Disability Discrimination, the Duty to Make Adjustments and the Problem of Persistent Misreading

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The statutory duty to make adjustments contained in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) is one mechanism to promote substantive equality in Australia. In theory, it requires duty-bearers to adjust existing practices to accommodate a person’s needs. However, in Sklavos v Australasian College of Dermatologists, it was established that a duty-bearer is only required to make adjustments for persons with disabilities where the reason for the refusal to make adjustments is based on the disability itself. This removes the positive
aspect of the duty from the requirement and makes it almost impossible
for a claimant to prove their claim. This is not the frst time that an Australian appellate court has effectively removed the positive duty aspects of the duty to make adjustments. This article will consider the reasons why higher courts in Australia appear to struggle to give meaning to such a duty. It will outline the purpose of the duty to make adjustments, before considering the approach of Australian courts to the duty. It will conclude by considering the different approaches adopted to such a duty in comparable jurisdictions and suggest
reforms to the current Australian approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-486
Number of pages26
JournalMonash University Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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