Launch of the Australian Human Rights Commission national inquiry into employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with a disability

15 April 2015

Today, I joined the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Susan Ryan AO, to launch Willing to Work, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s national inquiry into employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with a disability.

Employment discrimination against older workers or people with a disability potentially affects millions of Australians and also has a significant economic and social cost to the broader community. That is why I asked Commissioner Ryan to conduct this inquiry so the Government can work with the Commission to take practical steps to reduce this pointless discrimination. It is also important that the Commission focus its priorities on issues that affect the lives of everyday Australians.

In conducting this inquiry, the Commission will consult broadly across Australia, including with the community and with employers. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry (attached) request the Commission to make recommendations on action or legislative change which the Government should take to address employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.

Commissioner Ryan has been a strong advocate for discrimination issues, particularly in employment, for many years. She is well placed to lead this inquiry on behalf of the Commission and focus on achievable outcomes to improve workforce participation.

I look forward to receiving the Commission’s report by July 2016.

Further information on the inquiry is available on the Commission’s website: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/

ATTACHMENT

Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with a Disability

Terms of Reference

Having regard to:

  • the obstacles faced by older persons and persons with disabilities in actively participating in the workforce;
  • discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities as a systemic problem and a considerable barrier to their enjoyment of human rights;
  • the economic and social costs, and the costs to productivity, that result from discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities in employment; and
  • the Australian Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of older Australians and Australians with a disability.

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia

REFER to the Australian Human Rights Commission for inquiry and report pursuant to sections 11(1)(d), 11(1)(e), 11(1)(j) and 11(1)(k) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth):

  • practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in employment of older Australians and Australians with a disability; and
  • the Commission’s recommendations as to Commonwealth laws that should be made or amended, or action that should be taken, to address employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with a disability.

Scope of the reference

In conducting this inquiry, the Commission should have regard to other inquiries, reviews and reports that it considers relevant, including the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and its progress reports to the Council of Australian Governments, and the Australian Law Reform Commission Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws Report, March 2013.

In conducting its inquiry, the Commission should base its findings on research, including that into the prevalence and impact of age discrimination and disability discrimination, and the extent to which discrimination contributes to people being unemployed or underemployed.

The Commission should also identify and consult with older persons and persons with a disability, and other relevant stakeholders, including relevant Government departments and agencies, key non-government stakeholders and peak employer and employee bodies.

As part of its report the Commission may wish to identify best practice examples of recruitment, retention, and of reasonable adjustment in the workplace for older Australians and Australians with a disability.

Timeframe

The Commission should provide its report to the Attorney-General by July 2016.