Disability - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy states The University of Queensland's commitments and responsibilities under legislation and its aim to ensure an inclusive environment for people with a disability participating in work and study at the University. The University seeks to adopt and develop leading practice in the area.

Commonwealth and State Acts which frame the University's obligations and responsibilities in regard to disability matters for staff and students include:

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Disability - for University policies, the term encompasses both ‘disability’ as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and ‘impairment’ as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) defines "disability", in relation to a person, as:

a) total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions; or
b) total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
c) the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
d) the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
e) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body; or
f) a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
g) a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perceptions of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour;
and includes a disability that:

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists; or
  • may exist in the future; or
  • is imputed to a person.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) uses the term ‘Impairment’ defined as:

a) the total or partial loss of the person's bodily functions, including the loss of a part of the person's body; or
b) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body; or
c) a condition or malfunction that results in the person learning more slowly than a person without the condition or malfunction; or
d) a condition, illness or disease that impairs a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour; or
e) the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness or disease; or
f) reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair or other remedial device; whether or not arising from an illness, disease or injury from a condition subsisting at birth, and includes an impairment that-

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists.

Reasonable adjustment - an adjustment is a reasonable adjustment unless making it would impose an unjustifiable hardship or involve changing the inherent requirements of a job.

Inherent requirements - the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) states inherent requirements, in the circumstances of each job, may include:

  • the ability to perform tasks or functions which are a necessary part of the job productivity and quality requirements;
  • the ability to work effectively in the team or other type of work organisation concerned; and
  • the ability to work safely.

In assessing whether an adjustment to a course or program in which a student is enrolled, or proposes to be enrolled, is reasonable, the University is entitled to maintain the academic requirements of the course or program, and other requirements or components that are inherent in or essential to its nature (Disability Standards for Education).

Further explanation of these and related concepts can be found in the Commonwealth and State legislation and at the AHRC Disability Discrimination Factsheet.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all staff and students of The University of Queensland. Some staff of the University have specific responsibilities in regard to the implementation of this policy.

4. Policy Statement

The University supports the right of people with disabilities to work and study on an equitable basis with other members of the University community in an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination.

To this end, the University has a range of policies and programs to ensure that staff and students with disabilities are provided with every opportunity to fully participate in University life and to realise their individual potential. The University’s Disability Action Plan outlines strategic priorities, goals and actions as an integral aspect of UQ’s commitment to continual performance improvement in relation to staff and students with disabilities.

The University will:

  • educate staff and students to develop informed views, behaviour and attitudes about disability issues.
  • ensure the academic integrity of courses and programs offered is maintained at the highest standards, and make reasonable adjustment to ensure that people with disabilities have access to and participate in the academic, occupational and/or social activities of the University.
  • provide specific and appropriate support to staff or students to enable them to pursue their academic or career goals insofar as resources may reasonably permit.
  • promote access to employment and education for people with a disability, maintaining consistency with the merit principle.
  • negotiate a reasonable adjustment plan for people with a disability, if required, in recognition that the best source of information is the person with a disability.
  • ensure that people with disabilities are provided with opportunity for consultation and participation in decision-making relevant to their role within the University and that matters specific to the needs of people with disabilities are included in relevant University plans.

5. Disability and Management of Privacy

The University recognises and respects the right to confidentiality of information related to a person's disability. Such information is covered by the University's Privacy Management Policy. However, the University may seek information about a person's disability:

  • in order to substantiate eligibility for services;
  • to make reasonable adjustment for the person to enable them to participate in relevant activities.

Data generated may be used:

  • for statistical record keeping for purposes of accountability and monitoring;
  • to provide information to funding agencies or government bodies;
  • to monitor or evaluate policies and programs.

6. Disability and Discrimination or Harassment/Bullying

Harassment, discrimination (direct or indirect) or bullying by any member of the University community against another on the basis of disability is prohibited. Procedures to address complaints of discrimination, harassment or bullying on the basis of disability will be regularly reviewed to ensure they comply with relevant legislation and social justice principles. (Refer to the Discrimination and Harassment policy).

7. Provision of Reasonable Adjustment for a Disability

While there is an institutional obligation to provide reasonable adjustment, in the first instance, the supervisor will be responsible for considering and effecting such requests and may seek advice and information from relevant sources such as Student Services, Human Resources or Occupational Health and Safety as appropriate, to assist them in this process. The final approval for the reasonable adjustment must be made by the Head of the organisational unit.

A person requiring adjustment should provide reasonable notice of the need for adjustment and necessary documentation to support this request. Staff who require adjustment should discuss their needs with their supervisor or other senior officer in their organisational unit. Students should discuss their needs for academic adjustment with a University Disability Adviser (Student Services) in the first instance.