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Thematic Issue: Revitalising Legal Authorities

Intersectional Discrimination in Australia: An Empirical Critique of the Legal Framework


Alysia Blackham and Jeromey Temple

Australian equality law is still largely dependent on individual enforcement to achieve systemic change. The degree to which discrimination law acknowledges and accommodates intersectional discrimination is a question of growing pertinence. This article bridges theoretical scholarship on intersectionality and empirical statistical evidence of how people experience discrimination in Australia, drawing on data from the 2014 General Social Survey, to critically evaluate the extent to which Australian discrimination law is able to accommodate intersectional experiences of discrimination. We argue that there is a fundamental disconnect between the legal framework, which focuses on separate and distinct ‘grounds’ of discrimination, and how people actually experience discrimination in practice, which is multiple and overlapping. This article offers concrete suggestions for how the legal framework and data collection could be improved to better integrate intersectionality in Australian discrimination law.

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(2020) 43(3) UNSWLJ 773: