Updated October 2009. For more recent outcomes please refer to the Commission's conciliation register
Reminder: Conciliated settlements are usually made without admission
of liability and may not provide firm precedents for other
Accommodating behavioural disorders in education
A man complained on behalf of his grandson, a year 6 school student, that reasonable adjustments were not being made to accommodate his disabilities including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He was concerned that his grandson had been suspended on several occasions, and was frequently sent home from school early.
The complaint was resolved with an agreement to develop an action plan which focussed on the student's transition from primary school to high school and including an individually tailored transition program, a communication strategy and assessments by relevant educational experts.
Exam procedure adjusted
A university student complained that he had not been offered alternative times for sitting exams which he needed because of physical and psychological injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to work with the student to make alternative arrangements for future examinations and assessments.
Back on the bus
The parents of a boy who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair complained that his local public school had replaced a bus fitted with a wheelchair lifter with a new bus without wheelchair access and their son was no longer able to get into the bus to attend school excursions and camps.
The complaint was resolved when the school agreed to fit a wheelchair lifter to the new school bus, and to develop protocols for communication between the school and parents about the boy's participation in activities.
A place on stage
A mother complained that her daughter, who has a physical disability, could not participate in an arts project involving all the other members of her class, a presentation of Balinese dancing. The complaint was resolved when the school arranged tutoring to enable the girl to play Indonesian percussion music and accompany her classmates on stage.
Individual support needs re-assessed
A mother and father complained that their daughter, who has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, was receiving inadequate support at school or enable her to learn effectively or remain safely at school during the day. The complaint was resolved when the education authority agreed to fund an assessment of the girl's needs and options for effective education for her.
A school student who has a hand tremor because of a disability complained that he had not been granted adequate adjustments for undertaking his upcoming final exams. The complaint was resolved with the education authority agreeing to provide the student with an extra 10 minutes per 30 minutes exam time to be used to write, dictate or rest as he chose.
Oral interpreting rearranged
A student who is Deaf and whose first language is thus not English complained that he was being disadvantaged in his senior school examinations b not being able to choose a sufficiently qualified teacher for interpreting of science exam questions. The complaint was resolved when the education authority made arrangements to have available a teacher with suitable subject knowledge.
Accommodations for child with autism spectrum disorder
A mother complained that her son who has an autism spectrum disorder was not being effectively accommodated in his primary school education. The complaint was resolved with an agreement by the education authority to develop and implement an improved individual education program.
Access to school facilities
A woman whose son uses a wheelchair complained that school ceremonies were held in a hall which only had inaccessible toilets, despite representations being made to the school over several years. After the Commission explained to the school that the Disability Discrimination Act does in fact apply to use of premises constructed before the commencement of the Act, and that provision of accessible toilets on the other side of the school did not guarantee compliance with the DDA, the complaint was resolved with an agreement to upgrade the facilities to provide access.
Accommodation of autism
A father complained that his son who has autism had been discriminated against by being failed for not completing a group work component of a year 12 course. The complaint was resolved when the school agreed to improve procedures for communication with the parents regarding assessment tasks so they could assist their son in developing skills required.
Access to trade course
A mother complained that her son, who has a learning disability, had been refused admission to a technical college which he wished to attend to gain a trade qualification. The complaint was resolved when the educational authority undertook to provide support to enable the young man to participate in the course successfully.
Adjustments in exams
A girl who has a learning disability affecting her reading and writing complained that she had not received sufficient reasonable accommodation in exam procedures. The complaint was resolved when the education authority agreed to provide 10 minutes extra time in a number of subjects and a reader for mathematics exams.
In another complaint a boy who has been assessed as having dysgraphia complained of receiving insufficient accommodation. The complaint was resolved when the education authority agreed to provide 10 minutes extra time and to permit the use of a word processor in exams.
Compensation for limited access to adjustments
A man who has a vision impairment complained that he had been disadvantaged in his studies by limits in the availability of assistive technology in his university's library. The complaint was resolved when the university agreed to waive his fees for the semester.
Reminders for child with ADD
A mother complained that her child, who has been assessed as having attention deficit disorder, was excluded from the school choir after forgetting to attend practice. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to introduce a communication book so that the child and her parents would have easy access to reminders about important school events.
Joining in excursions
A mother complained that her daughter had been denied access to school excursions because of her disability. The complaint was settled when the education authority agreed to permit the complainant to act as a back-up volunteer assistant if arrangements to provide assistance for the student on excursions broke down on any occasion in future.
