Discrimination is less favourable treatment by one person or group towards another person or group because they are identified by one of the categories or groups listed below.

Grounds for discrimination, according to Flinders University Equal Opportunity Policy, are:

  • sex or gender
  • sexuality or gender identity
  • pregnancy
  • marital status
  • identity of spouse
  • status as a parent
  • breastfeeding
  • sexual harassment
  • status as a carer
  • disability
  • social origin
  • race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin
  • cultural differences
  • age
  • political beliefs
  • religious conviction
  • victimisation
  • personal association with a person who is identified by any of the listed attributes
  • any combination of the above.

Direct discrimination 

Direct discrimination takes place when an individual is treated less favourably than another person because of their identification with one of the grounds.

Some examples of direct discrimination are:

  • Being fired from your job because you are HIV Positive. (This could be discrimination on the ground of disability)
  • Not having your affirmed gender respected if you have the condition of trans-sexualism. The discrimination could take the form of people not using the appropriate pronoun when addressing you during tutorials, or not using your chosen name that reflects your affirmed gender. (This could be discrimination on the ground of sexuality)
  • The word ‘nigger’ being used to disparagingly refer to your dark skin. (This could be discrimination on the ground of race)

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination happens when a practice or policy appears to be fair because it treats everyone the same way, but actually disadvantages people from a particular group.

Some examples of indirect discrimination are:

  • A requirement of continuous service over a number of years before the person is considered for promotion. (This could be discrimination on the grounds of status as a parent/family responsibilities or gender)
  • A person who uses a wheelchair for mobility being unable to attend lectures because the lecture theatre can only be accessed via steps. (This could be discrimination on the ground of disability)

These behaviours could also be illegal and it may be possible to seek redress through anti-discrimination legislation.