The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) was an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 to promote the rights of people with disabillities in certain areas such as housing, education and provision of goods and services. It shares a common philosophy with other disability discrimination acts around the world that have emerged in the late 20th and early 21st century, as well as earlier civil rights legislation designed to prevent racial discrimination and sex discrimination.
At the time of the enactment of the DDA (1992), a variety of anti-discrimination acts for people with disabilities already existed in the different state legislatures, some dating back to the early 1980s. All States and Territories except Tasmania and the Northern Territory had anti-discrimination laws in place, and these two places had legislation under consideration. There were three reasons given for enacting a federal law:
- To standardise the scope of rights offered around the country
- To implement the Australian Government’s obligations as a signatory to international declarations on the rights of people with disabilities.
- To enable regulation of discriminatory practices of Commonwealth authorities.
Complaints made under the DDA are made to the HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission), which also handles complaints relating to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Age Discrimination Act 2004 and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.
A Productivity Commission enquiry was initiated by the Australian government to evaluate the effectiveness of the act, and published its findings in 2004. The Commission found that while there is still room for improvement, particularly in reducing discrimination in employment, overall the DDA has been reasonably effective. Specifically, the Commission found that people with a disability were less likely to finish school, to have a TAFE or university qualification and to be employed. They are more likely to have a below average income, be on a pension, live in public housing and in prison. The average personal income for people with a disability is 44 per cent of the income of other Australians.
Objectives of the DDA
"To eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of disability in the areas of: work, accommodation, education, access to premises, clubs and sport; and the provision of goods, facilities, services and land; and existing laws; and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; and to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as the rest of the community; and to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community."
- Full text of the DDA (PDF file)
- Inquiry report into the DDA by the Productivity Commission, published July 14 2004.
- Australian Government Disability Policy, Programs and Legislation
- HREOC guide to making a complaint under the DDA]
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