Sam talks about disability discrimination for a temporary injury by an education provider. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to her situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"I told my course coordinator that I couldn’t complete the placement and she said I would have to withdraw from the course. This seemed completely unfair – I’d already booked in for surgery and would be able to do my placement later in the year when my foot had healed."
“I’d been thinking about going back to university for a few years, but I wasn’t sure if I was too old for that. My partner and children encouraged me to do it, so I enrolled to study nursing. In my second semester, I managed to injure my foot which made it difficult to stand up for long periods of time. It also meant that I wouldn’t be able to complete my nursing placement in a hospital on the original schedule.
I told my course coordinator that I couldn’t complete the placement and she said I would have to withdraw from the course. This seemed completely unfair – I’d already booked in for surgery and would be able to do my placement later in the year when my foot had healed. My partner said that this sounded like discrimination because, even though my injury was temporary, it would be considered a disability under the law.
I contacted the Commission to see if they could help me keep my spot in the course. The university initially said the course coordinator had done the right thing, but agreed to a meeting at the Commission. They helped me reach an agreement with the university, and I was allowed to complete my placement when my foot was healed.”
The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed.
How does the law apply to Sam’s situation?
In Victoria, it’s against the law to discriminate against someone because of a disability – even if it’s something temporary like an injury. Under the Equal Opportunity Act, employers, education providers, organisations providing goods and services, and others must make changes so that anyone with a disability can safely and productively do their job, access a service or participate in education. These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’. If an adjustment would be very expensive or difficult to make, it may not be considered reasonable.
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