Northern Territory

Anti-Discrimination Commission

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Frequently asked questions

How do I make a complaint?

You can make a complaint in writing to the Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC) within 12 months of the alleged discrimination.  You can make a complaint outside this time with good reason.

You can lodge a complaint online, by email/fax or in person.


Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to make a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission.

What happens if I make a complaint?

If you make a complaint it will be treated fairly and in confidence. The Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC) will follow the complaint-handling process to determine whether unlawful discrimination has occurred or not:

  • Once you have lodged your letter of complaint, the ADC will decide if the complaint is covered by the Act.
  • If the complaint is covered by the Act, the ADC notifies the Respondent that is the person who is alleged to have engaged in discriminatory conduct. The matter is then set down for a compulsory conciliation to see if parties can resolve their differences.
  • If the matter is not resolved the Complainant can elect to continue to the evaluation process.
  • If they elect the evaluation process the Commissioner’s delegate will look at both sides account of what happened and decide if there is merit in the matter progressing to a hearing.
  • If they decide yes, it is referred to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) to determine whether or not there has been discrimination or other prohibited conduct.


How long will it take for the Commission to make a decision about my complaint?

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Delegate has 60 days to decide whether to accept or decline a complaint. We aim to make this decision within 10 days.

Will my company, boss, or colleague find out that I have made a complaint?

Your company, boss or colleague won’t be told about the complaint unless we decide to accept it. At this time we’ll notify them of the complaint in writing.  If we need to speak to them before we make a decision, we are required to tell you before we speak with them so you have a chance to withdraw your complaint. If your matter is lodged outside the twelve month statutory period, we may also need to write to your boss to find out if they are disadvantaged in accepting a matter outside the time frame (that is, staff may have left or they may have destroyed relevant paperwork). We would tell you before we made contact, and if you didn’t want this to occur you could withdraw your complaint.

Please let us know if you are concerned about your boss finding out when you lodge a complaint so that you can decide whether you want to go ahead. If you decide not to lodge a complaint, please note that you may not be able to bring a further complaint at a later time about the same issue.

Please note that we treat all complaints confidentially.

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Can I come in and talk to someone about my complaint?

You are always welcome to come and see us or phone us to discuss your complaint. Once you lodge your complaint, we will give you information about the progress of your matter and the options available, but we have to ensure that our contact with you enables us to remain impartial during the complaint process.

Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone else?

To make a complaint on behalf of someone you need their written consent (if you are legally allowed to do this) as well as the authorisation of the Commissioner or their delegate.

If you are making a complaint on behalf of someone who is too young or not able to provide consent, you should advise the Anti-Discrimination Commission what the nature of your relationship is and the why you believe it’s appropriate that you represent them. 

What type of information should I include in my complaint?

You should tell us your story setting out the following where possible:

  • dates of incidents
  • which attribute and area you believe apply and why you believe it’s discrimination
  • any witnesses or evidence
  • the names of the people or the organisation you believe discriminated against you.

What is conciliation?

Conciliation is an informal dispute resolution process managed by a conciliator, who is impartial and helps the parties find a solution to their problem. If both parties agree, conciliation may happen at any stage of the complaints process. We encourage early resolution of these issues, so talk to us today about setting up an early conciliation meeting.

Will I need to see the other party?

No, you don’t need to see the other party during conciliation. Just advise the Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC) of your wish not to see the other person and this will be respected. We will ensure the process caters for your needs, and may include separating parties in different rooms, staggered start times or allowing one party to attend by phone rather than in person. The ADC will do what’s needed to ensure that the process is respectful and that the parties feel safe.

If you have further questions please contact us.








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