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Age Discrimination Act

Age Discrimination Act

The federal parliament has passed a number of laws which aim to protect people from certain kinds of discrimination in public life and from breaches of their human rights.

Age discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the same opportunities as others in a similar situation, because they are considered to be too old or too young. For example, it could be ‘direct age discrimination’ if an older person is not employed in a particular job because it is assumed that they are not as up to date with technology as a younger person.

Age discrimination also occurs when a rule or policy applies to everyone but disadvantages a person because of their age and the policy is not reasonable. For example, it may be indirect discrimination if an employer requires an older person to meet a physical fitness test – which more young people are able to meet – if the fitness standard is not an inherent requirement of the job.

The Federal Parliament passed the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA) to protect people from being treated less favourably because of their age in various areas of public life including:

  • employment
  • provision of goods and services
  • education
  • administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.

The ADA protects young people, older people and everyone in between.

The Act also provides for positive discrimination – that is, actions which assist people of a particular age who experience a disadvantage because of their age. It also provides for exemptions.