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The Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act

Sex Discrimination
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Women in a bakery smiling and holding a tray of bread rolls

Resources on the Positive Duty

Under the Sex Discrimination Act, organisations and businesses now have a positive duty to eliminate, as far as possible, the following unlawful behaviour from occurring:

  • discrimination on the grounds of sex in a work context
  • sexual harassment in connection with work
  • sex-based harassment in connection with work
  • conduct creating a workplace environment that is hostile on the grounds of sex
  • related acts of victimisation.

The Commission refers to this conduct as ‘relevant unlawful conduct’.

The new positive duty was introduced in December 2022. It imposes a legal obligation on organisations and businesses to take proactive and meaningful action to prevent relevant unlawful conduct from occurring in the workplace or in connection to work. Taking preventative action will help to create safe, respectful and inclusive workplaces.

This important change requires organisations and businesses to shift their focus to actively preventing workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination and other relevant unlawful conduct, rather than responding only after it occurs.

Regardless of their size or resources, all organisations and businesses in Australia that have obligations under the Sex Discrimination Act must meet the positive duty. This includes sole traders and the self-employed, small, medium and large businesses, and government.

The positive duty was a key recommendation of the Commission’s landmark Respect@Work Report, led by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins AO, published in March 2020.

Online Form and Resources

You can tell us about any concerns you have about an organisation or business complying with the positive duty by completing our online Positive Duty Form.

The Commission has new powers to investigate and enforce compliance with the positive duty. These powers commenced on the 12th of December 2023.

The Commission has developed practical guidance materials to help organisations and businesses to understand their responsibilities and the changes they may need to make to meet these new legal obligations.

Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023)

Two workers in an office smiling and working together

 

The Guidelines are the Commission’s most comprehensive legal resource on the positive duty.

The Guidelines provide detailed information about:

  • what the positive duty is
  • who must meet the positive duty
  • what it means to take ‘reasonable and proportionate measures’
  • how the positive duty will be enforced
  • related legal obligations

The Guidelines also provide examples of practical actions that organisations and businesses can take to help them satisfy the positive duty.

Download documents

Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023) (PDF) (3.07 MB)

 

Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (DOCX) (5.21 MB)

 

Information Guide on the Positive Duty:

Relevant Unlawful Conduct, Drivers, Risk Factors and Impacts (2023)

The Information Guide is a companion to Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023), designed to educate organisations and businesses about the relevant unlawful conduct covered by the positive duty.

The Information Guide covers:

  • types of relevant unlawful conduct
  • when and where it may occur
  • risks and drivers of relevant unlawful conduct
  • who relevant unlawful conduct affects and its impacts.

Download documents

Information Guide on The Positive Duty 2023 [PDF] (1.87 MB)

 

Information Guide on the Positive Duty [DOCX] (1.57 MB)

 

A Quick Guide for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023)

The Quick Guide is a summary of the Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty (2023) and the Information Guide, designed to provide information about the positive duty and to help organisations and businesses to satisfy their legal responsibilities.

The Quick Guide explains:

  • what the positive duty is and why it is important
  • the relevant unlawful conduct to which it applies
  • when and where relevant unlawful conduct may occur
  • who could experience relevant unlawful conduct
  • how organisations and businesses can satisfy their obligations.

Download documents

Quick Guide for Complying with The Positive Duty 2023 [PDF] (924.67 KB)

 

Quick Guide for Complying with the Positive Duty [DOCX] (4.92 MB)

 

Download Vietnamese Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.13 MB)

 

Download Italian Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.22 MB)

 

Download Punjabi Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (14.94 MB)

 

Download Greek Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.03 MB)

 

Download Chinese Simplified Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.69 MB)

 

Download Arabic Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.09 MB)

 

Download Chinese Traditional Quick Guide to Complying with the Positive Duty [PDF] (15.45 MB)

 

A Resource for Small Business on the Positive Duty (2023)

Two workers in a store room working together

 

The Resource for Small Business is designed to promote understanding in the small business community about the new positive duty. This resource includes a brief outline of the positive duty, who it applies to and who it covers. It outlines the steps small businesses can take to satisfy their obligations and provides practical case studies to help small businesses understand the positive duty and take action.

