The head of WA's ethnic community has called on the State Government to guarantee the Equal Opportunity Commission's future amid fears it could be scrapped after a review.
The Government yesterday confirmed terms of reference had been drawn up for the review, which will examine the role and structure of the commission and whether it is effective and efficient.
The commission's future has been under a cloud since Attorney-General Michael Mischin replaced retiring commissioner Yvonne Henderson with an acting commissioner in June and asked Public Sector Commissioner Mal Wauchope to do the review.
Its operations were scaled back in August when the Government abolished its substantive equality unit - set up by former premier Geoff Gallop to help minorities get equal access to public services and employment - to save $500,000 a year.
Its argument, that individual government bodies would ensure substantive equality, has stoked fears that responsibility for upholding the Equal Opportunity Act would also be thrown on to departments at the expense of the commission. It is understood that some in the Government believe the commission's jurisdiction overlaps that of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which investigates complaints of race, age and sex discrimination.
Yesterday, acting Attorney-General John Day said the Government was committed to the Equal Opportunity Act but would not guarantee the commission would continue, saying it was too early to speculate on recommendations.
WA Ethnic Communities Council president Zarrin Siddiqui said Deputy Premier Kim Hames gave the clear impression to a multicultural interests forum before last year's State election that the substantive equality unit would continue.
Dr Siddiqui said she did not want the commission to be scrapped.
Shadow multicultural affairs minister Margaret Quirk said the Government was looking for savings to address budget woes. The commission's total appropriations for 2013-14 were $4 million.
Ms Henderson said the WA commission received 10 times as many complaints as the Sydney-based Federal body received from WA.