Who can make a complaint?

You can make a complaint about something that happened to you or you can ask an advocate, family member, friend, or lawyer to make the complaint on your behalf.

You can also make a complaint about something that happened to another person if:

  • you are that person’s parent or guardian
  • you have legal authority to act on behalf of that person
  • the person gave you permission to act on their behalf (it helps to get that in writing).

Before you lodge a complaint, you should obtain advice from the Disability Discrimination Legal Service or another lawyer.


What if the discrimination happens to a group of people?

The law allows you to make a complaint on behalf of a group of other people. This is called a representative complaint or class action. It must involve a number of people who experience the same type of discrimination by the same person/organisation and are asking for the same solution to the discrimination.

Under representative complaints or class actions, people who are discriminated against but do not have the resources to make a complaint can benefit from the outcome of the complaint.

If you wish to make this kind of complaint, it is better if you meet with as many people that you can find who are experiencing the same discrimination. You may need to seek legal advice from the Disability Discrimination Legal Service or another lawyer.

I’m a volunteer: am I protected from discrimination?

Volunteers are generally understood to be community minded people who give their time and skill on a voluntary basis without expecting to be paid.

If you work for free and do not get paid, you are not an employee. You cannot complain of disability discrimination but you can make a complaint under the following circumstances:

  • If you have been sexually harassed by another person or volunteer who works for the organisation, or
  • if you are also receiving services from the organisation, in which case the discrimination is not in employment but in the provision of services.

If you started as a volunteer but later on the manager gives you specific work, controls what you do and gives you an agreed amount of money for that work, you may be considered an employee under discrimination law.

If you get any of the following benefits in exchange for your volunteer work you will NOT be considered to be an employee:

  • meal allowance
  • taxi voucher or train travel card
  • ticket to movies or concerts
  • gifts in kind.