AN Australian charity has lost an application for an exemption under anti-discrimination laws to employ only women to work in a domestic violence refuge in a remote Aboriginal community.
Mission Australia had sought a three-year exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to employ “women only” to provide services to women and children escaping domestic and family violence in the Gulf community of Mornington Island.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in a just-published decision, dismissed Mission Australia’s application, saying: “on the face of it, employing female-only staff to work in the refuge would be inconsistent with the provisions of the Act”.
QCAT member Roxanne Clifford, in dismissing the application, said Mission Australia could consider avoiding any problems of future complaints from would-be employees by advertising that “being a female is a genuine occupational requirement for the position” under a section of the Act.
Mission Australia, in submitting its application, said it sought the exemption in relation to the employment of women only in the roles of team leader and support workers. Ms Clifford said: “Mission Australia submit it is critically important … to maximise the safety of women and their children who may be resident at the refuge.”
On February 28 last year, the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner stated he had “no objections to the application being granted”.
However, Ms Clifford said: “In the current application, the Tribunal is satisfied that, on the face of it, employing female-only staff to work in the refuge would be inconsistent with the provisions of the Act in relation to the personal attribute to sex.”
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