The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines to staff and principals/managers on how to request, apply for and arrange workplace adjustments in school settings.

People with disability are valued members of the department’s workforce. The Department of Education (the department) is committed to building diverse and accessible workplaces and developing workplace cultures that are safe, respectful, foster inclusiveness, promote diversity and embrace the unique skills and qualities of all our staff members.

Staff members may require workplace adjustments for many reasons and at different times of their lives. This could be because of barriers in the workplace that interact with a staff member’s disability or health conditions.

What is disability?

The social model of disability regards people with disability as people whose physical, mental, intellectual or sensory differences, when interacting with inaccessible communities and environments, prevent full and equal community participation.

The social model of disability is an important way of perceiving inequality because it views disability as stemming from communities, services and spaces that are not accessible or inclusive. In the social model of disability, it is society that places limits on a person, not their disability.

There are many different kinds of disability and they can arise in many ways, including, but not limited to, from accidents, illness, disease, condition or disorder. Disability includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological and learning disabilities as well as physical disfigurement and the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms (such as the HIV virus). A disability may affect, amongst other things, mobility, learning, or communication, and some people may have more than one disability. A disability may be visible or hidden, may be permanent or temporary, and, depending on the accessibility of one’s community and environment, may have minimal or substantial impact on their participation in society.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link (DDA) defines disability broadly as:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.

The DDA includes a disability that:

  • presently exists
  • previously existed but no longer exists
  • may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability)
  • is imputed to a person.

To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.

Staff with disability may not require any workplace adjustments, but if they do, the department will provide adjustments whenever it is needed, possible and reasonable to do so. When adjustments are needed, the process of identifying the adjustments required and gaining approval for these where reasonable, should be straightforward. This process is detailed further in the Implementing workplace adjustments section.

All staff members and principals/managers should be aware of their rights and responsibilities to ensure that staff have what they need to work safely, effectively and comply with legislation and department policy.

Introductory chapter to the Disability and Reasonable Adjustment — Employees in the Workplace Policy

Reviewed 18 August 2023

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