On 9 November 2012, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, announced on ABC radio , that with regards to the Government’s position on the mandatory internet filter he accepts the ALRC’s recommendation regarding the RC category:
‘I called for a review of the refused classification category back in 2010. That review went through 2011 and [the ALRC] reported back this year. And they said the current definition of RC was too broad; a new category should be put in place.
And I accepted that and I’ve taken the recommendation and been negotiating with the industry and now we’ve reached agreement.’
See full transcript of the interview >>
See final report, Classification—Content Regulation and Convergent Media (ALRC Report 118)
On 29 November 2012, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced that the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Amendment Bill 2012 passed Parliament. The Bill amends the Privacy Act 1988 to implement the Government’s first stage response to ALRC report For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108). The reforms will commence 15 months after royal assent.
Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws.
On 17 June 2012, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen and the Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, announced changes to Australia’s migration laws to help those experiencing family violence on provisional partner visas, as a partial response to the Commonwealth Family Violence Report – in particular, Recommendations 21-3 and 21-5.
In addition to the migration changes, there has been significant movement in the family violence leave and workplace entitlements space.
Since the inquiry, the Government has made several announcements and committed funding in this area. For example, the Government announced the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence to Reduce Violence Against Women. The ADFVC received additional funding to expand its Workplace Rights and Entitlements Project. The Australian Government provided $132,000 over the six months to 30 June 2012, in addition to the $440,000 which was provided from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2011. The Minister for Women also launched the ADFVC Safe at Home, Safe at Work? Toolkit for workplaces last week. (See Recs 15-1 and 15.5).
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is now collecting data on family violence-related clauses and references in enterprise agreements and including it as part of the Workplace Agreements Database. This corresponds with Rec 15-4.
The ALRC also recommended (Rec 16-4) the Australian Government support the inclusion of family violence clauses in enterprise agreements. Since the inquiry, numerous family violence clauses have been included in enterprise agreements and the ADFVC suggests that over half a million Australian employees are now covered by family violence clauses. The clauses have been incorporated into enterprise agreements across industries including aged care, banking, education and training, electrical contracting, railways, water and local government. In addition, the Australian Public Service Commission has just released a Circular noting the potential impact of family violence in the workplace (referring to impacts we listed in the Report).
Further, on 25 June 2012, Amanda Rishworth MP, Member for Kingston South Australia, received bipartisan Parliamentary support for a motion recognising the connection between family violence and employment and the ‘positive impact of the inclusion of domestic violence clauses in contracts of employment’ and urging ‘all private companies and public sectors to include domestic violence clauses in their enterprise agreements to provide victims with important protections such as access to leave in addition to existing entitlements’.
In Recommendation 16-8, the ALRC suggested that the Australian Human Rights Commission should examine the possible basis upon which status as an actual or perceived victim of family violence could be included as a protected attribute under Commonwealth anti-discrimination law. The AHRC implemented the ALRC’s recommendation and made a submission to this effect to the Attorney-General’s Department as part of the process of consolidating Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. A range of other organisations made similar submissions.