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What is the Equal Opportunity Act?

The Equal Opportunity Act

The Equal Opportunity Act is a law in Victoria which says that it is not OK to discriminate against people.  This includes treating people differently because they have a disability. Some other reasons that are not OK to treat people differently are:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender (whether you are male or female)
  • Whether they are married
  • Whether they have children, are pregnant or breastfeeding.

It is not OK for you to be treated differently in things that are a part of ‘public life’.  ‘Public life’ includes:

  • Buying things
  • Education
  • Finding somewhere to live
  • Getting a job
  • Joining a club
  • Sport
  • Your local government

The law says that there are some special times that it is OK to discriminate. But these are carefully controlled.

Making changes

If a person with a disability can’t access things like getting a job or going to school, the law says changes need to be made to fix this. These changes are called ‘reasonable adjustments’.  This means changing things so you can access (use) things and places like everybody else. They might need to change the way they do things, or the way a place is set up.  The law says the change needed should be ‘reasonable’. This means we can’t expect people to make a change that is really hard, costs a lot of money or is silly.

Information

People and organisations can’t ask for information so they can discriminate against you.  This means if you are applying for a job, the employer can’t ask if you have a disability if it has nothing to do with your ability to do the job.  They can ask to find out if they need to do things to help you to come to an interview, or do the job.  But they can’t ask just because they want to discriminate against you (for example, not giving you the job).

How can I use this law to help fix a problem?

If you have been treated differently in public life because you have a disability, you can complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.