- About complainants and respondents

Characteristics of complainants


As in past years, women lodged more complaints than men. Whilst some grounds, such as impairment and race have a roughly even distribution of men and women, others, such as sexual harassment, are predominantly lodged by women:

  • 56.5% were women
  • 42.4% were men
  • 0.5% X (Indeterminate/ intersex/ unspecified)
  • the remainder were mixed group complaints


The increase in the number of complainants under the age of 40, noted last year, continued into this financial year. In 2013-14, 34.1% of complainants were under the age of 40, whilst in 2015-16 the proportion of complaints from people under 40 years has increased to 44.9%. 

  • 0 to 19 yrs - 24 (5.5%)
  • 20 to 39 yrs - 173 (39.4%)
  • 40 to 64 yrs - 174 (39.6%)
  • 65+ yrs - 19 (4.3%)
  • Not specified (11.2%)

Work status

Complainants are asked about their work status. The largest group (40.3%) was in paid employment whilst 25.1% were looking for work which was a slight decrease on the previous year (27.6%). Pensioner’s comprised 6.4% of complainants and 8.7% were students.


As in past years a majority of complaints were lodged by people born in Australia (61.7%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lodged 21.2% of all complainants, an increase on the previous year when 16.5 % of complaints were lodged by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The increase of Aboriginal complaints may be attributed in part a result of two outreach visits to the west and east Kimberley.  There was also an increase in complaints lodged by Aboriginal people against retail outlets, in particular petrol stations requiring pre-payment for petrol.

This year there were significant decreases in complainants from people born in Africa and the Middle East down from 9.4% in 2014-15 to 4.6%. This may again be a reflection of the economic downturn, with fewer people of African and Middle Eastern backgrounds applying for advertised positions.


24.1% of complainants self-identified as having an ‘ethnic background’, made up a very wide number of a diversity of national and ethnic groups including Indian (1.4%), Iraqi (1.1%) and Polish (1.1%), by ‘African’ (1%) and over 10 other ethnic and national groups. 


9.3% of complainants said their first language was not English, which was a significant decrease from the previous financial year’s total of 13.0%.

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander complainants indicated English as their first language, it is acknowledged that many speak more than one language, including Aboriginal English.

Residence of complainants

77.3% of complainants lived in the metropolitan area. This is consistent with past two years when 78.7% (2014-15) and 76.1% (2013-14).

The proportion of complainants living in the metropolitan region (77.3%) is approximately the same as the proportion of the state’s population living in the metropolitan region (73.5%). That is a positive outcome given that the Commission is Perth based and has limited resources to conduct outreach programs in regional and remote parts of the State.

Of the regional complainants the largest groups were from the South-West (24.7%) Great Southern (17.3%), Wheatbelt (16.0%) and the Kimberley (14.8%) regions of WA. There was a significant increase in complaints from the Kimberley region from 6.7% of lodged complaints in 2014-15, to 14.8% this year. This increase may be attributable to an increased number of regional visits and focussed community education conducted in the East and West Kimberley.

The higher number of complaints from the Pilbara noted last year, has been maintained this financial year.

People with disability

27.8% of all complainants stated they had an impairment, whilst 23.2% of lodged complaints were on the ground of impairment. 

Characteristics of respondents

The industry grouping against whom the highest number of complaints were lodged was ‘Health Care and Social Assistance’ with (17.8%) of all complaints, with ‘retail trade’ being the second highest with (10.7%) ’of complaints.

This was followed by:

  • rental hiring and real estate (8.4%)
  • public administration and safety (7.3%)
  • construction (7.1%)

Of complaints received, more than half (54.7%) involved the private sector employers or service providers and 30.8% involved the public sector. 

Number of complaints received by sex of complainant in the top five grounds

Number of complaints received by sex of complainant in the top five grounds

Birthplace of complainants

Birthplace of complainants

Regional complaints received​

Complaints Received - WA Region

Top three grounds of complaints received in the private sector

Top three grounds of complaints received in the private sector

Top three grounds of complaints received in the public sector

Top three grounds of complaints received in the public sector