Policy Redesign Project

All policies and procedures are being reviewed as part of this project. This document is pending review, but remains in effect until the review is carried out.

Disability Policy

Establishment: Vice-Chancellor, January 2012 (replacing Disability Action Plan established by Council, 30 October 1997)
Last Amended: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), 8 February 2016
Nature of Amendment: Consequential amendments arising from the establishment of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students)
Date Last Reviewed:  
Responsible  Officer: Director, Human Resources

1.  Introduction

The University is committed to upholding the fundamental entitlements of people with disabilities and to developing an institutional culture that values and strives for standards of excellence in all areas of access, including premises, curriculum design, communication and technology.


2.  Legislative and Policy Framework

The legislative and policy framework for this policy is as follows:

2.1  Legal Framework

2.2  Policy framework

2.3  Universities Australia Guidelines

In relation to the above legislation, Universities Australia endorses the following:


3.  Definitions

Disability:  The definition of disability adopted by Flinders University is that which appears in Section 4 of the DDA.

Discrimination: The definition of discrimination adopted by Flinders University is that which appears in Sections 5 and 6 of the DDA.


4.  Principle of Access and Equity

4.1  Flinders University is committed to providing access and equity for students with disabilities to enable them to participate fully and independently, to the greatest extent possible, in the academic, cultural and social life of the University. In particular, the University has the following objectives:

  • to provide opportunities for students with disabilities to realise their individual capabilities for intellectual, social, emotional and physical development through a high level of participation in the University;
  • to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against in admission to a University course or topic; the University will consider applications to vary the standard entry requirements for people with disabilities;
  • to provide equipment and support services that prevent, minimise or overcome barriers to fuller participation in academic and other activities within the University;
  • to respect the rights of people with disabilities to privacy and confidentiality and to ensure the delivery of services to students with disabilities in a manner that respects and promotes their dignity, rights and opportunities;
  • to foster and encourage, among staff, students and the community, positive, informed and unprejudiced attitudes towards people with disabilities;
  • to cooperate with other universities, TAFE, schools, government and community organisations to maximise use of resources available to the State for students with disabilities; and
  • to provide appropriate level of resources within available funds in order to reasonably accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.

4.2  Flinders University is committed to providing access and equity for staff with disabilities to enable them to participate fully and independently as employees of the University in all aspects associated with work, career development and employee relations at the University.


5.  Principle of Reasonable Adjustment or Accommodation

5.1  Wherever practicable, reasonable adjustment or accommodation to the usual policy or practice will be made to meet the needs of a person with a disability. Adjustments or accommodations may be made to employment arrangements for staff or to education arrangements for students, to the buildings or grounds of the University, or by way of the provision of specialised equipment or services.

5.2  Adjustments or accommodations that require substantial costs will need to be weighed against the benefits to be gained, noting that some accommodations or adjustments may also benefit people without disabilities.

5.3  The University is not legally bound to make the adjustments or accommodations where it can demonstrate that doing so would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the University.

5.4  The principles and procedures for reasonable adjustment to assessment and teaching methods for students with disabilities are contained in Appendix A of the Assessment Policy and Procedures, Guidelines for Reasonable Adjustment to Assessment and Teaching Methods for Students with Disabilities.

5.5  Students with disabilities who are intending to undertake work placements under the provisions of the University’s Work-Integrated Learning Policy must meet any requirement for fitness tests applicable to the work placements to be undertaken.


6.  Facilities and Services for Students and Staff with Disabilities

6.1  Upon application, students and staff with disabilities may be provided with facilities and services if they:

  • have a documented disability; and
  • experience some disadvantage in their University-related studying or employment (as appropriate) as a result of that disability that can be ameliorated by the provision of such facilities or services.

6.2  The University will endeavour to provide such facilities and services in a way that recognises the individual's needs, respects their right to privacy and confidentiality and provides a maximum degree of flexibility and autonomy.

6.3  In assessing an applicant with a disability for employment against the selection criteria for the position, selection panels must consider whether, by applying the principle of reasonable adjustment, the applicant would be able to meet these criteria.

6.4  Where an employee acquires a disability, the principle of reasonable adjustment will apply.


7.  Student Disclosure of Disability

7.1  The University encourages students with disabilities to:

  • contact a Disability Advisor to seek support, advice and assistance in relevant areas including, if appropriate, the process of disclosure of their disability to teaching staff; and
  • declare such disabilities prior to, or during, enrolment to appropriate staff of the University.

