What is discrimination

– Under the Anti-Discrimination Act, 1991,
Discrimination has many faces. The Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on several grounds including the following:

sex; pregnancy; parental status; age; race; impairment; religious belief or religious activity; political belief or activity; trade union activity; lawful sexual activity; gender identity; sexuality; family responsibilities

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is straightforward in most cases. It happens when you’re dealt with unfairly on the basis of one of the grounds (compared with someone who doesn’t have that ground) and in one of the areas covered by the Act (ADCQ).


  1. When you advise your employer that you’re pregnant, you’re moved to a lower-paying job out of the public view, because clients don’t want to look at people in your condition.
  2. You’re not selected for a promotion at work. The supervisor says that while he thinks you could do the job, you’ll be retiring soon, so we’re looking for someone who’ll be here for a while.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is often less obvious. Sometimes, a policy, rule or practice seems fair because it applies to everyone equally, but a closer look shows that some people are being treated unfairly. This is because some people or groups of people, are unable or less able to comply with the rule or are disadvantaged because of it. If this policy or practice is “not reasonable”, it may be indirect discrimination (ADCQ).


  • An employer has a policy of not letting any staff work part-time.

(People with children or family responsibilities could be disadvantaged.)

  • Minimum height requirements apply for jobs in a resort, for no apparent reason (People from an Asian background, or women, may not be able to meet the requirement.)

Where does the Act Apply

Among other places, discrimination can occur at:

  • work – applying for a job, doing work experience
  • education
  • administration of state laws and programs
  • local government

What are my options?

You can lodge a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ADCQ). The Anti-Discrimination Commission can help to resolve complaints, however, it does not have the power to decide if unlawful discrimination has occurred, and it does not take sides.

A complaint must be made within 1 year unless there are good reasons for any delay.

Making a complaint to the right agency is important. Once a complaint is made to an external organisation it may restrict the right to complain to another external organisation.


  1. Advise the person their behaviour is not acceptable and should stop.
  2. Get more information and:
  • Contact a manager, human resource manager or equity contact officer within the organisation; or
  • If you are a member of a Trade Union, contact them for advice; or
  • Contact Legal Aid or a solicitor/lawyer for legal advice; or
  • Call the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland on 1300 130 670 or TTY on 1300 130 680 for information about rights and responsibilities.
  1. Make a complaint by:
  • Contacting the person in the organisation who deals with this kind of complaint; or
  • If it happened at work, complaining to a supervisor, manager or other senior person. Tell them what happened and ask them what they will do to resolve the complaint.

Make an external complaint to:

  • Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) on 1300 130 670. The ADCQ can explain the process to resolve a complaint through conciliation; or
  • Australian Human Rights Commission in Sydney on 1300 369 711; or
  • Fair Work Commission on 1300 799 675 or
  • If you are complaining about something that happened at work in the public service in Queensland, call the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on 1300 592 987.