Equal access to the opportunities available? Equity and diversity laws and policies in Australia

Strachan, Glenda, French, Erica L., & Burgess, John (2014) Equal access to the opportunities available? Equity and diversity laws and policies in Australia. In Klarsfeld, Alain, Booysen, Lize, Ng, Eddy, Roper, Ian, & Tatli, Ahu (Eds.) International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work : Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment [2nd Edition]. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 13-34.

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Australia has been populated for more than 40,000 years with Indigenous Australians joined by European settlers only 230 years ago. The first settlers consisted of convicts from more than 28 countries and members of the British army who arrived in 1788 to establish a British penal colony. Mass migration in the nineteenth century with one and a half million immigrants from Europe, principally from the United Kingdom and Ireland (Haines and Shlomowitz, 1992), established the continent as an Anglo society in the Pacific. In the twentieth century immigrants came from many European countries and in the latter decades from many parts of Asia and the Middle East (Collins, 1991, pp.10-13). In the 21st century Australia has an ethnically and culturally diverse population. The original Indigenous population of Australia accounts for approximately 460,000 or 2.5 per cent of the total population (ABS, 2006a). Estimates are that around 4.5m. persons in the population (close to 20 per cent), were born outside Australia with the majority of these arriving from Europe, principally the United Kingdom, and New Zealand (ABS, 2006b).

Like many other countries, Australia has a legacy of discrimination and inequality in employment. Propelled by racist ideologies and the male breadwinner ideology, Indigenous Australians, and non-European immigrants, and women were barred from certain jobs and paid less for their work than any white male counterpart. These conditions were legally sanctioned through the industrial relations system and other laws in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. Since the 1960s a dramatic change has occurred in social policy and national legislation and Australia today has an extensive array of laws which forbid employment discrimination on race, ethnicity, gender and many other characteristics, and other approaches which promote proactive organizational plans and actions to achieve equity in employment. This chapter outlines these developments.

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ID Code: 69453
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Equal Access, Opportunity , Equity and Diversity, Laws and Policies , Australia
ISBN: 9780857939319
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Human Resources Management (150305)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Edward Elgar
Deposited On: 28 Mar 2014 01:14
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 16:03

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