Workplace discrimination cuts deep across Australia: report

Many Australians feel they've been treated unfairly in the workplace.
Many Australians feel they've been treated unfairly in the workplace.

Nearly a million Australians feel their boss has discriminated against them over recent years, a new University of Melbourne study has found.

The representative survey of Australian households has revealed 854,000 workers feel discriminated against by their employer because of their gender, age, ethnicity, religion or parenting responsibilities.

Researcher Associate Professor Roger Wilkins said approximately 480,000 Australian workers suspected their employer had discriminated against them in the past two years because of their age, while 270,000 workers felt they had been discriminated against on the basis of their gender.

"Many Australians feel they've been treated unfairly in the workplace," he said.

"Age discrimination is the most common experience, which perhaps shouldn't be surprising given Australia's ageing population."

Age discrimination was also widely reported among job seekers, with 300,000 older Australians feeling unfairly judged when applying for a position.

The findings are based on the experiences of roughly 13,000 respondents to the HILDA longitudinal survey of Australian households.

The report, Perceived Job Discrimination in Australia, will be published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research.

Perceived discrimination is higher among women, indigenous Australian, immigrants (especially those from non-Asian, non-English speaking countries), and followers of non-Christian religions.

However, this seems to be because they reside in other highly discriminated against categorises (age, education, income, etc) and not because of their ethnic or religious identity.

Women with young children are more likely to report discrimination in the workplace, but not when applying for jobs.

Both men and women are more likely to believe they have been discriminated against in their job if more than 70 per cent of employees in their industry are of the opposite sex.