Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Equity and Diversity Office
Date Approved
11/06/2012 Revised 12/06/2015
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Disability and Medical Conditions

UP 12/12

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The University has a responsibility under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (DDA), the Disability Standards for Education (2005), the Disability Services Act (1992) and the Equal Opportunity Act (1984), to minimise and prevent unlawful discrimination on the grounds of disability or medical condition in education, employment, accommodation, access to premises, clubs and sports, and the provision of facilities and services.

This policy ensures provision of appropriate services and supports and establishes a framework for furthering the individual goals and potential of people with disability or medical conditions in the academic, occupational, social, and recreational activities of the University.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the UWA Mental Health Policy.


"Disability" per the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) means disability:

which is attributed to an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory, or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments;

which may or may not be of chronic or episodic nature; and

which results in a reduced capacity of the person for communication, social interaction, learning or mobility.

"Disability" includes a disability that:

presently exists; or

previously existed but no longer exists; or

may exist in the future; or

is imputed to a person.

"Fit for work" means that an individual is in a physical and psychological state to competently perform the tasks assigned to them in a manner that does not compromise the safety or health of themselves or others.

"Inherent requirement" means the fundamental requirements of a course or unit, or the essential activities, tasks or functions which are a necessary part of a job or role. The onus is on the University to prove objectively that inherent requirements exist in a course or job, based on substantive, defensible academic rationales not merely compulsory requirements or traditional practices.

"Reasonable adjustment" is defined and considered in this policy in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act (1992). Adjustments are considered reasonable when they meet the needs of the student or employee without causing the University unjustifiable hardship. In determining "unjustifiable hardship" the factors to be considered include:

a) the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by any persons concerned; and

b) the effect of disability of the person concerned;

c) the options there are to meet the requirements of the person with disability;

d) the estimated expenditure by the University; and

e) the effect (if any) on the academic integrity of a course.

"Universal design" refers to the design of products and environments to ensure the greatest possible utility without the need for specific adaptation or specialised design.

"University" means The University of Western Australia (UWA) and all facilities/locations under the jurisdiction of UWA.

Policy statement:

The University takes a positive and proactive approach to promoting inclusive practices to support the involvement of people with disability or medical condition in all aspects of community life including equitable participation in higher education and employment. The University also recognises the importance of providing appropriate access and support for visitors to the University campus.

The University seeks to translate the principles and objectives of the Disability Services Act into tangible and achievable results through the seven objectives of the UWA Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP).

A. General provisions

1 Participation

1.1 UWA aims to achieve equitable access for students, employees and visitors with disability to the academic, occupational, recreational, and social activities of the University.

1.2 The University will promote the opportunities, services and facilities on campus that are available for people with disability to prospective students and employees, and members of the University community.

2 Support Provisions

2.1 The University will provide an appropriate level of service and support, managed at the local level with appropriate input from specialist staff, to enable students and employees with disability or medical conditions to pursue their academic and employment goals.

2.2 Specialist staff will be provided via UniAccess to assist in supporting students with disability or medical condition.

2.3 Specialist staff will be provided, via Human Resources, to assist in the support of employees with disability or medical condition.

3 Confidentiality and Disclosure

3.1 In order to assist in the planning and provision of services and facilities, students, employees or visitors are encouraged to bring particular requirements related to disability or medical condition to the attention of the University. Disclosure of personal information regarding disability or medical conditions is not obligatory except where there is operational, or duty of care or inherent requirement obligations, particularly but not limited to, clinical practice or clinical training.

3.2 The University will not require a prospective employee or an employee to provide information related to disability, if the purpose of the request is to unlawfully discriminate against the employee, or if employees who do not have disability would not be required to provide the information in circumstances that are not materially different.

3.3 The University may require information relevant to disability to determine any reasonable adjustments, or to determine the employee's or prospective employee's ability to perform the inherent requirements of the position.

3.4 Where necessary, any documentary evidence of a person's disability or medical condition will be stored according to the University's Records Management Policy.

3.5 Employees are expected to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information regarding disability or medical condition provided by students, employees or visitors, except where the University's duty of care takes priority, or where adjustments are requested and information related to functional impact will be shared.

3.6 Practitioners, employers and education providers are all required by law to make a mandatory notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, (AHPRA) if they have formed a reasonable belief that a registered practitioner or student undertaking clinical training has an impairment that may place the public at substantial risk of harm.


Practitioners, employers and education providers are all required by law to report notifiable conduct relating to a registered practitioner or student to Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

How to make a notification

1. You can make a notification about a registered health professional or student by downloading the Notification Form - NOTF-00 (663 KB,PDF), completing and mailing it to the AHPRA office in your state or territory.

