'Media must portray Qld's diversity'

THE media's portrayal of minority groups and equal access to basic human rights are at the forefront of discrimination concerns in regional Queensland.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Annual Report, released this week, showed Queenslanders were generally affected by the same forms of discrimination at a similar rate, with the exception of vilification through social media.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Discrimination Act in Queensland.

The milestone sparked a tour of round-table talks across regional Queensland where the Commission had an insight into discrimination concerns.

Reflecting on the latest annual results and feedback from the tour, Anti-Discrimination Deputy Commissioner Neroli Holmes revealed media had been a major talking point.

"Communities are concerned only negative stories are told about different groups," she said. "They were interested in making sure people who are in the media portray and represent the diversification in their communities."

But Mrs Holmes conceded the Commission did not have as much impact and influence on the media as it would like to.

The commission has also identified regional and rural Queensland's concerns with equal access to services, like education and health.

"For a big state like Queensland, how to make sure we are getting those services, which are human rights, is important," she said.

The demand for anti-discrimination training has sky-rocketed in Central Queensland purely due to the mining boom.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission's annual report showed increased activity in the resource-rich region.

Ms Holmes said mining companies had taken a strong interest in educating their employees about workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.

"They would like to have training so they can eliminate the negative aspects that come in a workplace where people are not aware of discrimination and sexual harassment," she said. "We occasionally get complaints from mines so we are hopeful that the training eliminates that and makes people aware of their rights."

As the commission looks towards the next 20 years, a focus is on discrimination and harassment within small businesses.

Ms Holmes said a lot of harassment and discrimination complaints stemmed from small businesses, where training is a rarity.

Despite years of eduction about sexual harassment and what is and is not acceptable in the work environments, this form of harassment still prevails.

"Unfortunatly people have no awareness of it or maybe not as much as we thought it would," she said.

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