Conciliations - race discrimination   



Goods and services


Certificate of Aboriginality required

An Aboriginal man applied to his housing provider for a larger house, for reasons relating to his Aboriginality. His application was rejected on the grounds that he did not provide a ‘Certificate of Aboriginality’ to prove that he was Aboriginal. The man made a complaint of race discrimination to the Board. He explained that although he did not have a Certificate of Aboriginality, he had legal documents relating to his removal from his Aboriginal family as a child.

At conciliation, the housing provider said that the man had not provided the documents when he made the original application, and they would have accepted these as proof of Aboriginality. The man said the housing provider had not told him he that had the option of providing other documentation apart from the certificate.

The complaint was resolved when the housing provider agreed to transfer the man to a larger house near where he was receiving medical treatment, to provide him with a statement of regret and pay him $3,000 compensation, and to review its policy regarding proof of Aboriginality in consultation with the man and the relevant agencies.

Refused housing

An Aboriginal woman alleged that she would not be offered a house because an Aboriginal housing corporation board member had told the real estate agent managing the property that she didn’t associate with other Aboriginal people, her children went to a non-Aboriginal pre-school and her husband was not Aboriginal.

She made a complaint of race discrimination by association and marital status discrimination against the corporation’s board. The corporation said that the process of selection had not actually been completed and that the board member had spoken to the real estate agent without their authority.

The complaint was resolved when the corporation agreed to provide the woman with a letter of apology and a payment of $2,000. The house had already been allocated to another applicant whom the corporation considered to be in greater need.

Trial lease required

An Aboriginal man alleged that his application for accommodation was not progressed on the ground of his race. He said that he was advised that he would need to go on a three month trial lease if he was the successful applicant. His application was ultimately rejected and the agent refused to provide with reasons for the rejection. The complainant accepted a $4,000 payment in settlement of his complaint.


English requirements policy amended (Sept 2014)

A man contacted the Board when he was asked to provide proof of his proficiency in English to enrol in an accounting course at an educational institution. He had arrived in Australia when he was 11 and had completed other courses at TAFE and university in Australia.

The man alleged that the institution discriminated against him on the basis of his race by assuming because of his name that he was from a non-English speaking background and requiring him to provide proof of his proficiency in English rather than considering his education in Australia.

The Board wrote to the institution seeking their response to the complaint. They responded that the staff member had handled the man’s application in accordance with the relevant policy, but they realised from this incident that the policy was inadequate.

The institution apologised to the complainant. They undertook to amend their policy on English requirements for admission and review all other their policies where English proficiency requirements are specified.

Registered clubs

Dispute between customers

A Polynesian woman was a customer at a registered club. While she was eating a meal, another client accused her of staring at him. When she said she wasn’t looking at him, the man didn’t believe her and began abusing her because of her race. The Board sent a letter to the club and they agreed to hold a meeting between the woman and the person who’d harassed her. During the meeting, the man admitted that he’d called the woman racist names. The club told the man that racial harassment would not be tolerated in the club and that if the behaviour happened again, he would be suspended. The man offered an apology to the woman.

Alleged she was served second

An Aboriginal woman complained that when she went to collect her winnings from the poker machines at the local golf club, the bar manager asked her if she was a member, and then began serving a white man who had arrived at the bar after her. The complaint was resolved when the president of the club and the bar manager agreed to provide a statement of regret about the incident, and confirmed that she was welcome at the club.