About disability laws in Australia
Australia’s disability laws and anti-discrimination laws protect the rights of your child with disability. They also ensure that you and your child get the support and services you need.
You don’t need to be a legal expert when you have a child with disability, but it does help to have a general understanding of some of the relevant laws.
Australian Government disability laws
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability. It includes a very long list of possible conditions, including those that a person has now, has had in the past, might have in the future, or is believed to have. It also includes some conditions that you might not think of as disability.
Under the Act, disability includes:
- intellectual disability
- physical disability
- mental illness
- diseases or illnesses
- acquired brain injury
- developmental disability
- learning difficulties and disorders
- physical disfigurement.
This Act also upholds and protects the equality of people with disability. It makes discrimination against adults or children with disability unlawful in certain situations, particularly in employment and education.
There are national standards and guidelines that go with the Disability Discrimination Act. Organisations must meet these standards to avoid discrimination in education, employment and disability services.
Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 2009
This Act updates several aspects of the 1992 Disability Discrimination Act. For example, it clarifies the definition of disability and what it means to discriminate against someone because they have an assistance animal or disability aid.
Disability Services Act 1986
This Act is a detailed guide to how Australian Government support and services are funded and provided for people with disability. Under this Act, the Australian Government is largely responsible for employment services. The states and territories focus on accommodation and other support services.
Social Security Act 1991
This Act lists the conditions for getting support and services from the Australian Government, including the Disability Support Pension (DSP), Child Disability Assistance Payment, Carer Supplement and Health Care Card.
National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013
This Act sets up the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS is a national scheme that funds reasonable and necessary support to help people with disability reach goals throughout life. It also supports carers of people with disability.
The Australian Government has signed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. This means all Australian national and state and territory laws must maintain these rights.
State and territory disability laws
State and territories have disability laws. Many of these laws outline state and territory responsibilities for services:
- Australian Capital Territory: Disability Services Act 1991
- New South Wales: Disability Inclusion Act 2014
- Northern Territory: Disability Services Act 2012
- Queensland: Disability Services Act 2006
- South Australia: Disability Services Act 1993
- Tasmania: Disability Services Act 2011
- Victoria: Disability Services Act 2006
- Western Australia: Disability Services Act 1993.
The Australian states and territories also have anti-discrimination laws and bodies that deal with complaints about discrimination.