Welcome to our year in review


Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
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How can we make human rights an intrinsic part of the way we think and work in Victoria?

It starts with placing human rights at the heart of how our government makes decisions. And it results in better policies, better legislation, better conduct and a better society.

This year was the first in the Commission’s five-year strategic plan, Upholding human rights close to home, which will guide our work from 2017 to 2022.

Our strategic plan focuses on four strategic priorities:

Embedding a human rights culture

Improving workplace equality

Protecting human rights in closed environments

Reducing racism.

Keep scrolling to find out what we achieved in 2017-18

In 2017–18, we saw:


increase in complaints about racial discrimination.


increase in complaints about sex discrimination.


increase in complaints about sexual harassment.

Key stats

Enquiries and complaints

Through our Enquiry Line and dispute resolution service, the Commission helps thousands of people each year to better understand their rights and, if they have been discriminated against, sexually harassed, victimised or vilified, to make a complaint and reach a resolution.

enquiries received

issues raised

new complaint files

issues of discrimination and harassment


conciliations resolved


customer satisfaction rating


complaint files resolved within six months

In 2017–18, the most common issues in the complaints we received were:

Sexual harrasment
Employment activity
Change from 2016–17
Change from 2016–17
Change from 2016–17
Sexual harassment
Change from 2016–17
Employment activity
Change from 2016–17

Key stats

Education and training resources

Our education programs, consultancy services and resources help the public sector, private employers and individuals to gain a stronger understanding of equal opportunity and human rights and responsibilities under Victorian law.

training sessions delivered

participants across private sector, government and community organisations

customer satisfaction

documents distributed, including brochures on discrimination, postcards, magnets, badges, guidelines and research reports

Key stats


Throughout the year, we engaged with the media to shape public discourse on equality, discrimination and human rights.

4.6 million
Views of our social media posts

increase in views from 2016–17

fans across all platforms

We contributed opinion pieces to The Age and The Big Issue, a profile of the Commissioner was published in the Herald Sun, and the Commissioner appeared on ABC’s Q&A and ABC Radio.

We commented on a wide range of topics, including discrimination in the rental market, school uniform policy, marriage equality, the implementation of OPCAT, race-based media reporting and compliance with the Charter.

Embedding a human rights culture

Embedding a human rights culture across government and the broader community will lead to fairer decisions and outcomes for all Victorians. This year, we worked to build skills and knowledge across government and the broader community.

We built a deeper understanding of human rights and what they mean for everyday Victorians through our pioneering Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Education Project – educating 5000 public sector employees through face-to-face training and dynamic eLearning modules. Read more

We put human rights on the agenda at the highest level of government by establishing the Charter Leaders Group, an inter-departmental executive sponsors group committed to embedding human rights in the delivery of government services and in Victorian public sector workplaces. Read more

We collaborated with the Department of Education and Training on a bespoke human rights training program for school teachers across the state.

We examined the role of human rights in public authorities’ decision-making and the impact of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in our annual Charter Report for the Attorney-General, as well as commissioning PwC Australia to develop metrics so we can better monitor the Charter’s impact in the future.

We championed Aboriginal cultural rights by intervening in a game-changing Magistrates’ Court case, arguing successfully for the case to be transferred to the Koori Court, and by developing Aboriginal Cultural Rights, an innovative collection of print and online resources for public authorities. Read more

We shared public conversations about the importance of human rights – through the Human Rights Oration with Professor Megan Davis, through Tracey Spicer’s Equality Talks, through our Race and Media Forum, and through Human Rights Week. Read more

We delved into systemic discrimination in key industries – by investigating the travel insurance industry’s discrimination against Victorians with a mental illness and examining the significant under-representation of women in sport. Read more

We provided expert advice to key stakeholders on human rights issues – through our submission to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Parliamentary Committee inquiry on police corruption and misconduct, and through our submission to the Federal Freedom of Religion Inquiry. Read more

Improving workplace equality

Work is fundamental to our identity, financial security and our sense of contribution, but some people still face significant social and structural barriers to inclusion and equality in the workplace, in both the public and private sectors. This year, the #MeToo movement brought conversations about sexual harassment to the fore, and we continued to investigate discrimination, equality and victimisation in key industries