Responding to allergies in pre-school
Parents complained that their child had been excluded from a pre-school because of nut allergy. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to admit the child and ensure that staff were trained in identifying and responding to allergic reactions.
Accommodating learning disabilty in TAFE
The mother of a young man with a learning disability complained that he had been refused enrolment in a TAFE program and advised that adjustments to accommodate his disability would not be provided. The complaint was resolved when the educational authority agreed to enrol the young man and develop a reasonable adjustment plan.
Sign language interrpeting in adult education
A woman who is deaf complained that an adult education provider had refused to provide sign language interpreting for a course. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to pay $3000 compensation.
Allergies in residential courses
A student with severe allergies including to perfumes complained that a residential course was not accessible to him because only shared rooms were available. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide access to a single room.
Access to course materials
A university student who is blind complained that course materials were not always provided, or provided in a timely manner, in an accessible format. The complaint was resolved with an agreement for the student to provide notice 8 weeks before semesters of intended courses and of her access needs; and for the university to source electronic texts from publishers where possible as well as providing a participation assistant for 60 hours per semester to assist with library searches and scanning of materials.
Adjustments for exam
A student complained that an education authority was refusing to provide adjustments for final exams to be conducted in eight days time. The complaint was resolved within 4 days of receipt with an agreement to provide the adjustments.
Education access and mental health issues
A father complained that his daughter had been refused selection for an education program , based in part on her having been treated for depression and concerns that the demands of the program could cause a return of this condition. The matter was settled when the respondent agreed to pay $7000 compensation and revise its procedures to ensure that appropriate medical advice would be obtained and taken into account in any further cases where health concerns were raised.
Adjustments for student with intellectual disability
Parents of a boy with an intellectual disability complained that he had been discriminated against in not being fully included in classroom activities or excursions and required to be collected earlier than the finishing time for other students. The school noted concerns regarding his ability to participate effectively as well as safety issues with a tendency to leave the school grounds. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability with an agreement by the school to provide an additional $3500 for individual tutoring, and to monitor the boy's progress with this additional assistance.
Adjustments for student with learning disabilities
A mother complained that her son, who has a learning disability and has been assessed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, had not had his disabilities effectively accommodated by his school. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability when the school agreed to develop a plan, in collaboration with a peak education body and the boy's mother, to identify adjustments for the assessment tasks for each subject; provide professional development support for teachers in the design and implementation of adjustments to assessments; assist in the development of a policy on recording issues raised by parents and the procedure for sharing relevant information with school staff; develop a communication strategy to coordinate effective communication between all stakeholders; provide professional development on the prevention of victimisation and bullying of students with disabilities; and waive two terms fees for the student.
Chronic fatigue and education
Parents complained that their daughter, who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, was being discriminated against in bein required to repeat a year on grounds of gaps in attendance. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability when the school agreed to pay $15,000 compensation and review its policies on disability, learning support and special consideration.
Adjustments for learning disorder
A mother complained that her son's school had not taken appropriate steps to accommodate her son's auditory processing difficulty. The matter was resolved without admission of liability with an agreement to meet to develop an individual education plan including with the input of a speech pathologist, and to review the plan within 4 months.
Access for parent with a disability
A woman who has a disability affecting mobility complained that her daughter's school classroom was not accessible to her. The complaint was resolved when the education authority advised that ramp access had now been provided.
School adopts disability policy
A woman complained that her grandson had been discriminated against by an independent school when he was expelled because of behaviour associated with his psychological disorder. The complaint was settled when the school agreed to develop a disability policy expressing commitment to the value of diversity and compliance with the DDA and the Disability Standards for Education; participate in formal communication with families and assessment of development of students with disabilities throughout the year; and consult with the school's relevant peak association on disability procedures and policies.
Interpreter for film making course
A man who is deaf complained that he had been discriminated against when he was asked to arrange and pay for his own interpreter to participate in a community college course on making short films. The complaint was settled with an agreement to provide an accredited interpreter for the course.
Bullying of students with disabilities
A mother complained that her son who has a vision impairment had been bullied in relation to his use of assistive equipment for reading and that the school did not act quickly or fully to respond to this, leading them to change schools. The matter was settled when the school agreed to review its anti-bullying policy and include specific provisions on bullying of students with disabilities; conduct disability awareness training including on staff obligations under the DDA and the Disability Standards for Education; waive outstanding fees, pay $4000 compensation and allow the student to keep a laptop which had been obtained for him by the school.
