In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of countries have passed laws aimed at reducing discrimination against people with disabilities.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) was an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 to promote the rights of people with disabilities 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.
These laws have begun to appear as the notion of civil rights has become more influential globally, and follow other forms of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination and sexism which began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.
The Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes disability discrimination unlawful and aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in Australia.
"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."
The Disability Rights Now report identifies a number of human rights issues for people with a disability in Australia, including the:
Under the Act, individuals can lodge complaints of discrimination and harassment with the Australian Human Rights Commission. Complaints made under the DDA are made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (previously known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, HREOC), 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.
In Australia, national and state laws cover equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination in the workplace. You're required by these laws to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. It's important that as an employer, you understand your rights and responsibilities under human rights and anti-discrimination law. By putting effective anti-discrimination and anti-harassment procedures in place in your business you can improve productivity and increase efficiency.
Over the past 30 years the Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments have introduced anti-discrimination law to help protect people from discrimination and harassment.
The following laws operate at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under them:
Commonwealth laws and the state/territory laws generally cover the same grounds and areas of discrimination. However, there are some 'gaps' in the protection that is offered between different states and territories and at a Commonwealth level. In addition, there are circumstances where only the Commonwealth law would apply or where only the state law would apply.
Since the early 1970s, there has been much legal activity in Australia both statewide and federally regarding discrimination and many different types. The Commonwealth as well as the territories and states in Australia have either introduced or tried to introduce some new form of discrimination legislature. They also review regularly the current aspects of discrimination to determine if there are any ways to improve on the discrimination laws of Australia. Australia currently has the following discrimination laws in force: