This chapter deals with your right not to be discriminated against because of your responsibility for the care of others, including the care of a person living with a mental health condition.
In addition, you have a right not to be discriminated against in areas of life such as work, education, housing, provision of goods and services, access to public places and other areas of life on the basis that you have one or a number of other personal characteristics, including your:
Carers often balance their caring role with paid employment. In some cases, caring for a family member may affect a carer’s employment. For example, carers may be worried about not being promoted or even losing their jobs because they need to spend more time caring for someone in their life with a mental health condition. Carers may need leave work at short notice to assist their family or friend with a mental health condition to attend medical appointments.
Carers are entitled to ask their employers for flexible work practices under the National Employment Standards. For more information, click here.
There are several things that might happen when you are working or looking for work that may be unlawful discrimination. There are also things that might happen that may be discrimination, but not unlawful discrimination. For example, if you are a carer and you lose your job because your workplace restructured, this may not necessarily be unlawful discrimination.
For action to be unlawful discrimination, it needs to be more than simply unfair. For more information about unlawful discrimination in employment, click here.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has information about Workplace Discrimination, including in relation to your role and responsibilities as a carer. To read more, click here.
The Commonwealth Carer Recognition Act 2010 requires government agencies to reflect the principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers in their management policies. The Statement for Australia’s Carers is a list of ten principles for what carers should be entitled to. These principles are not legally binding, but they represent a guide for best practice for government agencies and non-government organisations alike to recognise and support carers.
The Statement for Australia’s Carers includes these principles:
The Fair Work Ombudsman can take legal action against most employers for failing to comply with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The Fair Work Ombudsman can help you and your employer to resolve any issues about carers and workplace flexibility. For more information about the Fair Work Ombudsman, click here.
The Fair Work Commission is a national workplace relations tribunal. The Fair Work Commission can hear complaints from people who are discriminated against, victimised or unfairly treated under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including complaints about a person being unfairly dismissed. For example, they can check whether your employer complied with the law when you asked for a workplace flexibility arrangement. For more information about the Fair Work Commission, click here.
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), caring responsibilities are defined as the responsibility to care for or support:
In NSW, an immediate family member includes:
Complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW should be made within six (6) months of the actions that you believe were unlawful discrimination.
The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW can be contacted by:
Postal address: PO Box 67
WOLLONGONG NSW 2520
Street address: 84 Crown Street
WOLLONGONG NSW 2500
Telephone: (02) 4267 6200
Freecall: 1800 670 812* (for rural and regional NSW only)
Fax: (02) 4267 24 9961
Street address: Level 7, 10 Valentine Avenue
PARRAMATTA NSW 2150
Telephone: (02) 4903 5300
Freecall: 1800 670 812* (only within New South Wales)
Fax: (02) 9268 5500
*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) and to local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.
For more about Anti-Discrimination NSW’s processes and what happens with discrimination complaints made to the Board, click here.
For more about the Anti-Discrimination Board, click here.
Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), family responsibilities are the responsibilities of a person to care for or support:
An immediate family member includes:
Complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission should be made within six (6) months of the actions that you believe were unlawful discrimination.
The Australian Human Rights Commission can be contacted by:
Phone: 1300 656 419 (local call cost*)
(02) 9284 9600
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 620 241 (freecall*)
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.
Updated September 25, 2020