Ben Hammond enjoys a beer at the Coolum Surf Club wearing a singlet.
Ben Hammond enjoys a beer at the Coolum Surf Club wearing a singlet. Warren Lynam

Surf club changes dress code over sexism complaints

CLUBS that serve women in singlets but refuse men for the same choice of clothing could be taken to court for discrimination, according to Queensland's union for licensed community clubs.

It's why the Coolum Surf Club relaxed its dress code to allow singlets and hats to be worn by everyone inside the premises at all times.

Surf club general manager Mal Wright said an email from Clubs Queensland advising clubs to revisit their dress codes to avoid discrimination complaints was sent out more than a week ago.

The previous dress policy meant the surf club would not serve men in singlets.

Mr Wright said the surf club had received multiple complaints from patrons in the past claiming its dress code was "sexist" and thousands of potential patrons had walked away from the popular venue.

What do you think of changes to Coolum Surf Club's dress code?

This poll ended on 17 April 2018.

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Long overdue, it was sexist


Wear what you want, as long as you look respectable


Political correctness gone crazy


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

He supported the surf club's dress policy change and said it was more suited to the Queensland lifestyle.

"About 60 per cent of our patrons are from overseas or interstate, they spend the day at the beach in their hats and singlets and then come to club and get quite upset and often abusive when refused service," Mr Wright said.

"We still have our standards. We won't allow people to come in wearing ripped or dirty singlets or clothes with offensive words on them."

In a statement to the Sunshine Coast Daily a Clubs Queensland spokesman confirmed an email was sent out to its members but said discrimination laws were "complex" and the advice included was only the "basic position" of the law and "general guidance".

"With respect to whether a particular dress code is actually unlawful, it would depend on the terms of the dress code and the circumstances of each individual case," he said.

"Clubs were not instructed to change their dress codes, however, were encouraged to review their individual dress codes in light of changing societal norms."

However, a newsletter published on the Clubs Queensland website said the dress code (across Queensland clubs) in its present form had "never been an issue", however, since the enactment of the SDA (Sex Discrimination Act 1984) its enforcement had "always been unlawful".

The newsletter said it was lawful for clubs to set dress standards for people seeking to enter their facilities but imposing differing standards for men and women was not.

Despite this, no action had ever been taken against a club, the newsletter stated.