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Disability Discrimination Act & Disability Standards for Education

Disability Discrimination Act

The federal Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (DDA) makes it illegal to harass or discriminate against a person with disability or their associate, on the basis of disability, in the areas of:

  • education
  • employment
  • accommodation
  • goods and service provision
  • premises
  • transport
  • access to Commonwealth laws and programs

Disability discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly because of their disability. The discrimination can be disadvantage based on either:

  • being treated in the same ‘blanket’ way as those without a disability, ie without any reasonable consideration or accommodation of their disability; or
  • being treated unfairly in a way that is different to others without a disability.

The DDA defines disability broadly, including:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions or
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body or
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness or
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness or
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body or
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction or
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour

The definition also includes a disability that:

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists; or
  • may exist in the future; or
  • is imputed to a person.

The DDA allows a person who feels discriminated against to raise a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission. The Commission’s role is to investigate the complaint and assist both parties to resolve the issues of complaint through a formal conciliation process.

Disability Standards for Education

The Disability Standards for Education were introduced in 2005 to clarify the obligations of education and training service providers, and the rights of people with disability under the DDA. This includes the right to access and participate in education on an equal basis as students without disability and receive reasonable adjustments to facilitate a student’s participation.