Technology and additional time improve exam opportunities
The father of a boy with dyspraxia (a disability affecting speech which can also affect learning to read) complained that his son was not receiving sufficient accommodation to afford him equal opportunity in secondary school exams. The complaint was resolved when the educational authority advised that new technology would allow the boy to have access to digital recordings of exam material and that he would be permitted an additional 10 minutes in every hour of exams to manage the technology.
In another case, the mother of a girl with speech dyspraxia similarly complained she had not been adequately accommodated. She had been offered an oral recording of exams but was seeking additional time instead. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide 60 minutes additional working time and use of a desktop computer for exams (with arrangements to ensure that this could not be used or perceived as being used to gain unfair advantages, for example by having spell checking removed).
Extra exam time to accommodate reading disability
A mother complained that her daughter's vision impairment and reading difficulties were not being adequately accommodated in arrangements for exams. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide an additional 2.5 minutes per 30 minutes of exam time (that is, an additional 15 minutes for a 3 hour exam).
Accommodating chronic fatigue syndrome
A PhD student who has chronic fatigue syndrome complained that accommodation of her disability had been inadequate and that requests for adjustments took too long to deal with. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to give the student one year of leave of absence and then permit recommencement of the degree program part time, and provide access to computer equipment.
Additional time for exams
A secondary college student who has an autistic disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a vision impairment complained that her disabilities had not been adequately accommodated in exam arrangements. The educational authority responded that the student's application for modified exam arrangements had been incomplete and provided after the due date. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that for future exams the student would be provided additional time and a separate exam room.
Accommodation of autistic disorder
A father complained that his son had been discriminated against by being excluded from a primary school excursion because of his autistic disorder which involves anxiety and behavioural problems. The complaint was resolved when the school advised that funding had been successfully sought for increased provision of a teacher's assistant to enable the boy's participation in an increased range of school activities.
Assistance hours increased
A mother complained that her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, had been discriminated against when her education provider reduced provision of additional support for her from 5 hours (which covered lunchtime and recess supervision) to 2 hours per week. The matter was resolved when the provider advised that after reconsideration support hours had been increased to 5 hours 25 minutes per week for the following 2 school years.
Parents of a boy who is deaf complained that audio-visual materials used in the classroom were not captioned and that an excursion for the class to see a movie had been inaccessible because of a lack of captioning. The complaint was settled when the education authority agreed to develop an information package and policy statement on the captioning of audio-visual material
Interpreters in professional training course
A woman who is deaf complained that her professional association would not provide an interpreter to enable her to participate in its professional development courses. The complaint was settled when the association agreed to provide interpreters with 14 days notice.
Disruptive behaviour and education access
The mother of a 14year old boy with obsessive compulsive disorder and other disabilities affecting behaviour complained that he had been discriminated against when he was suspended from school, and then excluded from face to face elements of distance education adopted as an alternative, after incidents of inappropriate behaviour including violence. The complaint was settled when the parties agreed that mainstream schooling was not able to fulfil the student's needs and he was more successfully placed in a nearby specialist school.
Access to course materials
A student who has a neurological condition affecting how he receives and processes spoken information complained that arrangements to provide him with lecture notes in written form had broken down and that he had failed subjects as a result. The complaint was settled when the university agreed to ensure that all lecturers provided notes when required in accordance with university policy, and to provide an exemption from HECS liability for the period of study affected by failure of arrangements for accessible materials.
In another case, a mother complained on behalf of her son who has a reading disability that materials were not being provided in CD form in a timely manner. The matter was settled with an agreement to improve access policies including ensuring that students were aware of school procedures for reasonable adjustments to be considered and for complaints, conducting additional disability awareness training for staff and refunding $15000 of fees.
School assessment adjusted
A father complained that his son, who has a number of disabilities including
Asperger's syndrome and Tourette's syndrome, was being discriminated against
by an assessment system for English oral presentation. The complaint was
settled with an agreement to provide a number of modifications to testing
procedures for the student to accommodate his disabilities, including
taking tests in familiar environments and being allowed to colour code
Access to lecture rooms
A student who has chronic airways disease and has difficulty climbing
stairs complained that lectures at his college had been scheduled on the
first floor which has no lift. The complaint was settled when the college
agreed to seek funding for installation of a lift and to increase staff
training in disability awareness.
Return to boarding school
A mother complained that her daughter had been discriminated against
by her school because of anorexia nervosa. She stated that the school
would not let the student return as a boarder until she had regained a
weight within the normal range because of concerns about upsetting other
students. The complaint was settled when the school advised it was willing
to have the student return as a full time boarder.
