Legislation update - August 2013

The Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (No. 35 s 1, pt 4) made amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

Previously, under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner could only investigate a complaint after it has been accepted; and could reject or lapse a complaint on the grounds that it is frivolous, trivial or vexatious.

Expanded powers to investigate, reject or lapse complaints

The amendments allow the Commissioner to:

  • investigate a complaint at any time after it is received by the Commissioner, to conduct preliminary investigations before deciding whether to accept a complaint;
  • reject or stay a complaint if the Commissioner reasonably considers the subject of the complaint may be effectively or conveniently dealt with by another entity;
  • reject or lapse a complaint if the Commissioner reasonably considers the complaint has been adequately dealt with by another entity.

Cooling off period for withdrawal

The Act now has a 28 day 'cooling off' period if a complainant gives written notice to the Commissioner that they do not want to continue with the complaint. This allows the complainant to re-enliven the complaint in that period if they have a change of mind.

A further amendment provides that when a complaint lapses for being frivolous, trivial or vexatious; or misconceived or lacking in substance,the complainant cannot make a further complaint about the same thing. This achieves consistency with other lapse provisions in the Act.


The amendments took effect from the date of assent, commencing on 29 August 2013, and apply to complaints already before the Commission as well as those made after commencement of the amendments.