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Annual Report 2001-2002: Chapter 3

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report 2000-2001

Chapter 3: Legal Section

The primary responsibilities
of the Legal Section for the 2000-01 financial year were to:

  • schedule and
    facilitate the hearing of outstanding matters under the Commission’s
    old inquiry function;
  • assist the President
    and/or the Human Rights Commissioner in the preparation of notices
    and reports under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
    Act 1986 (Cth);
  • act as instructing
    solicitor for the Commission in Commission interventions in legal
  • act as instructing
    solicitor for the Commission in applications to appear as amicus curiae
    in legal proceedings;
  • act as counsel
    or instructing solicitor for the Commission in external litigation
    such as applications for review of Commission decisions under the
    Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth);
  • provide internal
    legal advice on discrimination, human rights and other laws relevant
    to the work of the Commission;
  • assist the Commission
    to examine enactments or proposed enactments under the Human Rights
    and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth);
  • assist the Commission
    to consider applications for exemptions under the Sex Discrimination
    Act 1984 (Cth);
  • respond to applications
    under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) on behalf of the Commission;
  • monitor the
    development of the anti-discrimination law jurisprudence in the Federal
    Court and Federal Magistrates Service. Since 13 April 2000 jurisdiction
    to hear matters terminated by the President lies with the Federal
    Court and the Federal Magistrates Service;
  • prepare submissions
    to Senate inquiries and committees, especially where the Commission’s
    core legislation is involved;
  • represent the
    Commission externally in providing information and education on human
    rights matters; and to
  • represent the
    Commission in international project work.

Hearings and Determinations
by the Commission

Public Hearings

As a result of
the enactment of the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1)
1999 (Cth) the jurisdiction of the Commission to conduct public inquiries
into complaints was transferred on 13 April 2000 to the Federal Court
and Federal Magistrates Service. However, the Commission retained the
jurisdiction to complete those public inquiries it had commenced prior
to 13 April 2000. During 2000–01, 32 of these matters were finalised.
Of those:

  • 25 were determined
    at hearing (16 were substantiated and 9 were dismissed);
  • 4 settled;
  • 3 were finalised
    in other ways including complaints terminated by the Commission at
    the complainant’s own request and complaints adjourned indefinitely
    by the Commission, for example where a party could not be located.

The following summaries
are of two matters that were determined at hearing in 2000-01.

Mingli Wanjurri,
Ben Taylor, Robert Bropho, Edna Bropho and Clarrie Issacs v. Southern
Cross Broadcasting Ltd and Howard Sattler
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
Commissioner: Graeme Innes
Date of decision: 7 May 2001

The complainants
lodged a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (“RDA”)
against Southern Cross Broadcasting Ltd and Howard Sattler. The complainants
alleged that comments made during a segment on the Howard Sattler morning
radio talk show on 6PR in Perth were in breach of the racial vilification
provisions of the RDA. The segment, broadcast on 3 February 1997, was
called “Taxi Talk” and involved Mr Sattler seeking the views
of the taxi drivers of Perth.

In the segment
there was discussion about protests by Aboriginal people in relation
to the redevelopment of the old Swan Brewery site – a sacred site
for the Nyungah community. Remarks made during the segment included
the following:

know for eighty years while it was brewing grog it didn’t worry
the Waugyl , as soon as it stopped brewing grog, up pops Waugyl. Waugyl,
Waugyl. Shame the first time he popped up the first workman didn’t
clean him up with a shovel ……

a few years ago when they were camping there, no it’s a so called
sacred site, isn’t it. Yes. They were urinating, they were defecating
and they were fornicating….”

Now there’s a great little shrub there in the sandhill overlooking
the caravan park where I had my first sexual experience. Now that’s
a sacred site to me do you reckon I could put a claim in there and
get a nice little plot of land …”

The Waugyl is a
significant spiritual figure for the Nyungah Community. The Waugyl was
involved in the creation of the land and plays a significant role in
their culture.

Commissioner Innes
found that the discussion degenerated into a denigration of Nyungah
people, their religion and culture. He found that the remarks constituted
racial vilification in breach of section 18C of the RDA and were not
protected by the exemptions contained in section 18D.

