Page 4020 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022

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Discrimination Amendment Bill 2022

Ms Cheyne, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra-Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.58): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Discrimination in any form is unacceptable. It excludes people from our community, it reduces social cohesion and it can have significant impacts on a person’s psychological health, wellbeing and capacity to participate in society. We also know that a person can have intersecting protected attributes which can compound the stigma and harm associated with discrimination.

This government is committed to making Canberra a more inclusive, progressive and equal community. It is essential that our Discrimination Act is modern, fit for purpose and appropriately equipped to protect the right to equality for all Canberrans. But many aspects have not been amended since the act was introduced over 30 years ago. That is why the ACT government committed to review our discrimination law as part of the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement for the Tenth Legislative Assembly and through the Capital of Equality Strategy 2019-2023. The reforms proposed in today’s bill draw from the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council’s 2015 final report into the review of the Discrimination Act 1991.

Importantly, they reflect the extensive feedback and the valuable insights provided by the community. As you may recall, I released a discussion paper for public consultation in October 2021 and I tabled the listening report summarising that feedback in the Assembly in April 2022. An exposure draft bill was developed, based on that feedback, and provided for further public comment from 1 June to 1 July this year. There was widespread engagement from the community, with the government receiving over 1,000 submissions. We received feedback on that exposure draft from a range of stakeholders, including peak bodies, community legal centres, advocacy groups, education associations, religious organisations and community members.

I am pleased to advise that a listening report summarising the feedback received on that exposure draft is now available on the YourSay website. This bill will directly impact some of the most vulnerable Canberrans, so it is vital that the reforms reflect the voices of our diverse community. We have listened and we have carefully considered all the ideas and comments provided during both rounds of consultation to refine the bill and to ensure that it meets the needs of all Canberrans.

This bill will better align the territory’s discrimination law framework with the Human Rights Act and promote social inclusion and respect for diversity in our community.

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