International medical graduates: Discrimination finding

Wang v Australian Capital Territory [2015] ACAT 5 was a decision on 16 January 2015 of the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal, following a hearing on 25 November 2014.

The applicant Qinglin Wang asserted (and the Tribunal found) that he was the subject of unlawful discrimination, arising from the manner in which his application was assessed for an internship position during 2014 at Canberra Hospital.

The ACT had in place a policy to assist in selection of applications from medical graduates for internships with eight categories based on place of university graduation. Priority was given to category 1,  Australian National University graduates. The applicant was placed in category 8, internationally trained graduates. He was not offered an internship as there were only enough places for category 1 and some category 2 graduates.

The Tribunal at [113] – [115] did not accept a non-binding view of Sackville J in another matter that the policy did not constitute racial discrimination as the category focused on place of training rather than race. (For example an Australian citizen trained in Singapore would be category 8.)  It would not be surprising to see the Tribunal’s finding, contrary to the earlier remarks of Sackville J, as the subject of an appeal.

If the Tribunal’s finding is correct, there remains a need for a further hearing to determine whether the discrimination was reasonable in the circumstances, as provided for in section 8 of the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT).

Before that hearing, the respondent applied for an order to prevent the Tribunal member from further hearing the complaint of discrimination, which was refused: see Australian Capital Territory v ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal [2015] ACTSC 370.

With thanks to Julie Lambert of Medical Observer newspaper and Tessa Hoffman of Australian Doctor newspaper, for drawing my attention to these decisions.

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