Complaint process

The Commission's complaint handling service is free, and a person does not need a lawyer to make a complaint.

Commission's role

The Commission's role is to try to resolve complaints through the conciliation process.

The Commission staff who deal with complaints are not advocates for the person making the complaint (the complainant) or the person or organisation the complaint is about (the respondent).

The Commission is not a court and cannot decide if discrimination or another breach of the Act has happened.

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Complaint requirements

A complaint must be:

  • made in writing;
  • set out reasonably sufficient details to show that the person complained about may have breached the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 , or committed a reprisal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 ; and
  • lodged with or sent to the Commission.

Generally a complaint should be made within 1 year of the first incident complained about.

The Commission can accept a complaint made more than 1 year from the alleged contravention or reprisal, if the person making the complaint shows good cause.

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Simplified complaint management process

The Commission's process for dealing with a complaint is as follows:

1. Assessment stage

  • When a written complaint is received, it is assessed - generally within 28 days.
  • If there is sufficient information for the complaint to come within the Act, it is accepted.
  • If there is not sufficient information for the complaint to come within the Act, the complainant is advised of the reasons for not accepting the complaint and referred to a more relevant agency. If possible, the complainant may provide further information to show the complaint comes under the Act.
  • A complaint may be rejected at any stage of the process, based on further information.

2. Conciliation stage

If the complaint is accepted then the following steps are taken:


  • All parties are notified and a date is set for a compulsory conference, generally no more than six weeks after the notification.
  • The respondent is given an opportunity to provide a written response or to  request an early conference. If all parties agree, the conference may be brought forward.

Conciliation conference

A meeting is held with all parties and a conciliator to discuss the issues and try to resolve the complaint.


  • If all parties agree to resolve the complaint, the agreement is written down, signed by all parties, and filed either at the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (for work-related complaints), or the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (for all other complaints). The agreement is then binding on all parties as if it is a court order. The complaint is then closed.

3. Post conference stage

  • If no agreement is reached at the conference and further negotiations are unable to resolve the complaint, the complainant has the option to refer the complaint for  a public hearing, where any determination made is binding on all parties.
    From 1 March 2017:

Other resources

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