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Treating someone unfairly because of a particular personal characteristic or because they belong to a certain group is unlawful in South Australia on the grounds of:

  • age
  • association with a child (in customer service or accommodation)
  • caring responsibilities
  • chosen gender
  • disability
  • identity of spouse or domestic partner
  • marital or domestic partnership status
  • pregnancy
  • race
  • religious appearance or dress (in work or study)
  • sex
  • sexuality.

The Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) covers discrimination in public life, for example:

  • at work, including volunteers
  • accommodation
  • advertising
  • clubs and associations
  • customer service
  • education
  • granting qualifications
  • selling land.

It is unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of:

  • religious dress, in the areas of employment or education
  • their association with a child in customer service or in accommodation
  • breast feeding.

Discrimination laws also cover:

  • sexual harassment
  • victimisation
  • whistleblowing.

Inclusive workplaces

Employers must:

  • take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation
  • respond quickly, seriously and effectively to any complaints
  • support those who have been discriminated against or harassed.

Ten tips for employers

  1. Treat workers and customers fairly in your dealings with them.
  2. Have a policy which rules out discrimination and harassment.
  3. Have a procedure to deal with complaints.
  4. Tell your customers and workers about it regularly.
  5. Handle complaints quickly, fairly and confidentially.
  6. Consider making a worker an equal opportunity contact person.
  7. Monitor and maintain a culture of equal opportunity.
  8. Conduct awareness training.
  9. Offer flexibility.
  10. Build a socially and physically accessible workplace.

Everyone can help promote fairness in the workplace by:

  • being familiar with relevant policies and procedure
  • supporting others if discrimination is observed at work
  • not harassing, bullying or discriminating others
  • reporting inappropriate behaviour
  • modelling inclusive behaviour and language
  • addressing unconscious or cognitive bias.

Read more about what our work health and safety laws say about offences for discriminatory, coercive or misleading conduct.


Diversity and discrimination in the workplace
Food for Thought session, March 2015

Equal Opportunity Act (SA) 1984
This Act promotes equality of opportunity for all South Australians. It aims to prevent discrimination against people and give them a fair chance to take part in economic and community life.

Equal Opportunity Commission
Link to website

When is it discrimination? (chart)
Equal Opportunity Commission

Library Catalogue

Further resources can be accessed from SafeWork SA's Library catalogue