Past issues

Equal Opportunity Commissioner's ebulletin September 2017

by EOC | Oct 04, 2017

September 2017

2018 Aboriginal Calendar


The year six classes from Huntingdale Primary School have submitted their entries for the 2018 Aboriginal Calendar and the winner will be announced in the October e-bulletin next month.

WA Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne said the entries showed great consideration for the theme, Discrimination is no joke as well as artistic skill.

“It will be difficult to choose the winner and runners up for the competition as the entries are of such high standard,” he said.

Dr Byrne will be presenting the winner and runners up with their prizes at an assembly at Huntingdale Primary School later in the year.

“I look forward to congratulating the students and meeting the staff at Huntingdale Primary School at the assembly,” he said.

The Aboriginal Calendar competition is an annual event run the Equal Opportunity Commission.

The calendar is distributed across the country and is available by request through the publications section of our website.

If you would like to be included on the distribution list for the calendar, please email us your postal address and the amount of calendars you would like to




Outreach in Albany

On 27 July Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan conducted a day of training with Southern Regional TAFE in Albany.

About 16 managers and supervisors from the TAFE participated in the Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Supervisors and the Equal Opportunity Law and Grievance Management fee for service courses held on campus.

Ms MacTiernan said besides reviewing equal opportunity law, the training was a great way for the managers and supervisors to discuss how it applies to them in a practical sense.

“It was beneficial that all managers got to undertake this training together so there will hopefully be consistency in their approach to equal opportunity and grievance management in the future,” she said.

Ms MacTiernan said the feedback from the sessions was positive, with many participants saying how important l it was to know about equal opportunity laws and how they apply to the workplace.

“This is such an important area to understand,” one participant said.

“Understanding equal opportunity is useful for all staff,” another said.



Substantive Equality Forum

On 22 August, the Equal Opportunity Commission held its second 2017 Substantive Equality forum for public sector agencies and not for profit organisations.

The two-hour forum was held at the Australian Professional Skills Institute in East Perth where tables of public sector and not for profit service providers listened to presentations by People with Disabilities CEO Samantha Jenkinson and Council of the Aging Executive Officer Mark Teale, followed by table discussions based on actual service delivery scenarios.

Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan said the aim of the forum was to get service providers thinking more about effective consultation methods for elderly clients and clients with a disability.

“In their presentations Samantha and Mark shared both good and bad experiences of consultation methods reported by the people they represent, to provide the participating service providers with some context for their discussions,” she said.

She said the hardest thing about Substantive Equality, for most service providers, was understanding the impact policies and procedures had on specific, often minority, groups of customers.

“When you have such a wide range of clients with such different and distinctive needs it is very difficult to cater for everyone when developing policies and procedures.

“Forums like this aim to focus on the importance of consultation with specific groups through the presentation segment and then use what was learnt in consultation to develop effective service delivery for those groups,” she said.

The third forum for the year is planned to be around International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December) and will focus on barriers in accessing government services, to give a perspective of various people’s experience in trying to access services.




Free training session at the Commission

The Commission will be offering three training sessions at no cost on 13 September, 11 October and 21 November this year.

The Introduction to Equal Opportunity Law courses will be held on 13 September and 21 November and the Recruitment and Selection – Are you getting it right? course will be held on 11 October, all at the Commission on level two, 141 St Georges Terrace.

Manager Commission Services Diana MacTiernan said it was a unique opportunity for those involved in recruiting or those managing teams to improve their knowledge of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination law.

“We often receive enquiries from people working in human resources seeking advice about their recruitment policies and procedures, just as we often receive enquiries and complaints from employees who feel they have been discriminated against at work.

“In many cases people have been unaware what they planned to do or were doing may be unlawful,” she said.

Ms MacTiernan said the courses were usually run at a cost of $255 per person for the Introduction to Equal Opportunity Law course and $383 per person for the Recruitment and Selection – Are you getting it right? course.

 “The Introduction to Equal Opportunity Law course runs from 9.15 am to 1.15 pm and the Recruitment and Selection – Are you getting it right? course runs from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

“Given this offer of no cost, places are limited for the three sessions, so if you would like to take advantage of this valuable opportunity, contact the Commission on 9216 3900 or by email at



Sklavos v Australasian College of Dermatologists

Dr Sklavos was a medical practitioner who wanted to become a dermatologist.

To qualify, he had to do five years of training, examinations and assessments at different levels; however, Dr Sklavos had a clinical case of phobia to assessments and examinations and without subjecting himself to these assessments he could not become a dermatologist.

He approached the Australiasian College of Dermatologists (the College) with evidence of his phobia and requested alternative ways of assessment the College could implement to accommodate his impairment.

The College refused the alternatives and Dr Sklavos lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging impairment discrimination in the area of education. More particularly, he alleged that the College directly discriminated against him by not implementing reasonable accommodation in breach of section 5(2) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

He also alleged the College indirectly discriminated against him by imposing a condition (the assessment or examinations) which he could not comply with, and which was not reasonable with regards to the circumstances of the case. He also alleged that the College breached education standards.

His complaint was dismissed in the Federal Court, and Dr Sklavos appealed to the Full Bench of the Federal Court of Australia.

This is their decision:

Was there direct discrimination? The Full Bench of the Federal Court found there wasn’t.

While it is true that the College did not implement alternative assessment methods, their decision to decline were not based on the fact that the Dr Sklavos had an impairment, but on the system of assessments put in place to ensure candidates met the standards to qualify as a dermatologist. The alternatives would have required too many modifications.

The decision shows that in section 5(2) of the DDA, consideration needs to be given as to whether one of the reasons for failure to implement reasonable accommodations is because of a complainant's impairment. If it is, then there is a breach of the DDA. If there are other reasons not including the impairment, it is not a breach, which has implications for section 66a of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984.

Was there indirect discrimination? Again, the Federal Court found there wasn’t.

The Full Bench conceded that the assessment was a condition or requirement, and that the Dr Sklavos could not comply with it because of his condition. They also accepted that this brought disadvantage to him. The remaining issue was whether the requirement was “reasonable”.

Under the DDA the onus of proving reasonableness falls on the respondent. The Court accepted the College’s submissions that the condition was reasonable because it ensured that candidates met the standards required to be a competent dermatologist, the system is assisted by professionals who donate their time to contribute to the assessment, and many other reasons.

Dr Sklavos was ordered to pay costs.

Click here to read the full decision.



What's coming up

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

September 13          FREE EVENT - Introduction to Equal Opportunity Law 

September 19-20    Equity Grievance Officer Role 

October 17               FREE EVENT - 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.