Commissioner Innes
said, “The actions of Mr Sattler, in allowing these comments to
be made, and in supporting them through his participation in the conversation,
shows a gross disrespect for the Nyungah people, and an abuse of his
position as a radio broadcaster. The role played by Southern Cross Broadcasting
(Aus) Ltd, owners of 6PR, in not preventing such a broadcast by better
training of staff and through having policies detailing the relevant
laws and banning such broadcasts, demonstrates extreme neglect of their
responsibilities as a broadcaster”.

Commissioner Innes
declared that the respondents should pay each of the complainants $10,000
for the injury done to them.
Katherine Williams v. Colin Robinson & the Commonwealth of Australia

Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Commissioner John Nader
Date of decision: 13 October 2000

Katherine Williams
lodged a complaint under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) against
Colin Robinson and the Commonwealth of Australia (Australian Defence
Force). She alleged that she was sexually harassed by Mr Robinson during
the time that she was serving in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Ms Williams joined
the RAAF in 1985. After completing 13 weeks recruitment training she
was posted to Wagga Wagga for clerical training, then to Townsville
in November 1985. At the inquiry, Ms Williams gave evidence that during
her first month at Townsville, when she was nineteen years old, she
was assaulted by two men in her single female quarters. Evidence was
led that the two assailants were later identified. But only minor disciplinary
action was taken against them. Ms Williams was also advised by her superiors
that she would never be required to serve at the same base as either
of the men again. She received no counselling or any offer of counselling
to assist her to recover from this incident.

In relation to
the complaints of sexual harassment against Mr Robinson, Ms Williams
alleged that the first act of harassment occurred in April 1996. This
occurred while Ms Williams worked in a medical centre and her immediate
supervisor was Mr Robinson who was then a sergeant with whom she worked
daily. Ms Williams gave evidence that she was standing in the orderly
room of the medical centre facing the front desk when she saw her then
boyfriend enter through the doorway. Ms Williams said to Mr Robinson
“There’s my boyfriend”. Mr Robinson allegedly said “Does
this mean he’ll get upset if I do this” and then grabbed her
with his arms from behind. He wrapped his right leg around her right
leg and pressed his body against her. He held her in this way for a
couple of seconds before releasing her and laughing.

The second alleged
act of sexual harassment occurred in May 1996. Ms Williams went to a
patient and while she was bending over, Mr Robinson came from behind
her and grabbed her around the waist. He pulled his body into hers and
held her there. He said something, which was muffled because she had
the stethoscope in her ears, and laughed before releasing her.

Shortly afterwards
Ms Williams reported these incidents to a superior officer.

An EEO Officer
was appointed to mediate the complaint and as a result of the mediation
Mr Robinson provided a written apology to Ms Williams. Later that year
Ms Williams was notified that she was to be transferred to another base.
However she discovered that one of the perpetrators of the 1985 assault
was working on that base and as she felt scared and worried, she decided
to leave the RAAF. She was ultimately discharged from the RAAF on 2
January 1997.

Commissioner Nader
found that there was no evidence of any formal or independent investigation
of Ms Williams’ allegations by the RAAF and that the failure to
institute a formal investigation, either within or outside the service,
was a major factor contributing to the damage suffered by her.

He came to the
conclusion that on all of the evidence, the alleged acts of sexual harassment
did occur and that the subject matter of her complaints was clearly
one of assault and should have been dealt with as such by the RAAF.
He found that from the time of her complaint, Ms Williams’ superior
officers should have taken immediate steps to separate her from any
real risk of encountering the perpetrator in the course of her duties.
The failure on the part of the RAAF created or permitted circumstances
to exist that aggravated and compounded the effect on her.

Commissioner Nader
found that Ms Williams’ discharge from the RAAF was the end result
of a series of events commencing with the 1985 sexual assault. That
assault was followed by the apparent failure of the RAAF to properly
prosecute the offenders, and the failure of the RAAF to provide any
counselling or other support. After the 1996 assaults, the subsequent
conduct of superior officers, “by acts in some instances and by
omissions in others, forced her to the edge of a breakdown.”

Both respondents
were held jointly and severally liable to pay the combined amount of

This amount was
made up of general damages of $30,000, which included emotional pain,
humiliation, embarrassment and other negative emotions suffered by Ms
Williams and for her lost opportunity to fulfil her desire to follow
a career in the RAAF; and economic loss of $100,000 covering the loss
of income.

