Phillipa Weeks Lecture in Labour Law - Labour law’s equivocal approach to age equality

Date & time

5.30–6.30pm Thursday 19 October 2017


Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University


A/Prof Therese MacDermott


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Nicole Harman

Part of the Annual Phillipa Weeks Lecture series

Therese Macdermott

There has been in place mechanisms for pursuing the principle of non-discrimination at work on the basis of age for some time within the Australian legislative framework. However the successful assertion of such rights has been uncommon, and it has not necessarily facilitated a significant realignment on attitudes to age generally. In fact, no age discrimination complaint made pursuant to the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) has been successfully litigated since the legislation was first introduced.

Is there an ambivalence about the concept of age equality, and a greater uncertainty about its “wrongness” when compared to other grounds? The legal and policy framework has also stubbornly maintained an adherence to the legitimacy of junior wages, as an exemption to the non-discrimination principle. This lecture addresses the limitations of the existing mechanisms, and then progresses to examining the type of legislative and other regulatory responses necessary in order to proactively facilitate age equality and respond to the dilemma of labour law’s equivocal approach.


  • A/Prof Therese MacDermott »

    Therese MacDermott is an Associate Professor at Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, where she has held an academic appointment since 2009. She commenced her academic career at the University of Sydney in 1992 where she remained until 2001. In the period 2001-2008, Therese pursued a professional career outside academia that included legal practice, training and professional development, appointment as a judicial member of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (NSW), and legal consulting in the Pacific, based in Vanuatu. Therese teaches Anti-Discrimination Law and Dispute Management and Resolution at Macquarie University and her particular expertise lies in the intersection of dispute resolution, labour law and anti-discrimination law. She is also a consultant with the law firm, People + Culture Strategies, which provides specialist advice, management consulting and leadership development services in labour and employment law.

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