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If you have a discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification or victimisation complaint, the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) can help you to try and resolve your complaint with the respondent/s through a conciliation conference.
A conciliation conference is a meeting to try to help you and the respondent/s resolve your complaint. The conciliation conference may be held in person or by teleconference and is attended by you (the complainant), the respondent/s and a conciliator. You may ask a support person (friend or family member) to also attend.
The QHRC or the AHRC conciliator is the person who organises the conciliation conference and helps you and the respondent/s discuss the complaint and work towards resolving the complaint.
The benefits of settling your complaint through conciliation are:
If you don’t settle your complaint and you decide to take your complaint further, be aware the risk of having to pay the other side’s legal costs is much higher in the Federal Courts than in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) or the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).
You should get legal advice about your complaint’s strengths and weaknesses. Call Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88 and ask to book a free telephone legal advice appointment with a discrimination lawyer. This is a one-off appointment only (up to 60 minutes).
Be prepared to actively participate in the conciliation conference.
Write a summary of your key concerns, and the impact the respondent/s’ behaviour and/or actions have had on you. Be prepared to read this summary at the beginning of the conference.
List the outcomes you are hoping to achieve, and their importance (priority) to you. Be open to considering different options to resolve your complaint.
Think about how the respondent/s may reply to your requested outcomes and what they may suggest to resolve your complaint.
Be prepared to compromise, but only compromise on changes you can live with.
The conciliator will provide you and the respondent/s with an opportunity to share your perspectives, understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case/s and explore potential outcomes to resolve your complaint.
Be aware the respondent/s to your complaint may not make any admissions of unlawful conduct at the conciliation, and the conciliator will not make any findings of unlawful conduct. Instead, the conciliation will provide you and the respondent/s with an opportunity to negotiate a resolution to your complaint on your and the respondent/s’ own terms.
If your complaint is resolved, the conciliator will prepare a written agreement. You can negotiate to keep the terms of the written agreement private and confidential. You should ensure the written agreement reflects the outcomes agreed during the conciliation before signing it. This agreement will then be binding on you and the respondent/s and enforcable through the relevant tribunal or court (eg the QCAT or the QIRC).
You can find out more about the conciliation process at www.qhrc.qld.gov.au and www.humanrights.gov.au.
If you don’t settle your complaint during the conciliation conference, the conciliator may help you to continue to negotiate afterwards—by telephone and/or email—with the respondent/s to your complaint. Otherwise, the conciliator will give you a notice to confirm your complaint couldn’t be resolved by conciliation.
You will need to decide if you want to take your complaint further in a court or tribunal. Be aware the notice from the QHRC or the AHRC will include a deadline for taking further action with your complaint. Read the My discrimination complaint was not resolved. What happens next? factsheet for information on going to the QCAT or the QIRC.
If you decide not to take any more action, your complaint will come to an end.