New Zealand Law Society - Unlawful discrimination tops list of human rights enquiries

Unlawful discrimination tops list of human rights enquiries

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

The Human Rights Commission received 5,453 new human rights enquiries and complaints in 2016/17, an increase of 117 over the previous year.

The figure is included in the Commission’s annual report.

The total is made up of:

  • 3,716 complaints about a human rights issue, of which 1,211 were complaints about unlawful discrimination,
  • 1,501 requests for other assistance including enquiries about human rights training, advice or resources, legal intervention or advocacy,
  • 236 registrations of concern.

The Commission closed 5,115 enquiries and complaints over the year. Of those 4,512 (88%) were resolved, or involved providing some form of assistance, 492 (10%) were withdrawn or the person did not reply to the Commission, and 111 (2%) were unable to be resolved within the Commission’s dispute resolution service.

The report says a total of 3,242 (63%) enquiries and complaints were dealt with and closed within seven days, and 4,135 (81%) were closed within one month.

The Commission’s mediation process produced 78 settlement outcomes involving systemic change. These included:

  • Guidance to staff was issued by an organisation after a complaint that a customer with a disability had been refused alcohol because the effects of the disability were confused with intoxication.
  • A training provider changed its enrolment policy so that a 65-year-old could enrol in a carpentry course.
  • An airport installed a baby change table in its men’s toilets as the result of a complaint.

In progressing complaints, there is an ongoing focus on advocacy to improve knowledge and awareness. This year the Commission updated its publications on the complaint process, the A-Z pre-employment guide to human rights, sexual harassment guidelines for complainants and respondents, and the rights of indigenous peoples.