Accommodation of Asperger's syndrome in education
The mother of a boy with Asperger's syndrome complained that his disability
had not been accommodated by his high school. He had been suspended for
disruptive behaviour and hitting other students. The complaint was settled
with an agreement that the boy's education at the school could continue
with increased support including a mentoring program and a negotiated
individual education plan.
Hepatitis C discrimination in education
A woman who is hepatitis C positive complained that she had been discriminated
against in her pathology course. One element of the course involved students
taking blood samples from each other. She was willing and able to take
blood but asked that other students not take blood from her to avoid health
risks. She claimed that as a result she was excluded from core components
of the course. The complaint was settled with an apology, payment of $7000
compensation, and an agreement to have staff trained in issues regarding
blood borne diseases.
Accommodation in TAFE course
A mother complained that her daughter who has Asperger's syndrome had
not had her disability accommodated by a TAFE institution leading to her
withdrawal from the course. The matter was settled when the institution
agreed to provide the student with assistance in appropriate conflict
Accommodating ADHD in education
A mother complained that she and her son were being discriminated against
by his school because of his attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), including information about his disability not being passed on
where required and teachers being unprepared to speak to her. The school
denied any discrimination. The complaint was settled with an agreement
to improve staff training and payment of $6000 compensation.
Access to college premises
A student with paraplegia complained that facilities at his college were
inaccessible to him - including a computer building which although it
had a lift also had a door he could not open, the disability support officer
being located in a building with only stair access, and disability parking
spaces frequently being occupied by other cars. The complaint was settled
when the college advised that the computer building door was being replaced
with automatic sliding doors, ramp access was being provided to the disability
support office, and parking enforcement would be improved.
Accommodating autistic disorders in education
A father complained that his nine year old son who has autism spectrum
disorder had not had his needs accommodated by his school. The school
considered that it had in fact provided all required accommodation. The
matter was settled with an apology for problems in communication between
school and family and an agreement to provide ongoing support when required.
Accommodation of vision impairment in school tests
A mother of a boy who has a vision impairment (scotopic sensitivity syndrome)
complained that his disability was not being accommodated in sitting a
statewide test for year 5 students. The complaint was settled when the
education authority agreed (within one month of the complaint being received
by HREOC) to the test being provided to the boy on non-glossy blue paper
in 24 point type as requested.
Access to lecture notes
A university student who is colour blind complained that lecture notes
were provided by the lecturer in one of his technical courses on red paper
in 10-point font and that he was unable to read them due to his disability.
Although the lecturer had directed him to the university's electronic
format for lecture notes and advised him that they could be printed in
enlarged font on white paper, the student claimed this version was not
the same as the notes handed out in the class and that there were problems
downloading the material. He was marked as a fail in the subject and claimed
that when he approached the lecturer to request an adjustment to the marks
on the basis of failure to reasonably accommodate his disability, the
The university responded to HREOC's inquiry by advising that the lecture
notes were not the substantive course material but summaries of what was
covered in the lecture. It advised that when the student approached the
lecturer about the notes on red paper he was told that copies on larger
font on white paper were available in the lecturer's office, but that
the student had not come to collect them. The lecturer advised that the
only difference in the computer version of the notes was related to one
lecture in which a date was different, but that all the rest of the material
was the same
A conciliation conference was conducted . The complainant accepted the
position put by the university that he could have obtained the assistance
made available to all students with downloading the computer notes, and
that he could have visited the lecturer's office to collect the more accessible
notes. He maintained that he did not do so because he was embarrassed
about his disability being made more conspicuous and that it was the responsibility
of the university to provide reasonable adjustment for vision-impaired
students like himself without them having to draw attention to their differences
because of their disability.
The complaint was settled on the basis that the university agreed to
adjust the record and grant Mr M a terminating pass in the subject.
Inclusion in primary school
Parents complained on behalf of their daughter, aged 7, who has an intellectual
disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder, that she was discriminated against
when she commenced attendance in Grade 1 at the local primary school.
