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Making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission can investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying based on a person’s:

  • sex, including pregnancy, marital or relationship status (including same-sex de facto couples) status, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, sexual harassment, gender identity, intersex status and sexual orientation
  • disability, including temporary and permanent disabilities; physical, intellectual, sensory, psychiatric disabilities, diseases or illnesses; medical conditions; work related injuries; past, present and future disabilities; and association with a person with a disability
  • race, including colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, immigrant status and racial hatred
  • age, covering young people and older people
  • sexual preference, criminal record, trade union activity, political opinion, religion or social origin (in employment only)

Complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission are resolved through a process known as conciliation.  This is where the people involved in a complaint talk through the issues with the help of someone impartial and settle the matter on their own terms.  A summary of the complaints process is set out below. If you are considering making a complaint, further information can be provided by the Australian Human Rights Commission via email to or phone 1300 656 419. 

Making a complaint


  • The President of the Commission can decide not to investigate a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination where the complaint is lodged more than six months after the alleged events(s) happened. If the event(s) being complained about happened more than six months ago, you will need to explain the reasons for the delay in making a complaint to the Commission.


  • Generally, the Commission will contact the complainant for further information and may also contact the person or organisation they have complained about.


  • Conciliation can take place in a face-to-face meeting called a ‘conciliation conference’ or via phone conference.


  • If the complaint is not resolved or discontinued for some other reason, the President of the Commission will decide if there has been a breach of human rights.

Last updated: 16 September 2019