Legal requirements

As a manager, it is crucial that you are aware of Deakin's legal obligations under State and Federal legislation, including Deakin's internal policies and procedures.

Below is a summary of the key acts governing workplaces in Victoria and how they can impact a person with a mental health issue. Also refer to FAQs on Duty of Care (PDF, 657.7KB) for more detailed information on these Acts and your obligations.


Legislation explained

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Under the Equal Opportunity and Disability Discrimination Acts, it is against the law to discriminate, harass or victimise a person with a disability.

Mental ill health falls under the umbrella definition of Disability. Both of these acts require an employer to:

  • Take proactive, appropriate and reasonable action to eliminate and mitigate both discrimination and victimisation
  • provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace, to persons with a disability, to enable them to perform their duties

The Fair Work Act 2009

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (sec 351) it is unlawful to take adverse action against a staff member due to mental illness. Adverse action may include

  • discriminating against a staff member;
  • altering the staff member's position to their disadvantage;
  • dismissing them from their position, or
  • victimising or mentally or physically injuring a staff member.

The Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988

Both Commonwealth and State privacy legislation outlines principles about how personal information should be handled, including in the workplace. Under the Act, individuals have greater control over why and how their personal information is collected and how and when it is disclosed to third parties. Privacy is also covered under Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and individual workplace contracts and the University's policies.
This relates to how information about a staff member's mental health issue is to be treated and is explained in more depth in the fact sheet above.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Under the OHS Act, employers have an obligation to provide a workplace that is safe and healthy for all staff. Managers must take appropriate actions to mitigate and eliminate any health and safety hazards in the workplace including Identifying possible workplace practices, actions and incidents that cause or contribute to the mental ill health of staff. e.g. excessive workloads; ambiguity in roles and tasks; lack of flexibility; conflict

Employers and managers are required under OHS legislation to provide a workplace that:

  • Ensures health and safety
  • Avoids discrimination
  • Ensures privacy
  • Avoids adverse actions
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