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Australian Disability Discrimination Act Information

Synopsis: Information on The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 which aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in Australia.(1)

Author: Disabled World Contact: www.disabled-world.com

Published: 2019-02-14

Main Digest

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of countries have passed laws aimed at reducing discrimination against people with disabilities.


The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) was an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 to promote the rights of people with disabilities in certain areas such as housing, education and provision of goods and services. It shares a common philosophy with other disability discrimination acts around the world that have emerged in the late 20th and early 21st century, as well as earlier civil rights legislation designed to prevent racial discrimination and sex discrimination.

These laws have begun to appear as the notion of civil rights has become more influential globally, and follow other forms of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination and sexism which began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.

The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes disability discrimination unlawful and aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in Australia.

Basically the Act Provides For:

  • A stronger whole-of-government, whole-of-community response to the rights and needs of people with a disability.

  • A framework for the provision of high quality services and supports for people with a disability.

  • The Australian Disability Discrimination Act protects individuals across Australia from direct and indirect discrimination in many parts of public life, such as employment, education and access to premises.

  • The Act makes harassment on the basis of disability against the law. It also protects friends, relatives and others from discrimination because of their connection to someone with a disability.

  • For instance Section 23 of the Australian Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability in providing access to or use of premises that the public can enter or use.

  • Building access issues also arise under other DDA provisions including in relation to employment, access to services, and accommodation.

  • Section 25 of the DDA makes it unlawful to discriminate in provision of accommodation on the grounds of disability of a person or his or her associates.

Objectives of the DDA Australia

"To eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of disability in the areas of: work, accommodation, education, access to premises, clubs and sport; and the provision of goods, facilities, services and land; and existing laws; and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; and 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 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."

The Disability Rights Now report identifies a number of human rights issues for people with a disability in Australia, including the:

  • Lack of legislative protection of human rights;

  • Limitations of equality and non-discrimination laws;

  • Inability to live independently and be included in the community;

  • lack of protection from exploitation, violence and abuse;

  • Difficulties accessing education and employment;

  • Unavailability of health services and support;

  • Inadequate standard of living and high rates of poverty;

  • Disproportionate impacts on particular groups, such as women and children with disability; and

  • Lack of access to justice and disproportionately high rates of contact with the criminal justice system.

Under the Act, individuals can lodge complaints of discrimination and harassment with the Australian Human Rights Commission. Complaints made under the DDA are made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (previously known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, HREOC), which also handles complaints relating to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Age Discrimination Act 2004 and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.

Facts Regarding the Australian Discrimination Act


In Australia, national and state laws cover equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination in the workplace. You're required by these laws to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. It's important that as an employer, you understand your rights and responsibilities under human rights and anti-discrimination law. By putting effective anti-discrimination and anti-harassment procedures in place in your business you can improve productivity and increase efficiency.

Over the past 30 years the Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments have introduced anti-discrimination law to help protect people from discrimination and harassment.

The following laws operate at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under them:

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992

  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

Commonwealth laws and the state/territory laws generally cover the same grounds and areas of discrimination. However, there are some 'gaps' in the protection that is offered between different states and territories and at a Commonwealth level. In addition, there are circumstances where only the Commonwealth law would apply or where only the state law would apply.

Since the early 1970s, there has been much legal activity in Australia both statewide and federally regarding discrimination and many different types. The Commonwealth as well as the territories and states in Australia have either introduced or tried to introduce some new form of discrimination legislature. They also review regularly the current aspects of discrimination to determine if there are any ways to improve on the discrimination laws of Australia. Australia currently has the following discrimination laws in force:

  • Federal Racial Discrimination Act of 1975

  • Federal Sex Discrimination Act of 1984

  • Federal Affirmative Action Act of 1986 (Equal Opportunity for Women)

  • Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act of 1986

  • Federal Disability Discrimination Act of 1992

  • Anti-Discrimination Act of 1977 (New South Wales)

  • Equal Opportunity Act of 1984 (Victoria)

  • Anti-Discrimination Act of 1991 (Queensland)

  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (South & Western Australia)

  • Discrimination Act of 1991 (Australian Capital Territory)





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