Equal opportunity is a requirement under both Victorian and Commonwealth legislation. In Victoria, the main piece of legislation which makes it unlawful to discriminate is the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (EO Act 2010).
Related laws in Victoria are the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic).
At the Commonwealth level, there is a range of equal opportunity legislation which includes the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).
Equal opportunity means that every person can participate freely and equally in areas of public life such as in the workplace, in education, or in accessing goods and services. Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably or bullying them because of a personal characteristic protected by law. Equal opportunity law aims to promote everyone's right to equal opportunities; eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination and sexual harassment; and provide redress for people whose rights have been breached.
All employees, students, parents, school council members, contractors and volunteers are required to act in accordance with equal opportunity, anti discrimination, harassment and vilification legislation. We all have a responsibility to ensure department workplaces including schools are respectful, safe and inclusive and free of discrimination, harassment, vilification and otherwise unlawful and unacceptable behaviours.
Equal opportunity policy in the Department is not only about compliance with legal procedure, but also good management practice. The CORE Values of the Department uphold the principles of respect and diversity providing fairness and equal opportunity. This helps the Department to be an attractive organisation and safe workplace for all. Managers and principals are required to ensure that equal opportunity and anti harassment policy, legislation and supporting diversity principles and practices are integrated into appropriate workplace plans and activities.
The EO Act 2010 can be downloaded from: www.legislation.vic.gov.au
School Equal Opportunity Compliance
To assists schools with equal opportunity compliance, school principals should refer to the equal opportunity guidelines, checklist and policy template provided below.
Policy and Guidelines
Procedures & Forms
The online Workplace Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Course aims to aims to increase awareness and understanding of obligations, rights and responsibilities under Commonwealth and State anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws. The course may be accessed at any stage.
back to top