Published 30 November 2021
Today concludes my term as President of Anti-Discrimination NSW after nearly 4½ years. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead ADNSW through a period of significant change and achievement. I have spent many years in public service, including serving as a Judge for 13 years, and I believe that my role with ADNSW has enabled me to have a positive impact on the public good.
Before I start my reflections, I would like to acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay my respects to Elders past, present and future. I acknowledge the ongoing connection that Aboriginal people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of this land.
ADNSW’s main purpose is to help members of the public. We strive to eliminate discrimination in NSW by resolving enquiries and complaints, raising awareness about discrimination and its impacts, and taking action to influence change.
Over the course of my term we have answered more than 13,000 enquiries and responded to 4,000+ complaints. I have heard many stories of discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification and victimisation, and I have seen the detrimental effect that this has had on individuals and their communities. However, I have also seen positive change and closure come about through the conciliation process, as many of our case studies show.
Over the last few years, we have worked hard to expand our reach and to progress our digital strategy which, in turn, enables us to communicate better across the State.
In 2019 we changed the name of the organisation from the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW to Anti-Discrimination NSW, and realigned our structure to create an even more collaborative, proactive and strategic approach to service delivery and community engagement.
In 2020 our new logo and branding was introduced, and in 2021 we launched our new website and case management system. We also expanded our social media presence and developed a host of new resources, including explainer videos (featuring Auslan interpreters), fact sheets, Easy Read resources and information in 22 community languages.
Much of 2020 and 2021 was focused on overcoming the operational hurdles caused by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures to contain it. While our face-to-face services were either modified or postponed, our enquiries and complaint handling services remained in high demand and this demand was met. Our experienced conciliation officers switched from face-to-face meetings to conciliations by phone and video.
Throughout this period of significant change and achievement, the energy and positivity of ADNSW staff has shone through. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we continued to provide seamless outreach and delivery of services to the people of NSW – and maintained our core functions of answering enquiries, resolving complaints, raising awareness about discrimination and its impacts, managing applications for exemptions from the Act, and advising the government about discrimination issues.
Throughout my term, I have used my role and platform as President to take a strong public stance against injustices, speak up about social issues and raise awareness about discrimination and its impacts. I have engaged with broader community representatives, including government agencies, the Police and response agencies, and the trade union movement, to hear how we can work with them to raise awareness and promote the important work of ADNSW. And I have worked with organisations like the State Library of NSW, to get our message out to people in regional and remote parts of the State.
I appreciate the support of my fellow Board members and would like to thank them for their commitment and enthusiasm. Each of them has contributed to the strategy for ADNSW and has provided support for me and for the Executive Manager.
Finally, I want to thank Executive Manager Elizabeth Wing, whose outstanding leadership in these unprecedented times has enabled ADNSW to continue to function so well. This could not have been achieved without the managers and staff of ADNSW, to whom I also extend my thanks and appreciation. A special mention must go to Tracie, our Administration Support Officer, for her unfailing good humour and capacity. I would also like to acknowledge the depth and high standard of work of Jackie and the Governance and Advice team, who have provided legal and policy advice through a number of difficult and complex inquiries, questions from Parliamentarians and draft Bills.
To each and every one of my colleagues, thank you for your dedication, professionalism and support throughout my term, and for your unwavering commitment to eliminating discrimination.
I look forward to watching on as you continue to expand your reach and assist the people of NSW.
Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC FAA
President, Anti-Discrimination NSW
30 Nov 2021
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the ongoing connection Aboriginal people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of this land.