Download documents

Resource for Small Business on The Positive Duty 2023 [PDF] (1.53 MB)

 

Resource for Small Business on the Positive Duty [DOCX] (2.37 MB)

 

Easy Read Guides

These guides talk about the positive duty in easy to read format. They were made with the Council for Intellectual Disability.

Easy Read Guide about the positive duty digital accessible [PDF] (2.68 MB)

 

Easy Read Guide about the positive duty print [PDF] (15.33 MB)

 

Easy Read Fact sheet about the positive duty digital accessible [PDF] (1.47 MB)

 

Easy Read Fact sheet about the positive duty print [PDF] (8.98 MB)

 

Easy Read Fact sheet on how to do the positive duty digital accessible [PDF] (1.96 MB)

 

Easy Read Fact sheet on how to do the positive duty print [PDF] (10.92 MB)

 

Posters

The Commission is developing a range of posters relevant to the positive duty. These are designed for organisations and businesses to print, display or distribute. All posters are designed in A3 size. Additional posters will be forthcoming.

For customer and client facing organisations and businesses

Positive Duty poster third party short – Web [PDF] (270.72 KB)

 

Positive Duty poster third party short – Print [PDF] (247.09 KB)

 

Positive Duty poster third party long – Web [PDF] (480.72 KB)

 

Positive Duty poster third party long print – Print [PDF] (453.5 KB)

 

For your workplace

Positive duty poster for your workplace – Print [PDF] (243.91 KB)

 

Positive duty poster for your workplace – Web [PDF] (248.23 KB)

 

Factsheets

The Commission has prepared a series of factsheets relevant to the positive duty. These are designed to assist organisations and businesses to understand and take action to satisfy the positive duty. Additional factsheets will be forthcoming.

Causes and Risk Factors of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Other Unlawful Behaviours 

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (119.93 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (104.16 KB)

 

Effective Education and Training

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (165.83 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (112.27 KB)

 

Seeking Support - Counselling and Support Services 

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (201.73 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (117.15 KB)

 

The Guiding Principles: Person-centred and Trauma-informed Approaches to Safe and Respectful Workplaces

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (148.4 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (110.64 KB)

 

The Guiding Principles: Effective consultation and the positive duty

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (162.32 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (117.8 KB)

 

What is the Positive Duty?

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (123.39 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (104.97 KB)

 

Download the Chinese Simplified version of the factsheet [PDF] (224.25 KB)

 

Download the Vietnamese version of the factsheet [PDF] (325.94 KB)

 

Download the Punjabi version of the factsheet [PDF] (116.19 KB)

 

Download the Greek version of the factsheet [PDF] (312.63 KB)

 

Download the Italian version of the factsheet [PDF] (336.6 KB)

 

Download the Chinese Traditional version of the factsheet [PDF] (359.01 KB)

 

Download the Arabic version of the factsheet [PDF] (331.46 KB)

 

Steps to meet the Positive Duty

Download the PDF version of the factsheet [PDF] (756.14 KB)

 

Download the Word version of the factsheet [DOCX] (329.52 KB)

 

Download the Vietnamese version of the factsheet [PDF] (1.14 MB)

 

Download the Italian version of the factsheet [PDF] (1.06 MB)

 

Download the Chinese Simplified version of the factsheet [PDF] (1022.63 KB)

 

Download the Greek version of the factsheet [PDF] (939.46 KB)

 

Download the Arabic version of the factsheet [PDF] (1.09 MB)

 

Download the Punjabi version of the factsheet [PDF] (1.12 MB)

 

Download the Chinese Traditional version of the factsheet [PDF] (1.24 MB)

 

Other materials

The Commission is continuing to develop educational materials and practical tools to assist organisations and businesses to understand their obligations and implement the positive duty.