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Appendices 3 - Annual Report 2011-2012: Australian Human Rights Commission

Appendices

Appendix 3 – Complaint statistics

Enquiries and complaints received

In 2011–12 the Commission received 17 047 enquiries and 2 610 complaints. This is the highest number of complaints received over the past 10 years and 21% higher than the number of complaints received in the previous reporting year.

  • 37% of complaints were lodged under the Disability Discrimination Act
  • 19% of complaints were lodged under the Sex Discrimination Act
  • 18% of complaints were lodged under the Racial Discrimination Act
  • 18% of complaints were lodged under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act
  • 8% of complaints were lodged under the Age Discrimination Act.

Conciliation of complaints

Of the complaints finalised in 2011–12, 48% were conciliated. Of those matters where conciliation
was attempted, 66% were able to be resolved.

Complaints under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act had the highest conciliation rate (54%) and the highest conciliation success rate (88%).

Complaints under the Age Discrimination Act had a conciliation rate of 48% and a conciliation success rate of 69%.

Complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act had a 48% conciliation rate and a conciliation success rate of 63%.

Complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act had a 48% conciliation rate and a conciliation success rate of 62%

Complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act had a conciliation rate of 43% and a conciliation success rate of 60%.

Demographic data

Information on the geographical location and ethnicity of complainants is provided in Tables 7, 10 and 11.

Demographic data obtained during the complaint process indicates that 53% of complaints were lodged by individual males, 45% by individual females and 2% by other categories. Other categories include intersex, sex not specified, joint/multiple complainants and organisations on behalf of others.

Where referral source was identified, 61% of complainants reported that they knew about the Commission prior to lodging their complaint. The other main identified referral sources were the internet (9%), family members or friends (8%), a government agency (5%) and specialist advocacy agencies such as advocacy agencies for people with disabilities, women or Indigenous Australians (4%).

The majority of complainants (65%) indicated that their main source of income at the time of the alleged act was from a form of employment. Of this group, 79% indicated they were in full or part time permanent employment, 17% were engaged in casual, contract or outwork and 4% were self employed.

Approximately 33% of complainants said they were represented at the beginning of the complaint process and 40% of these complainants said they were represented by privately funded solicitors. Other forms of representation were other advocate groups, such as working women’s centres or disability advocacy services (21%), community legal centres, such as Indigenous or disability legal services (16%), family members or friends (16%) and trade unions or professional associations (6%).

In 2010–11, the main respondent organisations to complaints were private enterprise (48%), Commonwealth departments/statutory authorities (22%) and State departments/statutory authorities (16%). These have been the main respondent organisation categories for a number of years. There has been a significant increase in complaints against the Commonwealth which is indicative of the increased number of complaints received this year relating to immigration and immigration detention.

Complaint Information Service

 
Table 3: Website enquiires
Complaint information webpage views
328 343
Table 4: Telephone, TTY, Email, in-person and written enquiries received
Enquiry type
Total
Telephone
12 668
TTY
8
Email
3 643
In-person
106
Written
622
Total
17 047
Table 5: Enquiries received by issue  
Issue
Total
Race
1 705
Race – racial hatred
582
Sex
747
Sexual harassment
882
Sex – marital status, family responsibilities, parental status, carers responsibilities, breastfeeding
389
Sex – pregnancy
423
Transgender, intersex
11
Sexual preference
160
Disability
2 437
Disability – HIV/AIDS/hepatitis
27
Disability – workers compensation
198
Disability – mental health
722
Disability – intellectual/learning disability
261
Disability – maltreatment/negligence
33
Disability – physical feature
595
Age
97
Age – too young
133
Age – too old
786
Age – compulsory retirement
7
Criminal record/conviction
290
Political opinion
21
Religion
224
Employment – bullying and harassment
1 311
Employment – dismissal
1 710
Employment – personality conflict/favouritism
162
Employment – union activity
79
Employment – work conditions
324
Human rights – children
111
Human rights – civil, political, economic, social
786
Immigration – detention centres
802
Immigration – visas
520
Human rights – other
156
Prisons/prisoners
179
Police
292
Court/tribunal proceedings
366
Privacy
99
Neighbourhood disputes
69
Advertising
24
Local government
99
State government
653
Federal government
902
Other
3 498
Total*
22 872

