Annual Report 2006-2007 Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
Tabled paper 1144
Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
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Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission 2006/2007 Annual Report 17 affect their interests. This is consistent with the principles of natural justice. It involves giving parties time to gather relevant information, allowing them to answer allegations, and to clarify the issues. The Commissioners Delegate has wide discretion in the form of investigation to be conducted under the Act, subject to the requirements of procedural fairness. The Delegate may interview witnesses, seek medical or business records, and obtain other relevant records. If necessary, production of records may be compelled or a person may be compelled to attend proceedings under the Act. In recent years the Commission has encouraged early conciliation of complaints. It is important to note that the investigation and conciliation phases of complaint-handling run concurrently, not consecutively. That is, conciliation does not have to take place at the conclusion of an investigation, it can occur at any stage by agreement between parties. d. Section 76 Prima Facie Decisions and Section 102 Decisions At the end of the investigation stage, if the matter has not been conciliated, the Delegate makes a prima facie decision from information gathered in the investigation. This decision is not a finding of fact or liability, but rather a finding made after testing whether there is sufficient prima facie evidence to substantiate the alleged prohibited conduct. In deciding whether or not there is prima facie evidence the test to be met is that there is sufficient evidence which, unless displaced, would support a finding of prohibited conduct on the balance of probabilities. Of the 128 files completed this year 7 were dismissed at the prima facie stage on the basis that there was insufficient prima facie evidence. Complaints may also be discontinued pursuant to section 102 of the Act at any time in the proceedings if the Delegate or Commissioner finds that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, trivial, misconceived, lacking in substance or fails to disclose any prohibited conduct. Section 102 tends to be used to deal with complaints that were initially accepted but were subsequently found not to disclose prohibited conduct, or to be lacking in substance. Of the 128 files closed this year, 15 were discontinued under section 102. e. Conciliation The conciliators functions are to assist, as a neutral party, in the conciliation process by providing impartial advice, explaining options, helping to identify problems and legal issues and giving general advice regarding possible, probable and desirable outcomes for resolving complaints under the Act. Conciliation processes take many forms, including formal confidential conciliation conferences that allow the parties to meet together with a conciliator to discuss the issues in the complaint and explore possible resolutions. Conciliation conferences may be held at various stages of the complaint-handling process. The most common conferences are voluntary ones which can be held at any appropriate time in the process.