Australia Capital Territory Human Rights Commission

Independent statutory agency for the promotion of human rights and welfare of people living in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT)

Overview

The Australia Capital Territory Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”) is an independent statutory agency established by the Human Rights Commission Act 2005. Complaints can be lodged about:

Who can access it? 

A complaint can be made by the aggrieved person or an authorized agent of the aggrieved person. If the aggrieved person is a child or young person, the complaint can be made by the child or young person, or by a parent or guardian of the aggrieved person. Complaints can also be made by the person with guardianship or control of the affairs of the aggrieved person under another law or an order of a court or tribunal. If the complaint is a health service complaint, a disability service complaint or an older people service complaint, anyone can make the complaint on behalf of the aggrieved person.

How does it work?

Complaints must be made in writing, including the grounds on which the complaint is based, the name and address of the complainant. If the complaint is made by an agent, it must state that it is made for an aggrieved person and name the aggrieved person. Under exceptional circumstances, the complaint may be made orally. Complaint forms can be downloaded from the Commissions website.

Once a complaint is made, the Commission may decide which commissioner will be responsible for considering the complaint. The Commission may, at any time, refer a complaint or matter that forms part of a complaint for conciliation if:

  • The complaint is likely to be successfully conciliated; and

  • The matter is appropriate for conciliation.

Consideration

Consideration has 3 main purposes:

(a) to allow the commission to decide whether the complaint is a complaint that may be made under the Act and whether the complainant is a person who may make the complaint under the Act;

(b) to provide information that may be used to help conciliation of the complaint;

(c) to work out whether the conduct complained about was engaged in in the way complained about and, however it was engaged in, whether there is an adequate ground for the commission to report.

Consideration is conducted in the way the Commission decides, and may include requiring a person to provide information, documents and other things and requiring a person to attend.

Conciliation

Conciliation involves the Commission acting as an impartial third-party to help the parties to conciliation to endeavor to resolve the matters raised by the complaint. While conciliation requires the parties’ willing and informed agreement to take part, the Commission can require the parties to attend.

If the complaint relates to a child or young person, the Commission may refer the complaint to the public advocate for advocacy if it decides that this is in the best interest of the child.

The Commission may continue to consider a complaint that has been referred for conciliation or to the public advocate.

Relationship between conciliation and consideration

Conciliation of the complaint is separate from and independent of consideration of the complaint. Information obtained during conciliation must not be used for the consideration of the complaint and a person considering a complaint must not conciliate or take part in the conciliation of the complaint. However, information obtained from consideration may be used to help with conciliation.

Outcome 

Conciliation

The parties to conciliation decide the outcome of the conciliation, usually with advice from the Commission. If the complaint to which the conciliation agreement relates is a discrimination complaint, the agreement is enforceable.

The Commission has listed de-identified outcomes of conciliation processes for discrimination complaints to give a sense of the sorts of possible outcomes.

Consideration

If the Commission is satisfied that the person complained about has acted inconsistently with an applicable standard, it may make recommendations to the person. This is not necessarily limited to matters raised by the complaint being closed.

Appeal

If a discrimination complaint is not resolved through conciliation the complainant may request the complaint to be referred to ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

References 

Website of the Australia Capital Territory Human Rights Commission.

Human Rights Commission Act 2005.

Last edited: 
May, 2013

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