Disability legislation (Disability Discrimination Act (1992))

As a manager, make sure you give all your staff the same access to opportunities, regardless of any disability.

The Disability Discrimination Act (1992)

The Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (the DDA) protects everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. Disability discrimination, direct and indirect, occurs when people with disability get treated less favourably than people without disability.

Direct discrimination: turning down a person for a job simply because of a disability.

Indirect discrimination: a wheelchair user doesn't apply for a promotion because the new office is not on the ground floor and not accessible by lift.

In the DDA, the term disability refers to:

  • physical disability
  • intellectual disability
  • psychiatric disability
  • sensory disability
  • neurological disability
  • learning disability
  • physical disfigurement or
  • the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms.

The DDA protects people against discrimination against because they:

  • have an assistant, interpreter or reader with them
  • have a trained support animal (guide or hearing dog) with them or
  • use equipment or an aid, such as a wheelchair, hearing aid or assistive device.

On employment, the DDA forbids discrimination against people with disability throughout all stages of the employment including:

  • recruitment - advertising, interviewing and selecting the person for the job
  • terms and conditions of employment - pay rates, work hours, job design and leave entitlements
  • promotion, transfer, training or other benefits associated with employment and
  • termination of employment, demotion or retrenchment.

Harassment in the form of insults or humiliating jokes about a person's disability is also unlawful and considered a form of discrimination.

As well as the Federal Disability Act, each state and territory anti-discrimination act outlaws discrimination based on disability. The Fair Work Act 2009 also outlaws any adverse action on a discriminatory ground including disability, and extends to carer responsibilities.