Anti-Discrimination NSW releases Annual Report 2020-21

Published 1 December 2021

Anti-Discrimination NSW (ADNSW) has released its Annual Report for the 2020-21 financial year. The report demonstrates the organisation’s focus on improving client services while navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

President of ADNSW the Honourable Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC FAA said that despite the challenges of the pandemic, ADNSW continued to provide seamless outreach and delivery of services to the people of NSW.

“We maintained our core functions of answering enquiries, resolving complaints, raising awareness about discrimination and its impacts, managing applications for exemptions from the Act, and advising the government about discrimination issues,” Dr Bennett said.

“While our face-to-face services were either modified or postponed in response to the COVID-19 restrictions, our enquiries and complaint handling services remained in high demand and this demand was met.

“Conciliation conferences were conducted via video and phone, we expanded our community engagement through online channels, and, as part of our digital strategy, we redeveloped our website to feature a new look and feel, easy navigation and improved accessibility,” Dr Bennett added.

In 2020-21 ADNSW answered 2,698 enquiries and responded to 1,109 complaints, up from 943 the previous year. Disability discrimination and race discrimination were the most frequent grounds of complaint, followed by victimisation.

The most common complaints by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were race discrimination (55%), follow by victimisation (15%), disability discrimination (11.25%) and racial vilification (6.25%).

ADNSW experienced an increase in COVID-19-related enquiries and complaints, mostly relating to the requirement to wear a mask. An example of mask-related complaints with which ADNSW is dealing relates to the circumstance where a person has experienced discrimination on the ground of disability. The law is complex and there are public health exceptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 that may apply.

The conciliation team achieved excellent results, with 920 complaints (91%) finalised within 12 months of receipt, exceeding the target of 85%. The average time taken to finalise a complaint was just under five months, quicker than last year at 5.4 months.

The ADNSW President appeared before two NSW Parliamentary Committees: in August 2020, in relation to the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaint Handling) Bill 2020, and in November 2020 regarding the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020. Both Bills are under consideration by the NSW Government.

The ADNSW Annual Report includes a full list of exemptions and certifications granted in 2020-21.  Exemptions and certifications help improve access to specific jobs, programs or services for certain groups of people.

View the ADNSW Annual Report 2020-21 and the annual highlights summary (PDF , 446.4 KB).


Key facts

In 2020-2021:

  • The most common enquiries by type of discrimination were disability discrimination (23.6%), followed by race discrimination (13.6%), sex discrimination (7.6%), age discrimination (6.2%) and sexual harassment (4.7%).
  • Disability discrimination was mentioned in 34.6% of goods and services enquiries, and 20.9% of employment-related enquiries.
  • Most enquiries, 70% (1,889) were made by phone. Most of these were resolved in less than 15 minutes. There were 807 (29.9%) written enquiries, mostly by email. This is a significant increase on the last reporting period (18%). There were only two face-to-face enquiries.
  • We received 1,109 complaints this year compared to 943 last year.
  • The most common type of complaints by type of discrimination were disability discrimination (29.7%), followed by race discrimination (16.1%), victimisation (14.2%), sex discrimination (9.7%), sexual harassment (8.2%) and other discrimination (22.1%).
  • Employment continued to be the most common public area of complaint across all the types of discrimination covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (512 complaints, 46.2%).
  • 145 enquiries were from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the majority by phone. This represents 5.4% of all enquiries received.
  • The most common complaints by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by type of discrimination were race discrimination (55%), follow by victimisation (15%), disability discrimination (11.25%), racial vilification (6.25%) and other discrimination (12.5%).
  • 37 exemptions were granted to help improve access to specific jobs and programs for certain groups of people.
  • 7 certifications were granted for special needs programs, activities or facilities that promote access for certain groups of people affected by unlawful discrimination.
Last updated:

01 Dec 2021

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