Apply for an exemption

VCAT can grant temporary exemptions from the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in appropriate circumstances. While the exemption is in place, the otherwise discriminatory conduct is not against the law.

VCAT can grant, renew or revoke an exemption under section 90 of the Act. In making a decision, the VCAT member considers:

  • whether the proposed exemption is unnecessary because an exception or exemption already applies, or the conduct would not amount to discrimination, including where the conduct is a special measure under section 12 of the Act.
  • whether the proposed exemption is a reasonable limitation on the rights to equality set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, and
  • all relevant circumstances of the case.

Learn more about exemptions and revoking exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Exemption factsheet.

Before you apply

A person can also make an application on behalf of a group of people. This is called a ‘representative application’. If you are considering making this type of application, you may discuss the issue with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or consider obtaining independent legal advice.

You must also provide an affidavit in support of your application detailing the reasons you are seeking an exemption. You can also provide any material that you feel will support your application, such as copies of previous exemptions and any other material relevant to your application. You must provide a copy of your application to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. 

Need help with your application?

VCAT cannot give you legal advice. Seek legal help if you are unsure about your legal options. The following services may be able to help you:

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission.

Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. For more about applying for confidentiality.

Legislation that applies to this type of case

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear applications for exemptions from the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

  • We send you a notice acknowledging your application. We may also ask you to provide further information in writing. Your application may also be listed for a directions hearing to discuss it and decide the next steps. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) may intervene and be joined as a party in a case that involves issues of equal opportunity. Learn more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • At the hearing, VCAT will consider your application. We give you an opportunity to provide further information regarding the application. Learn more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • The hearing gives the applicant, other interested people and if applicable the VEOHRC a chance to present evidence and information about the application. Learn about what happens on final hearing day.

  • VCAT aims to make a decision in cases as early as possible. If the member does not give a decision at the final hearing, we try to provide it within six weeks of the hearing. If the exemption is granted VCAT will publish a notice of exemption in the Government Gazette. The exemption takes effect on and from the date of publication. Exemptions apply for a period set by VCAT, which cannot be longer than five years. During the exemption period, the conduct described in the exemption will not be against the law. VCAT may grant an interim exemption if

    • a previous exemption is due to expire or
    • there is a need for an interim exemption while the application is being considered.

    Applicants must complete an Application for Order form, together with an affidavit outlining current circumstances together with details of any previous exemptions. Learn about what to expect after your hearing.