Disability

According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), a disability is:

• a total or partial loss of a person’s bodily or mental functions;
• a total or partial loss of a part of the body;
• the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness;
• the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;
• the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body;
• a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
• a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour.

The Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) uses the word “impairment” instead of the word “disability”. “Impairment” means:

• any defect or disturbance in the normal structure or functioning of a person’s body;
• any defect or disturbance in the normal structure or functioning of a person’s brain; or
• any illness or condition which impairs a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or which results in disturbed behaviour.

Both the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) make it clear that a disability or impairment include a condition that exists now, or that used to exist. They also make it clear that a disability includes a condition that is “imputed” to a person – in other words, it includes the situation where someone is treated as though they have a disability, even though they don’t actually have a disability.