Exemption applications under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) ("the Act") gives the Commission the power to grant temporary exemptions from certain provisions of the Act.Temporary exemptions may be granted for up to five years at a time and may be granted subject to specified terms and conditions. The effect of a temporary exemption is that discrimination covered by the exemption is not unlawful under the Act while the exemption remains in force.Because the Act already provides for both permanent exemptions (Division 4 Part II of the Act - ss 30-43) and special measures (s 7D) and because any temporary exemption must be consistent with the objects of the Act the circumstances in which it will be necessary or appropriate to grant such exemptions will be limited.
The Act does not set out in any detail the criteria or procedures that the Commission should use in considering applications for temporary exemption. Section 44 of the Act simply provides the Commission with a discretion to grant such exemptions.
Because of the importance of the power to grant exemptions, and its potential impact on rights and obligations under the Act, the Commission has developed criteria and procedures to guide the Commission in exercising this discretion. By publishing these criteria and procedures, the Commission also aims to assist interested parties in having an effective say in decisions about possible exemptions that may affect their interests.
Current applications for temporary exemptions
Arden Anglican School
The Australian Human Rights Commission has received an application from Arden Anglican School (Arden).
The Application is made pursuant to section 44(1) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA) in relation to the operation of Part II, Division 2, section 21(1)(a) and/or section 22(1) of the SDA.
Through a temporary exemption, Arden seeks to achieve an appropriate gender enrolment balance within each year group from Kindergarten to Year 12, with the intention that there would be approximate equality in enrolments for boys and girls. Arden seeks a temporary exemption which would apply to all aspects of advertising, determining eligibility for enrolments, and the offering and administration of the enrolments. Arden seeks an exemption for a 5 year period.
Submissions in response to this application are sought by 30 May 2017. Submissions should preferably be made in electronic format, and may be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions should address the following issues:
- Would an exemption in this case be consistent with the objects of the SDA?
- Should an exemption be granted irrespective of consistency with the objects of the SDA?
- What are the reasons in favour of granting an exemption?
- What is the impact on individuals and others if an exemption is granted?
- Are there conditions which should be imposed on the granting of an exemption in this matter?
Commission Decisions on Applications for a Temporary Exemption
Current Applications and Decisions
|Documents||Decision||Date of Decision||Date gazetted||Date of expiry|
|Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow it to advertise for and employ women in a number of roles. This is because the majority of its clients are women and children who have experienced violence and/or sexual assault by men. The applicant states that working closely with men may further traumatise its clients, cause them discomfort or inhibit full disclosure by them.
Decision to grant.
The exemption was granted for five years
|6 August 2013||6 August 2013||6 August 2018|
Past Applications and Decisions
|Submissions||Decision||Date of Decision||Date Gazetted||Date of Expiry|
|CJC Operations trading as Curves Gym|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow it to operate its gym facilities catering to female-only clients. Curves offers programs, equiptment and an environment that is specifically designed for women and has applied for an exemption on the basis that its purpose is to promote a relaxed and safe enviroment for women to feel comfortable while exercising.
|Auto & General Insurance Company Ltd, A &G Insurance Services Ltd, Australian insurance Holdings Pty Ltd||The applicant requested an exemption to allow them to price their policies differentially based on a customer's marital status, according to actuarial data about the relative claims risk associated with different marital status.||Decision to decline||May 2012|
|Deli Women & Children's Centre|
The applicant requested an exemption to provide therapeutic services to only female clients and to only employ females to provide therapeutic and children's services.
|Decision to decline||22 November 2009|
|Griffith City Council|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow restrited access to its gymnasium and swimming pool to women only, for regular two and a half hour sessions, outside of the applicant's ordinary operating hours.
|Decision to decline||20 June 2008|
|Crisis Support Services|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow Crisis Support Services Inc an exemption to allow the applicant to advertise nationally for and recruit male counsellors to join its Graduate Trainee Program, and at the end of the Program, to offer employment to as many male counsellors who have completed the Program as it considers appropriate.
