Page 4023 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022

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A key feature of the bill is introducing two positive duties that encourage duty holders to think proactively about their obligations under the act. The bill inserts a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person’s protected attribute, unless making this adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship. This duty is a standalone ground of complaint and applies to duty holders under the act and to all protected attributes. The bill also inserts a positive duty for organisations, business and people with organisational management responsibility in these entities to take reasonable and proportionate steps to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and unlawful vilification.

This shifts the responsibility away from individual complainants and helps tackle systemic discrimination before it happens. It complements new rules requiring employers to report sexual assault incidents to WorkSafe ACT, passed in the Legislative Assembly last week, which were led by Minister Gentleman and, of course, the respective federal work reforms. To ensure that the boundaries of these duties are clear, the bill also provides that the duties do not apply to the extent that a duty holder is able to rely on an exemption or exception. I recognise that this is a shift, particularly for businesses and our smaller organisations. It is for this reason that this positive duty will commence for government entities after 12 months, and after three years for all other duty holders, including businesses.

This government is committed to making Canberra a place where everyone is welcome, feels included and belongs. This bill will mean that our values are matched in our human rights framework. Canberrans will continue to be able to have an accessible, easy and free way to enforce these rights through the Human Rights Commission’s complaints mechanism.

Ensuring that exceptions are only allowed where really needed and expanding the scope of protection to more areas of public life are important changes to promote the right to equality. But perhaps the most profound reform in this bill is introducing positive duties to eliminate discrimination and to make reasonable adjustments for all protected attributes. This is a fundamental shift, moving away from a purely reactive approach to addressing discrimination to requiring positive steps to embed equality in all aspects of public life. It is a change that will make a real impact on improving people’s lives and supporting the inclusive community we all want in the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Lee) adjourned to the next sitting.

Corrections and Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

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

Title read by Clerk.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella-Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.12): I move:

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