Are educational institutions required to provide personal care to students?
The Disability Standards for Education clearly identifies the role of educational providers in providing personal care to students. Within Section 7.2 it states1
- The education provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that the student is able to use support services used by the students of the institution in general on the same basis as a student without a disability, and without experiencing discrimination.
- If a specialised support service is necessary for the student to be able to participate in the activities for which he or she is enrolled, and is of a kind that is provided by the education provider, the provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that the student has access to the service (but may arrange for it to be provided by another person or agency).
- If a specialised support service is necessary for the student to be able to participate in the activities for which he or she is enrolled, and is of a kind that is not provided by the provider, the provider must take reasonable steps to facilitate the provision of the service to the student by another person or agency.
The Australian Human Rights Commission supports this by stating that post-secondary education providers do not have to provide personal care services for students; an education provider must provide non-discriminatory access to the education and other services they provide but are not obliged by the DDA to expand their services to students into areas such as this. 2
Therefore providers, unless specifically set up to provide such care, are not bound to provide the kind of care that would be required by the student in their everyday life. For example, if a student needs a carer for toileting, it is their responsibility to organise this as it is a matter of everyday care, not something specifically required to enable access to higher education.
However, the facilitation of access of the carer to accompany the student would be the post-secondary provider’s responsibility. Items such as an ID card and an access card for the carer might be appropriate. Adjustments to timetables/exams, for example, might be needed to enable the student to receive specialist care. Perhaps storage of special equipment needed by the student during their time at their institution and a private space to use it would also be required.
1 Commonwealth of Australia (2006). Disability Standards for Education 2005 plus Guidance Notes. Accessed on 19 November 2014. Retrieved from http://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/disability_standards_for_education_2005_plus_guidance_notes.pdf
2 Australian Human Rights Commission 2007. Frequently asked questions: Education. Accessed on 19 November 2014. Retrieved from https://www.humanrights.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions-education#personal