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Disability discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their disability. A disability includes a physical or mental illness, a learning or intellectual disability, a genetic predisposition to develop a particular illness and the state of having or carrying an infection, whether or not it is symptomatic. It also includes a disability that a person had in the past or may develop in the future.

International Day of People with Disability


Today is the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). The theme for IDPwD in 2014 is Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. A key aspect of this is the role of technology in creating enabling working environments.

Commissioner Anne Gale discusses disability discrimination


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Aired on: 
Radio Adelaide

Anne Gale, Equal Opportunity Commissioner for SA, spoke to Jane and Keiran at Radio Adelaide about common issues raised at the Equal Opportunity Commission by people with disability. Employment and social exclusion are amongst many problems that the disadvantaged face on a regular basis.

Jackson v Homestart Finance [2013] SAEOT 13

In a decision of the SA Equal Opportunity Tribunal, it was held that a young man and his mother were discriminated against by Homestart Finance on the grounds of the son’s intellectual disability.

International Day of People with Disability - 3rd December 2013


Today, on the 2013 International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), it is important to recognise the progress being made towards people with disability participating fully in all areas of life, but also look at the steps that still need to be taken. The theme for IDPwD in 2013 (the 21st anniversary of International Day of Persons with disability) is Break barriers and open doors: to realise an inclusive society for all!

2011 International Day of People with Disability


“On the 2011 International Day of People with Disability, I want to applaud some giant steps, at last, in strengthening the rights of people with disability,” said the Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Anne Burgess.

Nurse with nerve damage given no shifts


Rebecca worked as a nurse. She had surgery that led to nerve damage, leaving her without lateral movement in her arm. Since then, however, she worked full time for years without a problem. But the nurse manager told her that there had been complaints about Rebecca's performance, concerning her not being able to carry meal trays for patients. Soon afterwards, she was told that her next shift had been cancelled. When she tried to negotiate different duties, she was unsuccessful. She was given no more shifts.

Although the hospital denied they had unlawfully discriminated against Rebecca, they agreed to attend a conciliation conference. During this meeting, Rebecca asked for $15,000 for injury to feelings, and a larger amount for lost income. The hospital offered $5,000, which Rebecca agreed to and the matter resolved.

Breathing apparatus not covered by insurance

Adam uses a portable machine to assist his breathing because he has sleep apnoea. Planning to travel overseas, he tried to obtain additional luggage coverage as part of his travel insurance. to cover the machine. He was informed that the policy covered laptops, notebooks, handheld computers, cameras and video cameras up to $4,000, but all other items up to a value of only $700.

Through conciliation, the insurer committed to review its policy requiring an additional premium for insuring items used for medical purposes, and would reimburse Adam the premium he payed for the sleep apnoea machine.

Carla's son mocked

Carla applied at a real estate agent for a rental property, and went into the office with her son to drop off her application. Her son, Leon, has an autism-spectrum disorder, and he made noises due to being in strange environment (as his particular coping mechanism). A staff member asked what was wrong with her son, and when Carla apologised telling her had an autism-spectrum disorder, the staff member laughed at her and her son. This distressed Leon, who hid under a table. When Carla left the office, she saw the staff member throw her application into the bin.

At conciliation, the agent gave a written apology for the behaviour of her staff member, and offered $50 as a settlement.

Man with Asperger's told he can't study in course


Julian applied for a place on a counselling course being run by a private college. However, he was told by the college director that because Julian had Asperger's Syndrome he would not be suitable for the course. The director added that, 'People with Asperger's do not have the emotional capacity to be counsellors: it is like a blind person trying to be a policeman'.

The director apologised for any offense or potential disadvantage given to Julian, and he directed the college's HR manager to arrange professional development on the topic for relevant staff. Julian accepted this as a satisfactory outcome, and was happy for the matter to be closed.

School inflexible to student's special needs


Scott has Asbergers Syndrome, and his mother, Kym, wanted to enrol him at a new school. She spoke to the special education co-ordinator, who, Kym alleged, said the school's programme was inflexible and might not meet Scott's needs.

Kym complained to the Commission, believing that her son was refused enrolment because of his Asbergers Syndrome and this amounted to disability discrimination.

The school's principal and Kym attended a conciliation conference. The complaint was settled by the school agreeing to apologise for misunderstandings that arose from unclear communication, and to re-commence Scott's enrolment process. The school also agreed to pay Kym and Scott $1,000 for injury to feelings.
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