What is Disability Discrimination?

Disability discrimination happens when people with disability are treated less favourably than people without a disability.

Disability discrimination also occurs when people are treated less fairly because they are relatives, friends, carers, co-workers or associates of a person with a disability.

Disability discrimination can be direct or indirect.

Objectives of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The objects of this Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) are:

(a) to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of disability in the areas of:

(i) work, accommodation, education, access to premises, clubs and sport; and
(ii) the provision of goods, facilities, services and land; and
(iii) existing laws; and
(iv) the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; and

(b) to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as the rest of the community; and

(c) to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community.

What is Disability?

The definition of “disability” in the DDA is quite wide and it includes people that have a disability, as well as people who may not know or think that they have a disability. The DDA includes the following under the definition:

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 coverPhysical disability
  • Intellectual disability
  • Psychiatric disability
  • Sensory disability
  • Neurological disability
  • Learning disability
  • Physical disfigurement
  • The presence in the body of disease-causing organisms.

The reason why it includes such a wide and open definition is to ensure that the DDA applies to any person with a disability. Which might include those that were born with their disability or those that acquire a disability during their lives.

While some people are born with a disability, many people acquire a disability throughout their lives. Some people have disabilities that are obvious, yet many people have disabilities that are not visible.

Who Does it Protect?

The DDA protects against discrimination on the basis of a disability which people might have now, have had in the past, may have in the future or are believed to have.

The DDA also protects against discrimination against a person’s assistant, interpreter or reader, trained assistance animal, guide or hearing dog and those using equipment or an aid, such as a wheelchair or a hearing aid.

Applicable Sections for Disability Access

  • Section 5 Direct disability discrimination
  • Section 6 Indirect disability discrimination
  • Section 7 Discrimination in relation to associates
  • Section 8 Discrimination in relation to carers, assistants, assistance animals and disability aids
  • Section 9 Carer, assistant, assistance animal and disability aid definitions
  • Section 22 Education
  • Section 23 Access to premises
  • Section 24 Goods, services and facilities
  • Section 25 Accommodation
  • Section 26 Land
  • Section 27 Clubs and incorporated associations
  • Section 28 Sport
  • Section 29 Administration of Commonwealth laws and programs
  • Section 29A Unjustifiable hardship

The functioning of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is supplemented by a series of Disability Standards which provide more detail on rights and responsibilities about equal access and opportunity for people with a disability. These include the following Disability Standards:

A copy of the DDA can be downloaded from AustLII.

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