Midlas provides an advocacy services to people with disabilities, their family members, and carers. We provide support across a range of services, whether that is helping people to access to the NDIS, reviewing decisions by the NDIS, help in solving issues with providers and support in taking cases to the Australian Human Rights Commission about discrimination. We have specialist Lawyers who deal with the Legal aspects of the Law.
In Western Australia there are two Acts governing disability discrimination, namely the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 which is federal law; and Equal Opportunity Act 1984 which is Western Australian Law
But what is ‘Disability’ under these Laws?
The definition of disability under both laws includes the ‘traditional’ categories of disability, such as:
- Intellectual disability;
- Physical disability;
- Sensory disability
- Psychosocial disability;
- Having a disease that is either temporary or permanent;
- Acquired brain injury;
- Behavioural disability;
- Developmental disability; and
- Learning disability.
The definitions include the signs of a disability, or characteristics which people with that disability usually have. These may be types of behaviour, traits or consequences which exist because of the disability.
What areas of life is it unlawful to discriminate based on disability/impairment?
- Goods, services and facilities
- Clubs and Associations
- Access e.g. buildings, services, or information
- Insurance and Superannuation
- Qualifying bodies
Is there a time limit on using these Laws?
Discrimination laws have time limits called ‘limitation periods’. If you want to take legal action you may need to act quickly. If you want to lodge a complaint with the AHRC, you should lodge within six months of the date of the discrimination. If you do not lodge within this time the President of the AHRC may decide not to investigate your complaint. If the event or events being complained about happened more than six months ago, you will have to provide reasons for the delay.
WA discrimination law and federal discrimination law cover temporary, permanent, past, present, future and imputed disabilities.
- A temporary disability is something which exists for a short time, like a broken leg or the chickenpox.
- A future disability may be something that runs in the family which you may develop in the future, like cancer.
- An imputed disability is something which someone believes you have, whether or not you actually do.
Remember Freedom from discrimination is a basic human right!
It is recognised in international human rights treaties and declarations. An international convention called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 and Australia has agreed to comply with it. It says that Australia has an obligation to prevent discrimination against a person because of their disability.
What is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination is protected by law in Australia. If you experience discrimination because of your disability, the law may be able to help you.
There are both Federal and WA laws that protect you against discrimination in many areas of life; including assistance dogs, employment, education, accommodation, getting to or using services, accessing public places and harassment. Please see the three Case Studies for examples.
There are two main types of disability discrimination:
- Direct discrimination is when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without the disability in the same or similar circumstances. For example, it would be ‘direct disability discrimination’ if a nightclub or restaurant refused a person entry because they are blind and have a guide dog.
- Indirect discrimination is when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a disability. For example, it may be indirect disability discrimination if the only way to enter a public building is by a set of stairs because people with disabilities who use wheelchairs would be unable to enter the building.
Important Things to Know: If you want to make a complaint, you need to take action within a certain time frame.
You have six months from an act of discrimination occurring to lodge a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
You have twelve months to lodge a complaint using WA’s Discrimination Laws
What about the use of Devices or Disability Aids – am I covered?
Both WA discrimination law and federal discrimination law deal with discrimination that results from a person using:
- A guide dog, hearing dog or trained assistance animal;
- An interpreter, reader, assistant or a carer;
- A disability aid (like a wheelchair); or
- A palliative or therapeutic device.
What about Associates/relatives who support me?
Where a person is treated less favourably because of their relationship with a person who has a disability, that treatment may also be unlawful. There have been many case of discrimination against associates (family, carers and friends) of a person with disability which have gone to court and been won.
What about Drug Addiction is that covered?
Drug addiction may be a disability under both federal and WA discrimination law. However, it is not unlawful to discriminate based on addiction to a ‘prohibited drug’ in the area of employment under WA discrimination law. This means that an employer can, in some cases, lawfully discriminate against an employee with a drug addiction.
Are there other Types of Discrimination if I am disabled?
There are other types of discrimination that are unlawful. These include discrimination based on race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, age, transgender status, sexuality and carer’s responsibilities. If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of any of these reasons, you should contact MIDLAS community legal centre to see if we can help or redirect you to appropriate legal services.