* One enquiry may have multiple issues

Table 7: Enquiries received by State/Territory of origin
State of origin
Total
Percentage
New South Wales
4 537
27
Victoria
2 245
13
South Australia
725
4
Western Australia
1 134
7
Queensland
1 669
10
Australian Capital Territory
365
2
Tasmania
233
1
Northern Territory
308
2
Unknown/overseas
5 831
34
Total
17 047
100
 

Complaints overview

Table 8: Complaints received and finalised over the past five years
 
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-2011
2011-2012
Received
2 077
2 253
2 517
2 152
2 610
Finalised
1 883
2 354
2 426
2 266
2 605
Table 9: Outcomes of complaints finalised over the past five years
 
2007-08
(percent)
2008-09
(percent)
2009-10
(percent)
2010-2011
(percent)
2011-2012
(percent)
Terminated/declined
39
34
32
35
31
Conciliated
48
48
50
47
48
Withdrawn
13
18
13
11
12
Discontinued*
-
-
5
6
8
Reported (AHRCA only)
-
-
-
1
1

* Complaints finalised under statutory provision – 46 PF(5)(a) – Satisfied that complainant does not want inquiry to continue.

 

Table 10:  Complaints received by State/Territory of complainant
State of origin  
Total
Percentage
New South Wales
950
36
Victoria
535
21
South Australia
171
7
Western Australia
265
10
Queensland
440
17
Australian Capital Territory
77
3
Tasmania
34
1
Northern Territory
103
4
Unknown/overseas
35
1
Total
2 610
100

 

Table 11: Complaints received and finalised by Act
Act
Received
Finalised
Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)
477
502
Sex Discrimination Act (SDA)
505
487
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
955
976
Age Discrimination Act (ADA)
196
218
Australian Human Rights Commission Act (AHRCA)
477
422
Total
2 610
2 605

 

Table 12: Complaints received by Act over the past five years
 
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
Racial Discrimination Act
376
396
550
422
477
Sex Discrimination Act
438
547
532
459
505
Disability Discrimination Act
988
980
1 057
823
955
Age Discrimination Act
126
151
174
175
196
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
149
179
204
273
477
Total
2 077
2 253
2 517
2 152
2 610

 

Table 13: Country of birth – complainants
 
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
AHRCA (%)
Total
(%)
Born in Australia
47
60
60
50
24
50
Born outside of Australia
41
12
12
17
57
26
Unknown/unspecified
12
28
28
33
19
24

 

Table 14:  Indigenous status – complainants  
 
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
AHRCA
(%)
Total
(%)
Aboriginal
35
3
2
2
3
9
Torres Strait Islander
1
-
-
-
1
-
None of the above
64
97
98
98
97
91

 

Table 15: Time from receipt to finalisation for finalised complaints
 
RDA
(%)
SDA
(%)
DDA
(%)
ADA
(%)
AHRCA
(%)
Cumulative Total (%)
0 - 6 months
79
68
64
68
56
66
6 - 9 months
92
88
85
89
74
85
9 - 12 months
96
95
93
95
90
93
More than 12 months
100
100
100
100
100
100

Racial Discrimination Act

Table 16: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints received and finalised
 
Total
Received
477
Finalised
502

 

Table 17: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints received by ground
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Colour
92
11
National origin/extraction
75
9
Ethnic origin
107
13
Descent
9
1
Race
389
46
Racial hatred
121
14
Immigrant Status
26
3
Association
3
Victimisation
20
3
Incite unlawful act
2
Total*
844
100
* One complaint may have multiple grounds
Table 18: Racial Discrimination Act - complaints received by area
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Rights to equality before the law
Access to places and facilities
2
Land, housing, other accommodation
8
2
Provision of goods and services
147
28
Right to join trade unions
Employment
243
46
Advertisements
1
Education
8
2
Other - section 9
22
4
Racial hatred
95
18
Total*
526
100
*One complaint may have multiple areas.
Table 19: Racial hatred complaints received by sub-area  
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Media – press/TV/radio
12
9
Disputes between neighbours
16
13
Personal conflict
7
6
Employment
31
24
Racist propaganda
1
1
Internet - e-mail/webpage/chat room
22
17
Entertainment
Sport
Public debate
Provision of goods and services
36
28
Other
3
2
Total
128
100

