Rights and obligations
Each party to a complaint has certain rights and obligations to ensure the complaint process is handled fairly and within reasonable time-frames.
Complainants and respondents should remember that Equal Opportunity Tasmania is an impartial body required to investigate complaints of discrimination and prohibited conduct under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (the Act).
As a complainant, the complaint is your chance to state your position and provide relevant details of why you think you have been discriminated against. It is your responsibility to put clearly, concisely and responsibly your statement about the discrimination you believe you have experienced. If the complaint is accepted for investigation you are given a chance to comment on what the respondent says about your complaint. The respondent is not notified of a complaint until after it is accepted for investigation.
It is the complainant's responsibility to ensure that:
- your complaint is made in writing and signed by you and any other person making the complaint with you.
- you identify the person/s, group of people, or organisation that you believe has discriminated against you.
- you provide as many details as possible of the alleged discrimination or prohibited conduct.
- you lodge your complaint in person, by post, or by other means that the Commissioner allows.
- If you provide supporting documentation ensure you send copies and retain originals.
- You provide requested information within the specified timeframe (usually 14 days).
- You provide clear and accurate information, which is not false or misleading.
During the investigation, the Commissioner may require you to provide specific information or documents under section 97 of the Act. It is your responsibility to comply with any such request or provide a reasonable explanation as to why you cannot comply.
Under the Act, you, as a respondent, are not required to provide a 'response' to a complaint. However to ensure procedural fairness and natural justice, the Commissioner always asks for a response. It is your chance to state your position, what you believe is important and what happened, responding to what is stated in the complaint and adding your own statement.
It is a respondent's responsibility to ensure that:
- You reply within the specified timeframe (usually 14 days).
- You request an extension of time in writing from the Commissioner if you have good reasons for not being able to meet a timeframe.
- If you are not directly named as a respondent to the complaint, but are the responsible person in a company, business, organisation, club, agency etc that has been named as a respondent to the complaint, you respond for the organisation.
- The information and other documentation you provide is clear and detailed.
- If you provide supporting documents ensure you send copies and retain originals.
- You provide accurate information, which is not false or misleading.
If you choose not to provide a response, the Commissioner may still require you to provide specific information or documents under section 97 of the Act. It is your responsibility to comply with any such request or provide a reasonable explanation as to why you cannot comply.
Complainant and Respondent rights
You are entitled to confidentiality from this office - the Act says the Commissioner must have regard to the desirability of maintaining confidentiality of all persons involved in the investigation of complaints. Your identity will not be revealed to anyone apart from the complainant or respondent, representatives or advocates, or to witnesses where information from witnesses is sought.
You are entitled to procedural fairness, including a chance to respond to a complaint or reply to a response - this may involve a longer investigation than you might have anticipated. It is important to get all the facts before reaching a conclusion.
Equal Opportunity Tasmania cannot give legal advice, but you are entitled to procedural advice regarding any complaint you are involved in as complainant or respondent. You may seek outside legal advice or assistance from your lawyer or community legal centre at any stage of the complaint process.
If you have difficulties writing, you may get someone to help you, or you may contact Equal Opportunity Tasmania to get assistance in completing your complaint or response.
You are entitled to write a complaint or put in a response in any language other than English. Equal Opportunity Tasmania will arrange translation.
Keeping the Commissioner up-to-date
It is your responsibility as a complainant or respondent to ensure that Equal Opportunity Tasmania can contact you during the complaint process:
- Keep your contact details up-to-date- let us know if you change address, phone number or email.
- If you are going away - interstate, overseas, on holiday, etc - let us know the dates you will be absent and provide contact details.
- If you are ill and cannot reply to Equal Opportunity Tasmania correspondence, please try to make contact or ask someone else to make contact so that we know why you are not replying.
- If we haven't heard from you for some time, a determination could be made without all the input you believe is important.
Please advise Equal Opportunity Tasmania during the complaint process if you require additional assistance or the services of an interpreter.
If a complaint goes to the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Anti-Discrimination Stream) all relevant information from both the complainant and respondent on the complaint file will be provided to the Tribunal. All questions and additional correspondence must be directed to the Tribunal, not Equal Opportunity Tasmania.
If a complaint is rejected or dismissed the complainant has a right of review through the Tribunal.
If the Tribunal upholds the rejection or dismissal, the complaint lapses and the file is closed. If the Tribunal overturns the rejection the complaint will be returned to the Commissioner for investigation.
If the Tribunal overturns the dismissal, the Tribunal holds an inquiry. This is a hearing or trial where the parties give evidence on oath or affimation and are cross-examined and witnesses may be called. At the end of an inquiry, the Tribunal decides if discrimination has occurred or not, and makes orders about compensation or dismissal, etc.
Tribunal contact details are:
Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
GPO Box 1311
38 Barrack Street
HOBART TAS 7000