• Original bill for Anti-Discrimination Act (the Act) introduced into Parliament.  



  • The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sex, race and marital status in the areas of employment, accommodation, goods and services and education (race only).  

  • Establishment of the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB).  


  • Establishment of the Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment. 

  • Sex and marital status discrimination made unlawful in the area of education.  


  • Discrimination on the grounds of physical disability included as ground of complaint.  

  • Registered clubs added to list of areas in which discrimination is unlawful.  

  • Establishment of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.  


  • Discrimination on the grounds of homosexuality or intellectual impairment added as grounds for complaint.  

  • Maximum amount of compensation increased from $20,000 to $40,000.  

  • Becomes unlawful to publish advertisements indicating an intention to discriminate unlawfully.  


  • Racial vilification made unlawful.  


  • Compulsory retirement made unlawful for some occupations.  


  • Compulsory retirement provisions extended to most public and private sector employees.  


  • Age discrimination becomes unlawful.  

  • Discrimination because of the sex, race, marital status, or homosexuality of an associate made unlawful.  

  • 'Disability' replaces 'physical and intellectual impairment' in the Act.  

  • HIV/AIDs vilification made unlawful under the Act.  

  • Maximum penalty for serious racial vilification increased (from 10 to 50 penalty units).  

  • Definition of race extended to include ‘colour, nationality, descent, and ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin.’   

  • Discrimination found not to be unlawful ‘where being a person of a particular sex is a genuine occupational qualification for the job’. 

  • It becomes unlawful for the provider of goods and services to discriminate against a person on the ground of marital status (e.g. by refusing to provide those goods or services)  

  • Act extended to cover industrial awards and agreements.  

  • Ministers enabled to grant exemptions for special needs programs.  


  • Discrimination and vilification on the ground of transgender status made unlawful.  


  • Sexual harassment made unlawful.  

  • Liability of employers limited if they took 'all reasonable steps' to prevent contravention of the Act.  


  • Discrimination on the ground of carer's responsibilities made unlawful in employment, with carers entitled to 'reasonable accommodations'.  


  • ADB President given extensive new powers in relation to the handling of complaints. 

  • ADB President given new powers to decline complaints.  


  • Discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding made unlawful.  


  • Maximum amount of compensation increased from $40,000 to $100,000.  

  • Definition of marital status extended to include 'domestic status' and definition of de facto broadened, thus covering same-sex relationships.  

  • Power to grant exemptions to the Act transferred from the Attorney General to ADB President.   


  • ADB can investigate discrimination and racial vilification matters referred by the Community Relations Commission. 

  • Complaints can be lodged by email. 


  • Clarification that the motive for the discriminatory requirement is irrelevant in the case of indirect discrimination. 

  • Changes to incorporate new NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.


  • Clarification of the process of tabling the Board's annual report in Parliament. 

  • Changes made to incorporate new Government Sector Employment Act, change of Community Relations Commission to Multicultural NSW, and the new Co-operatives Act. 

  • Changes to incorporate the establishment of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 


  • ​Changes to update references to government sector agencies. 


  • Exemptions relating to pregnant women in employment were repealed
  • Serious vilification laws moved to Crimes Act 932


  • Agency name changed to Anti-Discrimination NSW
  • Organisational restructure to create a more collaborative, proactive and strategic approach to service delivery and community engagement, and enhance digital services.


  • New logo and branding introduced. 


  • Religious vilification made unlawful.
Last updated:

04 Mar 2024

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the ongoing connection Aboriginal people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of this land.

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