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If you lodged a discrimination complaint in the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) and it was not resolved at your conciliation conference, the QHRC will issue you with a notice confirming your complaint was not resolved.
If you choose to take no further action after receiving this notice, your complaint will come to an end.
However, if you want to take your complaint further you will have 28 days to ask your QHRC conciliator to refer your complaint to:
Please call or email the QHRC to make this request, using the contact details listed on your notice.
The following information should be used as a guide only. Follow the QCAT’s or the QIRC’s directions and contact the registry or your case manager if you have any questions.
Once the QHRC has referred your complaint to the QIRC or QCAT, you will be sent a list of directions which will ‘direct’ you (the complainant) and the respondent/s to your complaint to complete certain tasks by certain times and dates.
The directions usually include the following:
If you are concerned you can’t follow a direction by the due date and time, you will need to request an extension of time. It is very important to request an extension of time before the due date and time has passed. Let the QCAT or the QIRC know immediately and submit a request in writing for an extension of time using QCAT Form 42 – Application to extend or shorten a time limit or for waiver of compliance with procedural requirement.
Watch the Getting a fair go in the Tribunal video on the ADCQ website (www.qhrc.qld.gov.au) for information on how the QCAT deals with discrimination complaints.
For the QCAT, complete the Complainant’s contentions on referral under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 form. There is also a version for respondents. You may find it easier to complete parts A and D of the form, sign and date it, and then write the details of your contentions in a separate document and attach it to the form. This way you can easily edit your contentions and won’t be restricted by the size of parts B and C of the form.
The QIRC has a Form 85A – Complainant’s statement of facts and contentions for complainants to complete. Respondents can complete Form 85B – Response to the complainant’s statement of facts and contentions. There are some sample statements of facts and contentions on the QIRC website which may help you complete the form—search for ‘facts and contentions’ on the QIRC website to see the samples.
Your contentions for the QCAT or the QIRC should include:
Your contentions should only refer to matters that were included in your complaint referred from the QHRC. If you want to raise new matters, you must ask the QCAT or the QIRC for permission to do so.
As the complainant, your contentions need to explain why you believe you have been discriminated against, so you will need to give these details:
To work out if direct discrimination has occurred, QCAT and the QIRC will look at how the respondent/s treated you compared to how they treated another person, the ‘comparator’. The comparator may be a real person (eg work colleague of yours who does not have a disability) or you may need to describe a hypothetical comparator who does not have your attribute (eg a disability).
You, as the complainant, and any witnesses you think can help you to prove your case, will need to prepare a statement of evidence.
Your statement of evidence should:
Read more about preparing statements on the QCAT website (also relevant for QIRC statements).
The QCAT or the QIRC member is the person in charge of the hearing who will make the decision about your complaint. The member will tell you how they want the hearing to proceed. Be prepared to:
If someone has given evidence they might be cross-examined, which means they’ll be asked detailed questions about their evidence to check if it is accurate and credible. Cross examining someone might also reveal new information.
You need to prove, ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the respondent unlawfully discriminated against you. This means you have to convince the member your version of events is more likely to be true than the respondent/s version of events.
The member will read, listen to and observe the evidence and make findings about what happened, and whether it meets the discrimination criteria in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld). The member may not make their decision on the day of the hearing.
A QIRC or QCAT decision about your complaint will be binding on you and the respondent/s to your complaint.
If you are successful, the member will make orders in your favour. If you are unsuccessful, your complaint will be dismissed. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal the decision.
If you decide to appeal the decision, contact the QCAT or the QIRC immediately as strict appeal time limits apply.
Generally, each person pays the cost (eg lawyer’s fees) of preparing and presenting their case in the QCAT or the QIRC, no matter what the outcome.
However the QCAT or the QIRC may make an order for someone to cover another person’s costs if it is in the ‘interests of justice’. This could happen if you:
You can book a free one-off legal advice telephone appointment (up to 60 minutes) to help you understand your rights, and the strengths and weaknesses of your discrimination complaint. Call 1300 65 11 88 (local call cost from a landline anywhere in Queensland) and ask to book a legal advice telephone appointment with
a discrimination lawyer.
You may be eligible for a grant of aid to have a lawyer represent you at a conciliation conference and/or final hearing. Read the Can I get legal aid? factsheet for more information on our eligibility criteria for grants of aid. You can get a Legal aid application form from our offices throughout Queensland or from our website www.legalaid.qld.gov.au.
Queensland’s community legal centres provide free information, advice, referral, and representation for vulnerable clients and communities facing legal problems. Go to www.legalaid.qld.gov.au or call 1300 65 11 88 to check services in your area.
If you are representing yourself at the QCAT, you may be eligible for help from the LawRight Self Representation Service. The service may be able to help you to understand and follow QCAT directions, draft documents and help you to represent yourself in the best possible way at the conference and/or hearing. Call LawRight on 07 3846 6317 for more information.
Call the Queensland Law Society on 1300 367 757 or visit www.qls.com.au for names of private lawyers who can help.