NFPs Petition Govt on Anti-Discrimination
21 March 2013 at 9:49 am
Community organisations claim that dropping the Anti-Discrimination Bill a setback for equality in Australia.
Over 80 community organisations have signed a letter urging the Federal Government to pass the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 through Parliament before the September election.
On Wednesday, the Federal Government announced it would not pursue the proposed bill at this time.
The letter signed by 84 Australian community organisations including, People with Disabilities Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, National Seniors, YWCA Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby and the National Association of Community Legal Centres stressed the importance of the bill in making “anti-discrimination laws more effective and accessible to the communities we serve.“
The National Association of Community Legal Centres says it is disappointed at the decision.
“NACLC had welcomed the Bill and its importance to human rights discourse in Australia. This bill would significantly improve fairness and access to justice for all Australians,” NACLC’s National Convenor, Michael Smith said.
“The Government is instead considering reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which would protect gender identity, sexual orientation and intersex status as grounds where discrimination is prohibited.
“While these reforms are necessary and commendable NACLC believes the draft bill would have been much simpler and fairer for Australians. This is a missed opportunity to improve equality and access to justice. It also contradicts Australia’s international commitments to creating consolidated discrimination laws under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.
“It is frustrating that the large amount of time and resources that have gone into this vital process appear to have been wasted,” Smith said.
“Community legal centres and the Not for Profit sector generally have invested substantial time and resources working towards consolidation, as have the Government and Australian Human Rights Commission.”
Anna Cody, Director of Kingsford Legal Centre said: “We need this law.”
“We want a society that is fair for everyone, where everyone is treated equally. This law would have made that a reality,” she said.
“What this process has highlighted is that the protection of human rights against discrimination requires a unified approach that is simple, streamlined and cohesive. This would not only enhance access to justice for disadvantaged groups, but would also make the law more straightforward for businesses, employers and the community,” Cody said.