They claimed the school failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation
for her disability in the means it employed to prepare and present the
curriculum to her, by limiting her attendance to two hours a day, and
by applying the school discipline policy to her when she exhibited adverse
behavioural manifestations of her disability. They claimed the class teacher
showed little interest or skill in including her in the general class
activities, that she was sent home "at the whim of" the teacher,
and that the principal suggested she be moved to a special school. They
also complained that they were discriminated against as associates of
a person with a disability by being treated less favourably by the school
than it treats other parents by being requested to attend frequent meetings,
to come and supervise their daughter iin the playground and to be no more
than 5 minutes away at all times. They removed her from the school after
The respondent education authority claimed that efforts were made to
ascertain L's particular needs so that it could prepare an individual
program for her to assist her to access educational services in a way
which was appropriate to her needs to accommodate her disability. It advised
that it made sure it included the parents in meetings to discuss the program
it was preparing to accommodate her disabilities. She was approved for
disability support funding to provide an integration aide and occupational
therapy and speech therapy services. It advised that the class teacher
had provided detailed planning and resources for the girl and that her
teachers received additional support from the Guidance Officer and an
educational psychologist. It advised that the girl was still in the settling-in
stage in starting a new school and denied it had discriminated against
her by failing to provide reasonable accommodation for her disabilities.
A conciliation conference was conducted. The matter settled following
post-conference negotiations by the provision of a written apology, provision
of a computer to assist the girl's learning in the classroom at her new
school, specialized equipment and educational programs for prepared for
her, an assurance that the department would provide her with reasonable
accommodation for her disability throughout her primary school years,
and a sum of $5,000 in financial compensation for the stress and anxiety
that the parentsclaimed they had experienced.
Adjustment to uniform policy
A girl who has asthma complained that the school she attends has a uniform
policy which does not allow female students to wear slacks in the summer
terms. She states that exposure to cold air exacerbates her asthma and
that when it is cold in Terms 1 and 4 her asthma is exacerbated by the
fact that her legs are exposed to cold air.
The respondent agreed to provide $100 for counselling sessions undertaken
for emotional distress and to change its uniform policy to provide for
exemptions where relevant to a student's disability.
University education - requirements for awards
A woman who has a disability and attends University part time and carries
a 25% workload complained that that the criteria used by the University
to determine eligibility for awards were discriminatory. To be eligible
for the award concerned the student had to undertake at least a 50% workload.The
complainant stated that she had lobbied to get the policy changed and
it had been changed from 2002 and students with disabilities who had a
25% workload were now also eligible for awards but the policy was not
retrospective.The complainant argued that at the same time the University
considered 50% load a minimum to qualify for awards Centrelink considered
a 25% workload a full time equivalent for students with disabilities.
The respondent agreed to make the award retrospectively.
Accessible format for course materials
A man who is blind enrolled in a business studies course at university
to upgrade his qualifications. As he did not live close to the university
he wanted to study by distance education. He advised the university's
disability liaison officer that he needed to have the course material
provided in a format compatible with the JAWS screen reader program he
had purchased. He claims the disability liaison officer agreed to provide
materials in the format requested. Course material was sent to the complainant
but he alleges that none of the material was compatible with JAWS. He
attended two meetings at the university to outline the difficulties he
was experiencing and he claims was give assurances that the issues would
be addressed. However, at the end of the 2001 academic year he had not
completed any course work. He enrolled in 2002 but withdrew in May of
that year. He alleged that the university had discriminated against him
by not providing course material in a format he could access.
The university acknowledged that it had not anticipated the difficulties
involved in translating material to a format compatible with JAWS, particularly
in this course where there were tables and graphs as well as text. The
university also acknowledged that the complainant may have been given
assurances at the outset that could not be delivered later when the translation
The complaint was settled without admission of liability by the university
paying the complainant financial compensation of $15,000.
Accommodating a student with Asperger's syndrome
A woman complained of discrimination in education on behalf of her 15
year old grandson who had Asperger's Syndrome. The grandson had recently
moved to his grandparents' home and transferred to the local high school.
The complainant alleged that her grandson had been suspended from school
for conduct related to his disability such as answering back to teachers
and refusing to comply with the dress code. He was required to attend
a behaviour management program at a different location which allegedly
did not include any academic work. The complainant claimed that if the
teachers had informed themselves about the condition they would have been
able to develop strategies to manage his behaviour, which in any case
was not serious enough, in her view, to warrant suspension. The complainant
arranged for a medical specialist to address the teachers but she alleges
that only two were sufficiently interested to attend. The complainant
was keen for her grandson to complete year 12 as he was academically gifted.
The complaint was conciliated on the basis that the student would enrol
in year 10 in 2003 and that he would do a mix of academic and vocational
subjects. A computer would be loaned to the student for use at his home
until he leaves school. The educational authority agreed to provide funding
for a mentor for the student (a recently retired teacher) and to provide
the school with support on disciplinary issues. The respondent also provided
a nominal amount ($350) to cover the complainant's legal costs.
