As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues across Australia, we have considered vaccine requirements and how they relate to the South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984.
What are the current rules for getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in South Australia?
The Australian Government’s current policy is that COVID-19 vaccinations are strongly encouraged, but voluntary for most Australians.
However, states and territories can issue Directions to make vaccinations mandatory for specific industries and employees.
These Directions will also outline any exemptions that may apply to this requirement.
Is your vaccination status considered grounds to allege discrimination under the Act?
Your vaccination status is not a ground on which you can allege unlawful discrimination under the Act. Grounds under the Act include race, gender, age, and disability.
For example, if an employer or service provider requires you to be vaccinated but you cannot be vaccinated because of one of the grounds contained in the Act, and there are no exception processes, then it may amount to unlawful discrimination.
However, if your reason for not getting vaccinated is not connected to one of the grounds contained in the Act, for example you don’t want to be vaccinated due to personal views, then this would not be discrimination under the Act.
The Act also provides an exemption that may apply to some forms of discrimination when the activity is directed at: “ensuring that an infectious disease is not spread; and is reasonable in all the circumstances”.
I think I’ve been discriminated against
If you cannot get vaccinated because of one of the grounds contained in the Act and you also believe that you have been treated unfavourably because you are not vaccinated, then you may wish to seek legal advice and assistance regarding the specific circumstances of your case.
If you decide to lodge a complaint with our office, we may ask you for further details about your disability, medical condition, or age and for details as to how it prevents you from being vaccinated.
We may also ask you about the information that you provided to the person that you allege has discriminated against you.