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Student Services > Learning and Disability Support > Education for children with a disability - a guide for parents > Adjustments and education >

Legislation and legal rights

There are numerous legislation and initiatives internationally, nationally, state and departmentally aimed at ensuring that people with disability have access to equal participation in society as those without disability.


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability External Link was adopted by the United Nations in 2006. The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disability, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is the World Health Organisation's classification of health and health-related domains. These domains are classified from body, individual and societal perspectives by means of two lists: a list of body functions and structure, and a list of domains of activity and participation. Since an individual's functioning and disability occurs in a context, the ICF also includes a list of environmental factors.


The National Disability Strategy External Link (2011) (NDS) outlines a 10-year national policy framework to guide government activity across six key outcome areas and to drive future reforms in mainstream and specialist disability service systems to improve outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers. It represents a commitment by all levels of government, industry and the community to a unified, national approach to policy and program development.

The NDS draws on the findings of extensive consultation reported in Shut Out: The Experience of People with Disabilities and their Families in Australia (2009). External Link

The Melbourne Declaration Adobe PDF document External Link (2008), a commitment made by all Australian Education Ministers in 2008, that states 'Australian governments must support all young Australians to achieve not only equality of opportunity but also more equitable outcomes'.

The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) External Link is aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of people with disability to be treated as equals. The Department is required to adhere to the broad DDA definition of disability.
The objectives of the DDA are:

In August 2009, The Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 2009 External Link (the Act) came into effect. This Act amends the DDA and provides for a more consistent and coherent application of definitions.

Australian education expectations are stated in the Disability Standards for Education 2005 External Link (the Standards), a national framework underpinned by the DDA. The Standards are subordinate legislation and a framework which clarifies the obligations of education and training service providers and the rights of people with disability under the DDA.

The Standards give students and prospective students with disability the right to education and training opportunities on the same basis as students without a disability. This includes the right to comparable access, services and facilities, and the right to participate in education and training without discrimination. Education providers have an obligation to make changes to reasonably accommodate the needs of students with disability.

Schools may be required to make reasonable adjustments to enable students with disability to access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

According to the Standards 'an adjustment is a measure or action taken to assist a student with a disability to participate on the same basis as other students'.
The process for making a reasonable adjustment under the Standards includes:

The issue of what is a reasonable or unreasonable adjustment is one that schools, regions and the Department have to consider carefully.

Schools are encouraged to draw on the supports that are available in the region and central office to clarify issues regarding an adjustment if there is any concern about being able to provide it.

It should be noted that adjustments:

The Standards also require education providers to put in place strategies and programs to prevent harassment and victimisation. They must ensure that staff and students know it is not lawful to harass or victimise students with disability, or students who have associates with disability, or their carer, assistant, assistance animal and/or disability aid. An education provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and students know what to do if harassment or victimisation occurs.

Compliance with the Standards

The Standards outline specific compliance measures in the areas for:


The Queensland Disability Services Act

The Queensland Disability Services Act 2006 Adobe PDF document External Link has measures to safeguard the rights and safety of people with disability, and combines with existing systems to improve the quality of services they receive.

The legislation encourages all Queenslanders to promote inclusive principles within their own communities. People with disability have the right to equal access to services available to other members of the Queensland community. The service delivery principles encourage service providers to consider the needs of people with disability when they design and deliver services.


The Department's Disability Service Plan 2011-2014 supports the ambitious and challenging vision of Absolutely everybody that in 2021 Queensland is inclusive of its citizens, and Queenslanders with a disability are enabled to lead valued and fulfilling lives.

The definition of disability

The Department is required to adhere to and/or attend to the relevant areas in these legislative, policy and initiative documents.

The Departmental Disability Definitions Adobe PDF document 48K fact sheet has been developed to assist schools and parents to understand the Department's requirements and the associated supports provided to support students with disability.

If you believe your child is being discriminated against:

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