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A Brief Guide to the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (the ADA)

This Guide is only applicable for those staff employed in UCL Australia

A Brief Guide to the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (the ADA)  
(adapted from the Australian Human Rights Commission)

1. Introduction

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (the ADA) makes it against the law for someone to be treated unfairly because of their age. It protects against discrimination in many areas of public life, including the following areas related to UCL Australia:

• Work – getting a job, terms and conditions, training, promotion, dismissal and redundancy
• Education – enrolling or studying at school, TAFE, university or other educational institutions
• Getting or using services
• Access to premises

2. Application

The ADA is a federal law. That means it applies to everyone across Australia, though some distinctions are allowed. The ADA says that there are some situations in the following areas where it may not be unlawful to make distinctions on the basis of age, including:

• superannuation, insurance and credit
• migration and citizenship
• taxation and social security laws
• some health programmes
• youth wages or complying with industrial agreements and awards

3. Positive Discrimination

There are occasions when people in a particular age group will need extra help. The ADA says that it is not unlawful to provide programs and support that meet an identified need of people in different age groups.

4. Employment

The ADA protects people against discrimination at work. Individuals can make a complaint to HREOC if they feel that, because of their age, they have been:
• refused employment
• dismissed
• denied a promotion, transfer or other employment-related benefits
• given less favourable terms or conditions of employment
• denied equal access to training opportunities
• selected for redundancy
• harassed

This applies when applying for a job, an apprentice or trainee, on probation, work part time or full time, a  casual or permanent.

Compulsory retirement is illegal under the ADA.

You must be able to do the job

The ADA says that it's not against the law to refuse someone a job if they can't perform the 'inherent requirements' of the position because of their age.
In other words, they must be able to carry out the essential duties of the job. Clear and fair job descriptions and person specifications are therefore essential.

5. Avoiding Discrimination and Harassment

Employers have a legal responsibility to take 'all reasonable steps' to prevent discrimination and harassment at work or in connection with a person's employment. What 'reasonable steps' means will depend on the workplace – for instance, what's 'reasonable' for a large company will be different to a small business. However, all employers need to put in place policies and strategies to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.

HREOC has developed a range of practical, easy-to-read resources to help employers tackle discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
For more information visit:

6. Conciliation

HEROC can help sort out complaints through 'conciliation'.
Conciliation can happen in different ways, such as exchanging letters or emails or getting people together over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting.

7. Find out more

To find out more about the Age Discrimination Act and current HEROC projects on age discrimination, visit

Free interpretation and translation services are available by phoning 13 14 50 and asking for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.