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Irrelevant criminal record


South Australian law does not cover this ground of discrimination, but Commonwealth laws applying in South Australia cover discrimination on this ground in the area of work only.

Commonwealth law

In Commonwealth law, it is unlawful to impair equality of opportunity or treatment in the workplace because of an irrelevant criminal record [s 3 reg 6].

This includes refusing to hire a person because of an irrelevant criminal record, hiring them on less favourable terms, denying them access to any benefits that go with the job, or subjecting them to other adverse treatment. Commonwealth law does not cover this type of discrimination in any other area apart from the equality of opportunity in the workplace.

It does not, however, include any distinction, exclusion or preference in respect of a particular job based on the inherent requirements of the job or in connection with employment as a member of the staff of an institution that is conducted in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion [s 3].


The Australian Human Rights Commission (opens new window) can accept such complaints but cannot take them beyond the stage of conciliation. It can report about them to the Federal Attorney-General.

The word "irrelevant" was added to this ground of discrimination from 1 October 20019, in part to address concerns raised by the Commission in its report BE v Suncorp Group Ltd [2018] AusHRC 121.

Irrelevant criminal record  :  Last Revised: Mon Feb 10th 2020
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.