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Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination

The Attorney-General has requested that the Australian Human Rights Commission undertake a National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with Disability. The Inquiry will be conducted by the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon. Susan Ryan AO.

About the Inquiry

The National Inquiry examines practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in employment of older Australians and Australians with disability; and makes recommendations as to Commonwealth laws that should be amended, or action that should be taken to address employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.

The Inquiry aims to consult as widely as possible with older Australians, Australians with disability and their carers and families, business, employer and employee organisations, advocacy groups and stakeholders in order to hear their views, experiences and suggestions for change.

The Inquiry will seek a wide range of views through a call for submissions and a series of consultations and roundtables to be held across Australia.

The Inquiry will base its findings and recommendations on extensive quantitative and qualitative research that it gathers through the process, as well as on academic and social policy research.

The Inquiry will report on its findings and recommendations by July 2016.

Terms of Reference for the Inquiry

The Attorney-General of Australia, Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC, has provided the Australian Human Rights Commission with the following Terms of Reference.

Having regard to:

  • the obstacles faced by older persons and persons with disabilities in actively participating in the workforce;
  • discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities as a systemic problem and a considerable barrier to their enjoyment of human rights;
  • the economic and social costs, and the costs to productivity, that result from discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities in employment; and
  • the Australian Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of older Australians and Australians with disability.

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia

REFER to the Australian Human Rights Commission for inquiry and report pursuant to sections 11(1)(d), 11(1)(e), 11(1)(j) and 11(1)(k) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth):

  • practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in employment of older Australians and Australians with disability; and
  • the Commission’s recommendations as to Commonwealth laws that should be made or amended, or action that should be taken, to address employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.

Scope of the reference

In conducting this Inquiry, the Commission should have regard to other inquiries, reviews and reports that it considers relevant, including the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and its progress reports to the Council of Australian Governments, and the Australian Law Reform Commission Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws Report, March 2013.

In conducting its Inquiry, the Commission should base its findings on research, including that into the prevalence and impact of age discrimination and disability discrimination, and the extent to which discrimination contributes to people being unemployed or underemployed.

The Commission should also identify and consult with older persons and persons with disability, and other relevant stakeholders, including relevant Government departments and agencies, key non-government stakeholders and peak employer and employee bodies.

As part of its report the Commission may wish to identify best practice examples of recruitment, retention, and of reasonable adjustment in the workplace for older Australians and Australians with disability.

The launch of the inquiry was live streamed and live captioned - it is now available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jiti3XvRMRs.

Further information and to register your interest: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights/projects/willing-work-national-inquiry-employment-discrimination-against