KLC Law Reform Submissions

 

Kingsford Legal Centre is committed to engaging in systemic advocacy, including law reform, and to representing the interests of our clients and local community on social policy and administration of justice issues. We undertake this work in local, national and international forums.

Law Reform is sometimes done in partnership with other community legal centres and with other organisations. KLC is an active member of both the national and NSW community legal centre law reform networks.

Law reform work at KLC includes making submissions to government, parliamentary and other inquires in areas of law and policy directly relating to our clients. Below are links to law reform submissions made by KLC in the past few years.

These documents are generally provided in PDF format. If you require these documents in another format for accessibility reasons, please contact us at legal@unsw.edu.au

2017

Review of Australia Fifth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Date Submitted: 3 May 2017

 

Submission to Inquiry into Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

Date Submitted: 27 March 2016

KLC made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. KLC argued that section 18C strikes the appropriate balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification. KLC recommended the following:

  • The current wording of ‘offend, insult and humiliate’ in section 18C(1) should remain;
  • The current test of an ordinary, reasonable person from the targeted racial or ethnic group remain;
  • The current time limit of 12 months to make a complaint remain;
  • Applicants not be required to seek leave to apply to the Court when their complaint is terminated by the Commission;
  • The Court not have the power to have regard to an offer to settle in deciding whether to award costs.
  • If the Government wishes to provide greater protections for freedom of speech, this should be enshrined in the Australian Constitution or a national human rights act.  

Submission to the review of the Offence of Serious Vilification in NSW

Date Submitted: 8 February 2017

KLC made a submission to the review of the offence of serious racial vilification under s20D of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977(NSW). The submission drew on KLC’s experience advising clients in our specialist discrimination law practice. In the submission, we argued for a number of changes to the offence to make it more effective as it has never been successfully prosecuted in NSW. We recommended that:

  • the threshold for prosecution be lowered;
  • the requirement of consent from the Attorney-General to prosecute the offence be removed;
  • the offence be moved to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW);
  • the police and DPP receive training on the offence; and
  • an offence of serious religious vilification be introduced. 

Submission to the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women's Country visit in Australia

Date Submitted: 19 January 2017

KLC lodged a submission with the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in response to a call for submissions providing information on violence against women in Australia. In the submission, KLC highlighted

  • the prevalence of family violence in Australia
  • the negative impacts upcoming funding cuts to community legal centres will have on victims
  • the need to reform the Victims' Rights and Support Act NSW  to better recognise the impact of trauma caused by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse;
  • the need to reform commonwealth anti-discrimination laws to include status as a victim or survivor of such violence as a protected attribute.

2016

Submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of rent models for social and affordable housing

Date Submitted: 16 December 2016

KLC lodged a submission with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of rent models for social and affordable housing. Drawing on our experience representing and advising social housing tenants, KLC recommended the following:

  • The eligibility criteria for social housing should not be restricted to include only those currently eligible for the priority wait list;
  • The Government should provide more social housing in order to offer greater housing affordability and security, and in turn provide tenants with greater independence and opportunities;
  • The Government should make social housing more accessible to victims of family and domestic violence;
  • The Government should not reduce the income threshold for renewing social housing leases;
  • The income threshold should take into account a tenant’s capacity to afford private rent in his or her local area. One possible solution is to set the threshold at the point where the private market rent is equal to 30% of the tenant’s income;
  • Alternatively, the Government should increase funding and provision of affordable housing and rent subsidies to help transition tenants who surpass the threshold;
  • An income-based framework be used to set rental prices, only up to 30% of income;
  • The rent-setting framework should not take into account amenities, location, quality, or the costs of providing social housing; and
  • The Government should not classify tenants into the ‘opportunity’ and safety net’ groups based on generalised criteria. Assessing whether it is appropriate to transition a tenant to the private market should involve an individualised assessment, taking into account the individual circumstances of the tenant. 

