Manual of Policies and Procedures

A/8.6 Disability services policy

Contact Officer

Equity Director

Approval Date

26/03/2012

Approval Authority

Vice-Chancellor

Date of Next Review

01/04/2015

8.6.1 Legislative obligations
8.6.2 Policy principles and objectives
8.6.3 Definitions
8.6.4 Provisions for people with a disability
Related Documents
Modification History

8.6.1 Legislative obligations

QUT recognises its legal obligations under current State and Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation and relevant Standards, principally

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth)
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1991(Qld).

Under this legislation the University can be vicariously liable for discrimination or harassment against a person with a disability by a member of staff or any of its agents.

QUT is also committed to the principles contained in other relevant standards and guidelines such as the

  • Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010
  • World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes.

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8.6.2 Policy principles and objectives

Consistent with the University’s commitment to social justice (A/8.4), the University supports the right of people with a disability to work or study in an accessible and inclusive environment, free from discrimination.

QUT takes all reasonable steps to provide an inclusive learning and working environment which respects diversity and the dignity of all staff and students. This policy seeks to ensure equal opportunities for people with a disability to participate in all aspects of University life, including education and employment.

The University's approach to implementing this policy includes

  • The requirements of people with a disability are recognised and embedded in the planning process, resource allocation, and the development of policy (QUT Disability Action Plan)
  • Resources will be sufficient to ensure an appropriate level of services to students and staff
  • Reasonable adjustments are provided for people with a disability, which neither advantage nor disadvantage them in comparison to other people not receiving disability support services
  • Access to work and study, by law, is not limited on the basis of the cost of services and adjustments required, unless the adjustments would impose "unjustifiable hardship" on the University
  • The physical environment on all campuses should be accessible and safe and easy for people with a disability to negotiate. All new buildings are designed in accordance with the appropriate standards and codes. The University is improving access to older buildings, where possible, to meet these standards
  • The University respects the rights of people with a disability to privacy and confidentiality (F/6.2) and may seek information about a person's disability primarily for the purpose of a request for reasonable adjustments. This information remains confidential and is not part of the person's open record of employment or academic progress
  • The University provides programs for staff to promote awareness of disability issues

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8.6.3 Definitions

“Disability” refers to disability, injury or health condition.As outlined in legislation, a disability may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, life-long or acquired.

Disability is sometimes referred to as “impairment” and includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological and learning disabilities. It also includes physical disfigurement and the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms, such as the HIV virus.Also included are people who require assistive devices or aids, or are accompanied by an interpreter, reader, assistant or carer, or guide dogs or other assistance animals (as defined by the relevant legislation; see A/8.6.1).

“Discrimination”may be direct or indirect as defined by anti-discrimination legislation

  • “Direct discrimination” occurs when people with a disability are treated less favourably than people without that condition would be treated under the same or similar circumstances.
  • “Indirect discrimination” occurs when the same treatment (for example a rule, policy, procedure or practice) applies to all, but in effect people with a disability are disadvantaged because they are unable (or less able) to comply with the rule because of their condition, and that impact is unreasonable.  

Discrimination may also occur when an attribute or characteristic is imputed to exist.

For further details on definitions of discrimination, refer to the University’s grievance resolution procedures for discrimination related grievances (A/8.5).

“Reasonable adjustment” refers to alterations required to ensure equal opportunity for a person with a disability. Sometimes referred to as “reasonable accommodations”, reasonable adjustments refer to physical, environmental, administrative or procedural alterations. Reasonable adjustments may be required to enable a person with a disability to

  • have equal opportunity to be considered for education and employment opportunity
  • perform the requirements of the relevant course or job
  • enjoy equal terms and conditions of enrolment or employment with other students or employees in comparable circumstances
  • participate in and benefit from work or study related facilities, programs or benefits on equal terms with other students and employees.

Laws affecting the rights and responsibilities of staff, students and the University include some exemptions to the application of the laws and the University is not required to provide employment or education for all applicants. In particular the University is not required to provide adjustments which would alter the inherent requirements of a job or affect the academic integrity of a course.

In some cases it may cause “unjustifiable hardship” for the University to make certain adjustments. Relevant circumstances in determining unjustifiable hardship include the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by any persons concerned, and the financial circumstances of the institution and the cost of making the required adjustments. A thorough understanding of the effect of the disability on the individual and the impact of any adjustment or alteration is required in order to determine whether such adjustments are reasonable and necessary. The relevant State and Commonwealth administrative bodies require detailed evidence to support a claim of unjustifiable hardship.

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8.6.4 Provisions for people with a disability

(a) Provisions for students with a disability

Students may seek confidential advice and information through QUT’s Disability Services Program. The needs of a student with a disability are assessed on an individual basis, following consultation between the student and a University Disability Adviser. The Disability Adviser makes recommendations for reasonable adjustments based on the functional limitations imposed by the disability and the supporting documentation provided by the student. Recommendations, in the form of a service plan, are forwarded to the relevant faculty / school liaison person for distribution to teaching staff.

Particular support services are available for students with a disability. Further information is available in the publication Guide for students with a disability, injury or health condition.

Staff seeking additional information about supporting students are referred to the publication and website: Supporting students with a disability, injury or health condition: a guide for staff which includes information on common forms of disability, effective communication, teaching strategies, curriculum design and assessment. See also policy on student academic concessions for assessment for students with a disability (E/6.3)

(b) Provisions for employment

QUT actively encourages the employment of people with a disability. Supervisors and managers should be aware of the relevant legislation and policies relating to employment of people with a disability and ensure that all employment procedures are appropriate and non-discriminatory.

In considering a candidate with a disability for a specific job, the University makes adjustments at interview, in the workplace, and to work conditions, if required.

Workers with a disability are afforded equal opportunities to acquire the skills and experience necessary to advance in their careers.

The University provides advice, information and services, upon request, to staff with a disability and/or the section of the University in which the person is employed or is seeking employment. Employees who need reasonable adjustments should discuss their situation as soon as possible, and in the first instance, with their immediate supervisor. The Human Resources Department and Equity Services are available to provide further confidential advice and information.

(c) Other provisions

It is the responsibility of the student or staff member to substantiate their eligibility for disability services.

Generally people with a disability who study, work, or apply to study or work at QUT are not required to disclose information about their disability. However, in some circumstances the disability must be disclosed, for example if the disability is likely to affect

  • their performance or ability to meet the inherent requirements of the course or job
  • their ability to remain safe on campus or relevant external sites
  • their safety or the safety of others.

The purpose of disclosure is not to exclude staff or students from opportunities but to enable access to a safe environment, with appropriate adjustments, minimising their exposure to risk and risk to others, for example through a communicable disease. People with mobility impairment should be aware of the parking regulations in force on each campus. Further details are available from the Facilities Management website.

The University ensures that all essential educational, administrative and promotional material is available in alternative formats for access by people with a disability.

A working party of Equity Board (A/8.9) reviews and recommends policies and practices relating to the needs of people with a disability.

QUT does not provide all services which a staff member or student may require to participate in employment or education such as personal care or transport between residence and campus.


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Related Documents

MOPP A/8.4 Equal opportunity and diversity

MOPP A/8.9 Equity Board

MOPP A/9.1 Health, safety and environment framework

MOPP B/7.7 Workplace rehabilitation policy

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Modification History

Date Sections Source Details
26.03.12 All Vice-Chancellor Periodic review – policy revised
29.11.07 All Vice-Chancellor Revised and renumbered policy (formerly A/8.3) as part of revised policy framework for social justice (endorsed by Equity Board 23.08.07)
27.04.99 All Vice-Chancellor New policy

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