Past issues

Equal Opportunity Commissioner's e-bulletin March 2017

by EOC | Mar 08, 2017

Mentoring young women for International Women's Day

Former WA Chief Scientist and Western Australian of the year Prof Lyn Beazley and Federal MP Dr Anne Aly were among a group of 16 mentors at the Commission’s Speed Mentoring Event for International Women’s Day this year.

Seventeen young women studying at high school and tertiary organisations were able to get advice from inspiring women from a variety of areas including architecture, law, politics, science, academia, public sector, the arts and sport.

Prof Beazley said mentoring was an incredibly important step towards improving gender equality.

“(Mentoring) events are so important as they help to build a better future in which everyone’s talents are nurtured and flourish,” she said.

She said with three mentors from Alcoa, it was encouraging to see STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) so well represented.

“My favourite aspect was that the impressive group of mentors had the opportunity to talk to students on a one-to-one basis, hearing their individual plans, dreams and perceived hurdles,” she said.

Mentees also drew great benefit from the event.

A student from Mercedes College said the event was ‘a wonderful opportunity’ and the speakers were ‘inspirational’.

The Commission would like to thank all of the mentors and mentees, who helped make this event a great success.



Discussing diversity

WA Equal Opportunity Commission Community Education and Training Officers Elizabeth Davies and Mike Harte were panelists at the Health Consumers Council’s Diversity Dialogues Forum on Wednesday 15 February.

The panel discussion focused on supporting equality and diversity in healthcare and was attended by people from the WA Department of Health, health consumers and other government agencies.

Other panelists included representatives from the Department of Health Diversity Unit, Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre and the Health Consumer’s Council.

“Elizabeth and I spoke about the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and how it impacts on health consumers.”

“We also discussed the potential impact of systemic discrimination on those engaged in the health system,” Mike said.

He said there was interest in the Commission participating in future forums to present further information about systemic discrimination.

'Bogans' allowed

In February WA Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr John Byrne spoke to PerthNow about an ad placed in Gumtree stipulating ‘no bogans need apply’.

The ad said:

“We are seeking an international student for admin and driving role for family business, 12-15 hours per week and must be a computer whiz with full driver’s licence.  Must have good references. Drug free, also child and pet friendly. No bogans or rough people need apply.”

The Commissioner said while the bogan reference did not breach the Equal Opportunity Act 1984, stipulating that an international student was wanted could be a breach.

He said presumably, this employer would reject an application from a student who was not an international student, but if the employer’s decision was based on the race of the applicant, including the person’s ethnic or national origin, it might be unlawful.

See full story here:


Unsettled by accommodation discrimination

A recent national study Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental market has discovered many feel discriminated against when accessing private rental accommodation.

Half of the 1005 tenants who participated in the study said they had been discriminated against when trying to rent a property and the same percentage said they were worried about being blacklisted on a ‘bad tenant’ database.

Acting WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne said these statistics were concerning as it indicated tenants may choose not to lodge a discrimination complaint for fear of being blacklisted.

“Under victimisation provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984, it is unlawful to treat a person unfairly because they have lodged a complaint with the Commission,” he said.

Dr Byrne said it was a grave situation when desperation for shelter was so great a person would ignore the abuse of their other basic rights to retain a roof over their heads.

He said in the last two financial years the Commission had received six complaints regarding alleged discrimination in private rental accommodation; however he was concerned that there were a lot of people being discriminated against and too scared to make a complaint.

“In 2009 the Commission published its Accommodating Everyone report from an inquiry into race discrimination in the private rental market,” he said.

Dr Byrne said the report found Aboriginal people and ethnic minority groups in particular were being targeted in residential tenancy databases.

“The Commission made recommendations in the report for tenancy databases in WA to be regulated so that only appropriate and timely entries were made on the databases,” he said.

From 2006-2009 the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs Australia (MCCA) had been working on national standards for the regulation of the databases, which the council recommended be completed by the end of June 2010.

All states now have standards in place for residential tenancy databases.

According to the Department of Commerce website, in WA tenants can only be listed on a database:

  •  if they are named on the tenancy agreement as a tenant.  Approved or unapproved occupants, visitors or children cannot be listed;
  •  if the tenancy has ended – tenants cannot be listed on a database simply because they fall behind with the rent, or aren’t looking after the property in a satisfactory way; and
  •  for one or both of the following two reasons:

o             they have vacated for a breach of the agreement, owe more than the security bond and the amount owed is still outstanding at the time of listing; or

o             a Court has made an order terminating the agreement because of something the tenant has done wrong.

Any information recorded on a database must identify the reason for the listing in an accurate, complete and unambiguous way, such as, ‘eviction order given on grounds of rent arrears, tenant owes $500 in rent above the bond'.

Dr Byrne said the recent Unsettled study indicates that despite research and recommendations, more needed to be done to regulate the databases so that tenants felt secure enough to complain about the accommodation or treatment they had received without retribution.

“People should be able to access shelter as a basic human right and in a developed country such as Australia, all should expect to be able to do this safely and securely,” he said.


EOC in the state's south

The Equal Opportunity Commission conducted three conciliation conferences, a training session and community outreach across the southern regions of the state in February this year.

Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan said it was important for the Commission to get out to the regional areas.

“In the 2015-16 financial year 24.7 per cent of the complaints received by the Commission were from the South West of WA and 17.3 per cent of complaints were from the Great Southern region,” she said.

Conciliation Officer Ranil Ratnayeke conducted his conciliation conferences in Albany, while Community Education and Training Officer Mike Harte provided equal opportunity training to the Margaret River Shire and community outreach at the Bunbury Regional Prison.

She said the Commission also planned to visit the Pilbara and Goldfields and hopefully the Gascoyne region later in the year.

“We try to rotate our visits through the regions depending on whether we get specific requests from regional centres or whether there is a need,” Ms MacTiernan said.

 “I encourage those in regional centres to contact the Commission if they are interested in equal opportunity training or community outreach,” Ms MacTiernan said.

She said contact details and the range of courses offered at the Commission were available from the Commission’s website at


What's coming up

The Commission’s Training Calendar from February to June 2017 is now available. You can register for all Commission courses on the Community Education page

March 28        Introduction to Equal Opportunity Law

April 10           Contact Officer Refresher Workshop

April 4-5           Equity Grievance Officer Role (2 days

April 27             Recruitment and Selection - Are you getting it right?

Please contact us on 9216 3900 if you are interested in organisation specific training or for a rights based session for your clients or community members.




Farewell to Marc Newhouse

The Commission would like to say goodbye to friend, inspiring human rights advocate and former colleague Marc Newhouse who lost his battle with cancer in February this year.