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Equal Employment Opportunity

What is EEO?

Equal Employment Opportunity means equal access to jobs and benefits and services for all employees and prospective employees in the workplace. EEO aims to ensure fair and equitable outcomes in all areas of employment which relate to recruitment, selection, access to information, supervision and management.

Equal Employment Opportunity is about:
    • fair practices in the workplace;
    • management decisions being made without bias;
    • recognition and respect for the social and cultural backgrounds of all staff and customers;
    • employment practices which produce staff satisfaction, commitment to the job and the delivery of quality services to customers;
    • improving productivity by guaranteeing that:
    • the best person is recruited and/or promoted;
    • skilled staff are retained;
    • training and development are linked to employee needs and customer needs; and
    • the workplace is efficient and free of harassment and discrimination.

EEO addresses the issue of discrimination which can have a detrimental effect on people's conditions of employment. It is a policy which promotes selection by merit. EEO means that all people have the right to be considered for any job for which they are skilled and qualified, and that they will be judged for the job on the basis of merit.

Equal Employment Opportunity aims to redress past disadvantage by improving employment outcomes for EEO groups (women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from racial, ethnic or ethno-religious minority groups and people with a disability).

It does this through programs and policies which increase the capacity of these groups to compete for employment opportunities on
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What is Discrimination?

Direct or overt discrimination is any action that specifically excludes a person or a group of people from a benefit or opportunity, or significantly reduces their chances of obtaining it, because a personal characteristic irrelevant to the situation is applied as a barrier. For example, Jill is the best person for the position, but she might want maternity leave again so we will give the job to Jack.

Indirect, covert, or systemic discrimination are rules, practices and decisions that appear neutral, but in fact significantly reduce the chance of an individual `from obtaining a benefit or opportunity. For example, an employer who says they need a person over 180cm tall to do a job may discriminate against women and some ethnic groups who are less likely to be this height.
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Anti-Discrimination Legislation

In Australia it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin (Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975) and sex, marital status and pregnancy (Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984).

In addition, in New South Wales, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, or any of their relatives, friends or associates, on the grounds of race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, age, or homosexuality.
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How does EEO work?

Part 9A of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act requires all public sector agencies to implement EEO programs. The aims of such EEO programs are to:

    • ensure that the talents of all staff are fully recognised and used in accordance with the merit principle;
    • redress past disadvantages;
    • better meet customer service requirements;
    • implement employment conditions which promote increased productivity; and
    • achieve the redistribution of people in the EEO groups in all levels and classifications of work.

EEO Management Plans are developed which outline the strategies required to put EEO into practice. New procedures, the means of measuring their effectiveness and reporting mechanisms are also developed.

The Department reports on the progress and success of its EEO program in the Annual Report to Parliament, and in an annual report to the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment. These reports include highlights of achievements and workforce statistics.
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Attorney General's EEO Program

The aim of the Department's EEO Management Plan is to increase representation of EEO groups, at all levels of the organisation.

Strategies include:
    • applying the merit principle in all recruitment and selection processes;•
    • eliminating harassment and discrimination;
    • providing training and development for staff to encourage them to accept the challenge of development.
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How does EEO affect employees?

To be effective, EEO requires the active participation of both staff and management. All staff have the responsibility:

    • to work to their full capacity;
    • to recognise the skills and talents of other staff members;
    • to respect cultural and social diversity among colleagues and customers;
    • to refuse to co-operate in, or condone any behaviour that may harass a colleague.

As a supervisor/manager, you have the additional responsibility of ensuring that:

    • the work environment is free from all forms of harassment;
    • staff are provided with information that will assist them to carry out their duties;
    • all staff members have an equal opportunity to:
    • increase skills to meet work demands;
    • attend training courses;
    • act in higher duties;
    • participate in job rotation schemes; and
    • apply for all available jobs.
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EEO and the Job Advertisement

Understanding of and commitment to EEO policies and programs

Applicants should be able to:
    • demonstrate knowledge of EEO legislation, policies and programs;
    • provide examples of how to implement EEO in a relevant work situation.

Capacity to Implement EEO policies and programs

Applicants should be able to:
    • provide evidence of a detailed understanding of the way direct and indirect discrimination operates in the workplace;
    • demonstrate that they are pro-active in their attempts to ensure the absence of discrimination;
    • indicate how they will initiate changes in procedures that will increase the effectiveness of EEO policy;
    • demonstrate that as supervisors, they would monitor their section and actively keep aware of changes and initiatives in EEO programs and policies;
    • provide examples of what they have done to personally implement EEO principles and what they will do in the future.
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  Last updated 20 June 2005   Crown Copyright  
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