Submission in response to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights' Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia

Date Submitted: 12 December 2016

KLC made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Right’s Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia. In our submission, we argued that:

  • The current protections against racial vilification in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) be maintained;
  • The current provisions should be extended to protect against vilification on the basis of imputed race;
  • Protections against religious vilification be introduced;
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission should retain it’s powers to hold conciliation conferences and that there was no need to reform the complaints process; and
  • That the Government increase funding for the Australian Human Rights Commission to perform it’s functions.

Letter to Senator Michaelia Cash regarding introduction of Paid Domestic/Family Violence leave provisions in Fair Work Act 2009

Date Submitted: 31 October 2016

KLC urges Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women to reconsider her cancellation of a meeting with her State counterparts which would have provided an opportunity to discuss the introduction of paid Family/Domestic Violence leave provisions into the Fair Work Act 2009.

Submission in response to NSW Department of Family and Community Services 'Foundations for Change - Homelessness in NSW' Discussion Paper

Date Submitted:  13 October 2016

Submission made to: Homeless Strategy Team, Department of Family and Community Services 

KLC argues that the government needs to adopt a human rights approach to homelessness and focus on structural reasons for it, including poverty and the lack of affordable housing.

Response to Discussion Paper on the Sharing of Intimate Images without Consent

Date Submitted:  21 October 2016

Submission made to:  NSW Department of Justice

KLC argues that the current laws do not sufficiently address 'revenge porn' issues and supports the introductio of new offences to specifically address the issue.

Letter to the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP, Minister for Social Housing, regarding proposed Rental Bonds for public housing tenants.

Date Submitted: 20 September 2016

Submission made to: the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP, Minister for Social Housing

The NSW Government is considering the introduction of a rental bonds scheme for public housing tenants. KLC wrote to the minister responsible to voice concerns about the consultation process and the likely impact on tenants were the proposal to be introduced.

Review of Australia Fifth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Date Submitted: 30 August 2016

Submission made to: United National Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In August Kingsford Legal Centre, working with the National Association of Community Legal Centres, has made a submission to the Review of Australia Fifth Periodic Report under the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The submissions highlighted the persistence of a significant gendered pay gap, and signalled the need to explore options to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with respect to the issue of self-determination.

Review of the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013

Date Submitted: 29 July 2016

Submission made to: New South Wales Department of Justice

In July Kingsford Legal Centre made a submission to the New South Wales Department of Justice regarding the review of the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013. 

KLC's submission endorsed the recommendations made by Community Legal Centres NSW and put forward additional recommendations, including:

  • Improve recognition of the impact of the trauma that is caused by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, to be reflected in changes to payment categories.
  • Improve access to assistance under the Act for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims, and ensure that those victims have access to access to culturally appropriate counselling services and resources.
  • Remove time limits for claims for recognition payment and financial assistance by victims of domestic violence, child abuse and child sexual abuse.

Stolen Generations inquiry

Date submitted: 10 February 2015          

 Submission made to: New South Wales Legislative Council

In February KLC was invited to give evidence at the inquiry being conducted by the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee into reparations for the Stolen Generations in New South Wales.  KLC ran the first litigation during the 1990s on behalf of Joy Williams, a member of the Stolen Generation.  Joy’s case was not successful despite an application for leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia. 

Anna Cody, Kaleesha Morris and Kate Halliday gave evidence to the inquiry on 10 February 2016.  Members of the committee asked some questions that KLC took on notice.  KLC submitted a written submission as well as answers to the questions taken on notice in March 2016.

KLC’s submission included the following recommendations:

  • Greater efforts should be made to prevent Aboriginal children being placed into out of home care.  This could be addressed through improved family and legal services for Aboriginal families, and improved accountability of FACS and the Minister regarding the principles contained in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 for the participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in decision making about their children.
  • The NSW government should establish a reparations tribunal to provide a range of benefits to members of the Stolen Generations, including monetary compensation.  The Tribunal should comply with the principles recommended in the ‘Bringing them Home’ report and recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with respect to redress.

