Sex Discrimination Act 1984

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Sex Discrimination Act 1984
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Parliament of Australia
An Act relating to discrimination on the ground of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status, pregnancy, potential pregnancy, breastfeeding or family responsibilities or involving sexual harassment

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 is an Act of the Parliament of Australia which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, marital or relationship status, actual or potential pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or breastfeeding in a range of areas of public life. These areas include work, accommodation, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, the activities of clubs and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.

Among other things, the Act seeks to eliminate discrimination involving dismissal of employees with family responsibilities and to eliminate sexual harassment in areas of public activity.

The Act also seeks to create recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle of the equality of men and women.

The rights and responsibilities of pregnant and potentially pregnant workers in the workplace were clarified by the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Pregnancy and Work) Act 2003. The foundational case on this issue is Hickie v Hunt & Hunt (1998)[1] in which the plaintiff complained of less favourable treatment in the workplace following her maternity leave.

The Act implements Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which came into force in September 1981 and which Australia ratified in July 1983, subject to several reservations and declarations.[2] The Act also gives effect to parts of International Labour Organisation Convention 156 which concerns workers with family responsibilities.

See also[edit]

External sources[edit]


  1. ^ Hickie v Hunt & Hunt [1998] HREOCA 8 (9 March 1998)
  2. ^ Declarations, Reservations and Objections to CEDAW