PIAC working with disability advocates to fix ‘reasonable adjustments’

Image: Keith Saunders

PIAC is partnering with People with Disability Australia (PWDA) to advocate for essential amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (the DDA).

These changes are necessary because of the 2017 case of Sklavos v Australian College of Dermatologists, in which the Federal Court found that not only must a person with disability show they are disadvantaged by a failure to provide a reasonable adjustment, but that the failure to provide the adjustment was caused by the person’s disability.

This decision has made the reasonable adjustments provisions of the DDA, which are intended to help people with disability participate in employment, education and other areas of public life, ineffective and unenforceable.

For example, if a workplace refuses to provide the software a blind person needs at work, that person must now demonstrate the failure to provide that software is because they are blind. In practice, this will be nearly impossible to prove unless the employer makes a clear statement such as ‘I refuse to make adjustments for you, because you are blind.’

PIAC and PWDA have engaged with both the Attorney-General Christian Porter and his Department to have this problem fixed, including by coordinating a range of legal and civil society groups as co-signatories to a letter to the Attorney-General.

We have proposed simple amendments to the DDA to make its reasonable adjustments provisions clear, workable and consistent with their purpose.

Unfortunately, to date, the Government has not acted. PIAC and PWDA will continue to push for these vital amendments to be passed as quickly as possible, to support the full participation of people with disability in Australian society. 

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