Discrimination and human rights is a complex area. Separate Commonwealth and state legislation sets out people’s rights and duties, and government agencies administer the law that protects people’s human rights and work rights in Victoria.


Melissa De Abreu

Senior Lawyer, Australian Human Rights Commission

Gabrielle Watson-Munro

Senior Legal Advisor, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Legislation related to discrimination and human rights

Last updated

1 July 2022

Anti-discrimination laws in force in Victoria include: 

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic;
  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic);
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth);
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth);
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth);
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth);
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).

These laws make discrimination unlawful in a range of areas of public life, including in employment, education, sport, the provision of goods and services, the provision of accommodation, and in certain government activities.

Discrimination and victimisation that occur in the workplace may also be covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘Fair Work Act’). For further information about the Fair Work Act, see Chapter 11.5: Employment contracts, awards and agreements.

The overlap between Commonwealth and Victorian laws is complex. Generally, a complaint of discrimination cannot be made under both Common­wealth and state legislation at the same time, so it is important to choose the appropriate avenue.

Generally, discrimination legislation enables people who have experienced certain forms of discrimination to access confidential dispute resolution and conciliation services – and, in some instances, a public hearing – to resolve their discrimination dispute.

In Victoria, the right to equality and freedom from discrimination is also protected in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (see ‘Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities’).

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