We developed Raise it! Conversations about sexual harassment and workplace equality, an innovative pilot program combining digital tools, staff resources and intensive education, to help employers and employees tackle difficult conversations around harassment, discrimination, pregnancy, parental leave and flexible work arrangements. Read more

We investigated equity, diversity and sex discrimination within Victoria Police through our ongoing landmark review, releasing the report on the second phase and beginning the third phase, an audit of progress to date. Read more

We continued our important work with Victoria’s fire services, finalising our independent review and leveraging the Commissioner’s role as the chair of Male Champions of Change to address equity and diversity issues and the barriers that prevent women from advancing into positions of leadership within the emergency services. Read more

Protecting human rights in closed environments

People living in detention, or residential or care settings where their liberty is restricted, have limited control over their lives and choices and are more vulnerable to having their human rights abused or denied through poor treatment or neglect. This year, we worked to enshrine the human rights of those in care homes, psychiatric wards, detention centres and prisons across Victoria.

We advocated for a transparent legal framework and preventive measures to reduce ill treatment of people in detention through our submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s consultation on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). Read more

We made recommendations for Victoria’s youth justice centres to help young Aboriginal people maintain and build connections to culture and community, through our research report Aboriginal Cultural Rights in Youth Justice Centres, developed in partnership with the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People. Read more

We helped corrections staff in Victorian prisons to better understand the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and its implications for people in closed environments, through customised training in collaboration with Corrections Victoria.

Reducing Racism

The mental and physical health impacts of racism on people from minority communities are well documented. It can leave people feeling isolated and vulnerable and has a silencing effect on individuals and communities, impacting their participation in all areas of public life. This year, we worked with leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to combat racism.

We provided tailored training for members of the Ethiopian, Somalian, Papua New Guinean, Iraqi, Karen and Chin communities, in partnership with WestJustice, to help them understand their employment rights and how to tackle discrimination at work.

We created accessible resources on how to respond to racial attacks, through the We Stand Together Project, in partnership with City of Yarra, the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, Fitzroy Legal Service, Victoria Police, Carringbush Education, Cohealth and MiCare.

We began to develop an accessible digital reporting tool to make it easier for culturally and linguistically diverse groups – particularly members of African and Muslim communities – to make complaints about racism and discrimination.

We strengthened our strategy for collaborating with and advocating for Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities by launching our Multicultural and Multifaith Engagement Action Plan, developed through consultation with community leaders. Read more

We interrogated the effects of linking race and crime at our public forum ‘Breaking News or Making News: A Forum on Race, Media and Public Debates’, with The Age editor Alex Lavelle and SBS journalist and presenter Sarah Abo. Read more

We used our media appearances to shine a light on the impacts of racism in political discourse on rates of racist incidents in Victorian schools, on public transport, at shopping centres and in workplaces.


Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsiblities Act 2006, the Commission can intervene in cases to assist a court or tribunal to consider equal opportunity issues.

cultural rights

In Cemino v Cannan, we argued for a case before Echuca Magistrates’ Court to be transferred to the Koori Court in Shepparton, in accordance with Mr Cemino’s right to equality and the Aboriginal cultural rights under Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

» read more

In Arora v Melton Christian College, we intervened in a case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to argue that Sidak, a prep student, should not be prevented from enrolling at Melton Christian College because he wore a patka in accordance with his faith.

» read more

In Owners Corporation v Anne Black, we submitted that the owners corporation for Ms Black’s building provided a service to her and, as a result, had a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments to heavy swing doors to accommodate her visual impairment and physical disability.

» read more
the Charter

In AB v CD and EF, we intervened under the Charter in a high-profile Supreme Court case to determine the right to a fair trial. The case related to Victoria’s ‘gangland wars’ and whether certain convicted individuals could be notified that the barrister representing them was also a police informer.

» read more

Building a strong organisation

This year, we also focused on some important initiatives to strengthen our organisation.

We developed key strategic documents to guide the Commission’s activities:
- People and Culture Plan
- Disability Action Plan
- Multicultural and Multifaith Engagement Action Plan.

We created our first digital strategy and partnered with Code for Australia to set up an internal digital lab.

We created a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to evaluate the impact of our work.

Contact the Commission:

Phone us on 1300 891 848

Visit us at Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, Vic 3053

Find us online at www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au