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High success rate of employment discrimination committees

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The Employment Discrimination Committees resolved 91 complaints of employment discrimination in the 12 months ended 30 June 1976. This is revealed in the Third Annual Report (for 1975/76) of the Commonwealth Government's National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, which the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, the Hon Tony Street MR, tabled in the Parliament today.

The report also shows that, in the first three years of the Committees' activities, a total of 186 allegations of employment discrimination have been resolved. Of the 91 complaints resolved during 1975/76, 66 arose from allegations of sex discrimination largely affecting women, and covering a wide range of employment issues in government and private sector employment, as well as trade union practices.

The report emphasises that these complaints which have been resolved on an individual basis often involved a policy decision which has an automatic spill-over affecting potentially large numbers of people in their immediate or future employment. '

The Committee received a total of 444 complaints for the year. The largest single group of complaints (158) alleged sex discrimination.

The Report also shows that a substantial number of complaints which were investigated by the Committees did not reveal any evidence of employment discrimination. The Committees considered 696 complaints (viz 444 new complaints plus 252 complaints under investigation at the close of the previous year). Of these 696 complaints, 317

(or 43%) did not disclose, after careful investigation and determination of the facts, evidence of discrimination.

A further 83 complaints (12%) were withdrawn by the complainant and, 47 (7%) were referred to existing machinery, eg arbitration inspectorate.

The National Committee, and its counterpart Committee in each State, were established in mid-1973 to implement the provisions of ILO Convention No 111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958.

The ILO Convention, which Australia ratified in June 1973, is designed to eliminate discrimination in employment and occupation on 7 grounds - race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction and social origin.

The Committees do not have legislative backing: in handling complaints of employment discrimination they rely on a process of conciliation and persuasion in their efforts to resolve those complaints which the Committees believe constitute discrimination. All complaints are carefully investigated by the Committees and their success, Mr Street

said, in resolving those complaints where discrimination was found to exist, is to be commended.

"I believe", Mr Street said, "that the Employment Discrimination Committees, begun some 4 years ago, are playing a real role in increasing community awareness of discrimination in employment and of the need to do something positive about it."


1 June 1977


The present composition .of the National Committee is set out below:

Chairman ' . .

Dr C A Hughes, Professorial Fellow, Department of Political Science, Australian National University

Commonwealth Government Representative

Mr K C McKenzie, Secretary, Commonwealth Department of Employment and Industrial Relations

Employers' Representatives

Mr G Polites MBE, Executive Director, Australian Council of Employers' Federations

Mr B M Noakes (alternative), Assistant Director, Australian Council of Employers' Federations

ACTU Representatives

Mr J Petrie, Former Senior Vice-President, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Miss A Clough (alternative), Organiser, Federated Brick, Tile and Pottery Industrial Union of Australia, Victorian Branch _

Aboriginal Representative

Mr CDixon, Projects Officer, Aboriginal Arts Board

Migrant Representative

Mrs I Capek MBE, Member, Victorian Migrant Advisory Committee

Women's Representative

Mrs C Storey, Former President, United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division)