View Dyslexie font  |  View high contrast
Subscribe to the ADCET newsletter

Disability Discrimination Act 

A range of federal and state legislation providing equitable treatment for people with disability has implications for education and training organisations. A core piece of legislature is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (Cth), which imposes legal obligations not to discriminate against people with disability.

Many individuals, including students, are not aware that that their condition, illness or injury may be considered a disability under anti-discrimination legislation. The DDA uses a very broad definition of disability encompassing physical, sensory, mental and intellectual disability; it defines 'disability', in relation to a person, as1:

  • 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 judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour

and 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.

Discrimination within the Act relates to less favourable treatment or consequences and covers direct and indirect discrimination.

The DDA also protects people who are associates of a person with a disability and are also protected from discrimination – so if you are discriminated against because you are a carer or friend, parent or work colleague or an advocate of a person with a disability you are also protected under the Discrimination Act.

Related international disability protections against discrimination are expressed through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities. You can find further information on the UNCRPD here.

Additional resources on relevant legislation and standards are outlined below.

Further Resources


    Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (Aust.). Retrieved from

    Updated 23/11/2022