Disability Discrimination Act 1992

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Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
Parliament of Australia
An Act relating to discrimination on the ground of disability
Citation Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
Enacted by House of Representatives
Enacted by Senate
Legislative history
Bill introduced in the House of Representatives Disability Discrimination Bill 1992
Introduced by Brian Howe
First reading 26 May 1992
Second reading 19 Aug 1992
Third reading 19 Aug 1992
Status: In force

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.

Complaints made under the DDA are made to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The complaint process has attracted considerable critique.[1][why?]


At the time of the enactment of the DDA, 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.

Productivity Commission[edit]

In 2004, the findings of the Productivity Commission's enquiry with regards to the DDA were published.[2] The Commission found that while there was still room for improvement, particularly in reducing discrimination in employment, overall the DDA had been reasonably effective.

In addition, 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.

Significant cases[edit]

Maguire v Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (2000)[edit]

This case, brought by Bruce Maguire, centred on the website of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and the inability of those with vision impairments to efficiently use the website in comparison to an able-bodied person.

In its decision, the Commission found that the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) had discriminated against the complainant in contravention of s24 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 established that such hardship cannot be used to avoid liability for breaching s24 of the Act. SOCOG was furthered ordered to render the website accessible by 15 September 2000.

See also[edit]

  • Disability discrimination act
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (United Kingdom)
  • Maguire v SOCOG 1999
  • For a long running critique of Australaian anti-discrimination laws see the work of Dr Paul Harpur
  • Paul Harpur and Nicolas Suzor, ‘The paradigm shift in realising the right to read: how ebook libraries are enabling in the university sector’ (2014) 29 Disability and Society 10, 1658-1671. Paul Harpur and Heather Douglas, ‘Disability and Domestic Violence: Protecting Survivors’ Human Rights’ (2014) 23 Griffith Law Review 3, 405-433. Mark Burdon and Paul Harpur, ‘Re-Conceptualising Privacy and Discrimination in an Age of Talent Analytics’ (2014) 37 University of New South Wales Law Journal, 2, 679-712. Paul Harpur and Ben French, ‘Is it Safer Without You? Analysing the Intersection between Work Health and Safety and Anti-Discrimination Laws’ (2014) 30 Journal of Health, Safety and Environment 1 167-184. Paul Harpur and Nic Suzor, ‘Copyright Protections and Disability Rights: Turning the Page to a New International Paradigm’ (2013) 36 University of New South Wales Law Journal 3, 33, 745-778. Paul Harpur, ‘The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Australian anti-discrimination laws: What Happened to the Legal Protections for People Using Guide or Assistance Dogs?’ (2010) 29 University of Tasmania Law Review 1, 49-77. Paul Harpur, 'Ensuring equality in education: How Australian laws are leaving students with print disabilities behind' (2010) 15 Media and Arts Law Review 1, 70-83.


External links[edit]