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Business holds key to improving human rights

Graphic: Two workers

The private sector can help ease poverty in Australia by abolishing discriminatory employment practises, says the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The private sector could hold the key to easing poverty in Australia by abolishing discriminatory employment practises, Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs has told a major conference.

Speaking at the Global Integrity Summit in Brisbane, a two-day event discussing the global challenges facing our world, Professor Triggs said that two-thirds of the 22,000 complaints received by the Commission each year relate to business and employment.

"Eighty percent of our complaints under the sex discrimination act arise in the context of employment; under age discrimination 62% arise in business and similar figures in the context of disability and race," Professor Triggs said.

Poverty arises, in part, from breaches of human rights and, in particular, from discriminatory employment practises

Australian Human Rights Commission Logo Professor Gillian Triggs, President, Australian Human Rights Commission

The Commission has also been working closely with small business operators and discussing the social, economic and community benefits that come from respecting and applying human rights to their business activities.

"Our experience has shown that it is often easier for larger companies to get advice on anti-discrimination and harassment laws, as they tend to have access to their own internal legal, human resources and diversity teams or to specialist legal firms," said Professor Triggs.

"Yet this does not represent the reality for most of Australia's 2.5 million small businesses."

In the last financial year, the Commission's National Information Service and Investigation Service created a dedicated online contact point to enable small businesses to obtain information about the law and the complaint process, as well as a streamlined option to assist small business to respond to complaints made against them.

"There is momentum building across Australia's business landscape on the need for better understanding and implementation of human rights," said Professor Triggs.

The Commission has published Good practice, good business resources, which have been designed to provide accessible and concise information to assist employers meet their obligations under anti-discrimination law and to assist in creating inclusive workplaces.

The resources are available at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/employers.

Date: 15 October 2015

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. Two workers - Melbourne Water, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1LTLToL