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Investigating systemic discrimination

One of the Commission’s functions under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 is to investigate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. The Act also gives the Commission more effective options to respond to systemic discrimination.

Although the emphasis of the Act and the Commission’s overall functions are to help prevent discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, when there are serious and systemic issues that can’t be resolved through an individual complaint the Commission may choose to investigate the issue.

When may an investigation be conducted?

In deciding whether or not to commence an own motion investigation, the Board of the Commission must be satisfied that the matter:

  • Raises an issue that is serious in nature; and
  • Relates to a class or group of persons; and
  • Cannot reasonably be expected to be resolved by dispute resolution or by making an application to the Tribunal under section 122; and
  • There are reasonable grounds to suspect that one or more contraventions of the EOA have occurred; and
  • The investigation would advance the objectives of the Act.

Possible breaches of the Act that may be the subject of an investigation can come to the Commission’s attention in a variety of ways. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • the Commission’s general Enquiry Line
  • through reports in the media
  • in the course of performing the Commission’s functions under the Act (such as research or patterns that emerge through dispute resolution)
  • through submissions from stakeholders or community groups
  • referral by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In addition to these factors, the Board of the Commission will also consider from a practical perspective whether the Commission is in a position to investigate a particular matter. Regulatory constraints, limitations on resources, the jurisdiction of other authorities and regulators, and the size of issues will mean that the Commission is not in a position to investigate every matter brought to its attention.

Please refer to the Investigation policy for further information or email [email protected]:

Outcomes of investigations

The outcome of an investigation will depend on the circumstances, but it may include:

  • entering into an agreement with the responsible organisation about how the problem will be fixed
  • referring the matter to VCAT for determination
  • reporting on the issue to the Attorney-General or Parliament, or
  • taking no further action.

Current Investigations

  • Accessible Toilets at metropolitan train stations.