GPO Box 9958
PERTH 6001

More information about mandatory reporting is published on the website.

4 Awareness

4.1 To foster awareness and encourage informed and non-discriminatory attitudes of employees and students towards people with disability or medical condition, the University will:

facilitate workshops and provide online information for students and employees that focus on disability issues;

provide information and specific orientation for prospective students with disability or medical conditions to introduce them to the policies, facilities, services and activities of the University;

ensure that promotional materials for University activities and courses include a request for notification of special requirements or access or communication needs.

4.2 It is the responsibility of school supervisors and managers to be aware of the legislation and policies relating to employment and people with disabilities.

4.3 Issues arising in this area should be dealt with by the relevant school supervisor or manager, using guidelines and assistance available through Human Resources

5 Physical Access

The University will wherever reasonably possible

5.1 ensure that its buildings, facilities and services (including accommodation), are fully accessible and accept reports of obstacles to physical access;

5.2 make alternative arrangements, to allow participation in an activity or event that is inaccessible to a person with disability;

5.3 subject to availability and the University's parking and permit by-laws, provide accessible parking facilities for people with disability;

5.4 provide information regarding accessibility at the University by the provision of a Campus Access map and way-finding aids;

5.5 permit assistance animals as defined in section 9 of the DDA, on campus for the assistance of employees, students or visitors subject to the control, evidence, hygiene and health provisions set down in section 54A of the DDA.

6 Advocacy, Advice and Support

The University will provide pathways for support, and advice for people with disability or medical conditions through services such as:


Guild of Undergraduates,

Equity and Diversity Advisers,

Complaints Resolution Unit,

Equity and Diversity team

Safety, Health and Wellbeing team

Employee Assistance Program

UWA Counselling and Psychological Service

B. Student Provisions

7 Academic Access

7.1 The same academic standard as demonstrated through the learning outcomes shall prevail for all students.

7.2 Any student's eligibility for a course or unit is subject only to those selection criteria which are ordinarily applied to applicants for that course or unit including any inherent requirements. Students must be able to meet the inherent requirements of a course they wish to complete, given reasonable adjustments wherever possible.

7.3 The University will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disability or medical conditions in keeping with the inherent requirements of the studies being undertaken.


University appointed course advisers, in consultation with a Disability Officer can provide Counselling for appropriate course choice as required.

It is the student's responsibility to make any special requirements known to the unit coordinator or UniAccess in sufficient time for the transfer of materials into the appropriate formats (e.g. Braille, audio etc.) and to access materials within the timeframe of the unit.

Wherever possible, particular units should be adapted or modified by the relevant employees involved in the co-ordination and delivery of the unit with appropriate input as required (e.g. UniAccess); to enable a student with disability or medical condition to make informed decisions regarding course participation, and/or participate as fully as possible (in the context of meeting inherent requirements).

Where lectures are not routinely recorded special access to lecture recordings should be requested by the student through UniAccess. Students should request specific permission from staff to record tutorials.

7.4 Course and unit preference and choice should not be influenced by the level or type of disability, unless even with the provision of reasonable adjustments the student would be unable to meet the inherent requirements of the course of study.

7.5 The University is committed to removing barriers to a student's full participation in their studies and to an employee's full participation in the workplace, while acknowledging the inherent requirements of the course or unit of study, job or role.


UniAccess Disability Office can provide advice, assistance and support to students with disability or medical condition. Registering with UniAccess can streamline processes for accommodating a mental health problem or illness.

Accommodations such as Special Consideration allows faculties to take into account significant and unforseen factors that may have affected a student's performance. Special consideration allows a faculty to make informed and fair decisions concerning a student's academic progress including decisions around extensions for assignments, withdrawal or course changes, determining final grades in a unit of study, or approval of deferred examinations.

8 Academic Assessment

Wherever possible, students with disability or medical condition will be assessed by the same procedures that apply to all students. However, reasonable adjustment of the standard assessment methods will be provided for a student with disability or medical conditions.


Employees and students should be familiar with the procedures laid down in the University's policies on Special Consideration, and applications for alternative examination arrangements.

application for special consideration and alternative examination arrangements should be made according to these policies. Students and staff can seek help and clarification from UniAccess or Student Services.

C. Employee Provisions

9 Recruitment

9.1 As an employer, the University has a responsibility to ensure that people with disability or medical condition are provided with equitable access to employment opportunities and compete on a fair basis with other applicants.

9.2 Prospective employees should be informed about the range of facilities available to assist people with disability or medical condition in the workplace.

9.3 Application and selection procedures should be sensitive to particular needs that may relate to an applicant's disability or medical condition.

9.4 All position descriptions should be reviewed to remove any requirements not essential or desirable to job performance.