7.2  University staff must treat as confidential and private any disclosure of information concerning a student’s disability.


8.  Implementation of Adjustments and Accommodations for Staff and Students

8.1  Cost Centre Heads are responsible for funding approved adjustments or accommodations for staff with disabilities in their areas.

8.2  The Vice-Chancellor may provide additional financial assistance to the Cost Centre, where the Cost Centre claims unjustifiable hardship in respect to providing reasonable accommodation or adjustment. 

8.3  The Disability Service is responsible for funding approved adjustments or accommodations for students with disabilities.


8.4  Disability Advisors will provide advice and information regarding assistance for students with disabilities, advocacy on disability issues on behalf of students and coordination of specific services that enable students with disabilities to access and participate in University study.

8.5  On the basis of the appropriate documentation of the student’s disability, the Disability Advisor will determine whether assistance or an adjustment is necessary and may develop an Access Plan outlining recommended reasonable adjustments to assessment or teaching for that student. The student will use the access plan to negotiate their individual study requirements with relevant Faculty staff.

8.6  Faculty Disability Academic Advisors (FDAA) are appointed in each Faculty by the Executive Dean to act as a point of contact for:

  • students with disabilities in their Faculty;
  • Health, Counselling and Disability Service members in seeking to negotiate with academic staff in their Faculty;
  • academic staff within the Faculty who may need to clarify issues in regard to reasonable adjustments to assessment and teaching methods for students with disabilities.


8.7  The supervisor of a staff member with disabilities is responsible for negotiating and approving accommodations and adjustments for that staff member, in consultation with Human Resources and Disability Advisors.

Adjustment can be made either to the working arrangements of the position or to the work environment to ameliorate the effect of the disability. Reasonable adjustment may include:

  • exchanging some duties between the person with a disability and other colleagues;
  • adapting existing equipment or obtaining equipment which has been specially designed, for example to compensate for sensory impairment;
  • rearranging the physical layout of the workplace, for example to allow for wheelchair access;
  • providing information or training to people without disabilities; or
  • adopting alternative ways of completing required tasks, for example through flexible work practices.

Assistance Animals

8.8  Under the Disability Discrimination Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal that is:

  • accredited under a State or Territory law that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; or
  • accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or
  • trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability, and to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.

8.9  People wishing to use assistance animals should provide evidence that the animal meets the above criteria to:

  • the Disability Service, in the case of students wishing to use an assistance animal; or
  • the Manager, Equal Opportunity & Diversity, in the case of staff wishing to use an assistance animal.

8.10  Assistance animals must remain under the control of either the person with the disability or a person accompanying them.

Note: The animal may be under the control of a person even if it is not under the person’s direct physical control (ie. it may be under voice control).

8.11  It is not unlawful to discriminate against the person with the disability if:

  • the assistance animal is reasonably suspected of having an infectious disease; and
  • discrimination is necessary to protect public health or the health of other animals.

8.12  The owner of the animal is liable for damage to property caused by the animal.


9.  Disability Action Plan (DAP)

9.1  In conjunction with this policy, the DAP sets out the University’s approach to meeting its obligations and responsibilities under Part 3 of the DDA.

9.2  The Vice-Chancellor is the Responsible Officer for the implementation of the actions identified in the DAP.

9.3  The DAP will be lodged with the AHRC to assist it to evaluate any claim in the event of a complaint being made against the University.


10.  Evaluation and Reporting

10.1  The following will report biennially to the Vice-Chancellor on the implementation and effectiveness of the Disability Policy including the DAP in their area:

  • Deans of School, through the relevant Executive Dean, on accommodations and adjustments made for students with disabilities in courses or topics for which they are responsible, and accommodations made in their Schools for staff with disabilities;
  • Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Information Services) in respect of Information and Communications Technology and Library support for staff and students with disabilities;
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Vice-President, in respect of staff with disabilities in their respective portfolio areas;
  • Director, Yunggorendi, through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), in respect of Indigenous students with disabilities;
  • The Director, Student Services, through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students), on the provision of support services for students with disabilities;
  • Director, Buildings and Property and the Dean, Flinders Living, through the Senior Vice-President, on the University’s physical access upgrade program, including in respect of residential accommodation for students with disabilities.
  • Disability Advisors on any matter in relation to the Disability Policy and the DAP.

10.2  The Vice-Chancellor will report biennially to Academic Senate on the effectiveness of the Disability Policy and the DAP in relation to the provision of support for students and staff with disabilities.