Accommodation of student with muscular dystrophy
Parents complained on behalf of their son, who has muscular dystrophy,
that t the school psychologist failed to provide appropriate advice or
support to the class teacher in accommodating their son's disability.
The complainants also alleged that the school had discriminated against
their son by failing to provide reasonable accommodation.
The school responded that there had in fact been five areas of accommodation
provided to the complainant's son. These were to develop and maintain
contact with support agencies, develop an Individual Education Plan, regular
meetings held with class teacher, the provision of an Education Assistant
and professional development of staff in relation to the disability.
The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed
without any admission of liability that the respondent would submit a
report to the Minister of Education recommending the implementation of
the Building Inclusive Schools initiative, and would include awareness
of disability discrimination legislation in the job descriptions for school
psychologists and pay the complainants $8,000 for general damages.
Qualifying as a teacher
A woman with a number of disabilities who is studying to become a teacher
complained that her university discriminted against her y by terminating
her enrolment because she could not meet the requirement that she pass
the Assistant Teacher Practicum. She had failed the ATP twice in 2001.
The complainant stated that the university was aware she required accommodation
for her disability so that she could meet the requirements of the ATP.
She had given the university an advice from CRS Australia that she required
clear, unambiguous instruction, time to plan lessons and assistance with
prioritising tasks. She also required her supervising teacher to have
some understanding of the constraints imposed by her disabilities. There
was a dispute between the parties as to whether accommodations needed
had been s provided.
At a conciliation conference the parties agreed that the complainant
would be offered another opportunity to complete her ATP and qualify as
A mother complained that her son who has autism had been bullied and
harassed by staff and students at his High School. The respondent apologised
to the complainant and agreed to conduct training for all staff at the
school in relation to Autism. The parties set up a chain of people for
the complainant to contact to resolve any ongoing concerns. The complainant
was satisfied with this outcome to resolve her complaint.
Need for supervision
A woman complained that her son who has reflex anoxic seizures was being
discriminated against by a lack of appropriate supervision. She stated
that there was the potential for serious injury or worse if he collapses
during a seizure and that she had advised the school that he is not to
climb heights, such as play equipment or trees without supervision. She
claimed that that the school advised her that the level of supervision
requested for her son would be disruptive and unfair to other children
attending the kindergarten.
The school responded that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the
safety of all children when they are climbing and that it must be recognised
that there is an inherent risk in outdoor activities and that children
can have accidents regardless of the level of supervision.
The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed
without admission of liability that the respondent would arrange a meeting
to develop an Individual Management Plan (IMP) for the complainant's son,
to implement the IMP, review and re-enforce safety procedures for children
climbing, ensure appropriate supervision when the complainant's son is
climbing and review and amend communication procedures to ensure all relevant
parties are informed about information contained in his IMP.
Inclusion of child with intellectual disability
A woman whose son has an intellectual disability complained that his
school had made statements indicating that her son should not be in mainstream
classes, that her son took up too much of the teacher's time and that
there is not enough aide time available to cater for his needs. She also
claims that the school had failed to act against children who bullied
or teased her son.
The school responded that there was basis for concern regarding the complainant's
son's ability to cope in mainstream class and that it has a responsibility
to ensure parents are presented with all options for the education of
their children. It also claims that it has a responsibility to ensure
that parents are provided with accurate and fair feedback about the progress
of their children at school.
The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed
without admission of liability that the respondent will explore professional
development appropriate to communication with parents of children with
disabilities, will continue to work with her son in a positive and constructive
manner to meet his educational needs and communicate with the complainant
in a clear and timely manner about incidents concerning her son's welfare
and safety. The complainant agreed to follow the school's procedures of
making an appointment when wishing to meet with staff, attend regular
meetings every 4 weeks with an advocate present so she can be informed
about her son's educational progress and commit to treating staff at the
school with civility and courtesy.
Diabetes at school
A mother complained that a school had failed to take reasonable measures
to accommodate her daughter's diabetes. The complaint was resolved with
an agreement for a diabetes educator to present information to staff at
the school, a meeting to be held with the a Diabetes Nurse Educator to
develop a management plan, and that every endeavour be made to ensure
that the girl not be excluded from any program, activity or service provided
by the school due to her diabetes.
