The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their impairment.

Impairment covers all types of impairment including:

  • physical: including the total or partial loss of a person's bodily functions; the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body;
  • psychiatric: including mental illnesses; depression; anxiety; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; anorexia;
  • sensory: including visual impairment and blindness; hearing impairment and deafness;
  • other conditions: including learning more slowly; epilepsy; autism and intellectual disabilities.

It does not matter whether a person was born with an impairment or it developed later, or as the result of an injury.

The Act also covers people who previously had an impairment which no longer exists.

Hepatitis, AIDS, and HIV

The Act covers impairments related to the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness or disease, such as hepatitis, AIDS and HIV positivity.

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Guide, hearing or assistance dogs

The definition of impairment in the Act includes reliance on a guide, hearing or assistance dog, wheelchair or other remedial device.


A person must not discriminate by:

  • refusing to rent accommodation to a person who relies on a guide, hearing or assistance dog;
  • requiring the person to keep the dog elsewhere;
  • requiring the person to pay an extra charge because of the dog.

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Impairment discrimination examples

  • A person with a speech impairment applies for a job, but the employer only conducts initial interviews by telephone.
  • When it becomes known in the workplace that a young worker has previously received care for a psychiatric condition, other workers call him names such as psycho and weirdo.
  • A resident of a new block of units who relies on a motorised wheelchair has great difficulty moving around the common areas of the property and requires assistance to get through security gates.
  • A tertiary student has a hearing impairment. However the university lecturer says it's too much trouble to provide lecture notes in a suitable format.

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Information and enquiry service

Individuals, employers and business operators can access the Commission's statewide telephone information and enquiry service.

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Making a complaint

Make a complaint to the Commission on the Complaint Form about impairment discrimination.

The complaint must be lodged with the Commission within 1 year of the discrimination happening.

The Commission's service is free.

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