When you lodge a complaint, our office will assess it to check it is covered by the Equal Opportunity Act (1984).

When assessing your complaint, our office may seek information from the other party prior to accepting a complaint.

If it appears you have been treated unfairly under the law, we will allocate the complaint to a Conciliation Officer.

If your complaint is not covered under the Equal Opportunity Act (1984), then it will be declined, and you will receive a letter explaining why this is the case.

Our office may decline a complaint after it has been accepted. This decision may be made for a variety of reasons, but decisions to decline a complaint are usually made because, in the opinion of the Commissioner, the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, or lacking in substance.

You can make a complaint within 12 months of something happening. Late complaints can be accepted in some cases.

What happens next

Once you lodge a complaint you will receive a letter of acknowledgement within a few days.

Usually the Conciliation Officer will then organise a conciliation conference and:

  • notify the person or organisation you are complaining about - called 'the respondent'
  • ask the respondent for a written or verbal response to the complaint
  • gather relevant information and documents about the complaint
  • ask you what you would like to happen to resolve your complaint, and provide that to the other party.

From there, straightforward complaints can usually be resolved within three months, while complex complaints can take longer.

The length of time it takes to resolve a complaint often depends on the ability of all sides to negotiate and find a solution to the problem.

Throughout the process

We will keep everyone informed of the progress of the complaint.

At any point in the process, you may decide the issue is settled and withdraw your complaint. If this happens nothing more needs to be done.

The Equal Opportunity Commissioner may also decide not to continue with the complaint because:

  • it lacks substance
  • is misconceived, frivolous or vexatious.

During the process, the Equal Opportunity Commissioner cannot make a judgement on whether discrimination, harassment or victimisation occurred.

Referrals to other agencies

If we think a complaint includes corruption, serious or systemic misconduct, serious or systemic maladministration, we must report it to the Office for Public Integrity.

This is because we have obligations under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 .

The ICAC Act prevents us from disclosing any information about this to any person (including a complainant) without the permission of the ICAC.

Where appropriate, we will ask the ICAC’s permission to release this information to the complainant or other relevant parties.