Open all

Australian Catholic University, consistent with its Mission, strongly supports the rights of people with disabilities to participate in higher education. The University is committed to developing an environment where diversity is valued and nurtured.

Australian Catholic University, its staff and students are each required to comply with the provisions and intentions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Disability Standards for Education 2005 and the relevant State or Territory anti-discrimination legislation. The University therefore expects that its staff and students will work together in the spirit of these legislation.

The purpose of the Policy on Students with Disabilities is to provide all students with disabilities and medical conditions with equitable and inclusive access to the University’s facilities, services, events, learning and assessment activities by:

  1. Providing an environment that enables the safe and equitable participation of all students in all aspects of university life.
  2. Enabling information and resources to be accessed equitably by all students.
  3. Promoting awareness of informed and non-discriminatory attitudes towards people with disabilities.
  4. Enabling access and equity in all student processes including student recruitment, enrolment and admission processes.
  5. Promoting inclusive teaching and learning practices.
  6. Enabling participation of all students in University life.

The policy is applicable to all staff and students of the Australian Catholic University.

The following principles will be observed in applying the Disability Action Framework (see Section 7):

  1. The University will provide staff training to develop awareness and understanding of the relevant legislation, university policy and procedures and disability issues.
  2. The University will provide information on course inherent requirements to support students in making informed decisions about courses.
  3. The University will endeavour to ensure that its agents and contractors provide an accessible and inclusive environment for students with disabilities.
  4. The University’s online environment will be accessible and inclusive of students with disabilities.
  5. All staff and students of the University shall, within their areas of responsibility, make reasonable adjustments (subject to unjustifiable hardship), to remove barriers to the access of persons with disabilities to the goods, services, facilities, events, learning and assessment activities of the University.
  6. Students with disabilities will be able to access support at all stages of their University experience.
  7. Students with disabilities shall contact Disability Support if they require reasonable adjustments implemented to support access to learning and assessment activities.
  8. Information in relation to a student’s disability/medical condition shall remain confidential and shall be restricted to those with a legitimate need to know in accordance with the University Privacy Policy.

The Disability Action Framework relates to the whole University’s responsibility to ensure access and equity to students with disabilities which includes access to the physical environment, the information, teaching and learning environment and to the University’s socio-cultural experience. It is important that access and equity is incorporated into existing planning, budgets, implementation and review processes. Therefore access, participation, retention and success of students with disabilities are the responsibility of all University members.

6.1 Staff

All staff will take responsibility to facilitate equity and access for students with disabilities and discharge their duties in a non-discriminatory manner.

Staff are expected to:

  1. Provide equitable access to education, services, facilities and resources for students.
  2. Where required, participate in a consultative process with Disability Support and seek advice in relation to recommended reasonable adjustments.
  3. Develop and maintain, through participation in training and accessing related resources, their awareness of the requirements of students with disabilities as stipulated in legislation and policies.
  4. Encourage students to approach them to discuss issues impacting on their access that arise from their disabilities.
  5. Implement recommended reasonable adjustments for learning and assessment as specified in the student’s EIP.
  6. Have due regard for each person's right to privacy and confidentiality when seeking information for the purpose of implementing reasonable adjustments;

6.2 Students

All students are required to familiarise themselves with the inherent requirements of their course and the eligibility criteria for registration with professional registration boards before enrolling in their chosen course.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to:

  1. Register with Disability Support and provide timely, current and appropriate medical or specialised documentation to substantiate the provision of reasonable adjustments.
  2. Contact their Lecturers in Charge within 10 working days of finalising their EIP to discuss their learning needs and the implementation of reasonable adjustments.
  3. Advise Disability Support if the nature or impact of their disabilities/medical condition changes, their circumstances change or they change their enrolment, discontinue or take leave from study.
  4. Participate in consultations and reviews as required with Disability Support.
  5. Engage with staff on matters related to their disabilities/medical conditions.
  6. Use appropriate feedback processes to inform the University of barriers to access in the University environment.