9.5 Members of selection panels should receive training and/or information concerning relevant disability issues relating to job selection and application processes.

10 Workplace Support and Modifications

Where an employee discloses disability, the University priority is to maintain the employee in their current position and work area and to provide reasonable adjustments wherever possible. Budgetary constraints at the local level must not preclude reasonable adjustments being provided.


Employees should first make the relevant supervisor aware of disability that may have an impact on their ability to perform the full range of duties associated with their role.

Possibilities for making reasonable adjustments in the workplace will be assessed by the University's Occupational Therapist. Each case must be assessed individually with consideration given to balancing the interests of all parties affected.

11 Inherent requirements

11.1 In keeping with the provisions of the DDA and the Fair Work Act (2009), it is not unlawful for the University to discriminate against an employee on the ground of disability if or because the person would not be able to carry out the inherent requirements of the particular work even if reasonable adjustments were made for the employee (including promotion and transfer to such work).

11.2 Where the disability or medical condition means the employee is unable to fulfil the inherent requirements of the job, the University maintains the right to transfer the person to a more suitable position, where one exists, at their current rate of pay and managed under the University policy on transfers and secondments (including staff exchanges) UP07/198.


The onus is on the University to prove objectively that inherent requirements exist in a course, based on substantive, defensible academic rationales not merely compulsory requirements or traditional practices.

Inherent requirements need to be determined in the circumstances of each job. They may include the ability to:

● perform the tasks or functions which are a necessary part of the job productivity and quality requirements;

● work effectively in the team or other type of work organisation concerned;

● work safely.

If a person with disability can do the essential activities or "inherent requirements" of a job, they should have the same opportunity to perform that job as anyone else.

The University, is not obliged by the Disability Discrimination Act to change the inherent requirements of a job to suit an employee.

For instance, an essential activity or "inherent requirement" for a Receptionist's job is the ability to communicate by telephone. It is not an "inherent requirement' to hold the phone in the hand. Accordingly an accommodation of providing a headset to a Receptionist would enable them to perform the duties required.

12 Fitness for work

12.1 Where there is reason to doubt the fitness of an employee to be in the workplace in relation to the safety or wellbeing of themselves or others, the University maintains the right to require an employee to attend a fitness for work assessment at no cost to the employee.

12.2 The university may require an employee to undergo a medical examination by a medical practitioner chosen by and at the expense of the University

when performance of their duties is in doubt for an unreasonable period, or,

before implementing the procedures for managing unsatisfactory performance and behaviour of professional staff or the process for managing unsatisfactory performance and behaviour of academic staff.


In the first instance, requests for a medical assessment of an employee's fitness to attend work are facilitated through the Director of Human Resources.

A staff member may obtain a fitness for work assessment from a health practitioner of their choosing. Any further actions and accommodations should be in line with the medical assessment and any period of monitoring and reassessment determined.

In such instances the confidentiality of the employee's health status will be maintained.

Personal leave, fitness for work, and the Director of HR's requirement to see a registered health professional, should be managed under the relevant clauses in the appropriate staff agreement.

13 Adverse Action

Under the Fair Work Act, the University must not take adverse action against an employee or prospective employee on the ground of disability except where the inherent requirements of the particular position are concerned.

14 Termination

Under the Fair Work Act, the University must not terminate an employee's employment on the ground of disability except if the reason for terminating the person's employment is based on the inherent requirements of the particular position concerned.

15 Complaints

15.1 Any complaints of discrimination and harassment should be referred to Equity and Diversity, or Safety, Health and Wellbeing in Human Resources, or to the Manager, Complaints Resolution Unit.

15.2 Student complaints can be facilitated under the UWA Student Complaints Resolution Policy or other appropriate UWA policy, procedure or resource designed to assist in the resolution of student complaints.

Related forms: (Link)

Policy No: UP 12/12

Approving body or position:

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor

Date original policy approved:

As per file

Date this version of policy approved:

12/06/ 2015

Date policy to be reviewed:


Date this version of procedures approved:

12/06/ 2015

TRIM File No:

F42941 - PERSONNEL - POLICY - Equity - Disability (including injury, illness and medical conditions)

Contact position:

Equity and Diversity

6488 3873

Related Policies or legislation:

Disability Discrimination Act (1992)

Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act (2009) (DDA 2009)

Disability Services Act (1992);

Disability Standards for Education (2005)

Equal Opportunity Act (1984);

Fair Work Act (2009)

State Government Access Guidelines for Information, Services and Facilities

UWA Staff Agreements

UWA Guidelines for Alternative Placement or Transfer of Staff: General Staff

UWA Mental Health policy;

UWA Occupational Safety and Health policy