What is ‘disability law’?

Written by:
Angela Cox

Angela Cox

Principal Lawyer

In this article:

The Australian laws that affect people with disability and their families are as many, diverse and complex as the lives of people with disability and their families.

In working through the maze, I have compiled the below summary of the key current disability-related Australian Acts, by subject matter. 

This list represents the framework of what I generically call ‘disability law’.

Note, I have excluded those Acts that establish compensation schemes for personal injuries arising from workplace and motor vehicle accidents, medical negligence and public liability. These laws are, in my view, a distinct but albeit related area of law to ‘disability law’.

National Disability Insurance Scheme 

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth)
  • Disability services, support and societal inclusion 
  • Disability Services Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Disability Act 2006 (Vic)
  • Disability Inclusion Act 2014 (NSW) *replaced the Disability Service Act 1993
  • Disability Services Act 2006 (Qld) *replaced the Disability Service Act 1992
  • Disability Inclusion Act 2018 (SA) *replaced the Disability Service Act 1993
  • Disability Services Act 1993 (WA) 
  • Disability Services Act 2011 (Tas) 
  • Disability Services Act 1991 (ACT) 
  • Disability Services Act 1993 (NT) 

Disability discrimination and human rights 

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
  • Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) 
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas)
  • Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT)
  • Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
  • