Workers targeted by sexual harassment and sex discrimination continue to face access to justice barriers, including the significant cost of legal advice. Compounding this issue is the risk of a legal costs order – often issued in an unsuccessful matter, that requires an applicant to pay for the other party’s legal fees. Even where a person targeted has a strong claim, no proceeding has a guarantee of success, and the risk of costs forms a major barrier to justice for people who are financially disadvantaged, and less able to bear the risk.

On 15 November 2023 the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC introduced the Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (Costs Protection) Bill 2023 to Parliament, and it was then referred to a Senate Committee for consideration. The laws proposed in the Bill shift the cost risk to respondents and make discrimination claims a much more viable option for many of our clients. On 9 February 2024 the Senate Committee recommended that the Senate pass the bill subject to clarification of what “unreasonable acts or omissions” may result in an applicant’s liability for costs.

Circle Green is pleased to see these important reforms progressing, as we have long been advocates for an Equal Access costs model for all discrimination matters.

See below for some of our previous advocacy work on this issue:


*The Power to Prevent Coalition is a group of more than 85 diverse community organisations, unions, academics, peak bodies, health professionals, lawyers, and victim-survivors. The Coalition sees the effects of discrimination and sexual harassment on people every day and the barriers they face in seeking justice.