On the 22nd of September 2011, the Attorney-General’s Department of Australia launched a public discussion paper inviting community views on the proposed consolidation of Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation. Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) made submissions regarding two key questions posed in the discussion paper: (i) Should public sector organizations have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination and harassment and (ii) Should the consolidated Bill protect against intersectional discrimination and if so, how should this be covered? OPBP’s submissions include comparative insights drawn from an examination of anti-discrimination legislation in Canada, South Africa, the European Union, the Republic of Ireland, the United States and India.

At present, Australia’s Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation is fragmented into four separate statutes: the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Age Discrimination Act 2004. The proposed consolidation has been identified as an opportunity to improve the existing anti-discrimination framework and to bring it in line with current international standards. To this end, OPBP’s submissions provide meaningful comparative insight on what obtains in other jurisdictions as well as standards invoked by virtue of Australia’s international human rights obligations.

Last term, OPBP also provided key submissions to the UK Commission on a Bill of Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. The Commission on a Bill of Rights was set up by the UK Government in March 2011 to examine the creation of a UK Bill of Rights and the implementation of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) obligations. OPBP’s comparative report examined the role of the ECHR within a number of domestic legal orders and how these domestic courts engage with European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) jurisprudence. The Right to Food report examines the advertising and marketing practices of the food industry and its regulation across the European Union (EU).

Full copies of these and other OPBP reports may be accessed on the Oxford Pro Bono Publico web page.