Spreading the harmony
The Equal Opportunity Commission marked Harmony Week by holding a stall at the Mirrabooka Harmony Day celebration at the Herb Graham Centre on Friday 24 March.
A range of community groups and service providers held stalls at the event, where community members gathered to watch multicultural performances, gather information and participate in activities.
The Commission held a competition at its stall for the best response to the question, ‘why do we need laws protecting us from discrimination and harassment?’
Equal Opportunity Commission Senior Policy and Conciliation Officer Ranil Ratnayeke said the Commission received 17 responses from people of different ages, cultural backgrounds and genders, with and without a disability.
“All responses supported laws protecting us from discrimination and harassment as all agreed without these laws there would be an increase in racial harassment and other forms of unlawful discrimination,” he said.
The Commissioner will judge the winning response and the winner will be announced in the May ebulletin.
From Daddy's Tummy
Transgender man AJ Kearns who featured on the ABC Australian Story episode titled From Daddy’s Tummy will speak at the 2017 Isabelle Lake Memorial Lecture at the University Club on 17 May.
Those attending the event will hear the remarkable story of how AJ postponed his transition to become pregnant.
The address will be accompanied by Inverto, a stunning exhibition by artist Alison Bennett who documented AJ’s pregnancy and transition with a series of photographs.
The exhibit will run in the Theatre Auditorium from 5.30pm to 6pm while refreshments are served, followed by AJ’s address.
There will be another short screening of Inverto following AJ’s address and question time.
If you would like to attend the event please book through Trybooking on the following link:
New Attorney General
Attorney General, Hon. John Quigley MLA took ministerial responsibility for the Equal Opportunity Commission on 17 March 2017.
The Commission looks forward to working with the Attorney General during his term.
From the vault
Gary Goldberg v G Korsunski Carmel School
In 1999, the then Equal Opportunity Tribunal (the Tribunal) heard Gary Goldberg’s complaint of religious conviction discrimination on behalf of his son Gregory, against the G Korsunski Carmel School.
Mr Goldberg sought to enrol his son in G Korsunski Carmel School in 1996; however strict conditions were placed on his son’s enrolment because his mother converted to Judaism and was not born into it through maternal lineage.
Her conversion made it impossible for her son to be recognised as Halachic according to Orthodox Jewish Law, and as such:
- Children who were Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law took precedence over him in class waiting lists;
- He would receive no fee assistance;
- He would not be eligible for scholarships;
- He would not be eligible to become head boy;
- His participation in religious activities and rituals would be restricted.
After failed negotiations to change the enrolment policy, Mr Goldberg decided to withdraw his son’s enrolment at the school and lodged a complaint of religious conviction discrimination against the school at the Equal Opportunity Commission.
The matter was not resolved in conciliation and was referred to the Tribunal, where Mr and Mrs Goldberg also alleged race discrimination and family status discrimination.
Although the school would have been able to restrict matters heard in the Tribunal to religious conviction discrimination, as that was the only ground Mr and Mrs Goldberg lodged a complaint under at the Commission, it was happy to allow all contentious issues to be heard.
Section 73 of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (the Act) allows a religious educational authority to discriminate in the provision of education in good faith, in order to adhere to its religious teachings. The school relied on this for its defence against religious conviction and family status discrimination.
For race discrimination, the school was not able to rely on section 73 because it doesn’t cover age, impairment, or race discrimination on religious grounds.
Instead the school relied on section 51 of the Act, where a defence is provided for special measures intended to achieve equality. In this case the school said that the enrolment conditions provided Halachically Jewish children with access to facilities, services and opportunities to meet their special needs for education, welfare and ancillary benefits.
The school also relied on section 71 of the Act, which states that it is not unlawful for a voluntary body to discriminate against a person in connection with the provision of benefits, facilities or services to members of the voluntary body.
The Tribunal found that this defence was sufficient to dismiss Mr Goldberg’s claim of discrimination.
He and his wife would be classified as beneficiaries of the services and facilities of the school which, by nature of it being set up for educational purposes with no provision to return a profit, was viewed by the Tribunal as a voluntary association.
To read the full transcript of the Tribunal’s decision click here. `
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
April 27 Recruitment and Selection - Are you getting it right?
May 02 Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Supervisors
May 10 Contact Officer Refresher
May 17 Fair Go for Your Clients – Addressing Systemic Discrimination
May 17 Isabelle Lake Memorial Lecture
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.