Unions seek to expand protection for carers
UNIONS and human rights advocates have urged the Gillard government to strengthen proposed discrimination laws to provide greater protection to carers. In November the Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, released draft legislation to consolidate the five existing federal discrimination laws. The proposals are being examined by a Senate committee.
While the draft laws prohibit discrimination in employment against people on the basis of their "family responsibilities'', the Australian Council of Trade Unions said this should be expanded to ban discrimination on grounds of "family and carer's responsibilities''.
The ACTU submission said the bill's narrow definition excluded the network of relationships and care obligations of some groups, such as Aborigines.
"Adding the term 'caring' to the phrase takes the emphasis off the family relationship between the two parties and focuses it on the level of obligation and the act of caring for someone, which more effectively reflects the needs of the carer and the intention of the bill,'' the submission said.
The ACTU also said such protections should not be limited to employment but apply to all areas of public life, as do the protections for other attributes such as race and gender.