Discrimination is bad right? Well in actual fact, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some exceptions that mean that certain forms of discrimination are allowed by the law.
This site also describes what discrimination actually is and what forms it can take.
Discrimination can occur in two forms – “direct” discrimination and “indirect” discrimination. Here is an example to illustrate the difference.
- Scenario: Cheng is 15 years old. He and his family move into a house just across from your school. When Cheng was 10 he had an accident which left him confined to a wheelchair.
- Example of Direct Discrimination: When Cheng’s parents come to enrol him in the school, they are told that the school has never had a student in a wheelchair before and they had concerns about how staff and students would manage having Cheng in the school. They suggest that they enrol him in another school. This would be an example of direct discrimination against Cheng personally on the basis of his disability. The school’s actions would be illegal.
- Example of Indirect Discrimination: When Cheng’s parents come to the school, the administration is happy to enrol him. The parents ask if they could have a tour of the school and as they walk around they notice that many of the classrooms are only accessible by using steps, making them inaccessible to Cheng in his wheelchair. The school says that unfortunately that is how the school is designed and they are not prepared to spend money to provide wheelchair ramps when it only effects one student. Cheng’s parents now have no choice but to find another school for their son. Since it would be unreasonable to expect someone in a wheelchair to negotiate steps, the school’s refusal to put in ramps effectively disadvantages Cheng, preventing him from being able to attend lessons. This is an example of indirect discrimination against a people with Cheng’s particular type of disability. The school’s actions would be illegal.
Besides discrimination based upon disability, other types include: nationality, age, breastfeeding, carer status, disability/impairment, employment activity, family responsibilities, gender identity, industrial activity, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status, physical features, political belief or activity, pregnancy, race, religious belief or activity, sex, sexual orientation, personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics. (Ref: http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=985&Itemid=362)
From the above, we can see that sometimes discrimination is very obvious. Other times though, we can actually be guilty of discrimination without even being aware of it. Do you think that you ever do this?
It’s good to think about how we react to news reports. Do we change the way we think about whole groups of people of a particular type just because we heard a bad report about another person of their race or religion or age group or hair colour or the time of the year they were born and so on. Well do you? It is worth reflecting upon because only then can we make sure we remove from ourselves any discriminatory thinking that might be lurking in our minds!
What do you think? How does discrimination start? How does it get into our minds? Post your thoughts.