 

Table 20: Racial Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Racial Discrimination Act
Total
Terminated
173
At complainants request – s.46PE
Not unlawful
1
More than 12 months old
17
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
25
Adequately dealt with already
More appropriate remedy available
Subject matter of public importance
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
130
Discontinued*
25
Withdrawn
52
Conciliated
226
Administrative closure**
26
Total
502
 
 
* Finalised under statutory provision – 46 PF(5)(a) – Satisfied that complainant does not want inquiry to continue.
** Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

Sex Discrimination Act

Table 21: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received and finalised
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Received
505
Finalised
487

 

Table 22: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received by sex of complainant
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages
Female
422
84
Male
73
14
Other category*
10
2
Total
505
100
* Includes intersex, sex not specified, joint/multiple and individual/organisation on behalf of other

 

Table 23: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received by ground
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentages
Sex discrimination
431
41
Marital status
24
2
Pregnancy
160
15
Sexual harassment
262
25
Family responsibilities
63
6
Breastfeeding
2
Victimisation
87
9
Causes, instructs, aids or permits an unlawful act
17
2
Total*
1 046
100
*One complaint may have multiple grounds.
Table 24: Sex Discrimination Act - complaints received by area
Sex Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Employment
446
85
Goods, services and facilities
56
11
Land
Accommodation
4
1
Superannuation, insurance
1
Education
5
1
Clubs
3
1
Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
7
1
Requests for information
Registered organisations
Qualifying bodies
Total*
522
100
* One complaint may have multiple areas.
Table 25: Sex Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Sex Discrimination Act
 
Terminated
143
At complainants request - s.46PE
1
Not unlawful
1
More than 12 months old
11
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
6
Adequately dealt with already
More appropriate remedy available
Subject matter of public importance
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
124
Discontinued*
54
Withdrawn
51
Conciliated
189
Administrative closure**
50
Total
487
* Finalised under statutory provision – 46 PF(5)(a) – Satisfied that complainant does not want inquiry to continue.
** Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged.

 

Disability Discrimination Act

Table 26: Disability Discrimination Act - complaints received and finalised
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Received
955
Finalised
976

 

Table 27: Nature of complainant’s disability
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Physical disability
202
17
A mobility aid is used (e.g. walking frame or wheelchair)
115
10
Physical disfigurement
12
1
Presence in the body of organisms
causing disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS)
11
1
Presence in the body of organisms
causing disease (other)
9
1
Psychiatric disability
208
18
Neurological disability (e.g. epilepsy)
64
5
Intellectual disability
28
2
Learning disability
43
4
Sensory disability (hearing impaired)
43
4
Sensory disability (deaf)
44
4
Sensory disability (vision impaired)
47
4
Sensory disability (blind)
72
6
Work-related injury
78
7
Medical condition (e.g. diabetes)
102
9
Other
89
7
Total*
1 167
100
*One complainant may have multiple disabilities.
Table 28: Disability Discrimination Act - complaints received by ground
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Disability of person(s) aggrieved
1 717
89
Associate
68
4
Disability – person assisted by trained animal
37
2
Disability – accompanied by carer or assistant
4
Disability – aid
22
1
Harassment
19
1
Victimisation
29
1
Causes, instructs, induces, aids or permits
an unlawful act
30
2
Incites unlawful act
Unlawful to contravene disability standard
8
Total*
1 934
100
* One complaint may have multiple grounds.
Table 29: Disability Discrimination Act - complaints received by area
Disability Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Employment
389
31
Goods, services and facilities
448
36
Access to premises
48
4
Land
Accommodation
34
3
Advertisements
Superannuation, insurance
7
1
Education
106
8
Clubs, incorporated associations
24
2
Administration of Commonwealth laws
and programs
39
3
Sport
1
Requests for information
1
Qualifying bodies
Registered organisations
1
Unlawful to contravene disability standards
149
12
Victimisation
2
Total*
1 249
100
* One complaint may have multiple areas.
Table 30: Disability Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Disability Discrimination Act
 
