What is the impact of the law on aged care providers generally?
The protection from discrimination in this Bill applies in relation to a range of areas, including employment, the provision of goods and services, and the provision of accommodation. If the law is implemented as the Bill currently drafted, some of the impacts are as follows:
• Most States and Territories currently allow an organisation to implement “special measures” to remedy substantive inequality for a particular minority. That may include a provider only providing services to members of a religious group, or providing preferential services to members of that group. If the Bill is passed in its current form, these types of special measures would arguably infringe the new Federal law.
• Staff members who make discriminatory statements which are grounded in religious beliefs will be protected from discrimination claims unless the statements are malicious, or likely to harass, vilify or incite hatred or violence against a person. By extension, that means that aged care providers will not be vicariously liable for the statements of those staff.
• In New South Wales and South Australia it will become unlawful to refuse to provide services to people based on religion, or to impose different conditions on the provision of services to people because of their religion.