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Racial discrimination is defined under federal and state anti-discrimination laws as being when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status. This is known as direct discrimination. An example of direct discrimination is when people make offensive comments that are considered racist. It is also racial discrimination when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status, which may prevent these groups from meeting the standard or requirement imposed uniformly. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’. An example of indirect racial discrimination is if an employer prohibits any face coverings or head dresses in the workplace, with such a condition making it difficult for several ethnicities from securing employment because of their race. 

There are many forms of racial discrimination each being extremely detrimental to cultural diversity, appreciation and the need to exist peacefully in a multicultural country. Institutional racism is the way in which institutions discriminate directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, through their structures and organisations to support or maintain racism. Cultural racism involves the social production and reproduction of racist beliefs and ideas.

Complaints about racial discrimination can be made to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. The Anti-Discrimination Board seeks to conciliate the grievance between the parties involved, however, can transfer the complaint to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ("NCAT") if the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of conciliation and seeks a legal decision.

A complaint about discrimination under federal law can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”). Once a complaint is received, the Commission will notify the party against whom the complaint has been lodged and they will have an opportunity to respond. The parties may be invited to attend a conciliation conference to try to resolve the complaint informally. The Commission will not investigate nor make any findings of discrimination.

If you wish to speak to one of our Discrimination Law & Human Rights Law Lawyers, please contact our Sydney CBD Head Office by telephone on (02) 9233 4048 or send an email to info@navado.com.au. For a complete list of our office branch locations, please see our ‘locations’ tab.

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