Victimisation

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful to victimise a person.

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Victimisation - meaning and examples

The victimisation provisions apply when a detriment is done to a person (or threatened) because of one of the following:

Refusing to do something

A person refused to do something that would contravene the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Example:

  • A nightclub security officer was told by his supervisor to refuse entry to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander patrons. He was sacked when he refused to follow this direction. The security officer could bring a complaint of victimisation.

Alleging a contravention of the Act

A person has alleged (or intends to make an allegation) about a contravention of the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Examples:

  • A worker complained to their human resource management department about discrimination. As a result, the  worker was subjected to taunts by co-workers and snide remarks related to the complaint. He was further penalised for making a complaint when he was excluded from meetings and events that he would normally attend.
  • A tenant was sexually harassed by her property manager. When she said that she intended making a complaint about the sexual harassment, the property manager threatened her with eviction if she went ahead with the complaint. The tenant could make a victimisation complaint to the Commission, even if she does not proceed with the sexual harassment complaint.

Being involved in a proceeding

A person is (or intends to be) involved in a proceeding under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Example:

  • A woman was contacted by a friend who had made a discrimination complaint, and agreed to be a witness for them. The woman was subsequently contacted by the respondent who threatened to harm her if she gave evidence for her friend. The woman could make a victimisation complaint against the person who made the threat.

Supplying information or documents

A person who supplies information or documents to a person performing a function under the Anti-Discrimination Act

Example:

  • An administration worker responded to a request from the Commission to provide contact details for a person identified in a complaint. When the person found out who supplied the information, they made threatening phone calls to the administration worker on a number of occasions. The administration worker could make a victimisation complaint against the person.

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Victimisation is a separate action

A victimisation complaint may continue even if other proceedings do not.

A victimisation complaint is a separate and distinct action from any other complaint made and is not affected by:

  • the discrimination, sexual harassment or other complaint failing;
  • the complaint being withdrawn;
  • the person intending to be involved with a proceeding or supplying documents etc not going ahead with it.

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Detriment

Detriment means a loss, damage or injury to the person making the complaint.

The loss, damage or injury must be something a reasonable person would consider to be a detriment, rather than how the person making the complaint felt.

Examples:

  • A lack of friendliness between two employees is not a detriment and would be considered a trivial interpretation of such a serious provision.
  • Calling a person Mrs when she wishes to be called Ms is not, of itself a detriment.
  • A female prison officer lodged a race discrimination complaint about another officer and applied for a transfer in order to get away from the officer she was complaining about. A deliberate delay in organising the transfer was found to be a detriment.

Reason for the detriment

For victimisation to be established, one of the grounds referred to (refusing to do something, complaining of involvement in proceedings etc) must be a substantial reason for the detriment caused.

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Information and enquiry service

Individuals, employers and business operators can access the Commission's statewide telephone information and enquiry service.

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Making a complaint

Make a complaint to the Commission on the Complaint Form about victimisation.

The complaint must be lodged with the Commission within 1 year of the victimisation happening.

The Commission's service is free.

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