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People with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else in the community. However, sometimes these people are discriminated against by being prevented from gaining access to the things that we all see as important, such as getting a good education, having a job and being able to participate fully in the community. Disability discrimination is prohibited under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).
Disability discrimination legislation aims to prevent discrimination against people who have physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological, or learning disabilities, physical disfigurement or disabilities that arise from a disease. The legislation also aims to prevent discrimination against families, friends and associates of people who have disabilities.
In Tasmania, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 will apply, unless the discrimination occurs in a situation where the discrimination has occurred in a Commonwealth building, whilst utilising a Commonwealth service or if a person is employed, or seeking employment, with a Commonwealth Department. In this situation the Disability Dsicrimination Act 1992 (Cth) will apply.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person who does not have a disability. This occurs if a person is discriminated against in the following areas:
Discrimination does not always mean that a person or organisation has deliberately set out to harass or exclude a person with a disability. Indirect discrimination occurs when people do not consider the needs of people with disabilities because they have little or no knowledge of those needs. This is also prohibited and where reasonable the person or organisation that has overlooked the needs of people with disabilities may be ordered to make changes to ensure that everyone can participate. For example, buildings that have steps but no ramp exclude people who use wheelchairs. In situations such as this, the owner of the building may be required to install a ramp, unless it imposes an unjustifiable hardship on the owner.
Sometimes it is lawful to discriminate against a person with a disability. The following areas are examples of this:
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of a disability you have, you may lodge a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission in Tasmania, or the Australian Human Rights Commission if the alleged discrimination is covered by the Disability Disctimination Act 1992 (Cth) . The Commissions investigate complaints and assist parties to reach a settlement of the complaint by conciliation, if possible. If the complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation, the Commissioners may refer the matter on to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal or the Australian Human Rights Commission for determination.
You can get help with drafting and lodging your complaint from the Disability Discrimination Advocate.