Race discrimination

Your Rights

It is unlawful under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to discriminate against a person because of their race.

Race includes colour, descent, ethnic or national origin or nationality and may comprise two or more distinct races.

Direct race discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly because of their race, or the race of a relative or associate compared to another person of a different race, in the same or similar circumstances.

Indirect race discrimination is when a requirement, condition or practice that is the same for everyone has an unfair effect on someone because of their race, and is unreasonable in the circumstances.

Examples of race discrimination

  • A qualified engineer was refused a job for which he was the best applicant because the employer thought customers would not like dealing with an Asian person.
  • An Aboriginal couple visited a real estate agent seeking a rental property in that particular area only to be told “... people like you have a reputation for not maintaining rental properties, I’m sorry, I don’t want your business...”
  • A couple telephoned their local kindergarten to see if there was a vacancy for their son.  They were told there was plenty of room but when they turned up the kindergarten manager said “... look all the other kids are white, why don’t you take him to a place where he’ll fit in...”
  • A job applicant was required to complete an English literacy test when literacy skills were not relevant to the position.  This was investigated as indirect discrimination as English was not his first language.

Downloads and related information:

Race discrimination fact sheets are available at our page Publications - Fact sheets 
Exceptions: Section 50(d) and 51 exceptions 
Information about making a complaint:  Make a complaint  
Contact the EOC:  Contact us