Changes to Anti-Discrimination Act Sat 22 September 2012 Brian Wightman Attorney-General The Attorney General, Brian Wightman, today outlined important amendments to strengthen the Anti-Discrimination Act and protect vulnerable Tasmanians from bullying. Mr Wightman said the amendments follow recommendations from a review of the Act and would also improve the administrative processes of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. "Some of the changes will bring about important procedural amendments that will improve the complaint handling and dispute resolution processes of the Commissioner and the Tribunal," Mr Wightman said. "Importantly, the changes will also improve protection for vulnerable Tasmanians who are worried about bullying, whether in the workplace, at school or on-line. "The amendments will expand the prohibition on conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person. "The prohibition will be extended to conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person on the basis of race, age, sexual orientation and disability. "This is an important step forward in protecting workers, students and others from bullying." Mr Wightman said an amendment would also be introduced to allow faith-based schools to apply for an exemption in regard to admission to their schools. "There has been intense negotiation between stakeholders and I believe a very suitable and balanced approach has been achieved," he said. "The exemption will only be available in relation to the admission of students at the beginning of their career at the school. It will not permit exclusion of a child for any reason other than their religious belief, affiliation or activity, nor to exclude a child already attending the school." Mr Wightman said in order to be eligible for an exemption the school must fulfil a series of criteria to the satisfaction of the Commissioner. "These include that the school is one that is conducted in accordance with the principles of a particular religion, that the school has appropriate policies and procedures in place to ensure that it doesn't exclude children on any other ground, and that the school is facing over-subscription for admission to particular year-levels. "In determining whether or not to grant the exemption, the Commissioner must consider any government equity guidelines, conditions of government funding of schools, and the public interest in granting the exemption. "Another important amendment is to ensure effective and proper protection against discrimination for people on the basis of their gender identity or intersex status. "The Act currently provides limited protection on this basis and the amendments will ensure that the protection is clear and comprehensive."