Disciplinary procedures reviewed
A parent of an autistic child complained that the child was being discriminated
against when his school used suspension as a means of disciplining the
child for his behaviour. The complainant alleged suspension was inappropriate
given the child's behaviours were a manifestation of his disability and
that the child could not comprehend that suspension was a punishment designed
to improve his behaviour. The complaint was settled when the school agreed
to trial revised procedures based on an independent report and to consult
with the parents on the implementation process.
Access to interpreter
Parents complained on behalf of their daughter who is profoundly deaf
and attends the local primary school. They alleged the education department
had failed to provide reasonable accommodation for the girl's disability
because it had not employed an Auslan interpreter. The parents claimed
their daughter's educational opportunities were being wasted as she could
not participate in the curriculum at all without an interpreter. A conciliation
process was conducted resulting in the department creating a new position
for a full time Auslan interpreter.
Blind student gets good results
A blind man in his final semester at university complained that one of
his lecturers did not provide lecture notes and class material in an accessible
format and that the exam was multiple choice which disadvantaged him.
He also complained that the lecturer embarrassed him in class by stating
that it would take a long time to present material because he had to read
everything aloud for the complainant's benefit. The parties were able
to agree on a plan of action to resolve the matter which included discussing
the complainant's concerns, revising the format of the exam and providing
the complainant with consideration in relation to his exam results. The
complainant sat the exam successfully and advised that he is satisfied
with the agreement and the result.
Access to course materials
A student with a vision impairment complained that course materials,
while provided in electronic format, were not able to be accessed by the
student's screen reader. This meant the student did not have access to
course materials at the beginning of the course. At a conciliation conference
the university acknowledged that it had not considered the issue of accessibility
as fully as it could have, while the complainant acknowledged the technical
constraints involved in making diverse sources of course material fully
accessible. The complaint was settled with the university agreeing to
make a number of improvements to its services to students with disabilities
including the development of a Disability Action Plan to be finalised
and lodged with the Commission by March 2002, the implementation of a
Web Disability Action Plan, the purchase and testing of improved text
conversion software and by expanding the role of its Disability Liaison
(A number of similar complaints led the Commission to conduct a forum
on access to tertiary education course materials in early 2002.)
Responding to bullying
A mother complained that her son who has an autistic disorder had been
discriminated against when he was suspended from school. She said her
son was constantly bullied at school and reacted to bullying by being
aggressive, and that the school had taken action only against her son
and not the bullies. After a conciliation conference and further negotiations
an agreement was reached for the boy to return to school with the support
of an intervention plan, additional teacher aide time and individual education
program, as well as for review of the school's suspension policy and strategies
for dealing with bullying.
Accommodation for exams
A woman complained that her son had been discriminated against on the
basis of dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder when her request for
a reading/ writing assistant for an exam was refused. The complaint was
settled when the education authority agreed to permit an assistant for
Education aide funding
The mother of a child with Downs Syndrome complained that her daughter
had been discriminated against by a State educational authority providing
education aide funding for only part of the school day. Her daughter has
behavioural problems requiring supervision including running away. Following
the Commission's inquiry into this matter, the education authority advised
that it had increased the level of funding for support services for the
child such that the mother would no longer need to fund part of the aide's
A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he had been discriminated
against when his daughter's graduation was held in an inaccessible venue.
There was no lift and staff had suggested he be loaded into the dumb waiter/goods
lift instead. The complaint was settled when the school apologised and
agreed that all future functions would be held in accessible venues.
Autistic child at special school
The complainants alleged that a special school attended by their son
had failed to accommodate his disabilities, which include intellectual
disability, autism and epilepsy, when he was expelled after serious behavioural
problems. The complaint was resolved when the school undertook a series
of initiatives including procedures to be set in place to ensure a greater
level of consultation between teachers and parents, development of more
specific individual education plans for each child to accommodate the
different levels of disability among the students, more appropriate accommodation
to be made for children with multiple disabilities such this child, and
attendance for all teaching staff at a two-day staff training course in
Refusal of admission
The parents of a boy with a psychiatric condition complained that he
had been discriminated against when he was refused admission to a secondary
college after the principal formed the view that he was unsuitable for
mainstream schooling. After a conciliation conference the college apologised
and agreed to pay $5,000 compensation.
School enrolment secured
A mother complained that after the family moved to a rural centre, she
had been unsuccessfully seeking for two months to have her son, who has
a number of disabilities including autism and an intellectual disability,
enrolled in a local school. Within two days of the Commission contacting
the student services team of the relevant education authority, an enrolment
in a special education class within a local school had been secured on
a trial basis, and the complaint was withdrawn when the trial was successful
to the satisfaction of all parties.
