It is important for all workers to understand rights and responsibilities at work, including those for people with disability.


People with disability have rights to protection against unlawful discrimination in employment, outlined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and State & Territory legislation, which includes the South Australian Equal Opportunity Act (1984).

Equal Employment Opportunity for people with disability

The legislation covers all areas of employment and makes it unlawful for a person to be discriminated against because of their disability. In the area of employment and work, this includes:

  • recruitment for positions (such as advertising, providing information, application interview arrangements and all other processes which form part of the selection for the job)
  • making decisions about who should be hired for the job
  • the conditions of the job (including pay rates, duties, hours of work, leave entitlements, and superannuation)
  • opportunities offered for training, promotion, memberships or other benefits of the job
  • unfavourable treatment such as being demoted, retrenched or dismissed from a job
Employers must make sure that if you have a disability you still have as much chance of getting a job as anyone else if you can do the essential/core skills (also called ‘inherent requirements’) of the job being applied for. It is also important that employers provide you with ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help you safely perform the core skills.

Reasonable adjustments describe changes to the workplace that employers can make, and may involve changes to recruitment processes, physical environments, job design, equipment being used, or providing training, so that you can participate in work on an equal basis as other employees. 

You have no legal obligation to tell your employer about your disability. You do not need to mention your disability on your job application or pre-employment forms. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of a disability.It may not be against the law to refuse to employ a person with a disability if, because of their disability, there would be unjustifiable hardship to making workplace adjustments, or they cannot perform the inherent requirements, or essential duties of the job. The inherent requirements of a job will vary depending on what the job is. They may include:
  • The ability to perform tasks which are essential to perform a job productively and to the required quality
  • The ability to work effectively in a team or other organisation
  • The ability to work safely
  • It is the responsibility of the employer to clearly spell out the essential duties of the position being advertised and what type of work the employee is expected to do.
  • The employer is obliged to provide a fair recruitment process, including reasonable adjustments to this process when necessary.

Lodging a complaint

If you believe you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination you can seek advice from a disability advocacy organisation.  There are some things to consider when lodging a complaint, which they can help with:

  • Whether to lodge your complaint directly to the company, or through a legal process.
  • Whether you are willing to engage in conciliation (trying to reach an agreed outcome).
  • Understanding what is involved in the legal complaint process, the outcomes you are seeking, and any resources you may need. 
  • Whether to complain using the State or Federal legislation. 

You may choose to lodge a complaint under the Federal Disability Discrimination through the Australian Human Rights Commission.  Or you can lodge a complaint through the State legislation through the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity.  Both have some differences in how they operate and provide support, so it is recommended that you consult with an advocacy organisation when lodging a complaint for advice and support.  They can help you document your complaint and understand the process. 


Disability advocacy organisations in South Australia

  • Disability Advocacy & Complaints Service of SA Inc 
    Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of South Australia Inc (DACSSA) is a respectful, client-focussed organisation that provides free and independent individual and systemic advocacy for South Australians living with disabilities.
  • Advocacy for Disability Access and Inclusion Inc
    Supporting people with disability, families, carers and networks to gain access to services, advocate for improved or new services, promote community involvement, and provide information to empower people. 
  • Disability Advocacy Service 
    Disability Advocacy Service is a team within Uniting Communities who can provide support to people eligible for the NDIS, or already receiving NDIS support, to understand the system and your rights. 
successful worker who has a prosthetic leg
  • Disability Rights Advocacy Service Inc 
    Disability Rights Advocacy Service Inc is part of the national network of disability advocacy organisations funded by the Australian Federal Government.  They support individuals, families and carers to resolve individual concerns, as well as address systemic issues  to change policy and legislation that negatively impact upon the community.  
  • Brain Injury SA
    Providing a range of advocacy services for people living with Brain Injury, and supporting people with review of NDIA processes and decisions.
  • Independent Advocacy SA
    Advocacy for people living with an intellectual disability, or who are labelled/treated as a person with an intellectual disability. 
  • Citizen Advocacy South Australia
    A local group of community members who focus on supporting people who are believed to have Intellectual Disability, and who need someone to speak up for them and represent their interests. 

Learn more about disability discrimination and rights

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