On this page: This page outlines what you can do if you experience discrimination or victimisation.

Understanding Discrimination


Discrimination is when you have been treated unfairly because of something about yourself; like being a certain ethnicity or cultural background.

Discrimination includes the following situations if they are the cause of unfair treatment:

  • you are from a particular race or cultural background.
  • You are a particular gender

There are many other situations. The following situations may be considered discrimination if you have been treated unfairly because; 

  • you have a short-term illness like coronavirus
  • you are providing care to someone 
  • you have previously had an illness
  • you have a disability

There are laws to protect people from discrimination because of a disability, because they have parental or carer responsibilities, or because of their race. 

Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse action against a person who is an employee or prospective employee because of the following attributes of the person including but not limited to:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • physical or mental disability 



Victimisation is when someone subjects, or threatens to subject, another person to some form of detriment or harm, because they have:

  • made a complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment;
  • provided evidence, information or documents in relation to a complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment;
  • refused to do something that would make them contravene anti-discrimination laws;
  • made an allegation that another person has acted unlawfully under anti-discrimination laws.

Victimisation is prohibited under both Federal and State law.

If you think you have been treated unfairly, VALS may be able to assist, call 
1800 064 865.

To determine eligibility VALS will:

  • enquire as to the Aboriginality of the client;
  • enquire as to perceived or actual conflict of interest;
  • enquire as to compliance with the Means Test;
  • consider the merit of the client’s matter.

The first time someone uses VALS they must provide proof of their Aboriginality using the Confirmation of Aboriginality Form. This form must be signed and sealed by the Officer Bearers of a recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation.

VALS must not decline to provide assistance to an eligible person, group or body on the grounds that the other party to the matter is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In circumstances where the relationship between the parties to a case would result in a conflict of interest, that conflict must be managed in accordance with the Victorian Legal Practice requirements and Policy Direction 9 – “Managing Conflicts of Interest” – of the Attorney-General’s Department Policy Directions for the Delivery of Legal Aid Services to Indigenous Australians (2008).

VALS will not act if a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest may be an ‘actual’ conflict of interest or a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest. A conflict of interest can involve:

  • Clients who have different interests, such as VALS may have advised or acted for person “A” (old client) who has an interest that conflicts with person “B” (intended new client).
  • Clients and VALS, such as a VALS staff member or Board Member has an interest that conflicts with an intended new client. Conflicts involving client-provider relationships are:
    •  An owner, director, manager, employee, contractor or agent of VALS and/or;
    • An employee of the Department; and/or
    • A close relative (spouse, de facto, parent, sibling or child) of any of the above.

VALS provides assistance on a first in best dressed basis (i.e. provide direct assistance to the party who approaches VALS first). VALS will refer the other party to another legal service provider or “brief out” the client to a private lawyer (subject to the client meeting the requirements for brief outs). Where appropriate, VALS may act for one client and provide assistance by brief out to the other.

Means Test
Where a person seeks casework assistance, VALS must ensure that applicants satisfy the Means Testing provisions of the Policy Directions.

VALS must ensure that all applicants for legal casework assistance satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Under 18 years of age;
  • Main source of income comes from Community Development Employment Projects; (CDEP) participant wages or Centrelink (or equivalent) benefits; or
  • Gross household income is under $52,000 per annum.

Note: Household income includes the income of your partner, spouse, relative including an adult child who you live with.

The Means Test will be administered in two parts:

Part A: Requires the completion of a small number of questions relating to the applicant’s personal circumstances and income level.

Part B: Is required where applicants do not satisfy the criteria in Part A. It requires more detail about the applicant’s income, assets, employment status and number of dependents.

Merit Test
Discretion will be used to determine if a particular case has merit.