Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times

Edited by:
ISBN (print): 9781921666766
ISBN (online): 9781921666773
Publication date: September 2010
Imprint: ANU Press

This collection of essays arose from a conference held to mark the silver anniversary of the Australian Sex Discrimination Act (1984). The collection has two aims: first; to honour the contributions of both the spirited individuals who valiantly fought for the enactment of the legislation against the odds, and those who championed the new law once it was passed; secondly, to present a stock-take of the Act within the changed socio-political environment of the 21st century.

The contributors present clear-eyed appraisals of the legislation, in addition to considering new forms of legal regulation, such as Equality Act, and the significance of a Human Rights Act. The introduction of a proactive model, which would impose positive duties on organisations, is explored as an alternative to the existing individual complaint-based model of legislation. The contributors also pay attention to the international human rights framework, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The essays are illuminated by recourse to a rich vein of historical and contemporary literature. Regard is also paid to the comparative experience of other jurisdictions, particularly the UK and Canada.


In reviewing Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times for the Australian Feminist Law Journal (Vol. 34, issue 1, June 2011), Diane Kirkby gives an insightful and relevant history  to the Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984, giving a necessary context to the publication of the book. She goes on to praise Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times as “a valuable and excellent collection…contextualising the issues and identifying challenges for the future”.

(Kirkby, Diane. “Sex Discrimination, Workplace Opportunities and Law’s Transformative Promise.” Review of Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times, edited by Margaret Thornton. Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol 34, issue 1, June 2011.)