Thursday, 11 July 2013 12:58

Slattery v Manningham City Council - Jun 2013 and Aug 2014

In this case, the applicant, Mr Slattery, made a complaint that Manningham City Council had on the grounds of disability in the area of goods and services, access to public premises, and by councillors.

Claim

Mr Slattery is an active member of his community in the City of Manningham. He has a number of diagnosed disabilities. Since 1998, he has made numerous written and verbal complaints to Manningham City Council on a range of issues, involving comments and language that Councillors and Council employees have found offensive and inappropriate and involving a number of 'highly charged' interactions between Mr Slattery and the Council.

In April 2009, the Council passed a motion declaring Mr Slattery a prohibited person 'in order to uphold public safety' and 'provide a safe working environment'. This declaration banned Mr Slattery from accessing any building owned, occupied or managed by Council.

Mr Slattery formally requested Council review the ban in November 2012 but the Council declined to remove it.

Mr Slattery alleged that the continued ban on his engagement with Council amounted to

  • direct discrimination in the provision of services on the grounds of disability, in breach of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 ('EOA'), and
  • an unjustifiable limit on his human rights to participate in public life and to freedom of expression, in breach of the Council's obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 ('Charter').

Mr Slattery also alleged that the Council failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate his disability (in breach of the EOA).

The Commission's submissions to the Tribunal relate to the interpretation of a number of areas of the EOA, including the definition of disability; the test for direct and indirect discrimination (s 8), the scope of the provision of services by local government (s4); discrimination in the area of goods and services (s 44), access to public premises (s 57) and discrimination by councillors (s 73).

The Commission's submissions also consider:

  • the interpretation of two exceptions in the EOA: the statutory authority exception (s 75) and the exception for the protection of health and safety (s 86);
  • the obligation to provide reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability (s 45);
  • the remedies available, including the Tribunal's power to make orders to prevent future breaches of the EOA 2010 and the positive duty; and
  • the application of the Charter to the proceedings.

Decision

The Tribunal upheld Mr Slattery's claim in part, finding that the Respondent directly discriminated against him on the grounds of disability, in breach of section 44 of the EOA. The Tribunal also found that the actions of the Respondent were in breach of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. A copy of the decision can be found on the Austlii website.

Remedies

The Tribunal held a separate hearing about what remedies Mr Slattery should receive.

The Commission's submissions about the claim for remedies consider the scope of section 125 of the EOA 2010.

The Tribunal ordered that:

  • the Council revoke the 'ban' on Mr Slattery attending Council buildings
  • the Council pay Mr Slattery $14,000 in compensation
  • the CEO, Directors and Councillors at the Council undergo Charter training.

The Tribunal also made a declaration that the Council breached Mr Slattery's human rights under the Charter by maintaining the ban. A copy of the decision is below.

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