Equal Opportunity

The ASU provides information to members about Equal Opportunity legislation, advocates in the relevant tribunals on behalf of members and takes a keen interest in developments in this area which directly affects many of our members. For example, more than 60% of our ASU members are women, and we have many members who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, or identify as LGBTIQ.

Many ASU members work in organisations assisting and advocating on behalf of people who can experience discrimination and harassment  –  people living with disabilities, refugees and new Australians, marginalised young Australians, and those who are experiencing homelessness, unemployment, addictions, serious health issues and family violence.

All Australian states and territories have equal opportunity, anti discrimination and sexual harassment legislation, which cover behaviour at work and in other areas of public life. There are both Federal and State or Territory laws that apply to all Australians.

For more information visit these websites : SA Equal Opportunity Commission or NT Anti-Discrimination Commission

What is unlawful in employment?

Equal Opportunity

In South Australia and the Northern Territory it is unlawful for anyone to be treated unfairly in employment on the grounds of :

  • • marital status
  • • promotion
  • • access to training
  • • wages and benefits
  • • termination
  • • redundancy


You cannot be discriminated against in :

  • • appointment
  • • age
  • • race
  • • sex
  • • sexuality
  • • physical or intellectual impairment
  • • pregnancy

Discrimination might be direct or indirect

An example of direct discrimination is when a worker is not given a promotion because she is pregnant. Indirect discrimination occurs when an action or treatment has an unequal effect on some people over others. For example, when an employer offers a bonus to workers with more than 10 years continuous service. This discriminates against women who have to take time off work if they have children.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also unlawful. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour where the victim felt offended, intimidated or humiliated, and it was reasonable in the circumstances to feel that way.

Sexual harassment is not about mutual attraction or friendship. If there is consent, it is not sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is unlawful in :

  • • employment
  • • accommodation
  • • education
  • • provision of goods & services

What to do if you are discriminated against or sexually harassed at work

You have a right to take action. Your workplace may already have policies and procedures in place which describe what you can do to address the situation. There may be trained sexual harassment contact officers at your workplace.

Is it just you?

Try to find out if other people in your workplace have suffered the same treatment as you.

You might find that your employer habitually discriminates against a group of workers or that the person who is sexually harassing you is doing the same to other people. It is often much quicker and more effective for you and your fellow workers to deal with these issues as a group. It also means you will have support at your workplace if you do take action. You can ask your ASU Workplace Rep or Union Organiser for advice.

If you don't have workplace procedures or for some reason do not want to use them you can take your complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

How is a complaint resolved?

If you do take your complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission you will need to provide all relevant details about what happened, when and where it happened, who was involved and any other important information.

The Equal Opportunity Commission attempts to conciliate complaints and you may be able to take your complaint to trial if conciliation does not work. Remedies for complaints can include money and apologies.