Accommodation of vision impairment
A young man who has a vision impairment complained that despite advising
the educational institution of his disability at enrolment and being given
assurances that his disability would be accommodated, sufficient assistance
was not provided to enable him to undertake his studies. The complainant
claimed he was required to answer questions written on the blackboard
in class and during weekly examinations even though he had previously
advised the teacher that he could not read from the board. The complainant
stated that his teacher made comments about his abilities in front of
other students. The complainant also claimed that his request for an oral
examination was rejected. The complainant discontinued his enrolment two
weeks after commencement.
The respondent denied the complainant had requested accommodation for
his disability and claimed that the complainant had not advised his teacher
that he could not do the in-class examinations.
The matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing
to provide the complainant with an apology and $5,000 in compensation.
The respondent institution also agreed to implement disability awareness
training for staff and review procedures for the enrolment of people with
Access to University transport
A university student who uses a wheelchair
complained that the shuttle bus provided by the university as a safety
service for staff and students after dark was not accessible to him. The
university noted that it had examined options of fitting lifts and acquiring
larger accessible buses, but had found additional costs of 25% and 50%
respectively prohibitive. The matter was settled when the university
provide taxi vouchers to the complainant and other students physically
unable to access the shuttle bus, pending other solutions to accessibility
of the shuttle service, and publicise availability of this service
upgrade the shuttle service to a standard consistent with the Commission's
Advisory Note on public transport, and any subsequent standards on public
transport, when monitoring indicated sufficient demand to render this
Medical treatment at school negotiated
parent of a child with a disability requiring treatment and medication
during school hours complained that a public school would not administer
treatments unless she signed an indemnity which she refused to do. The
matter was settled without admission of liability after the State education
department advised that it had successfully concluded an agreement with
relevant staff representatives such that indemnities were no longer required.
in university courses
deaf student was provided with access to an Auslan interpreter for all
university lectures and tutorials during the student's four year course.
students with hearing disabilities
A state-wide support group for parents
and their families, to promote the rights of all children with hearing
disabilities lodged six representative complaints on behalf of all students
with hearing disabilities in a state public education system. The complaints
generally alleged that deficiencies in the provision of education services
to students with hearing disabilities, constitute discrimination on the
grounds of disability because
Department did not provide access to adequate numbers of qualified teachers
of the Deaf for students with hearing disabilities
was a lack of access to suitably qualified interpreters for sign-dependent
and personnel funding for students with hearing disabilities who are
integrated, was provided on an ad hoc basis
Department did not provide the option of a special segregated high school
for sign-dependent students with hearing disabilities
approach of the Department had been one of lack of support for the promotion
and understanding by hearing students, of students with hearing disabilities
the Department did not provide bilingual and bicultural programs for
students with hearing disabilities.
complaint was resolved through two conciliation meetings in which it was
will be biannual meetings between the parties, in which issues of concern
can be discussed
of the support group and the Department will form a working party which
will meet on a regular basis to discuss issues concerning the training
and competency of teacher aides and teachers of the Deaf, the reciprocal
nature of integration, the effectiveness of the Department's current
process for dealing with parent grievances and the use of data collection
to measure the effectiveness of programs for students with hearing disabilities
support group will advise the Department of individual concerns of parents,
will monitor how the issues are dealt with at the local level, and provide
feedback to the Department
support group will contact the state Board of Studies regarding introduction
of Auslan as a School Certificate and Higher School Certificate subject
and refer this matter to the joint working party.
Physical access to TAFE classes
man with a disability complained regarding physical accessibility of classes
at his local TAFE college. The matter was settled when the TAFE advised
they would schedule classes for ground floor rooms or lift accessible
buildings wherever possible and wherever a need was identified (1996).
to interpreters for TAFE student
TAFE student with a hearing impairment received interpreter assistance
for only four of his seven hours of face to face teaching, with the result
that he was forced to withdraw from the course. In settlement of his
complaint, the TAFE college provided a written apology and agreed that
within six months it would develop a policy to ensure full participation
by deaf students (1994).
Participation in school camp
secondary student with an intellectual disability was refused permission
to attend some days of a school camp because there was no funding for
an integration aide to assist him on those days. The complaint was resolved
on the basis that the school would permit attendance for the whole period
using the assistance of a volunteer, and would provide an integration
aide for the whole period of the next year's camp (1993).