Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW


Researching discrimination law    

There are a number of ways to research discrimination and human rights law. You may want to find out more about a particular ground of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (ADA), or find out the difference between federal and state legislation, or find legal decisions which discuss a particular point of law.

There is detailed information about discrimination issues on this website​, including factsheets on the individual types of discrimination covered by the ADA such as race discrimination and sexual harassment. You will also find information on how to lodge a complaint, and our training service and publications.

You can find decisions heard under the ADA at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (previously the Administrative Decisions Tribunal). You can browse the decisions by the name of the person making the complaint, the decision category or the decision number. You can also use Lawlink's search template to focus your search.

You can find links to federal and state anti-discrimination and human rights agencies, discrimination legislation and human rights indexes under "Links" on the top menu. As federal human rights laws apply in NSW, the Australian Human Rights Commission is also a useful website to look at. It includes in-depth information about the commission's functions as well as links to related organisations. You can sign up to receive email alerts on related subjects.

Austlii contains the full text of all Federal and State legislation, as well as decisions from major Australian jurisdictions and links to overseas cases. You can also get information about the Australian constitution and commonwealth law at Comlaw. Some jurisdictions are updated more quickly than others so check the currency of the information.

You can trace the progress of bills at the NSW Parliamentary website. This site is easy to use, and you can search bills by topic, alphabetically or by the proposing member. The second reading speech can be downloaded from here too, and this often provides information about how a particular law came about.

Other sources of online human rights information can be found through the National Library of Australia, which provides links to search engines and subject directories. You can browse various subject directories till you find one that includes a section on human rights, or you can use a search engine to search on a topic or on the name of a human rights agency.

Many libraries have online catalogues which may hold useful information. To search a library catalogue, go to the Australian Libraries Gateway and search for your local library. If you find another library holds the publication you are after, you may be able to get it at your local library via an interlibrary loan.

Legal Information Access Centres (LIACs) are an initiative of the State Library of NSW and the Law and Justice Foundation which operate out of the State Library and many public libraries. LIACs hold a variety of hard-copy and electronic legal information, and have trained staff to assist you with legal research. For more information visit the State Library's LIAC site or phone 9273 1558.

Australian & NZ Equal Opportunity Law and Practice/CCH is a two-volume loose-leaf service which provides case summaries and commentary for discrimination cases in all states, territories and the Commonwealth, as well as the full text of the various legislations. Yearly cumulation of cases are a handy reference. This resource is available in hard copy in the State Library as well as university libraries.

There are several commercially produced alert bulletins which provide summaries and commentary on discrimination and industrial issues. They include Discrimi​nation Alert, published by CPD Thompson Legal and Regulatory, and Workplace Express, published by Workplace Express.

To find Australian journal articles and conference proceedings, you can search an electronic database which indexes Australian literature. AGIS (Attorney-General's Information Service) indexes legal material and APAIS (Australian Public Affairs Information Service) indexes political and social science journals, and is a rich source of articles on the issues surrounding discrimination and the groups most affected by discrimination.

These databases provide some full text documents, but some may have to be obtained on interlibrary loan. Discussion papers and reports from Law Reform Commissions or universities are often published on the internet and can be located using a search engine, or by looking on the parent organisation's website.

When you consult a website or reference, note who publishes the information and when it was last updated so you can evaluate the quality of that information. There are good hints on how to evaluate information at the New Mexico University website.

For further information you could refer to one of the many books on legal research, such as Effective Legal Research (2nd Ed), by Irene Nemes and Graeme Coss, or ask your local librarian.