Strategic Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Law: A New Role for Australia's Equality Commissions

2019-10-29T08:52:54Z (GMT) by Dominique Allen
In Australia, anti-discrimination law is enforced by individuals who lodge a discrimination complaint at a statutory equality commission. The equality commission is responsible for handling complaints and attempting to resolve them. In most instances, the equality commission cannot advise or assist the complainant; it must remain neutral. In other countries, the equality commission plays a role in enforcement, principally by providing complainants with assistance to resolve their complaint including funding litigation. The equality commission’s assistance function has been most effective when used strategically as part of a broader enforcement program, rather than on an ad hoc basis. This article discusses equality commission enforcement in the United States of America, Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland and shows how the equality commissions in those countries have engaged in strategic enforcement in order to develop the law and secure remedies which benefit the wider community, not only the individual complainant. Based on their experience, it is argued that the Australian equality commissions should play a role in enforcement so that they can tackle discrimination more effectively.

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In Copyright