Complaints relating
to breaches of human rights or discrimination in employment made under
the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)

Complaints made
under the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
(the HREOCA) relating to breaches of human rights and discrimination
in employment were not affected by the Human Rights Legislation Amendment
Act (No. 1) 1999 (Cth). The President may report to the Attorney-General
where conciliation cannot resolve the matter and an inquiry has satisfied
the President there has been a breach of human rights or discrimination
in employment. In dealing with these matters, the Legal Section assists
the President in the reporting process of the inquiry into these complaints.

Between 1 July
2000 and 30 June 2001, the following reports were tabled in Parliament
by the Minister pursuant to this Commission function:

HRC Report No.

Report of an inquiry
into a complaint of acts or practices inconsistent with or contrary
to human rights in an immigration detention centre (May 2000)

This Report details
a complaint by a Nigerian national in relation to his treatment during
a period of immigration detention in the Perth Immigration Detention
Centre (IDC). The treatment of the detainee was found in some respects
to be inconsistent with and contrary to human rights.

In particular:

  • the placing
    of the complainant in an observation room without a window and with
    twenty-four hour fluorescent lighting where he remained for six days;
  • the use of
    handcuffs for eight and a half hours and the use of shackles around
    the ankles for seven hours while in the observation room; and
  • the conditions
    of detention of the complainant at the Perth IDC over the period of
    his immigration detention
  • were found
    to constitute a breach of article 10(1) of the International Covenant
    on Civil and Political Rights.

A number of detailed
recommendations were made to prevent a repetition of such treatment.

HRC Report No.

on the ground of age (August 2000)

This Report details
a complaint to the Commission by an employee of the Japan Travel Bureau.
The complainant alleged that a reduction in 1994 in the work allocated
to her and subsequent decline in income amounted to discrimination on
the basis of her age. The complaint was upheld and a recommendation
made that the Japan Travel Bureau to;

i. pay to the
complainant $43,385 being damages for loss of income; and

ii. that future
decisions on the allocation of work to the complainant be made without
discrimination on the ground of age.

The Japan Travel
Bureau accepted the recommendations in full.

HRC Report No.

Report of an inquiry
into a complaint of acts or practices inconsistent with or contrary
to human rights in an immigration detention centre (November 2000)

This Report involves
an inquiry into complaints by two Chinese nationals (Mrs and Mr Quan)
in relation to their treatment during a period of immigration detention
at the Port Hedland Detention Centre. The President found that their
treatment was inconsistent with and contrary to human rights.

In particular,
the President found that:

  • the failure
    to inform the complainants of their right to legal advice when taken
    into immigration detention;
  • the handling
    of the complainants’ requests for access to legal advice and
    for application forms for protection visas; and
  • holding the
    complainants in separation detention
    breached their human right to be treated humanely and in accordance
    with human dignity while in detention under article 10(1) of the International
    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The President also
    found that the complainants’ detention was arbitrary within the
    meaning of article 9 of the ICCPR.

The President recommended

i. in compliance
with the ICCPR, detainees should be informed promptly and effectively
of their right to apply for a protection visa and to access independent
legal advice and assistance;

ii. in compliance
with the ICCPR, once a detainee has requested legal advice and assistance,
that advice and assistance and any necessary interpretive services
should be provided in a timely and effective fashion that does not
delay the determination of the detainee’s status or prolong the

iii. separation
detention should be used sparingly for the shortest possible period
of time and in compliance with the Standard Minimum Rules and the
Body of Principles. Detainees who are in separate detention should
be informed of the reasons for and the likely time-frame of their
separation; and

iv. Mr Su be
paid the sum of $20,000 and Mr Quan the sum of $15,000 by way of compensation
for the damages each suffered as a result of the human rights violations
to which he was subjected.

HRC Report No.

Report of an inquiry
into a complaint of acts and practices inconsistent with or contrary
to human rights relating to the continuing imprisonment of immigration
detainees in prisons after completion of their criminal sentences (March

This Report concerns
an inquiry into complaints by ten Vietnamese nationals. At the time
of the inquiry each of the complainants were permanent residents of
Australia. They had all been convicted of criminal offences and had
served criminal sentences in New South Wales. The Department of Immigration
and Multicultural Affairs had served the complainants with deportation
orders. Each of the complainants was held in “immigration detention”
at the Parramatta Correctional Complex and was awaiting deportation
to Vietnam.