Terminated
334
At complainants request - s.46PE
Not unlawful
2
More than 12 months old
21
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
30
Adequately dealt with already
3
More appropriate remedy available
1
Subject matter of public importance
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
277
Discontinued*
37
Withdrawn
115
Conciliated
451
Administrative closure**
39
Total
976
* Finalised under statutory provision – 46 PF(5)(a) – Satisfied that complainant does not want inquiry to continue.
** Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously
 

Age Discrimination Act

Table 31: Age Discrimination Act - complaints received and finalised
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Received
196
Finalised
218

 

Table 32: Age Discrimination Act - complainants received by ground
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Age – direct
192
57
Age – indirect
138
41
Causes, instructs, induces, aids or permits an unlawful act
3
1
Victimisation
4
1
Total*
337
100

* One complaint may have multiple grounds.

Table 33: Age Discrimination Act - age group of complainant
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
0 – 12 years
13 – 17 years
5
2
18 – 24 years
11
6
25 – 34 years
7
3
35 – 44 years
20
10
45 – 54 years
27
14
55 – 64 years
72
37
65 – 74 years
35
18
>75 years
19
10
Total
196
100

 

Table 34: Age Discrimination Act - complaints received by area
Age Discrimination Act
Total
Percentage
Employment
134
65
Goods, services and facilities
46
23
Access to premises
1
Land
Accommodation
4
2
Advertisements
1
Superannuation, insurance
14
7
Education
3
1
Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
4
2
Sport
Requests for information
Registered organisations
Qualifying bodies
Total*
207
100
* One complaint may have multiple areas.
Table 35: Age Discrimination Act - outcomes of finalised complaints
Age Discrimination Act
 
Terminated
56
At complainants request – s.46PE
Not unlawful
3
More than 12 months old
3
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking in substance
4
Adequately dealt with already
1
More appropriate remedy available
Subject matter of public importance
No reasonable prospect of conciliation
45
Discontinued*
12
Withdrawn
41
Conciliated
102
Administrative closure**
7
Total
218
 
* Finalised under new statutory provision – 46 PF(5)(a) – Satisfied that complainant does not want inquiry to continue.
** Not an aggrieved party, state complaint previously lodged
 

Australian Human Rights Commission Act (AHRCA)

Table 36: AHRCA - complaints received and finalised
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
Total
Received
477
Finalised
422

 

Table 37: AHRCA - complaints received by ground
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Religion (ILO 111)
18
3
Political opinion (ILO 111)
1
Social origin (ILO 111)
Medical record (ILO 111)
1
Criminal record (ILO 111)
67
13
Sexual preference (ILO 111)
21
4
Trade union activity (ILO 111)
9
2
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
337
66
Convention on the Rights of the Child
27
5
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief
3
1
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
29
6
Not a ground within jurisdiction
Not a human right as defined by the Act
Total*
513
100
*One complaint may have multiple grounds.
Table 38: AHRCA - complaints received by area
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Acts or practices of the Commonwealth
363
76
Employment
114
24
Not act or practice of the Commonwealth (not employment cases)
Total*
477
100
* One complaint may have multiple areas.
Table 39: AHRCA - non-employment complaints received by sub-area
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
Total
Percentage
Prisons, prisoner
12
3
Religious institutions
Family court matters
Other court matters
2
1
Immigration
291
80
Law enforcement agency
1
State agency
3
1
Other service provider (private sector)
Local government
Education systems
3
1
Welfare systems
5
1.5
Personal or neighbourhood conflict
Health system
5
1.5
Other
41
11
Total
363
100

 

Table 40: AHRCA - Outcomes of finalised complaints
Australian Human Rights Commission Act
Total
Declined
158
Does not constitute discrimination
9
Human rights breach, not inconsistent or contrary
to any human right
3
More than 12 months old
7
Trivial, vexatious, frivolous, misconceived, lacking
in substance
25
Adequately dealt with already
3
More appropriate remedy available
2
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, advised the Commission
43
Withdrawn, does not wish to pursue, settled outside
the Commission
Discontinued – lost contact
66
Conciliated
219
Referred for reporting*
29
Administrative closure
16
Total
422
*Complaints in this category were not conciliable and therefore transferred from the Commission’s Complaint Handling Section to the Legal Section for further inquiry and possible reporting.