Anti-discrimination in Recruitment

Julie Bingo made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Education, Skills and Employment

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Dear Department of Employment,

Would you please confirm the answers to these three questions.

These questions are separate to the anti-discrimination act that allows unsuccessful disabled applicants to appeal. These questions are regarding whether private employers must choose disabled people for any quota or percentage of their vacancies.

Are there currently processes/policies in place to ensure that private employers employ a certain quota/percentage of people with a disability each year or over a certain time frame?

Now that there are federal plans to move disabled people onto unemployment benefits until the age of 36, are there any associated plans for regulation (or existing regulation) to ensure private employers employ a quota/percentage of disabled people (over any time frame)?

Similarly, the age restriction for the age pension has increased. Are there any plans for regulation (or existing regulation) to ensure private employers employ a quota/percentage of senior people (over any time frame)?

Yours faithfully,

Julie Bingo

Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

While the Department isn't restricted from answering your questions, generally "Freedom of Information" or FOI laws only apply to actual documents, not to information (it's a bit ironic, I know). Therefore, you might have to ask for a document, instead of asking questions.



Julie Bingo left an annotation ()

@Ben Fairless:
Obviously not all citizens will know the correct documents that contain this information. Also there may not be official documentation for all of my questions as yet. It is fair and just for all citizens to know the answers to these questions, therefore it would be right for the Department to provide me with the documentation that contains the answers if they cannot by law give me the answers directly.

Vera Lystich left an annotation ()

I would imagine the Department will refuse your application as a practical refusal (i.e. Locating the documents will take up too much of their resources) unless you specifically outline what documents you want. Simply saying "any documents making reference to..." may be enough.

Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

Julie, I absolutely agree with you, however from experience I've noticed that agencies are reluctant to respond to informal requests for information, instead sticking to the rigidness of the FOI Act.

I could probably answer your request (unofficially of course, I'm not a representative for the Department) by saying that there isn't any law or regulation that requires employers to hire a specific amount of people with disabilities that I've heard of (except for existing Anti-Discrimination laws - You can't reject an applicant because of their disability, except in certain circumstances (it would be stupid to hire a blind taxi driver, for example).

For the 2nd part of your question, for it to be "FOI Act compliant" (I think you shouldn't have to, but I don't make the law) you could say "copies of proposed regulation, or consultation papers which discuss encouraging employers to take on people with disabilities". You could use similar wording for the 3rd question.

Obviously, I think it would be a good idea to wait and see what the Department says, before you "formalise" your request.



Employment - FOI,

Dear Ms Bingo


Thank you for your below request to the Department of Employment (the
department) seeking answers to three questions relating to the employment
of people with a disability and mature age people.


For your information, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act)
provides an individual with a right to obtain access to documents held by
an agency, rather than to information.  Given that you have asked for
answers to questions rather than describing documents to which you seek
access, in its current form the department is unable to process your


On this basis, I am writing to notify you of my intention to refuse your
request as your request does not provide sufficient information for me to
be able to identify relevant documents (a practical refusal reason under
paragraph 24AA(1)(b) of the FOI Act).


However, before making a decision to refuse your request, the FOI Act
provides an avenue by which I am able to assist you to revise the scope of
your request so that the practical refusal reason no longer exists. This
is known as a consultation period.


The consultation period gives you 14 days to contact me and make
submissions in support of your request as currently worded, or to make a
revised request so that the practical refusal reason no longer exists. You
may also decide to withdraw your request. If you do not contact the
department within this 14 day consultation period, your FOI request will
be taken to have been withdrawn (s 24AB(7) of the FOI Act).


I encourage you to contact me within this period so that I can assist you
with your request, noting that, depending the nature of the documents you
are seeking, your request may be better directed to another agency (for
example the Department of Social Services or the Attorney-General’s


I can be contacted directly on (02) 6240 6827 or via email at
[1][email address].


Yours sincerely


Shari Beaumont

Information Law, Practice Management and Corporate Advising Branch

Australian Government Department of Employment

[2][email address]



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