Third Party Motor Vehicle Accident 'Green Slip' submission

Date Submitted: 27 April 2016

Submission made to: State Insurance Regulatory Authority

Kingsford Legal Centre made a submission to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority for its review of the compulsory third party insurance scheme for people injured as a result of motor vehicle accidents.  KLC argued for a move to a no fault scheme, and greater transparency around the cost of premiums for third party compulsory insurance (‘green slips’).   

2015

Willing to Work Inquiry

Date submitted: 4 December 2015          

Submission made to: Australian Human Rights Commission

Kingsford Legal Centre made a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work Inquiry into employment discrimination against workers with a disability and older workers. Drawing on clients’ experience, KLC noted the prevalence of disability discrimination and the underreporting of age discrimination. KLC suggested the operation of the law could be improved to prevent discrimination by:

  • Allowing representative actions;
  • Changing the federal courts to a no cost jurisdiction;
  • Introducing a reverse burden of proof;
  • Introducing a separate ground of intersectional discrimination;
  • Introducing civil penalty provisions; and
  • Introducing protection from discrimination for domestic workers.

Review of NSW Racial Vilification Offence

Date submitted: 27 November 2015       

Submission made to: NSW Attorney General

KLC wrote to the NSW Attorney General to welcome her announcement of a review of the NSW Racial Vilification Offence and to provide input into the anticipated exposure draft Bill. Amongst other things, KLC recommended that the offence not be limited to public places and be extended to include religious vilification and extreme racial hate speech.  KLC also recommended that amendments be made to other vilification offences and that there be systematic and strategic data collection and monitoring of prejudice-motivated crime.

Implementation of the Anti-Social Housing Bill

Date submitted: 26 October 2015            

Submission made to: NSW Minister of Social Housing

Along with other community legal centres, KLC wrote to the Housing Minister to express concern about the Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing – Antisocial Behaviour) Act 2015 and to seek to be consulted on the implementation of the Act. In particular, KLC expressed concerns about the limitations placed on the Tribunal when considering mandatory evictions and strike notices. KLC welcomed the Minister’s commitment that the new provisions would not apply to ‘innocent tenants’ who have no knowledge of their occupant’s behaviour, and to rehouse vulnerable tenants whose tenancies are terminated.

Australian Human Rights Commission: Religious Freedom Roundtable

Date submitted: 1 October 2015

Submission made to: Australian Human Rights Commission 

In this submission to inform the Religious Freedom Roundtable, KLC argues that Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws do not interfere with religious freedom; permanent exemptions in Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws should be replaced by a general limitations clause; and Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws should include religion (including no religion) as a protected attribute

ALRC Freedoms Inquiry – Interim Report

Date submitted: 21 September 2015      

Submission made to: Australian Law Reform Commission

KLC made a follow up submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on its Freedoms Inquiry Interim Report. KLC reiterated its concern that the framework for “traditional rights and freedoms”, as set out in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, excludes other significant rights and freedoms, including the right to be free from discrimination. KLC focused on rights and freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and burden of proof.

Submission to the Productivity Commission Draft Report into the Workplace Relations Framework 

Date submitted: 16 September 2015      

Submission made to: Productivity Commission

KLC raised concerns about a number of recommendations in the draft report that would have the effect of restricting access to justice. In particular, KLC opposes any increase to lodgement fees and decisions being made ‘on the papers’ in unfair dismissal matters, reductions to penalty rates and changes to the general protections complaint process. KLC recommends that the small business fair dismissal code be removed and that the Fair Work Commission publish a conciliation register and actively seek feedback from parties and their representatives on conciliation experiences. KLC supports increased resourcing of the Fair Work Ombudsman across all matters, including migrant workers.

