What is a complaint?
A complaint is a reported incident of alleged unlawful discrimination, which has occurred in Western Australia, on a ground and in an area covered by the Act. The complaint should be lodged by the individual who experienced the alleged discrimination.
The incident or incidents you are included in your complaint must have occurred within the 12 months previous to the date you lodge your Complaint Form. In some circumstances the Commissioner may rule there is good reason, or good cause, to include incidents that occurred more than 12 months before the Complaint Form is lodged.
Making a complaint
All complaints must be in writing, however you can get someone to help you prepare a complaint if you are not able to do so yourself.
Your complaint can be provided in writing on the EOC complaint form in hard copy, submitted online, or in a letter or statement that provides information about the alleged discrimination. You should include copies of any documents to support your complaint.
If your complaint is accepted the Commissioner will usually delegate to a Conciliation Officer to investigate and conciliate the complaint.
Conciliation Officers do not take sides in complaints, advocate for or represent either the complainant or the respondent.
Onus of Proof
Under the Act the person who makes the complaint must establish their case is supported by evidence and is arguable.
The onus is placed upon the respondent if they rely on an exception in the Act who must show that the exception applies in the particular circumstances of the complaint.
The Commissioner and her staff are required by the Act to protect the confidentiality of all complaints. The Commissioner cannot reveal information about the complaint to the media or any person, other than parties to the complaint or those required to provide evidence about the complaint.
Complaints are more likely to be resolved easily and satisfactorily if the complaint is kept confidential.
The purpose of an investigation is to gather information about your complaint. This process is both impartial and confidential.
The Conciliation Officer may ask you to supply information such as the dates of specific incidents, witness statements and letters, or medical information relevant to the complaint. The Commissioner can require any person to produce relevant information about a complaint.
A written statement of the complaint is usually provided to the respondent who is required to provide a written response.
The response is then usually relayed to the complainant.
If the complaint is not resolved a conciliation conference may be arranged between the parties. The conciliation conference is an opportunity for the parties to discuss ways to resolve the matter with an EOC conciliation officer present.
Under the Act the Commissioner has the power to compel complainants, respondents and any witnesses to produce evidence and attend conferences.
It is against the law for anyone to threaten, harass or treat a person unfairly because they have made a complaint, or intend to make a complaint under the Act.
This protection is also given to anyone giving evidence about a complaint, or to someone who complains about unlawful discrimination, even if they have not made a complaint to the Commission.