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On 12th December 2023, the Australia Human Rights Commission implemented landmark powers under the Sex Discrimination Act, imposing legal obligations onto organisations to take proactive and meaningful action to eliminate discrimination as outlined in the Act.  

Organisations and businesses are now responsible for proactively creating workplaces that are safe and inclusive. This is a significant paradigm shift for Australian workforces, where previously claims of discrimination, sexual harassment or other unlawful conduct were only being dealt with by organisations and businesses on a reactive basis

“Leaders of organisations and businesses play a crucial role in setting an example in preventing unlawful conduct and fostering a culture of respect and inclusiveness”, says Sex Discrimination Commissioner Dr Anna Cody. 

The positive requirement presents an opportunity for boards and leadership teams to align on the measures needed to challenge management and set or reset expectations for improvement. 

 The importance of this topic making its way onto leadership agenda’s for January 2024 and beyond, should not be underestimated. The guidelines outlined seven standards organisations are expected to comply with. The seven standards are based on research done into the cause of unlawful conduct in organisations, and include leadership, culture, knowledge, risk management, support, reporting and response, monitoring, evaluation and transparency. 

(The Seven Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), 2023. ) 

If you have concerns about implementing the standards in practice, or your obligations as an employer under the positive duty, reach out to our Workforce Advisory experts who can assist you.  

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While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents.  Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only. Liability Limited by a scheme approved under professional services legislation.

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