Annual Report 2006-2007 Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
Tabled paper 1144
Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission 2006/2007 Annual Report 18 The Act provides that, after a prima facie decision, the Delegate may refer a complaint to a compulsory conciliation conference. However, no compulsory conciliation conferences have been held at the Commission in the past year. Instead parties to complaints have been willing to attend voluntary conferences, which suggests they have confidence in the fair and impartial processes of the Commission. If parties are able to resolve a complaint through conciliation it is usual for a written settlement agreement to be prepared by the Commission for execution by the parties. Typical conciliated settlements might include such things as an apology, an agreement by a respondent to participate in anti-discrimination training, a commitment to change policies and practices, re-instatement in employment, and payment for damages in any amount agreed upon by the parties. Of the 128 complaints finalised during the year 58 complaints were resolved by conciliation. It is worth noting that of the 62 accepted complaints proceeding to conciliation, (i.e. complaints that were not earlier dismissed, discontinued or withdrawn) 58, or 94%, were successfully resolved by conciliation. f. Hearings If an accepted complaint is not resolved by conciliation then the Delegate refers it to hearing for determination by the Commissioner. This was the case in only 4 of the 62 matters proceeding to conciliation this year. The hearing process begins with a Directions Conference during which the parties meet before an Anti-Discrimination Commission Registrar to establish dates for the complainant to file Points of Claim which set out the substance of the complaint, and for the respondent to file Points of Defence, which set out the nature of the defence. The parties also discuss with the Registrar whether or not they wish to be legally represented, the number of witnesses they intend to call, how much hearing time they estimate will be needed, a suitable hearing date and any other matters that need clarification. The hearing process is in many ways, similar to proceedings in courts or before tribunals. However, in practice, Anti-Discrimination Commission hearings are less formal and the Commissioner is not bound by the rules of evidence. The Act requires the Commissioner to act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities and legal forms. At hearing, the complainant must prove the case on the balance of probabilities. If there is a finding of prohibited conduct, the Commissioner may order apologies, antidiscrimination training, that a respondent not repeat or continue a prohibited conduct, or that a person be employed, promoted or reinstated, etc. The Commissioner also has the power to award damages of not more than the maximum amount prescribed in the Regulations to the Act (currently $60,000). The Act provides that, at any time during the hearing process, if the Commissioner considers that a complaint may be resolved by conciliation he or she, may endeavour to resolve the complaint by conciliation.