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What is Discrimination?

Unlawful discrimination is any practise that that treats a person less favourably because of an attribute (e.g. sex or race) specified by Australian anti-discrimination legislation, within an area/setting recognised by the legislation (e.g. at work), in circumstances when the discriminatory reason (i.e. the person's race or sex) is a substantial reason for the less favourable treatment; and when there are no recognised legal exemptions in respect of that treatment; or, imposing (or proposing) unreasonable terms or conditions with which people possessing a particular attribute are unable to comply  and with which a higher proportion of people without the attribute are able to comply (e.g. Asian men - race - and/or women generally - sex - may be unable to meet particular height requirements imposed by a prospective employer).

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably, due to an attribute including:


male or female

Relationship Status

single, married, divorced, separated, widowed, de facto


person is or is likely to become pregnant

Parental status

person is or is not a parent including step-parent, foster parent


person is breastfeeding or expressing milk


because of a person age


includes colour, descent, ancestry, ethnic origin, nationality


loss of bodily functions, malformations, conditions that result in learning difficulties, illness that impairs a person's thought process, the presence of the body of organisms causing illness, or reliance of a guide dog, wheelchair, or other remedial device

Religious believe

person holds a religious believe or engages in religious activity

Political belief or activity

having a political believe or engaging in political activity

Trade Union activity

engaging in a trade union activity

Lawful sexual activity

status as a lawfully employed sex worker

Gender identity

whether person identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of the sex


homosexuality or bisexuality

Family responsibilities

caring or supporting a member of the immediate family

Association with a person who has any of the above attributes

Direst Discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of an attribute (eg sex or race) including inappropriate behaviour based on stereotypes  Example not to employee people over the age of 40 (Virgin Airlines)

Indirect Discrimination is an unreasonable rule or practise that disadvantages a person with an attribute more than some one without that attribute  Example, not to employ people unless over 190 cm, but height requirement is not essential to the performance of job.  This discriminates against people such as women and Asians