Annual Report 2022-23

From the President

It has been another busy year for Anti-Discrimination NSW (ADNSW) as we continued to administer the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and strive to eliminate discrimination in NSW.

In 2022-23 we:

  • answered 2,560 enquiries from the NSW community
  • received 1,833 complaints, the highest number in decades
  • received 77 exemption applications
  • provided advice, comments and submissions on a range of issues.

Early in the year, we reviewed and updated our Strategic Plan for 2023-26 to ensure that we focus our energies and limited resources on priority areas such as the management of enquiries and complaints; education and community engagement; and advocacy for positive change.

Our advocacy and contribution to public policy concerning discrimination was reflected in submissions we made to:

  • · the NSW Electoral Commission’s review into Technology Assisted Voting: to raise our concerns about barriers for people with a disability to participate freely and fairly in the electoral process at the March 2023 NSW State Election after the suspension of use of the iVote electronic voting system, and 
  • the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws: to support proposals to remove and narrow the exceptions for religious educational institutions in anti-discrimination law.

For some years, we have advocated for a comprehensive reform of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to reflect current community standards and more effectively support respectful and equal treatment for all. The last review of the Act was in 1999, so we welcomed the Attorney General’s recent referral of the Act for review by the NSW Law Reform Commission.

We continued to work closely with anti-discrimination and human rights services across Australia through our membership of the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities (ACHRA). ACHRA meetings in October 2022 and February 2023 were valuable opportunities to discuss issues of common concern and endorse several important statements.

One of our priorities has been to build stronger connections with other government agencies and departments where we have shared goals and objectives. During the year, we have actively sought opportunities to support and collaborate with agencies such as the NSW Ageing & Disability Commission, Women NSW and SafeWork NSW.

We also connected, consulted and worked regularly with a wide range of individuals, communities and agencies, to better understand experiences of discrimination. This is vital in helping ADNSW to provide support and services where they are most needed, and to understand and effectively respond to issues and trends. We have continued to work with the Advocate for Children and Young People and the Office of Regional Youth.

In April 2023, I joined a panel on Building strong, safe workplaces at the National Community Legal Centres Conference. I was proud to represent ADNSW and talk about recent initiatives, in particular our Workplace Adjustments Series podcasts and videos which we launched this year.

Other initiatives we have worked on this year, which are referred to later in this report, include:

  • the publication of a brochure containing information about our services in 22 community languages which we launched at a Refugee Week event
  • the development and distribution of our ‘6 ways to look after yourself and mob during The Voice referendum debate’ resource, and
  • participation in events such as Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference.

ADNSW Board members Joanna Davidson, Melissa Monteiro and Trevor Robertson were reappointed in October 2022 for another term. I would like to thank Joanna, Melissa and Trevor for their ongoing support and dedication to the elimination of discrimination.

I would also like to thank Executive Manager Mia Zahra and all the staff of ADNSW for their hard work and commitment to making a positive difference to the lives of so many vulnerable people in NSW.

I would also like to thank the former Attorney General, Mr Mark Speakman MP for his support of ADNSW, and acknowledge and thank Attorney General Mr Michael Daley MP for his support and encouragement.

It is an honour to serve as President of ADNSW and I look forward to continuing our work together towards our vision of a discrimination-free NSW, where everyone can feel safe and respected.

Helen McKenzie

Last updated:

21 Dec 2023

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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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