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Too little, too late for Sex Discrimination Act reforms

Too little, too late for Sex Discrimination Act reforms

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has labelled the Federal Government's response to a Senate enquiry on the effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act as "delayed and limited".While the…

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has labelled the Federal Government's response to a Senate enquiry on the effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act as "delayed and limited".

While the Government yesterday announced it would be making some changes to the Act, the LCA expressed anger that only seven of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs' 43 recommendations had been adopted.

"The Sex Discrimination Act has been important in helping to eliminate some forms of sex discrimination and sexual harassment," said LCA president Glenn Ferguson. "However, it has had little impact on addressing systemic sex discrimination and has not been effective at removing all barriers to women's equal participation and progress in the workplace, including in the legal profession."

Among the Committee's 43 recommendations were changes aimed at eliminating systemic discrimination, such as widening the net to capture a broader range of people and entities which must not discriminate, and increasing the powers of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Ferguson said these recommendations, along with many others made to the Committee, are only likely to be considered when the Government moves to consolidate the Federal anti-discrimination legislation as part of the recently announced Human Rights Framework.

"The Law Council is concerned that there is no time set for the consolidation process which could potentially take up to four years with the Human Rights Framework set to be reviewed in 2014," he said.

"Ensuring adequate protection against discrimination on any grounds, including sex, should be of the highest priority for any Government serious about human rights."

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