Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

Clients and Consumers

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Your organisation's clients fall into a special category of person.  A number of areas of law apply to the relationship between an organisation and its clients.  These include privacy laws and the regulation of the particular industry (for example, if your organisation provides health services or your organisation sells food or alcohol).

Privacy

Go to Not-for-profit Law’s page on privacy law for detailed information on privacy requirements and Australia’s privacy regulator.

Duty of care, risk and insurance

Your organisation is likely to owe a duty of care to its service users, and your organisation should consider what potential risks are involved in providing services, and how to manage those risks.

Not-for-profit law has information on Risk and Insurance that can help your organisation assess risks and appropriate responses to risk.

Consumer representatives

Some organisations engage consumers to provide independent advice on the organisation’s goods and services. It's important for organisations to recognise that there are particular legal issues associated with the payment by community organisations to consumer representatives. This fact sheet will help your organisation to understand some of the legal considerations when engaging or paying consumer representatives, and some of the matters your organisation may wish to advise a person of when they are considering becoming a consumer representative.

Advertising and consumers

Your group should also make sure that it complies with laws about advertising and promotion when advertising its services. See the Not-for-profit Law page on advertising and communications.

Clients vs members

Remember that people can fall into several categories when they interact with your organisation, for example a member may also be a client.  Your organisation should make sure that it meets its obligations for each circumstance, including maintaining appropriate and separate files of information. For example, a common issue is the recording of sensitive medical information or other inappropriate information on the members register of a not-for-profit.  Medical information should be kept separately to information relating to a person's membership status.

Discrimination laws

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level. Information on the discrimination laws in each state and territory is below. 

Discrimination laws in Victoria 

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.
 
At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:
 

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In Victoria, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (Equal Opportunity Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances. The personal attributes which are protected under the Equal Opportunity Act include age, disability, employment activity, political belief, sex and race. Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Equal Opportunity Act, and also the exceptions that may apply.

Human rights

Victoria also has a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. For more information on how your community organisation can assist with protecting and promoting human rights see Not-for-profit Law’s fact sheet below. This fact sheet includes information on the following issues:

  • the particular human rights protected by the Charter
  • assessing whether the Charter applies to your organisation
  • complying with Charter obligations, and
  • what happens when an organisation breaches the Charter

Other resources - Victoria

Other resources - Federal

Discrimination laws in NSW

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In New South Wales, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) (Anti-Discrimination Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances. The personal attributes which are protected under the Anti-Discrimination Act include age, disability, sex, race, age and homosexuality. Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act, and also the exception and exemptions that may apply.

Other resources - NSW

Other resources - Federal 

Discrimination laws in Queensland

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In Queensland, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD) (Anti-Discrimination Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances, including work and the provision of services. The Anti-Discrimination Act also makes sexual harassment and vilification unlawful.

Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act, and also the exceptions that may apply.  The Queensland Human Rights Commission administers the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Human rights

If your organisation provides services on behalf of the Queensland government, you may also need to comply with the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) when making decisions about individuals.

For more information about when you may need to comply with the Human Rights Act, see the Queensland Human Rights Commission fact sheet.

Other resources - Queensland

Other resources - Federal 

Discrimination laws in South Australia

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In South Australia, the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) (Equal Opportunity Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances. The personal attributes which are protected under the Equal Opportunity Act include age, association with a child, disability, gender identity, pregnancy, race and religious appearance or dress.  Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Equal Opportunity Act, and also the exception and exemptions that may apply.

Other resources - South Australia

Other resources - Federal 

Discrimination laws in the Northern Territory

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In the Northern Territory, the Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) (Anti-Discrimination Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances.  The personal attributes which are protected under the Anti-Discrimination Act include race, sex, sexuality, age, religious belief and pregnancy. Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act, and also the exception and exemptions that may apply.

Other resources - Northern Territory

Other resources - Federal 

Discrimination laws in the ACT

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In the ACT, the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) (Discrimination Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances. . The personal attributes which are protected under the Discrimination Act include age, breastfeeding, disability, gender identity, political conviction, pregnancy and race. Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act, and also the exception and exemptions that may apply.

Human rights

The Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) (Human Rights Act) provides for a number of rights including protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, privacy and reputation, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief and freedom of expression. 

Other resources - ACT

Other resources - Federal 

Discrimination laws in Tasmania

Discrimination laws may apply to your organisation. In Australia, discrimination laws exist at both federal, and state and territory level.

At a federal level, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) administers the following laws:

The AHRC can investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination under these laws.

In Tasmania, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) (Anti-Discrimination Act) also protects certain personal attributes from discrimination in a number of circumstances. The personal attributes which are protected under the Anti-Discrimination Act include race, age, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy and disability. Your organisation needs to know about the personal attributes, the situations covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act, and also the exception and exemptions that are available.

Other resources - Tasmania

Other resources - Federal 

Last Updated: 15 July 2020