Victims Support Reassessment Scheme

Date submitted: 2 September 2015

Submission made to: NSW Attorney General

As part of the CLCNSW Victims Support Committee, KLC wrote to the NSW Attorney General about the new Victims Support reassessment process for victims who lodged applications under the old scheme. KLC expressed welcomed the scheme but also expressed some concerns about it. KLC asked the Attorney to consider extending the deadline for making applications, providing discretion to extend time limits on responding to requests for evidence, accepting reassessment applications that were dismissed due to no act of violence being established, ensuring full appeal rights, engaging in a widespread communications strategy and funding legal costs in limited situations.

Public Housing Anti-Social Behaviour Bill - Briefing Paper

Parliament is set to debate new laws that will remove safety net for vulnerable social housing tenants at risk of homelessness.  Kingsford Legal Centre worked with EATS, Inner-City Legal Centre, Marrickville Legal Centre and Refern Legal Centre to develop a briefing paper.

Joint NGO Submission to the second Universal Periodic Review of Australia

This Joint NGO Submission to has been prepared by the Human Rights Law Centre, the Kingsford Legal Centre and the National Association of Community Legal Centres, with substantial contributions from a number of NGOs across Australia and is endorsed, in whole or in part, by 190 NGOs.

Proposed changes to Victims Support scheme

Date submitted: 16 July 2015

Submission made to: NSW Attorney General

KLC wrote to the NSW Attorney General to welcome proposed changes to the Victims Support scheme so that victims who lodged applications under the previous scheme could have their applications reassessed under that scheme’s provisions. KLC asked the Attorney to consider providing ex-gratia payments, funded legal assistance, no time limits for applicants, and eligibility for withdrawn applications. KLC also expressed its concerns about the current Victims Support scheme, in particular the high requirements for documentary evidence in cases involving domestic violence or sexual assault.

Senate Committee: Inquiry into access to legal assistance services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Date submitted: 15 May 2015

Submission made to: Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee

KLC submitted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have limited access to legal services. This results from a lack of awareness about legal issues, disenfranchisement with laws and the legal system, and a lack of adequate and culturally appropriate services. KLC also highlights the importance of justice reinvestment in addressing and preventing high rates of incarceration.

Australian Government: Consultation on ICESCR Periodic Reporting

Date submitted: 25 May 2015

Submission made to: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Human Rights and Gender Equality Branch)

KLC expressed concern about the consultation and reporting process, including concern about the delay in responding to UN human rights treaty bodies, the need to consult on implementation of Concluding Observations and the need to consult more broadly, particularly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and social services. KLC recommends that the Australian Report include details of measures adopted to progress ICESCR rights, and difficulties affecting fulfilments of ICESCR obligations. KLC emphasises the need for disaggregated data, indicators and benchmarks to assist in measuring progress in Australia.

Submission to Justice Policy Discussion Paper on limitation periods in civil claims for child sexual assault

Date submitted: 23 March 2015

Submission made to: Department of Justice

KLC supports the right of survivors of child sexual assault to pursue civil litigation, although in KLC’s experience it is not an effective mechanism for providing redress to survivors. KLC submitted that time limits for making a civil claim again an individual perpetrator or institution in all cases of child sexual assault should be removed, and that consideration should be given to removing the limitation in all cases of sexual assault. KLC also submitted that if a time limit is to remain in place, the “disability exception” to the limitation period should be expanded to include the impacts of sexual abuse including trauma, shame, or fear. KLC also argued that any changes made to the Limitation Act which benefits survivors should be retrospective so that survivors who gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse could benefit from the amendment. KLC also recommended that any amendments to the Limitations Act be accompanied by improvements to the existing statutory victims compensation scheme and increased funding to services which assist survivors of child sexual assault.

Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Framework

Date submitted: 13 March 2015

Submission made to: Productivity Commission

KLC responded to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Workplace Relations issues papers. The issues KLC raised include:

  • The right to request flexible working arrangements;
  • The time limit for dismissal claims;
  • Domestic/family violence leave; and
  • Protection against discrimination for domestic/family violence survivors and for persons with a criminal record.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Consultation Paper on Redress & Civil Litigation

Date submitted: 9 March 2015

Submission made to: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Consultation Paper on Redress and Civil Litigation

KLC argued that it supports the creation of a national and uniform redress scheme as this will generally provide a better alternative to civil litigation. KLC submitted that any redress scheme established must be survivor led, and should include counselling and psychological care as a component of redress. KLC argued that it should be a fundamental requirement of any redress scheme that survivors are not re-traumatised by making them jump through unnecessary legal hoops. In relation to civil litigation, time limits in all cases of child sexual assault should be removed across Australia. Laws, including on vicarious liability, need to be reformed to prevent institutions blocking litigation and hiding their assets. KLC also argued that Non-Government, as well as Government, institutions should adopt model litigant principles.

Social Housing in NSW Discussion paper

We responded to the Social Housing Discussion Paper about the future of social housing in NSW. In its Discussion Paper, the NSW Government raised concerns about the long waitlists, properties not meeting tenants’ needs because of size, location, modifications and access, tenants of working age staying in public housing for a long time, and the costs of providing and maintaining housing.

On 5 February 2015 KLC held a forum for social housing tenants at the Kooloora Community Centre. The response well exceeded our expectations with over 40 social housing tenants attended the forum.  We gave a brief presentation on the Discussion Paper and how the submission process works. In particular we offered participants choice in how they could respond. Participants had the choice of an:

  • online submission;
  • handwritten submission; or
  • video recording.

We offered this choice because not all social housing tenants feel comfortable using a computer and/or they struggle to express themselves in writing. We also believe it is important the NSW Government see and hear directly from social housing tenants.  We developed a series of resources to help participants at the forum understand the contents of the Discussion Paper and the questions asked of them.  At the forum 3 staff and 5 law students assisted participants to make 10 video, 2 online and 4 handwritten submissions. These were sent directly to the NSW Government as separate submissions. We obtained permission from many of the participants to use their stories in our own submission.

In our submission, we said that the NSW Government needs to improve their consultation processes to make them more accessible to tenants, and to support tenants’ understanding and involvement in the process.  We also said that we recognise there are significant problems with the availability and maintenance of social housing. However, we pointed out that a different framework is needed for considering this. We said greater independence for tenants could be achieved through providing holistic, community based services. And we submitted that a fair social housing system gives priority and additional support to the most vulnerable tenants. Adequate funding is essential in creating a sustainable social housing system.

ALRC Freedoms Inquiry

Date submitted: 21 September 2015

Submission made to: Australian Law Reform Commission

KLC made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission Freedoms Inquiry. KLC expressed its concern that the framework for “traditional rights and freedoms”, as set out in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, excludes other significant rights and freedoms, including the right to be free from discrimination. KLC also expressed our support for the enactment of a national Human Rights Act to address insufficient protections of rights and freedoms at the Commonwealth level. KLC focused on rights and freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and burden of proof.

NSW Disability Inclusion Plan Consultation

Date submitted: 5 January 2015

Submission made to: Department of Family and Community Services

The NSW Government is consulting on the creation of a NSW Disability Inclusion Plan which sets the direction for significant reforms to laws, policies, practices and procedures which affect people living with disability. KLC made recommendations in the area of social housing and education. KLC recommends that the NSW Government increase the availability of public housing for people with disability and that Housing NSW work closely with services that support social housing tenants to ensure they can maintain their tenancies. KLC advocated for better training for teachers and school staff in how to make schools more supportive and accessible for students with disability. KLC argues that students with disability and their parents should not have to resort to discrimination law to enforce their rights at school.

2014

Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2014 Rights & Responsibilities Consultation

We argue for stronger rights protection in Australian law, including through a Human Rights Act and stronger discrimination laws. We express our concern about the freedom of speech implications of recent changes to community legal centre funding agreements, and about the freedom of association implications of the NSW consorting offence. We voice our support for protections for freedom of association in employment, and the existing racial discrimination laws.

UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

KLC submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, who is looking into the responsibilities of sub-national governments with respect to the right to adequate housing

Inquiry into Tenancy Management in Social Housing

KLC believes that the Housing NSW policy in providing and maintaining public housing does not adequately take into account the tenant’s circumstances. In our experience, it serves to entrench discrimination and disadvantage against people with extremely complex needs. We feel that there has been no associated service strategy to assist in the provision of housing to this group.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Issues Paper 6- redress schemes

KLC argues that traditional legal and court processes do not deliver satisfactory results for survivors. Survivor-designed redress schemes can provide the best opportunity for healing outcomes and wider benefits to the community.

Amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975

KLC believes that the RDA has found an appropriate balance between the right to freedom of speech and right to freedom from racial vilification and should not be amended. If the Government wants to better protect freedom of speech we recommend including the right to freedom of speech in the Australian Constitution or a national human rights act.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Commission) on Issues Paper 5 - Civil Litigation.

In KLC’s view there is currently no civil litigation model in Australia equipped to deal with the complex issues and experiences of survivors. The overwhelming response to the Royal Commission in itself reveals that justice for survivors has not been achieved through current legal approaches. KLC is strongly of the opinion that the Commission should recommend funding for victims’ survivors groups with the aim of developing survivor redress schemes.

Parliamentary Commission: Inquiry into social, public and affordable housing

The right to safe, secure and affordable housing is a human right which KLC believes should be enshrined in domestic legislation. There should be an emphasis on anti-discrimination. Furthermore, ensuring public housing stock is maintained in a reasonable state of cleanliness and fit for habitation is important.

NSW ombudsman: Submission for legislative review of the consorting provisions

KLC does not believe that the consorting provisions are necessary. The consorting provisions should be repealed. This is due to their value to combat organised crime being outweighed by the detrimental impact when used against vulnerable and disadvantaged people who are not necessarily involved in organised crime.

Australian Human Rights Commission: Submission on the Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review

KLC recognises that systemic discrimination against pregnant employees and parents seeking to take parental leave continues to occur. This type of discrimination has vast and serious cost implications for the Australian economy. Solutions should include education campaign and resources on pregnancy and pregnancy-related rights of employees targeting employers, as well as, replacing existing definitions of direct and indirect discrimination with a unified definition of discrimination.

2013

Criminal Law Review: Crimes Amendment (Provocation) Bill 2013

KLC is pleased that the Bill seeks to amend the partial defence of provocation because in its current form the defence can perpetuate and entrench violence against women and gay men. However, it is concerning that the amended partial defence will continue to allow men to assert the defence, when they kill their partners out of jealousy and a need for control. Further, the proposed amendment will still make it very difficult for some victims of domestic violence who kill their violent partners, to make use of this partial defence.

Access to Justice: Submission on Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry

To establish the greatest benefit in providing access to justice, KLC believes that there needs to be an emphasis on community education about the civil dispute resolution system and places they can go for help with their civil dispute. The potential benefits from being able address the issues early in a dispute are many and varied, including avoiding unnecessary significant costs and mental anguish. Particularly for discrimination matters, the current federal framework is complex and creates significant barriers to access to justice.  Community Legal Centres (CLCs) provide a central role in providing access to justice in not just in providing legal advice, but also in community development and law reform.

Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Private Educational Authorities) Bill 2013

KLC supports the removal of exceptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), which allow private educational authorities to discriminate against students on the basis of their sex, homosexuality, transgender status, marital or domestic status, disability and age. Further, KLC believes that section 56(d) of the Act should also be removed. This section allows religious organisations to discriminate when they deem it necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of their adherents.

It Stops Here: Standing together to end domestic and family violence reforms

KLC believes that education and early intervention program forms the required backbone to drive change in domestic and family violence reforms. Education about healthy relationships and the dynamics of DV/FV should form part of all primary and high school curriculums, and should be delivered in a culturally sensitive and inclusive way. Early invention programs should be available to families at risk of violence. 