At the time of
the inquiry the complainants had been held in immigration detention
for periods ranging from 13 months to two years. In each case, the Minister
of the Department had declined to exercise his discretion to release
the complainants from such detention pursuant to section 253(9) of the
Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

The President found
that there were acts and practices of the Commonwealth that were inconsistent
with and contrary to human rights. The President found that, although
the detention of the complainants was lawful, that detention was arbitrary
within the meaning of article 9(1) of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. This was because of the indefinite, indeterminate
and unpredictable period for which the complainants had been, and at
that time it was supposed that they would continue to be held in detention.
This finding was based on the fact that, at that time, the Department
was not able to advise of the date on which a Memorandum Of Understanding
(“MOU”) with Vietnam would be signed (this MOU was to provide
the mechanism for the return of the complainants) and, consequently,
the date on which the complainants’ detention would end.

The President recommended
that the complainants be immediately released from detention pending

In the Department’s
response to this recommendation the Acting Secretary advised that he
had directed “relevant officers to conduct a comprehensive review
of the circumstances of each complainant in order to evaluate whether
continued detention remains appropriate [but] I cannot give you any
assurances that this process will necessarily lead to any releases under
section 253(9) of the Migration Act 1958”. He also affirmed the
Department’s commitment to the earliest possible resolution of
the return arrangements with Vietnam.

On 15 June 2001,
the MOU was signed with Vietnam.

External litigation

Applications under
the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth);

The Commission
is often a party in judicial review legal proceedings. These legal proceedings
occur when the Commission is named as a respondent in matters where
an application has been made to the Federal Court seeking judicial review
of a Commission or Commissioner’s decision – these reviews
can be sought pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review)
Act 1977 (Cth).
In accordance with established legal principle, the Commission as decision
maker usually submits to the jurisdiction of the Court in these matters,
leaving the substantive parties (that is, the complainant and respondent
to the complaint that was before the Commission) to present the matter
to the Court. In a very small number of matters, submission to the jurisdiction
of the Court is not practicable. In these cases the Commission attempted
to assist the Court rather than act in a way that would appear contentious
or adversarial. The numbers of applications made under the Administrative
Decisions (Judicial Review) Act for the years 1995–2001 are shown
in the table on the following page.

Table 35: Trends
in numbers of Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act applications
where the Commission is named as respondent
Year 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99 99-00 00-01
Total 9 11 35 19 22 13

If you require this
information in a more accessible format, please contact


The Commission
has the power to intervene, with leave of the Court, in proceedings
that involve issues of race, sex, marital status, pregnancy and disability
discrimination, human rights issues and equal opportunity in employment.
The power to seek leave to intervene is contained in:

The Racial Discrimination
Act 1975 (Cth), s.

The Sex Discrimination
Act 1984 (Cth
), s.48(1)(gb)

The Disability
Discrimination Act 1992 (
Cth), s.67(1)(l)

The Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
(Cth) s.11(1)(o)
and s.31(j).

The Commission
will consider seeking leave to intervene in cases where the human rights
or discrimination issues are significant and central to the proceedings,
and where these issues are not being addressed by the parties to the

The following two
summaries are of matters that the Commission was granted leave to intervene
in during the 2000-01 period.

State of WA
v Ben Ward & Ors on behalf of the Miriuwung and Gajerrong People
(No. P59 of 2000)

of the Northern Territory v Ben Ward & Ors on behalf of the Miriuwung
and Gajerrong People (No. P62 of 2000) Cecil Ningarmara & Ors v
Attorney-General of the Northern Territory & Ors (No. P63 of 2000)

Ben Ward &
Ors on behalf of the Miriuwung and Gajerrong People v State of WA &
Ors (No. P67 of 2000)

In March 2001 the
Commission sought leave before the High Court of Australia to intervene
in the above-mentioned matters. These were appeals heard together before
the High Court from 6 to 16 March 2001. They involved applications lodged
under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) by a number of native title claimants
in respect of land and waters in the north of Western Australia and
adjacent land in the Northern Territory. Whilst there were numerous
grounds of appeal, the important issues of the conceptualisation and
extinguishment of native title were before the Court. The majority of
the Full Court of the Federal Court decided that native title constitutes
a “bundle of rights” rather than an underlying right to land,
and that it is possible for only some of those rights to be extinguished
by the creation of inconsistent rights by laws or executive acts and
that where this happens, partial extinguishment occurs. In a particular
case a “bundle of rights” that was so extensive as to be in
the nature of a proprietary interest, may be so reduced by partial extinguishment
that the rights which remain no longer have that character.

