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2 Your right to be free of discrimination

As you get older, people may try to treat you differently because of your age. You have a right to be to be treated equally and without discrimination, regardless of your age. This chapter describes age discrimination and provides information about seeking advice and remedies.

2.1 Age discrimination

Age discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their age. Age discrimination also occurs when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular age.

Examples of age discrimination include:

  • An older applicant is not considered for a job because it is assumed that they are not as up to date with technology as a younger person.
  • An older employee is not offered training opportunities at work because it is assumed they will retire soon.
  • An employer requires an older person to meet a physical fitness test for a job. The physical fitness of the employee has nothing to do with their ability to perform the essential duties of the job.
  • A bank has a policy of denying all loan applications from people aged 65 and older.

In most cases it is against the law to treat you unfairly because of your age. In some circumstances, treating someone differently because of their age won’t be against the law. These circumstances include:

  • Things done in compliance with Commonwealth, state and territory laws.
  • Things done as part of some health programs.
  • ‘Positive discrimination’, where a genuine benefit is provided to people of a particular age group or something is done that helps to meet an identified need of people of a certain age group.
  • In the case of insurance and superannuation, if the discrimination is reasonably based on statistical data, or other relevant factors.

Where to go for more information

Read the Australian Human Rights Commission’s guide to age discrimination. Phone 1300 369 711 to order a copy or visit www.humanrights.gov.au.

Where to go for help or to make a complaint

If you experience age discrimination make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. You can also ask someone such as a solicitor, advocate or trade union to make a complaint on your behalf. The Commission can investigate the complaint and try to resolve it by conciliation. Phone the Complaint Info Line on 1300 656 419.

You can also seek legal advice. Contact legal aid in your state or territory for legal information, referral and in some cases advice.

ACT
Legal Aid ACT
1300 654 314
NSW
LawAccess NSW
1300 888 529
NT
NT Legal Aid Commission
1800 019 343
Qld
Legal Aid Queensland
1300 65 11 88
SA
Legal Services Commission of SA
1300 366 424 or 08 8463 3555
Tas
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
1300 366 611 or 03 6236 3800
Vic
Victoria Legal Aid
1800 677 402 or 03 9269 0120
WA
Legal Aid Western Australia
1300 650 579 or 08 9261 6222

You can also get a referral to a solicitor or community legal centre by calling the law society.

ACT
The ACT Law Society
02 6247 5700
NSW
The Law Society of NSW
02 9926 0300
NT
Law Society Northern Territory
08 8981 5104
Qld
Queensland Law Society
1300 367 757
SA
The Law Society of South Australia
08 8229 0288
Tas
The Law Society of Tasmania
03 6234 4133
Vic
Law Institute of Victoria
03 9607 9550
WA
The Law Society of Western Australia
08 9324 8600