​Disability discrimination

What is disability discrimination?

Disability discrimination is against the law and is when you have been treated unfairly because:

  • you have a disability
  • people think you have a disability
  • you used to have a disability
  • you may acquire a disability in the future
  • you are the friend, relative or colleague of a person with disability.

The law protects a wide range of disabilities and illnesses, including:

  • physical disability
  • diseases that make a part of the body or brain work differently
  • mental illness or psychiatric disability
  • behavioural disorders
  • intellectual disability
  • learning or cognitive disability
  • a change to a part of the body or brain after an accident or surgery
  • a different formation of a body part
  • a disease or illness caused by a virus or bacteria.

Indirect discrimination is also against the law. This is when there is a rule or requirement that is the same for everyone but unfairly affects people with disability. 

Equipment and assistance

It is against the law to be treated unfairly because you have an assistance dog, or because you need particular equipment or assistance because of your disability.

In what areas is disability discrimination against the law?

Disability discrimination is against the law in certain public places, including:

  • employment, such as when you apply for a job or while you are at work
  • employment agencies, such as when you use recruitment companies
  • when you access goods and services, for example when you are shopping, when you do your banking or access medical services
  • state education, such as when you apply for study and during your studies
  • when you rent accommodation
  • industrial organisations, such as unions
  • qualifying bodies
  • at registered clubs (clubs that sell alcohol or have gambling machines), such as when you try to enter or join a club.

What can I do if I experience disability discrimination?

If you are unsure if you have experienced discrimination or if you need more information, you can contact our enquiry service.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can try speaking to the person or organisation directly to express how you feel if you are comfortable to do so. If this isn’t appropriate, you can contact us to make a complaint of discrimination.

If you are treated unfairly because you have made a complaint of discrimination or because you have provided evidence or information about a complaint, this is known as victimisation and is also against the law.


HIV/AIDS vilification is against the law and is a public act that could incite hatred, serious contempt or ridicule towards people who have HIV or AIDS. You can contact us to make a complaint if you experience HIV/AIDS vilification.

Public acts include:

  • communications that can be seen or heard by the public (this includes print, radio, video or online)
  • signs, flags or clothing  that could be seen by the public
  • distributing and sharing information to the public.

A public act that threatens or incites violence towards a group of people on the basis of race, religious belief or affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or HIV/AIDS status is a criminal offence that should be referred to the police.

​Do you have a question about discrimination? 

Contact our enquiry service.