Driver Licence Disqualification Reform (Inquiry)

KLC support reforms giving offenders the right to apply to court to have their outstanding disqualification period removed after completing a minimum offence free period. Further, the Habitual Offenders Scheme should be abolished because it has little impact on recidivism and often leads to re-offending. Finally, we submit that courts should have absolute discretion to impose appropriate disqualification periods or alternative penalties.

Impact of Federal Court Fee Increases since 2010 on Access to Justice in Australia

KLC does not support the recent increase of federal court fees. The increase of the court fees in 2013, while it may appear justified from a budgetary perspective impedes access to the justice system for those with financial difficulties. Increased court fees should not limit access to justice for low income people.

Impact of the Cost of Transcripts on Access to Justice in NSW

In our experience the costs associated with obtaining transcripts of court and tribunal proceedings in NSW can act as a barrier to individuals accessing justice. Fees for transcripts should be reduced and fee waivers made available for socio-economically disadvantaged people.

Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules and Commentary- Consultation with Legal Assistance Services Peak Bodies

KLC has long been concerned about how some of the ethical duties of solicitors are understood and applied in our type of legal practice, a community legal centre (CLC). KLC believes that CLCs should have its own definition to clarify application of the conflict rules for “one-off advice” situations. Additionally, Rule 4.1.1 should include a reference to advising a client of the availability of community legal services in appropriate services. Other issues applicable to CLCs are the confidentiality (rule 9) as well as managing conflicts of duties (rules 10 and 11).

Sex Discrimination Act (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013

KLC welcomes the amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) as an interim measure to provide LGTBI persons with protections from discrimination under federal law. We believe that SDA will benefit from protection on costs and intersectional discrimination along with a shared burden of proof. Specific United Nations Human Rights instruments should be relied for the insertion of the protection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status. There are also various recommended amendments to existing statutes.

2012

Inquiry into the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012- Exposure Draft Legislation

NACLC and KLC welcome the Government’s decision to consolidate Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. The Exposure Draft Legislation provides a number of measures that will enhance discrimination protections in Australia, and promote the implementation of our international human rights into domestic law, and promote substantive equality. However we have concerns that the operation of the Act will not fulfill the objects clause in relation to addressing substantive equality, and make a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the Draft in this regard.

Right to Silence Laws in NSW

KLC opposes the proposed changes to the right to silence in the Evidence Amendment (Evidence of Silence) Bill 2012. We are opposed to these changes because they would erode the right of the accused to a fair trial, are not based on any empirical-based research, do not have the appropriate safeguards for vulnerable people, and will not be combined with adequate legal representation.

Draft National Human Rights Action Plan

KLC supports many of the specific priorities in the Action Plan, but is concerned that the Action provides no wider policy goals. We are concerned that presently the priorities outlined in the Action Plan are simply the listing of specific projects, rather than broader Commonwealth strategies to achieve human rights. We believe that the Action Plan must include wider national policy goals, as well as specific projects. KLC endorses the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) submission on the Exposure Draft of Australia’s National Human Rights Action Plan.

Review of NSW’s Victims Compensation Scheme

KLC believes that the current Scheme is inadequate in creating an effective and efficient system for victims’ compensation. KLC has numerous recommendations to improve the system, including dedicating sufficient resources to the Victims Compensation Tribunal, higher level of compensation for victims of multiple acts of violence, etc.

Submission to the Review of the Fair Work Act 2009

KLC believes that the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides increased protection for employees and has improved the position of employees in Australia. We urge the Government to make a stronger commitment to increasing the flexibility of Australian workplaces by creating enforceable rights to flexible working arrangements and placing positive obligations on employer to create flexible workplaces.

NACLC’s Response to the Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Laws Discussion Paper

NACLC believes that Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws need to be enhanced to enshrine Australia’s international human rights obligations into domestic law and to promote substantive equality. The paper explains numerous recommendations to improve the Australia’s anti-discussion paper. KLC coordinated this submission for NACLC.