|Decision to grant||12 January 2007||12 January 2007||12 January 2008|
|Ballarat Health and Fitness Pty Ltd||The applicant requested an exemption to allow it to operate an exercise and health centre for males only from 16 years of age.||Decision to grant||7 November 2005||16 November 2005||6 November 2010|
|Lourdes Hill College|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow advertisement for a female Dean of Boarding, Assistant Dean of Boarding and Boarding Supervisors' to be employed at the College. The College is described in the application as a 'Catholic, all girls, secondary Boarding School, under the care of theGood Samaritan Sisters'.
|Decision to decline||12 May 2005|
|Australian Bureau of Statistics|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow it to provide training for conducting the Personal Safety Survey (PSS), and to allocate the work of the PSS to primarily female interviewers from its current panel of employee interviewers. The exemption was granted on the condition that when arrangements are being made with a respondnet to be itnerviewed, the respodent should be given a choice as to the gender of their interviewer, or they can advise that they do not have a preference.
|Decision to grant||1 August 2005||2005||30 November 2005|
|Annetco Inc (formerly WiN Support Services Pty)|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow, on the basis of sex, the advertising of vacant positions and the offering of employment and to allow the allocation of work to existing employees.
|Decision to decline||24 November 2004|
|Catholic Commission for Employment Relations|
The applicant requested an exemption to allow the Trustee to offer teacher training scholarships to male students only. The proposed financial support/incentives would be offered to HSC students to enrol in primary teacher training at university for the 2003 academic year. Male students accepting the scholarship would commit to working within Catholic primary schools for a fixed period following completion of the teachig degree.
|Declision to decline||27 February 2003||27 February 2003|
|Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs||Exemption to allow female and male detainees, up to the age of 18, at any immigration detention facility eligibility, to participate in alternative detention, namely accomodation in houses in Woomera.|
|Decision to grant||September 2003||15 October 2003||19 September 2003- 18 September 2005|
|Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs||Extension of time for Woomera residential housing project.||Decision WORD||Decision to grant||14 October 2002||6 February 2002||14 October 2002 - 14 October 2003|
|Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs|
Exemption to allow Woomera residential housing project whwereby female and male detainees up to the age of 12 at Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre will be eligible to participate in alternative detention arrangements, namely accomodation in houses outside the Centre.
|Decision WORD||Decision to grant||7 August 2001||10 October 2001||August 2001-August 2002|
Click on the following links for further information:
- Guidelines for Exemption applications under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984
- 1996 Guidelines for Special Measures under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984
COMMISSION NOTICES ON APPLICATIONS FOR TEMPORARY EXEMPTIONS
- Temporary Exemption application: CJC Operations, trading as Curves Gym (withdrawn)
- Temporary Exemption Application: Auto & General Insurance Company Limited, A & G Insurance Services Limited, Australian Insurance Holdings Pty Ltd Word or PDF
- Decision to decline to grant a temporary exemption sought by The Deli Women & Children's Centre Inc Word or PDF
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by Ballarat Health and Fitness Pty Ltd for a male only gym in Ballarat and decision to decline to grant a request for exemption to employ men only (expires 6 November 2010)
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by the Australian Burea of Statistics (expired)
- Decision to decline to grant a temporary exemption sought by Lourdes Hill College
- Decision to decline to grant a temporary exemption sought by Annetco Inc (formerly WiN Support Services Pty)
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by the Catholic Education Office after new application offers equal number of male and female scholarships (expired)
- Decision to decline to grant an exemption sought by the Catholic Education Office Scholarships for Male Trainee Teachers
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs ("DIMIA") (expired)
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (expired)
- Decision to grant a temporary exemption sought by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs ("DIMIA") for extension of Woomera residential housing project exemption (expired)
- Decision to grant interim exemption sought by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs ("DIMIA") for extension of Woomera residential housing project exemption
- Decision to grant temporary exemption sought by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs ("DIMIA") for exemption to allow alternative detention arrangements for female detainees and male detainees up to the age of 12 at the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (expired)