Disability Discrimination Act 1992

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Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Australian Coat of Arms.png
Parliament of Australia
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Date commenced 1992

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.

At the time of the enactment of the DDA (1992), a variety of anti-discrimination acts for people with disabilities already existed in the different state legislatures, some dating back to the early 1980s. All States and Territories except Tasmania and the Northern Territory had anti-discrimination laws in place, and these two places had legislation under consideration. There were three reasons given for enacting a federal law:

  • To standardise the scope of rights offered around the country
  • To implement the Australian Government’s obligations as a signatory to international declarations on the rights of people with disabilities.
  • To enable regulation of discriminatory practices of Commonwealth authorities.

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. The complaint process has attracted considerable critique. [1]

A Productivity Commission enquiry was initiated by the Australian government to evaluate the effectiveness of the act, and published its findings in 2004. The Commission found that while there is still room for improvement, particularly in reducing discrimination in employment, overall the DDA has been reasonably effective. Specifically, the Commission found that people with a disability were less likely to finish school, to have a TAFE or university qualification and to be employed. They are more likely to have a below average income, be on a pension, live in public housing and in prison. The average personal income for people with a disability is 44 per cent of the income of other Australians.

Objectives of the DDA[edit]

"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."

Significant Cases[edit]

Maguire v. SOCOG (2000)[edit]

This case, brought by Bruce Maguire, was the first of its kind known within the Westminster legal system, where a judicial body was required to rule on the rights of accessibility in respect of websites.[citation needed] The case centred on the website of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and the ability of those with various impairments in respect to sight being unable to efficiently utilise the website in comparison to an able-bodied person.

In his decision, the Honourable W. J. Carter QC for the Commission found that SOCOG had discriminated against the complainant in contravention of Sect. 24 of the Disability Discrimination act, "in that the web site does not include ALT text on all images and image maps links, the Index to Sports cannot be accessed from the Schedule page and the Results Tables provided during the Games on the web site will remain inaccessible." The Commission's decision also struck out claims by SOCOG that modifying the site to meet the requirements would cause unjustifiable hardship and that such hardship cannot be used to avoid liability for breaching Sect. 24 of the act. SOCOG was furthered ordered to render the website accessible by 15 September 2000.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harpur, Paul (21 Apr 2015). "Naming, blaming and claiming ablism: the lived experiences of lawyers and advocates with disabilities". Disability and Society (Routledge) 29 (8): 1234–47. doi:10.1080/09687599.2014.923749. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 

External links[edit]