- About complainants and respondents

Characteristics of complainants


In 2016-17 the gender difference in lodged complaints was marginal, with 215 complaints lodged by women, and 213 by men. 

  • 50.0% were women
  • 49.5% were men
  • 0.5% were mixed group complaints.


As in past years most complaints were lodged by people born in Australia (60.9%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lodged 11.4% of all complainants, a decrease on the previous year of 21.2%. The decrease of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander complaints may be partly because no scheduled outreach work was conducted in some of the regions with the highest Aboriginal populations such as East and West Kimberley and the Goldfields. 

This financial year there was a significant increase in complainants from people born in Africa, which increased from 4.6% in 2015-16 to 12.3%. 


22.3% of complainants self-identified as having an ‘ethnic background’, made up of a diversity of national and ethnic groups including Nigerian (1.9%), Egyptian (1.6%), other African (1.6%) and Indian (0.9%), and over 10 other ethnic and national groups.  


There were some significant differences on grounds of discrimination lodged by different age groups. The highest grounds of discrimination lodged by each age group were:

  • 0-17 years - 72.2 % alleged impairment discrimination, in most instances in the area of education (53.8%)
  • 18-24 years - 25.8% alleged sexual harassment in the area of employment. This cohort also had a high proportion of complaints on the ground of race (19.4%) and sex (16%)
  • 25-34 years - 23.6% alleged impairment, followed by race (15.1%) and pregnancy (13.2%)
  • 35-44-years - 23.7% lodged complaints on the ground of race, 20.4% on the ground of impairment and 15.1% on the ground of victimisation
  • 45-54 years - 27.4 % alleged impairment, followed by race (11.6%)
  • 55-64 years - 40.9% alleged impairment, followed by age (18.2%)
  • 65-74 years - 60.0% alleged impairment, followed by age (20.0%)
  • 75+ years - 45.5% alleged age, and 36.4% on the ground of impairment.

Work status

Complainants are asked about their work status. The largest number (41.6%) were in paid employment whilst 25.3% were looking for work.  People who self-identified as pensioners comprised 9.5% of complainants and 11.9% were students.


11.6% of complainants said their first language was not English, with the largest number speaking Italian, Indonesian and Arabic. Of the complainants whose first language was not English, 16.0% submitted their complaint in a community language, and or required the use of an interpreter or translator organised by the Commission.

While no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander complainant stated they spoke a language other than English, it is acknowledged that some speak Aboriginal English, and in some instances one or more Aboriginal languages.

Impairment complaints

Under the Act, impairment includes anyone with a physical, intellectual or mental impairment, a person who has had an impairment in the past, or someone assumed (imputed) to have an impairment. The Act also covers short term and chronic conditions and injuries.

Over 28% of complaints lodged with the Commission were on the ground of an impairment. Of these complaints 41.5% related to a physical impairment, 23.6% to a mental health/psychosocial condition, 16.3% to an intellectual impairment, 4.9% had an imputed impairment, and smaller numbers to vision, hearing or other impairments. 

Residence of complainants

76.0% of complainants lived in the metropolitan area which is similar to the past two years - 77.2% (2015-16) and 78.7% (2014-15).

The proportion of complainants living in the metropolitan region is proportionate to the State’s population living in the metropolitan region (78.0%). This 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 regional complainants, the largest number lived in the South-West (28.4%) Great Southern (24.7%), Peel (18.5%) and the Pilbara region (13.6%). There was a significant decrease in complaints from the Kimberley region from 14.8% last financial year to 6.2% this year and in the Wheatbelt from 16.0% to 4.9%. This decrease may be attributable to no regional visits in the East and West Kimberley.

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

Characteristics of respondents

The industry grouping that received the highest number of complaints were lodged was ‘Health Care and Social Assistance’ at 13.0% followed by ‘retail trade’ with 10.5% of complaints.

Other respondents were:

  • Rental hiring and real estate (10.0%)
  • Other services (7.9%)
  • Mining (6.5%).

More than half of all complaints were lodged against private employers or service providers (57.7%), while 29.8% were lodged against public sector employers or service providers and 6.3% against both non government organisations and clubs.