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What are family responsibilities?

Lots of Australian workers have family responsibilities which involve caring for children or another immediate family member.

Family responsibilities means a person has the responsibility to care for, or support:

  • a dependent child of the person, or
  • any other member of the person’s immediate family who is in need of care or support

Immediate family are:

  • a person’s partner or former partner (whether they be the same or different sex)
  • a child of the person or a child of the person’s partner or former partner (this includes step children, adopted children and foster children)
  • a parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the person or of the person’s partner

It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their family responsibilities.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination happens when someone is treated less favourably than someone else in the same situation because of their family responsibilities. 

A person can also claim discrimination when adverse action is taken against them because of their family responsibilities.

For example:

  • a father takes carer’s leave to look after his sick child and is subsequently sacked
  • a single mother is overlooked for a promotion, or not recruited for a job, because the employer believes that might make her unreliable
  • or a worker is refused further training in his job because he takes carer’s leave to look after his elderly parent

Where can discrimination happen?

Unlawful discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities can happen when you’re at work, or studying.

In addition, it can also happen when you’re applying for rental accommodation.

And it can also happen when you are applying for credit, insurance or a loan.

How we can help

Our team of Australian employment lawyers and industrial advocates at Human Rights Claims specialise in discrimination matters.

Workers who experience discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities could be entitled to:

  • compensation,
  • or an apology,
  • or reinstatement if you have been dismissed from employment.

We can advocate on your behalf in the Human Rights Commission or any other relevant court or tribunal.

We can advise you of your best options moving forward, to ensure you get the outcome you are looking for.

Make no mistake, we will not give up fighting until we have achieved justice for you. 


Workers dismissed from employment because of family responsibilities, have just 21-days from the date of dismissal to file a claim. So don’t delay!

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LAST UPDATED: March 2022

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