From racial abuse or insulting a person because of their sexuality, to denying someone a job or accommodation because they may be pregnant, vilification and discrimination are, unfortunately, regular issues of concern within Australian society - but ones that we can actively stand up against and attempt to eradicate.

Protect your rights

Vilification is generally any act that happens publicly as opposed to privately, and that could incite others to hate a person, have serious contempt for them, or any act that involves the severe ridicule of an individual or a group of people based on race, colour, nationality, descent, ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin, homosexuality, HIV or AIDS status or transgender status.

How the law helps

While we don't have a bill of rights in Australia, the various national anti-discrimination laws that have been enacted to protect your rights include:

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Australian anti-discrimination laws protect you from being disadvantaged or unfairly treated or harassed because of your:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ethnic or ethno-religious or national origin
  • Nationality or descent
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Homosexuality
  • Carers' responsibilities
  • Pregnancy
  • HIV or AIDS status
  • Transgender status

It is also against the law to victimise someone for making a complaint. Victimisation might involve threatening or disadvantaging someone because they have complained or taken some other (lawful) action.

If you think that you are being discriminated against or vilified, don't be scared to act. If you can, talk with the person or organisation causing the problem. However if you feel uncomfortable doing this you can come talk to us and we'll go through your options. You may need to make a complaint to a body such as the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Case study

Yue told her employer that she was pregnant. A week later her employer told her they were terminating her employment because it would cost too much to hire a replacement while she was off having her baby. She made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and then took her employer to court. The employer was found to have discriminated against her and she was awarded several thousand dollars compensation.


If you think you are being discriminated against or vilified, do not be scared to act, start by sending us an email for advice or to make a confidential appointment.

NSW Anti-Discrimination Board

Ph: 9268 5544


Australian Human Rights Commission

Ph: 1300 369 711


Need more information?

If you are a UNSW student and Arc member we can give you free legal advice. Send us an email or book an appointment here.

Legal & Advocacy

P:(02) 9065 0900


H:10AM - 5PM

Arc Reception

P:(02) 9065 0900


H:10AM - 5PM

A:Gate 5 on High St, UNSW