What Australian and International law say about disability

The law and guidelines

Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) aims to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against people with a disability in a number of areas of life, including the provision of goods, services and facilities; education; access to premises; and work, amongst many others. Employment is covered in detail in section 15-21 of the Act.

The DDA mandates that it is unlawful for an employer or a person acting on behalf of the employer to discriminate against a person on the ground of the other person’s disability:

  • In the arrangements made for the purpose of determining who should be offered employment
  • In determining who should be offered employment
  • In the terms or conditions on which employment is offered
  • In the terms or conditions of employment that the employer affords the employee
  • By denying the employee access, or limiting the employee’s access, to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits associated with employment;
  • By dismissing the employee; or
  • By subjecting the employee to any other detriment..

Employment agencies are covered in Section 21. It is unlawful for an employment agency to discriminate against a person on the ground of the person’s disability by refusing to provide the person with any of its services; the terms or conditions on which it offers any of its services; or in the manner in which it provides the person with any of its services.

The Act does provide exceptions regarding inherent requirements (such as:

  • Whether the person with disability is able to complete the full requirements of the role after adjustments have been made.
  • Unjustifiable hardship (for example where the cost of making a reasonable adjustment to accommodate a person with disability is too cost prohibitive).

Go to DDA   DDA Brief Guide


National Disability Strategy 2021-2031

The National Disability Strategy is a ten year plan aimed at improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers.

The Strategy, developed collaboratively between Commonwealth, State and Territory and Local Governments, has seven Outcome Areas that people with disability said need to improve. The Outcome Areas are:

  • Employment and Financial Security
  • Inclusive Homes and Communities
  • Safety, Rights and Justice
  • Personal and Community Support
  • Education and Learning
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Community Attitudes.
Go to Strategy Hub


United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD)

In 2008, Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol. The UNCRPD is a powerful statement of what Australia and the world believe are the fundamental rights of people who have disabilities.

Article 27 of the UNCRPD focuses exclusively on work and employment and says, “States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. ”