The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) Review Function: ‘Soft’ Regulation or an Effective Tool to Promote Transparency and Equality?
Regulatory triggers can provide a powerful motivator for transparency, including its implied expectations of openness and accountability. This includes section 151 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), which enables the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to review a duty holder’s “programs and practices” to determine their compliance with the Act. This article argues that the exercise of the review function in section 151 supports transparency through the level of access to people and information it affords and the ability for the Commission to critically and openly assess the state of equality in a duty holder’s organisation. This level of access and openness encourages accountability and helps to persuade and motivate duty holders to take measurable steps towards achieving equality and compliance with the Equal Opportunity Act. Surprisingly little is known, however, about this regulatory tool and its facilitative approach to compliance. This article seeks to build awareness and understanding of the review function and critically analyses its potential to promote transparency and equality. It suggests that the review function is a tool deserving of greater consideration, particularly by duty holders, in efforts to achieve substantive equality.
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