Anti-Discrimination Legislation In Australia

Read Complete Research Material


Has anti-discrimination legislation in Australia achieved the elimination of workplace discrimination?

Has anti-discrimination legislation in Australia achieved the elimination of workplace discrimination?


Anti-discrimination legislation in Australia has achieved the elimination of workplace discrimination. This legislation continues to be used as a social and labour market mechanism, yet the results of Australian telephone surveys of randomly selected employers and job applicants indicate that discrimination in the recruitment and selection process is flourishing despite such legislation. Only limited support for the neo-classical economist's concern that anti-discrimination legislation creates additional costs and inefficiencies were found. The role of the legislation in creating more effective selections was not strongly supported either, but about half of both employers and job applicants thought that the legislation was fair (Bennington, 2002).


Although the tendency is to think of legislation as stable, it does change depending upon environmental and political conditions and, assuming that the market is not perfectly competitive, what might be appropriate at one time might not be appropriate at other times. In the decade starting in the early 1990s, the term 'diversity' has seen a surge of popularity in Australian managerial and public policy contexts, alongside the demise of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action. I begin a discussion with an overview of legislative, political and managerial influences which have contributed to the decay of discourses of equality and their partial replacement by a diversity discourse in Australian public and business domains. Australian academics have been discussing the management of diversity since the mid 1990s. However, there is little systemic information about diversity management in Australian companies. More detailed case studies of diversity management within industries and organizations remain relatively rare (Bennington, 2006).

Equipped with neither comprehensive audits of Australian diversity management nor with extensive case data, the interpretations offered in this chapter are largely based on personal experience: working with and listening to diversity networks; working as a consultant on diversity myself; and on discussions and interviews with consultants and academics working on diversity in the major business centres of Melbourne and Sydney. I have sought to locate and critically evaluate diversity management's progress within a broader Australian political and ideological context but also to capture the practice rather than the theory - the interpretations, doubts and hopes of those who advise and manage diversity initiatives in organizations. Nevertheless, the views expressed are my own unless surrounded by quote marks - in which case they come from an interview conducted with a diversity practitioner (Brzuzy, 1998).

Australia was regarded as an innovator in EEO and women's policy when, in 1986, the Commonwealth government introduced Affirmative Action legislation. While it did not impose quotas, the legislation did require private sector organizations with over 100 employees to annually report to government on the current status of women and minorities, and on their plans and progress on improving equality of opportunity in the workplace. Legislation outlawing workplace discrimination on the basis of race and sex had been introduced in 1975 and 1984 ...
Related Ads