What is the Disability Discrimination Act?

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) says that it is against the law to discriminate against someone in ‘public life’ because they have a disability. ‘Public life’ means things everybody should have the right to access. These include:

  • Employment (jobs)
  • Access to public places (like parks and libraries)
  • Education (like school)
  • Programs run by the Australian government
  • Being able to buy things, including services

The DDA says that if someone can’t access something like this, a change needs to be made. This change is called a ‘reasonable adjustment’.  But the change doesn’t have to be made if it would be an ‘unjustifiable hardship’.

An unjustifiable hardship is when the change would cost too much money, or be too difficult. This part of the law is something that a lot of people argue about. Sometimes a court needs to decide what costs too much money and what is too hard.

The DDA also says that it is against the law to discriminate against someone because they need some types of help.  This help might be a carer or support worker, a piece of equipment or an assistance animal (like a guide dog).

The DDA also lets the government make documents called ‘Standards’.  These Standards explain what should be done so people with disabilities can access things.  Some of these Standards include:

If a company or person does what the Standards say, they are not breaking the discrimination law.

How can I use the DDA to help me fix a problem?

If you have been treated differently in public life because you have a disability you can complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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