Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

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The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) is a statute passed by the Australian Parliament during the Prime Ministership of Labor Gough Whitlam.

The RDA makes racial discrimination unlawful in Australia and overrides inconsistent States and Territory legislation, making the State or Territory law ineffective to the extent of the inconsistency. The power of the national Parliament to pass this over-riding law arises under the "external affairs" power contained in section 51 of the Australian Constitution. The power arose from the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination to which Australia is a signatory. This use of the power in this manner was confirmed in the landmark High Court decision in Koowarta v. Bjelke-Petersen in 1982.

Definition of racial discrimination under the Act

Racial discrimination occurs under the RDA when someone is treated less fairly than someone else in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Racial discrimination can also occur when a policy or rule appears to treat everyone in the same way but actually has an unfair effect on more people of a particular race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin than others.

It is against the law to discriminate in areas such as:

  • Employment (section 15) - e.g. when seeking......
  • ...

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