Past issues

Commissioner for Equal Opportunity e-bulletin June 2016

by Equal Opportunity Commission | Jun 04, 2016

Working in the community

Sorry Day

The annual Sorry Day commemoration organised by the Bringing Them Home Committee and Reconciliation WA was held on 26 May at Wellington Square, East Perth.

Many members of the Stolen Generation were present, as well as an estimated 1500 school students from across the Perth metropolitan area, and many members of the public. There were 50 or 60 stalls providing health, education and social welfare information, and a wide range of activities including weaving, flower making, painting, traditional dancing and didgeridoo playing. The Equal Opportunity Commission had a busy stall providing information on discrimination law and human rights issues.

The more traditional commemoration elements of the day included a smoking ceremony, walk around the Sorry Pole, and stories and songs from Stolen Generations people. One of the highlights of the day came as people gathered around the striking sand mural for a corroboree.

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling)  Islands 

The WA Equal Opportunity Commission periodically travels to Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands to provide education on rights and responsibilities under the Act.

In April 2016 Community Education Officer Mike Harte visited the Indian Ocean Territories with representatives from the Department for Child Protection’s working with Children Screening Unit, and the Department of Sport and Recreation.

The three WA government agencies travelled to the Islands together as part of a pilot program in response to feedback from the Indian Ocean Territories that mainland organisations could be more effective in providing delivery of services if they worked more closely together.  Workshops involving the three agencies were conducted on each island providing information on working with children checks, discrimination law, and community sport and recreation.

Joint consultative meetings were also held on both Islands’ with community leaders, local government representatives, private sector employers, unions and schools.

Feedback was very positive with most Island participants appreciating the information given and being able to discuss a wide range of issues face to face. 

Information gathered from this visit will help in the development of the Commission’s Indian Ocean Territory community education and complaint handling strategies.

If you or your organisation is interested in having a Commission training session, customised to your needs, about Workplace culture or any other aspect of equal opportunity, don’t hesitate to contact us.


We’ve got you covered

Petrol stations and shopping centres

It is not uncommon for our enquiry officers to respond to questions from people who are either being asked to pay upfront for petrol, or to open bags for inspection at supermarket checkouts.

Indeed several of these have been investigated and conciliated.  Most providers now have CCTV recordings which can provide valuable evidence of the incident.

Enquirers have expressed a belief that they are being targeted for this treatment because of their race, and sometimes age.  One enquirer said she had been ‘colour coded’, and required to pay upfront for her petrol.  This was despite the person ahead of her in the queue not having been asked to pay.

If a service provider has a policy cover regarding payment upfront or bag searching, it must clearly displayed and applied consistently to customers, regardless of their race or age.

If this happens to you and you think you may have been discriminated, please talk to one of our Enquiry Officers who can provide more information.

See our website for more information or contact us (see details below).

Legal update

WA catches up with Sex Discrimination Act changes

From 1 August 2016 WA laws and regulations will need to comply with the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) so that they do not discriminate on the ground of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.

Although it has been unlawful under the SDA to discriminate on those grounds in areas such as employment, education, and the provision of services since 1 August 2013, state and territory laws were exempted until 31 July 2016. This was so state and territory governments had enough time to review their laws and make changes to ensure compliance, or to put forward specific Acts or regulations for further exemption from the operation of the SDA, subject to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s approval. That process is now drawing to a conclusion.

The application of the SDA to WA is particularly relevant, as the WA Equal Opportunity Act 1984 does not make discrimination on the ground of a person’s gender identity or intersex status unlawful, except where a  gender recognition certificate has been issued under the Gender Reassignment Act 2000. Most people in WA who identify with a gender other than that assigned at birth have either yet to obtain a gender recognition certificate or do not wish to undergo a gender reassignment procedure. It is especially important therefore that they are able to access the protection from discrimination that the SDA provides.

For more information call the Commission Enquiry Line on (08) 9216 3900 or go to Australian Human Rights Commission

Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Website highlights

30 years – a short history

Our website is being continually updated to provide a range of resources and information about equal opportunity in Western Australia.

This month we are highlighting the page Equal Opportunity Commission A Short History.

The page celebrates the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Equal Opportunity Commission and covers the background to the legislation and details of current and past Commissioners for Equal Opportunity in Western Australia. 

What's coming up at the Commission

You can register for all Commission courses on the Community Education page

June 8            An introduction to equal opportunity law

June 14 -15  Equity grievance officer role

June 21         Sexual harassment – Know where the line is

July 4             Equity grievance officer refresher (expression of interest)

July 19           Recruitment and selection – Are you getting it right?

July 20           Fair go for your clients

July 26           Introduction to equal opportunity law

July 27           Introduction to equal opportunity law - Geraldton

July 3-10       NAIDOC – visit the Commission stalls at the Mirrabooka NAIDOC day and Ashfield NAIDOC Family Day 

Can we help?


The Commissioner’s telephone and online enquiry service provides information on whether your circumstances can be addressed under the Equal Opportunity Act. 


The Commission can deliver free education sessions and workshops for community groups and advocates about rights under the Equal Opportunity Act.


The Commission website has a wealth of information for community members and organisations about their rights and responsibilities under the Act.

Find more information on the Commission's webpage Your rights

Contact us on (08) 9216 3900, 1800 198 149 (country callers) (08) 9216 3936 (TTY) or email