Updated 19 Mar 2024Print this page

Section 47C of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SD Act) requires an employer and person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate, as far as possible, relevant unlawful conduct.

This is referred to as the positive duty. The positive duty was inserted into the SD Act by the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 (Cth).

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is responsible for compliance and enforcement of the positive duty.

Complying with the positive duty

The AHRC has published resources on the positive duty, including the Guidelines for complying with the positive duty and Information Guide on the Positive Duty. This Member resource is part of a suite of materials intended to support members in addressing their obligations in respect of the positive duty under the SD Act. The materials are summarised in the Toolkit: Complying with the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Standard 4 of the Guidelines – Risk Management

The AHRC has published a set of Guidelines to support businesses and organisations complying with the positive duty under the SD Act. The Guidelines identify seven Standards (see The Seven Standards for the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984) with the AHRC expecting that all organisations and businesses meet all of these Standards, while recognising that each organisation and business may do this in a different way. 

Standard 4 requires organisations and businesses to recognise that relevant unlawful workplace behaviours are equality risks and health and safety risks and to take a risk-based approach to prevention and response. This resource discusses Standard 4 and how Members can adopt a risk-based approach to unalwful workplace behaviours by identifying and assessing certain hazards. 

Further guidance

Organisations who would like specific advice or support for their business around compliance with the positive duty and/or their obligations under the Respect@Work legislation, please contact Ai Group Workplace Lawyers at info@aigroupworkplacelawyers.com.au or contact the Workplace Advice Line on the above number. For advice and support on obligations under WHS legislation, please contact AI Group’s WHS Consulting Services on safety.services@aigroup.com.au or via our website here.

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