Queensland should dump decades-old anti-discrimination laws and introduce a new bill to proactively protect more vulnerable people, a landmark review has found.
The report warns a focus on individual complaints means wider issues and opportunities are being missed. It also says the state’s watchdog should be granted Australia-first compliance and enforcement powers.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act last year, Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman asked the Queensland Human Rights Commission to review the laws, with a focus on the need for a more proactive approach.
Tabled in parliament on Thursday, the 400-plus page report outlines the findings of a 14-month research program – including almost 300 meetings, roundtables and written submissions, and more than 1000 responses to online surveys.
Commissioner Scott McDougall said the consistent theme was a lack of prevention within the “unfair and ineffective” system, which relied on people making complaints – in the face of often significant barriers – after they have faced discrimination.
The present system also limited the law’s ability to protect people, and left systemic discrimination “largely unaddressed”.
“The introduction of a positive duty was strongly supported by consultations and submissions, would aim to foster cultural change, and would shift the focus of the act from being reactive to proactive,” McDougall said.