Discrimination: Know Your Rights!

This site has been created by drug users, for drug users. We deserve the same human rights as anyone else, and more importantly we DO have a right to have our say and speak up if we experience discrimination.

The issue of discrimination is an important issue for people who inject and use illicit drugs. It can be really obvious in some cases, or subtile and hard to argue against (harder to prove) at other times.  The level of discrimination we experience can be influenced by many factors (i.e. how many people know about our current or past injecting drug use, or maybe having hepatitis C ) and impacts our lives in many ways; often making us feel like we are not a part of ‘normal’ society.

People who inject drugs (PWID) and people with hepatitis C (hep C) are frequently more discriminated against than other members of the general community, and are often unaware of where they can go to make complaints; or that they even have the right to make complaints.

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have been discriminated against or not; while It’s generally illegal to discriminate against someone who has (or is thought to have) hepatitis or HIV, it’s not so clear when it comes to injecting drug use and people on drug treatments.

In this section of the website you can access information on discrimination, stigma, and human rights. You can get information on who to contact if you think you have the grounds to make a complaint, and you can access information on ‘tips for writing complaints and resolving conflicts’ which may help if you are having problems with your service providers.

We have also created a very short feedback form where you can leave anonymous  information about examples of discrimination that have happened to you. This information will be used by AIVL in a larger campaign that will look at ways to try and change negative attitudes towards drug users. If you believe you have experienced discrimination we would strongly encourage you to leave your feedback here and/or scroll further down to access more links and information.


You can access relevant discrimination documents and website links below:

The document below provides an outline of what discrimination and stigma mean, and looks at different types of discrimination. It provides possible examples of unlawful discrimination and also  describes how discrimination and stigma differ from each other. 

‘What are human rights’ is a brief document sourced from the Australian Human Rights Commission which provides details of fundamental human rights that you are entitled to.

In many circumstances it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because they have hep C and/or HIV; this kind of discrimination usually falls under ‘disability’ (or ‘impairment’) discrimination. Anti-discrimination (or ‘equal-opportunity’) laws differ in each State and Territory, in some States and Territories it is unlawful to discriminate against someone who has a drug dependency but this can be harder to prove than other forms of discrimination. The best thing you can do if you think you have been discriminated against is to contact your State and Territory anti-discrimination commission (contact details are provided below).

The document below provides information about making complaints to State and Territory anti-discrimination commissions and what you may be able to expect if you do make a complaint.

Where do I go to make a ‘formal’ discrimination complaint, or get more advice on making a complaint?

Below are links to anti-discrimination (or equal opportunity) websites in your State and Territory and the Australian Human Rights Commission which operates at a Federal level. We have provided direct links to the contact information for these commissions, but would encourage you to have a good look through the websites if you can; each site has lots of information you may find very helpful.

State Based Equal Opportunity Commissions

Below are links to relevant legal centers in your State or Territory, it is recommended that where possible you speak with these legal centers either before (or in conjunction with) consulting the above anti-discrimination commissions; they can help by advising you on whether you have the grounds to make a ‘formal’ complaint, assist with forms that may need completing, and can also provide you with other helpful information about making complaints.

State Based Community Legal Services

Other options you have available to you if you think you’ve experienced discrimination:

If you don’t wish to make a formal complaint or don’t have the grounds to make one, you can still utilise this website. There are State and Territory Drug User Organisations (DUOs) who may be able to assist you with questions, problems, and referrals you might need that are specific to your situation. Some of our DUOs also provide services where you can get information and advice on opioid pharmacotherapies (these are located next to the relevant DUOs below).

State & Territory Drug User Organisations

The document below ‘Tips for writing complaints, and resolving conflicts’ contains some key strategies to reduce conflict and minimise the chance of negative results with the service or person your dealing with if you think you have experienced discrimination.

AIVL is also collecting information on drug users’ experiences of stigma and discrimination (how drug users are discriminated against and who is discriminating against them). In the survey below you can leave anonymous information about your experiences – while none of the details you leave with us will be followed up, nor can we identify names or places, we can get a better idea of the types of services that are discriminating against people and how this has made you feel.  

If you have any questions about this website, or the information it contains please feel free to contact info@aivl.org.au


Disclaimer:  The information in this site is for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor should it be used as a substitute for professional advice on any particular matter. Visitors should not act on any material or information contained in the site without obtaining professional advice relevant to their  individual experience, especially in regards to making ‘formal’ discrimination complaints; where it is recommended that people contact relevant State and Territory anti-discrimination (or equal-rights) commissions for advice first. To see the full disclaimer please click here