PDF 29KB)
Chapter 1 - Introduction (PDF 17KB)

Conduct of the inquiry
Structure of the report
Note on references

Chapter 2 - Background (PDF 56KB)

History of the Act
Other international obligations in relation to gender equality
Related inquiries and initiatives
Key provisions in the Act
Related legislation

Chapter 3 - Objects and definitions (PDF 50KB)

Objects of the Act
Definitions in the Act

Chapter 4 - Scope of the Act (PDF 97KB)

Limited Scope of the Act
Limited protection against discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, breastfeeding and other grounds
Addressing intersecting forms of discrimination

Chapter 5 - Effectiveness of the Act (PDF 102KB)

Overall effect of the Act
Extent to which the Act implements international obligations
Areas of continuing discrimination and inequality
Sexual Harassment
Addressing discrimination against men

Chapter 6 - Complaints process (PDF 103KB)

Limitations of the individual complaints model
Issues regarding the complaints process
Suggested changes to the complaints process

Chapter 7 - Exemptions (PDF 83KB)

Permanent exemptions
Exemptions granted by HREOC

Chapter 8 - Impact on the economy (PDF 40KB)

Impact on individual businesses
Overall economic impact
Lack of consistency between federal, state and territory anti-discrimination laws

Chapter 9 - Preventing discrimination (PDF 53KB)

Positive duty to promote equality
Government purchasing requirements

Chapter 10 - Powers and resources (PDF 81KB)

Powers of HREOC and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner
Interaction between HREOC and EOWA
Resources for HREOC

Chapter 11 - Summary of the views of Committee members (PDF 97KB)

Suggested changes for immediate implementation
Recommendations requiring further consultation
Broader review of Commonwealth anti-discrimination law

Dissenting report by Liberal Senators (PDF 64KB)

A limited inquiry
Inadequate time for conducting the inquiry and considering the Chair's Report
Overall view
Interpretation of the Act
Access to assisted reproductive technology, surrogacy and adoption
Proposals to broaden the operation of the Act and facilitate complaints
Powers of HREOC and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner
Positive duties
Accession to Optional Protocol to CEDAW

Additional comments by Senator Hanson-Young - Australian Greens (PDF 27KB)

Same-Sex recognition
Provision for parental leave
Reporting dates for Sex Discrimination Commissioner
Female employees and religious discrimination

Appendix 1 - Submissions received; Additional information received (PDF 20KB)
Appendix 2 - Witnesses who appeared before the Committee (PDF 13KB)

For further information, contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3560
Fax: +61 2 6277 5794
Email: legcon.sen@aph.gov.au