The Commission
was granted leave to intervene by way of written and oral submissions
and was represented by senior and junior counsel before the Court. The
Legal Section of the Commission acted as instructing solicitors.

The Commission’s
submissions focused on the relationship between principles of international
human rights law and the development of the law relating to native title
both pursuant to the Native Title Act and under the common law. The
Commission submitted that:

  • the “bundle
    of rights” approach to native title should be rejected and the
    notion of suspension of native title rights accepted because the exposure
    of native title so readily to extinguishment runs counter to human
    rights norms in international treaties to which Australia is a party,
    in particular articles 5(d)(v) and (vii) of the International Convention
    on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”)
    (relating to the right of everyone without distinction as to race,
    to equality before the law including the right to own property alone
    as well as in association with others and the right to freedom of
    religion) and article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and
    Political Rights (ICCPR) (relating to respect for cultural rights);
  • where there
    are choices in statutory language or ambiguity in common law language,
    and where there is no binding authority to the contrary, then the
    Court should as a matter of judicial rule, and not as a matter of
    taste or preference, find the common law and interpret the statute
    in accordance with Australia’s international obligations;
  • where there
    are clashes between the enjoyment of aspects of native title and the
    rights of other title holders, the regime set out in the Native Title
    Act in many cases provides for the suspension and yielding of native
    title rights rather than native title being destroyed permanently.
    This can be seen by the Court to promote the resilience rather than
    the fragility of native title and to permit a culture to exist in
    the larger system, both legal and otherwise. It was submitted that
    this is the correct interpretation of Australia’s obligations
    under article 5(d) of CERD and article 27 of the ICCPR.

The Court has reserved
its decision.

Ming Dung Luu
v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

The Commission
also intervened in proceedings in the Federal Court involving a review
of a decision of the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
(the Minister).

That decision related
to Mr Ming Dung Luu who was the subject of a deportation order made
by the Minister following his conviction on a serious assault charge.
Mr Luu was sentenced by the Victorian County Court to a maximum of three
years and six months imprisonment in relation to that charge. After
being paroled (on 18 June 1997), Mr Luu was placed in immigration detention
pending his deportation. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural
Affairs determined that Mr Luu should be detained in a maximum security
prison rather than in an immigration detention centre.

Mr Luu has been
held in a maximum security prison for four years since he was paroled.

Mr Luu sought to
have the Minister exercise his discretion under section 253(9) of the
Migration Act 1958 (Cth) to release him or, alternatively, revoke
the original deportation order. After Mr Luu commenced Court proceedings
in the Federal Court, the Minister determined not to exercise his power
to release Mr Luu or revoke the deportation order. Mr Luu sought judicial
review, under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act
(Cth), of that decision (and certain other matters).

The Commission
was granted leave to intervene (by consent) by way of written and oral
submissions. It was represented by counsel and the Legal Section of
the Commission acted as instructing solicitors.

The Commission’s
submissions focussed on the following points regarding the Minister’s
decision not to exercise his power under section 253(9) of the Migration

  • The Commission
    submitted that the Minister was bound to take into account relevant
    norms derived from international law in making his decision. The Commission
    contended that such a requirement flowed from the purposes of the
    power conferred by section 253(9), which include the prevention of
    “injustice” to deportees. The Commission argued that international
    norms play a key part in identifying such injustice. In that regard,
    the Commission submitted that the Minister should have considered
    Australia’s obligations under articles 9(1), 10 and 26 of the
    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR) for
    the purposes of the decision. In particular, the Commission submitted
    that the Minister was bound to consider article 9(1) of the ICCPR
    (which proscribes arbitrary detention).
  • The Commission
    contended that the Minister failed to consider Australia’s obligations
    under those articles of the ICCPR.
  • The Commission
    further contended that that omission was significant by reason of
    the fact that the circumstances of Mr Luu’s detention involved
    breaches by Australia of its international obligations under those
    articles. The Commission submitted that those matters vitiated the
    validity of the Minister’s decision.
  • As a further
    or alternative argument, the Commission contended that the Minister
    was under an obligation to inform Mr Luu that he proposed to proceed
    in a manner that would involve a failure to conform to relevant international
  • Finally, the
    Commission submitted that the Minister’s decision was vitiated
    by unreasonableness.

