Discrimination for families
People with disability can experience discrimination when they are treated less favourably than people without disability in similar circumstances. It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their disability. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 prohibits discrimination against people with disability in employment, education, publicly available premises, in the provision of goods and services, accommodation, clubs and associations, and other contexts.
The social model of disability says ‘disability’ is the result of the interaction between people living with impairments and an environment filled with physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers. It therefore carries the implication that the environment must change to enable people living with impairments to participate in society on an equal basis with others.
Children and young people with disability often face discrimination. In the social model of disability, barriers and discrimination occur because of systems, attitudes, structures and institutions that are not inclusive or either directly or indirectly discriminate against people with disability. Children and young people with disability are often denied the right to inclusive education and to participate equally in mainstream settings as their peers without disability.
The post-school transition to further education and employment for young people with disability is often poor and they receive little tailored information or support. This discrimination and inequality can continue throughout people’s lives, with significantly poorer outcomes for people with disability in areas including higher education, employment, health and social participation.
Young people with disability experience significantly higher rates of unemployment than those without disability, due to a lack of reasonable adjustments and lower expectations by employers and, therefore, the need to rely on income support. Accessing and obtaining employment is typically characterised by disadvantage and exclusion.
CYDA’s work is to advocate systemically for the human rights of children and young people with disability and the promotion of equality and non-discrimination.
There is international and federal legislation to protect people with disability against discrimination, including:
For more information about discrimination and your rights, visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
Visit our Get help page to find out more information about the anti-discrimination authority in your state or territory and where you can make a complaint. There are also disability legal services where you can get free legal advice about disability discrimination.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of all people with disability. Australia signed this Convention in 2008.
Article 5 of the CRPD covers equality and non-discrimination, with obligations for signatories to the Convention including:
Reference: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) is Australia’s main source of legal protection of people with disability. The legislation is based on Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
All states and territories also have anti-discrimination legislation to prevent discrimination against people with disability:
A person with disability may experience discrimination when they are treated less favourably than a person without disability in the same circumstances or situation.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against because of their disability. For example, not allowing a child to enrol in the local school because of their disability.
Indirect discrimination can occur if a person denies or proposes not to make reasonable adjustments for a person with disability. For example, not having reasonable adjustments at work or school to perform or learn on the same basis as peers without disability.
Indirect discrimination can also occur when a person with disability is not able to comply with a requirement or condition, or when the requirement or condition has or is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging a person with disability. For example, when a traffic light without sound to cross disadvantages a vision-impaired pedestrian, or there is difficulty in accessing a public building that does not have a ramp for wheelchair users.
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part 1, 5 and 6, direct and indirect disability discrimination.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects a person with disability in the following areas:
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part two, Prohibition of disability discrimination.
Discrimination may not be against the law in some situations, such as when a situation imposes an unjustifiable hardship on another person. For example, declining the employment of a person with hearing impairment in a call centre responsible for taking phone calls. As taking phone calls is an inherent requirement of the job, the person cannot perform the job requirements.
State anti-discrimination legislation also has exceptions where discrimination is not against the law in specific circumstances.
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part one, 11 and Part two, 21A and 21B.
It does not cost anything to make a complaint about discrimination.
Discrimination for families
Discrimination for young people
Discrimination for the community
Legislation & acts
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
Legislation & acts
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability 2006
Research & reports
Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy
Equality capacity and disability in commonwealth laws
CRPD general discussion on the right to education for persons with disabilities
Willing to work: National inquiry into employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability
CRPD draft general comment on the right to inclusive education
Australia's draft report to the UN committee on the rights of the child
Legislation & acts
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Stronger outcomes for families
Queensland Human Rights Bill 2018
Aussie schoolkids with disability excluded segregated bullied and robbed of education