Disability Support, part of the Counselling and Disability Service, assists the University to meet its compliance obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005. The University may not be able to assess and/or determine the provision of a reasonable adjustment if a student does not register with Disability Support.

Disability Support is expected to:

  1. In discussion with the student and in consideration of supporting documentation, develop an Education Inclusion Plan (EIP), which provides recommendations regarding reasonable adjustments, where appropriate.
  2. Advise and liaise with the staff of the University concerning students with a disability regarding the implementation and monitoring of determined reasonable adjustments.
  3. Keep records for the purpose of reviewing and reporting on service provision.

A student who is a carer of a person with disabilities, or someone who is frail and aged may be entitled to reasonable adjustment or academic consideration subject to provision of substantiating documentation to Disability Support.

Exceptions may apply where a serious health condition such as an illness, physical or psychiatric condition, impacts adversely on the student’s capacity to pursue or benefit from any unit, program or research or where a reasonably apprehended risk to the student, other students and staff or property is identified.

9.1 The consequences from a reasonably apprehended risk may include:

  1. Physical injury to the student or others and/or damage to property.
  2. Harassment or serious emotional disturbance of another student, staff or visitor.
  3. Serious disruption of academics and/or other activities of the University.

9.2 The University is not required to provide an adjustment:

  1. if it would impose unjustifiable hardship on the University, or placement provider;
  2. if it compromises the academic standards of a unit or program of study, that are inherent or essential to its satisfactory completion;
  3. if for safety, it is reasonably necessary to protect the health or welfare of a student or other person.
  4. if it is considered an unreasonable adjustment.

10.1 The University may amend this Policy and the Procedure from time to time to ensure their currency and to improve the general effectiveness and operation of this Policy and the Procedure.

10.2 In line with the University’s Policy Development and Review Policy and Procedure, this Policy is scheduled for review every five (5) years or sooner if the Approval Authority or Governing Authority determine that a review is warranted.

Date Major, Minor or Editorial Description of Revision(s)
1 October 2020 Minor Amended references to ‘Disability Services’ to ‘Disability Support-, amended provision relating to carer responsibilities, consistent with legislative definition, minor formatting amendments.

Students who have a question or concern about a decision, act or omission that affects their access to any activity of the University, events and learning can contact Disability Support and/or the relevant representative from the Counselling and Disability Service or School responsible for the decision, act or omission. Refer to the university Student Complaints Policy and Procedures.

Terms used in this policy are consistent with the ACU Glossary of Terms published on the ACU Website. In the context of this policy the following terms also apply:

DDA is the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and includes Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act 2009.

Disability – in relation to a person means:

  1. total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions; or
  2. total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
  4. the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
  5. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body
  6. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  7. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour; and
  8. includes a disability that:
    1. presently exists; or
    2. previously existed but no longer exists;
    3. may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability); or
    4. is imputed to a person.

To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.

Discrimination on the grounds of disability means treating a person with a disability less favourably than a person who does not have a disability in the same or similar circumstances.

DSE 2005 is the Disability Standards for Education 2005.

EIP is the Education Inclusion Plan developed by Disability Support which documents recommended reasonable adjustments for a student.

Inherent Requirements are the fundamental components of a course or unit, that are essential to demonstrate the capabilities, knowledge and skills to achieve the core learning outcomes of the course or unit, while preserving the academic integrity of the university’s learning, assessment and accreditation processes. (Note: making a requirement compulsory does not necessarily make it an Inherent Requirement)

Online Environment refers to online resources, processes and curriculum available on ACU websites including the Learning Management System (LMS) and other web applications.

Reasonable Adjustment refers to an individualised modification made to the teaching, learning and assessment activities to enable a student with disabilities or an ongoing health condition to access and participate in education and training on an equal footing with other students.

For these Standards, an adjustment is reasonable in relation to a student with a disability if it balances the interests of all parties affected. (Disability Standards for Education, Sections 3.3, 3.4)

Unjustifiable hardship is an exception under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 that exempts an organisation from making an adjustment if the making of the adjustment would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the education provider.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs