Rights in Australia

Australia has national laws that protect your rights and freedoms, including your right to be treated well in all areas of life.

This page lists the main anti-discrimination laws in Australia.

Watch the Australian Human Rights Commission video (external website) about your rights in Australian law:

Tip: Click the subtitles button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to turn closed captions on and off.

Anti-discrimination laws

Australia has four national anti-discrimination laws that protect you from being treated badly because of things you cannot change. These include your age, disability, race, gender and sexuality.

1. Age Discrimination Act 2004

The Age Discrimination Act makes it against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your age in areas such as employment, education and healthcare.

This means that if you apply for a job or a place at a university, or ask for an appointment with your doctor, they cannot say no because you are too young or too old.

2. Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Disability Discrimination Act protects you from being treated badly because you have a disability. This Act supports you to have the same rights as everyone else.

It means that you are able take part in education, employment and politics, and that you can ask for information and services to be given to you in the way that best meets your requirements.

Tip: The Disability Discrimination Act requires businesses, government organisations, schools and workplaces to follow standards for accessibility. Learn more about the Disability Standards (external link).


3. Sex Discrimination Act 1984

The Sex Discrimination Act was put in place to make sure that women and men are treated equally. It makes it against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your gender, sexuality, relationships or family responsibilities.

Under the Act, women must have the same opportunities as men in all areas of life. You cannot be denied access to things that others can take part in, like sports, school and work because you are a woman.

4. Racial Discrimination Act 1975

The Racial Discrimination Act makes it against the law for someone to be treated badly or unfairly because of their skin colour, race, country or culture.

Indigenous people, migrants and culturally and linguistically diverse people must be treated with respect and be given the same opportunities as everyone else.

Tip: If someone discriminates against you, you can complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Learn how on the Making a Complaint page.

Privacy Act 1988

The Privacy Act protects your right to privacy in your personal and family life. This Act also gives you control over how your personal information is used by services and organisations. It allows you to:

  • know why your personal information is being collected and have a say in how it will be used 
  • ask for your information to be kept private
  • ask for access to your personal information (including your health information)
  • stop unwanted phone calls and emails.  
Tip: If you think that an organisation or agency has used your information in way that breaches your privacy, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (external link).

Important resources

Guides
Australian Human Rights Commission: Disability Discrimination Act 1992 - Easy Read Guide
Information on the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 written in Easy Read.
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Guides
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare: Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights
A guide to your rights in healthcare.
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Visit Website
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Guides
Australian Human Rights Commission Know Your Rights: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
A guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on their rights.
Apple App Store
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Visit Website
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Listen Now
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Guides
Australian Human Rights Commission Know Your Rights: Disability Discrimination
A guide to disability discrimination and the law in Australia.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
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Listen Now
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Watch Video
Guides
Australian Human Rights Commission Know Your Rights: Sex Discrimination
A guide to sex discrimination and the law in Australia.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
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Listen Now
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Watch Video
Guides
Australian Human Rights Commission Know Your Rights: Racial Discrimination
A guide to racial discrimination and the law in Australia.
Apple App Store
Google Play
Visit Website
Download Word (accessible)
Download PDF
Listen Now
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Download PDF
Watch Video
External website
Australian Human Rights Commission: Disability Discrimination Act videos
Short films about people with disability in Australia.
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Where to next

External website
Australian Human Rights Commission
The national organisation in Australia that supports your rights.
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External website
Australian Government: Privacy Complaints
Information on how to make a complaint if you think an organisation has misused your personal information.
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External website
Australian Commission for Quality and Safety in Healthcare
The website for the Commission that works with patients, carers, healthcare organisations and governments to set standards for healthcare and improve the safety and quality of care in Australia.
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External website
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you have a problem with a registered NDIS provider, you can make a complaint on this website.
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External website
eSafety Commissioner
A website helping Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online.
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External website
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
WWDA website where you can find a range of government submissions, reports and publications about women and girls with disability.
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