At the time of
this report, the Court has reserved its decision.


The Commissioners
of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission have the function
of assisting the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Service as amicus
curiae in discrimination matters. An amicus curiae is a “friend
to the court” who assists the court on points of law in a particular
case. An Amicus is not a party to the proceedings, does not file pleadings
or lead evidence and may not lodge an appeal.

The Commissioners’
amicus curiae function can only be exercised with the leave of the Court
where the Court is hearing an application alleging unlawful discrimination
under Division 2, Part IIB of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Act 1986
(Cth). The Commissioner/s may seek leave to
appear as amicus where:

1. the Commissioner
thinks the orders sought may affect to a significant extent the human
rights of persons who are not parties to the proceedings; or

2. the proceedings,
in the opinion of the Commissioner, have significant implications
for the administration of the relevant Act/s; or

3. the proceedings
involve special circumstances such that the Commissioner is satisfied
that it would be in the public interest for the Commissioner to assist
the Court as amicus.

The Legal Section
assists the Commissioners in the carrying out of this function.

The Sex Discrimination
Commissioner sought the leave of the Federal Court to appear as amicus
curiae in a case involving indirect sex discrimination. The applicant
in this case alleged that a large corporation had a policy prohibiting
part-time work. She asserted that this policy disadvantaged women because
they were more likely to need to work part-time than men as women still
have primary responsibility for caring for children in our society.
This matter settled prior to the Court determining the Commissioner’s
application to appear as amicus.

International Project Work

As reported in
previous annual reports, the Commission has been working on a technical
cooperation project with the South African Commission on Gender Equality
(CGE). The Legal Section has been working on one aspect of this project
which relates to legal intervention. The aim of this part of the project
is to improve the capability of the CGE to participate effectively in
relevant litigation in South Africa concerning gender related issues.
Two staff members of the legal section attended at the offices of the
CGE in Johannesburg from 11 to 15 June 2001. They carried out consultations
with staff and Commissioners of the CGE and external NGOs and legal
agencies, drafted guidelines for assessing appropriate matters for intervention
by the CGE, and developed a procedural strategy for conducting interventions.
It is proposed that further work in relation to this activity will be
carried out in late 2001, including a training workshop for staff and
Commissioners of the CGE on the basis of the previous work completed
in June.

National Conference

In November 2000
the Commission’s Legal Section in partnership with the NSW Anti-Discrimination
Board, hosted the annual National Legal Officers’ Conference. The
Conference was held in the Commission’s offices in Sydney and was
attended by representatives from each of the state and territory anti
discrimination agencies.

The Conference
was opened with a panel discussion concerning the issues of privacy
and discrimination issues in relation to genetic testing. This panel
was chaired by Malcolm Crompton, the federal Privacy Commissioner, and
the speakers included Chris Puplick, President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination
Board, Dr Kristine Barlow-Stewart, a genetics counsellor and researcher,
and David Mason, Director of the Commission’s Disability Discrimination
Unit. Other Conference presentations and papers dealt with a number
of issues including recent developments in anti-discrimination and human
rights law in Australia and overseas and the relationship between industrial
relations law and anti-discrimination law.

Other Activities

Over the 2000-01
period, staff members of the Legal Section also undertook a range of
external activities. These included the following:

  • Presenting a
    seminar at the Sole Practitioners Group of the NSW Law Society concerning
    the Sex Discrimination Act with a particular focus on the difference
    between direct and indirect discrimination, the operation of exemptions
    and employers’ obligations to avoid sexual harassment in the
  • Providing human
    rights training to newly appointed Federal Magistrates.
  • Speaking at
    a “Pro Bono and the Law Conference” hosted by the Federal
  • Making a presentation
    on the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Pregnancy Discrimination
    Report to a seminar jointly run by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
    and Young Lawyers (NSW).
  • Speaking at
    the Sydney meeting of Zonta International on women and international
    law developments in Australia.
  • Speaking at
    a seminar for legal practitioners organised by the University of Western
    Sydney and the College of Law on equal opportunity and sexual harassment
  • Speaking at
    the University of Sydney Careers Day.