Modernising the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992

Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022

Background/Purpose

In the Northern Territory, discrimination on the basis of a number of protected attributes including, age, disability, race, sex, and religious belief or activity, is prohibited in certain areas of public life, including education and employment. The Northern Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act) commenced on 1 August 1993.

Discrimination law is an evolving area and it is important for the Territory to keep up to date with today’s standards and expectations.

In 2017–2018, the Act was reviewed by the Department of the Attorney-General‑ and Justice with a focus on ensuring it continues to meet the needs of the community. An exposure Draft Bill proposing amendments to the Act based on the outcomes of the 2017-2018 review and consultation was released for public feedback in July 2022.

We considered all feedback received, from the 2017-2018 review and exposure Draft Bill and we worked with the Office of the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (ADC) throughout the review process and development of this Bill. The final Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022 has now been introduced in the Legislative Assembly.

Changes included in the Bill

Discrimination based on protected attributes

Section 19 of the Act lists a number of grounds, or attributes about a person, on which a person may face discrimination. These are attributes that are protected in the Act and are referred to as protected attributes. In addition to the existing protected attributes listed in the Act, the Bill will add:

  • language, including signed language
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation (currently referred to in the Act as ‘sexuality’)
  • sex characteristics
  • accommodation status
  • employment status
  • employment in sex work or engaging in sex work, including past employment in sex work or engagement in sex work
  • carer responsibilities (currently referred to as ‘parenthood’)
  • subjected to domestic violence.

Assistance animals

Currently the Act provides limited protection against discrimination for use of guide dogs by people with vision, hearing or mobility impairments.

The Bill broadens the definition so that the Act will include protection against discrimination for appropriately trained or accredited assistance animals used by people with a broad range of disabilities.

Positive Duty to Advance Equality

The Bill adds a positive duty to prevent and eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation to the greatest extent possible, where it is reasonable and proportionate. This duty will apply to persons prohibited under the Act from engaging in discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.

Anti-vilification

As Australians we enjoy living in a society where we have the freedom to express our opinions with others, but this should not extend to ‘hate speech’. The Bill adds a new prohibition to prevent public acts of vilification based on a person or a group’s protected attributes. This is not a criminal offence. A complaint about conduct that vilifies on the basis of a protected attribute can be made to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere and in all areas of life. The Act will be updated to reflect this and extends the protection from sexual harassment no matter where it occurs.

Discrimination against our teachers

Religious educational institutions can currently discriminate against staff based on their sexuality or religious belief or activity. The Bill removes this provision for greater inclusion of our community and provide the same protections from discrimination that apply to staff in all areas of employment.

Provision of goods and services

The Bill provides equal protection for people who provide goods and services from a business or service, not just protection for people who receive goods and services. This will mean that a taxi driver, not just the passenger, will be afforded protection from discrimination.

A representative complaints process

The Bill includes a new representative complaints process. This will be a separate process from, and in addition to, our existing individual complaints process. The new representative complaints process will mean a complaint can be made to the ADC about systemic issues, such as an organisation’s policies or programs, that create disadvantage for a group of people. Individuals can still make a complaint about discrimination they have faced that may be part of broader systemic discrimination.


Last updated: 21 November 2022

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