2015-16 has seen the beginning of significant changes for the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.
Stepan Kerkyasharian, who was President of the Board from September 2003, retired in January 2016. Stepan was a tireless advocate for diversity and human rights, and will be sorely missed in this field. I thank him for his service to the Board and the people of NSW and wish him well in his future endeavours.
The terms of all the existing Board members also expired in December 2015. I thank Eman Sharobeem, William Seung and Peter Wertheim for their valuable input to the Board. Peter was on the Board for more than 12 years and we have greatly appreciated his commitment and expertise over this considerable time.
The Board’s head office will be moving from Sydney to Parramatta in late 2016. Our current premises at Castlereagh Street have been sold, and we will move from the city to Parramatta under the State government’s decentralisation policy.
During 2016 the Board has been participating in a review by the NOUS Group management consultancy. This was initiated by the Department of Justice to consider issues such as leadership, culture and succession planning. The recommendations of the review will be incorporated into considerations about the Board’s future.
In this context, the Board has continued with its regular activities as well as pursuing a number of initiatives to improve links with other human rights agencies and with stakeholders in the community.
We hosted a very successful biennial conference of the Australian Council of Human Rights Agency Officers in October 2015, with participants from all over Australia. My thanks go to the members of the organising committee, who produced a smoothly-run and stimulating event which received very positive feedback.
The Board also hosted a meeting of the Commissioners from all State and federal anti-discrimination agencies in May 2016. This considered a number of important issues and provided a valuable opportunity to coordinate our work and improve our links with these agencies.
We continued to develop our consultation program, which was expanded in 2014-15. We now have six consultations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual; Intersex and Gender Diversity; Multicultural; Industry; and State Government. All groups met several times in 2015-16, providing an opportunity to network, discuss legislative reform, and explain how issues can be addressed through our education and complaints processes. President’s report.
We also continued to build up our social media profile, which was launched in 2014-15. Using social media enables us to communicate in a different and more immediate way, extend our reach and meet current stakeholder expectations for receiving information. It also gives us an additional perspective on current attitudes and trends.
As previously, our Enquiry Service assisted individuals who are dealing with discrimination issues, as well as employers and service providers seeking advice about anti-discrimination law. In 2015-16 we answered 3,602 enquiries – the number has gradually decreased as more people use our website, but the enquiries we now receive are often more complex.
Discrimination complaint numbers have dropped slightly this year at 911 complaints, however the number of complaints has remained relatively stable over the longer term. As previously, disability, race discrimination and sex discrimination were the most frequent grounds of complaint.
The conciliation team achieved excellent results, with 948 complaints finalised in 2015-16. The team took an average of 5.7 months taken to finalise complaints, and 90% were finalised within 12 months. The success of our conciliation service is a reflection of the expertise Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW Annual Report 2015-16 5 of our very experienced team of conciliators.
The Board’s Education Service continued its training program for employers and service providers, delivering 173 on-site training sessions and 12 seminars to reach a total of 2,945 participants. Our training team have an excellent reputation and receive frequent positive feedback and repeat business.
As well as the ongoing task of managing our social media presence, the Board’s communications staff have finalised the migration of the Board’s website to a new content management system and improved the accessibility and searchability of the site.
Other projects this year have included a major revision of information about our education service, which explains the different options more clearly for potential clients, and updating the content and design of our guidelines and factsheets to improve accessibility.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team continued its activities in 2015-16. The team worked with other agencies to provide joint information sessions for community workers and leaders, provided training for real estate agents and participated in a number of community fairs and information days.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team was the major impetus for a memorandum of understanding which was signed with the NSW Office of Fair Trading in September 2015. Our agreement to share information reflects our goal to develop partnerships with related agencies, and we are working to develop other similar opportunities.
Our two part-time Legal Officers provided advice to the Statutory Board members on applications for exemptions from the AntiDiscrimination Act, as well as dealing with other legal matters. I am very appreciative of their assistance and expertise.
All this work has been achieved in a context of considerable change. We anticipate that modifications to our operating model in 2016-17 will enable us to re-align our priorities and put us in a better position to deliver our core business in the future.
My thanks go to all the Board’s staff, who continue to bring great dedication and professionalism to their work and to the values and goals of the Board. This is even more commendable in light of the changes described above.
Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW
02 Dec 2022
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.