The new Board and my term as President are nearly a year old. Since our appointment, the members of the Board have refocussed the strategic direction of the Board, with an increased concentration on community engagement, as well as ensuring that the high standard of complaint handling continues.
I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and involvement of each of the Board members. Patricia Azarias, Trevor Robertson and Melissa Monteiro all bring strong interest in tackling discrimination and different areas of expertise to the Board. They have provided insight and guidance as we decide on strategy and priorities.
We have been most fortunate that Elizabeth Wing, who so capably served as acting President and who is very familiar with all of the work of the Board, has stayed as Senior Manager. Elizabeth has the responsibility of running the Board on a day-to-day basis and implementing the new strategies and opportunities that have emerged and have been approved by the Board.
Those opportunities are directed to maximising the Board’s impact in trying to ensure that the people of New South Wales, across the breadth of the State, have an awareness of what constitutes discrimination under the Anti-Discrimination Act and the role of the Board.
We aim to reach school children and to understand what they see as discrimination and to listen to them and to the varied groups in our society. As we are not a large organisation, we have partnered, and will continue to partner, with other parts of Government and with the private sector to leverage our expertise to achieve these objectives.
We anticipate that in the course of the next year we will see further fruit of these joint endeavours. We appreciate the support of the Attorney-General and the Department of Justice in assisting us to reach these goals.
While we direct ourselves to this end, we must maintain the standard of the resolution of complaints that are brought to the Board by members of the public. We have very experienced conciliators who work hard with all parties to achieve resolution between them. They have achieved a very satisfactory percentage of conciliated outcomes. Of course, where resolution is not possible, those cases are referred for determination to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
We also continue to offer the services of our staff, who are prepared to travel all over the State to explain to organisations and businesses the subject matter of the Act and the complaint handling process of the Board. We have also been active in taking the opportunity to speak to groups, large and small, who invite us to address them on the subject of discrimination.
Discrimination, as covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), takes many forms, and it is important that everyone understands that the Board represents a source of information and assistance in explaining what is, and what is not, permissible.
The Board has its challenges, in particular in changing its facilities and processes to deal with the digital age, including the need to upgrade its interface with the public. This is a work in progress which will hopefully be advanced further in 2018-19.
As President, I have met with a large number of people and organisations who can assist us to understand what is taking place and what we can do. I am excited by the possibilities that I have already identified to further the work and outreach of the Board.
We have a committed staff who will shortly be ready to implement those strategies with a view to creating a better understanding of discrimination which will, hopefully, reduce its presence. This first year has identified many things that need to be done.
I thank the other members of the Board, the Senior Manager and the staff of the Board and I look forward to working with them to take the necessary actions to create the desired outcomes.
The Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AO SC
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.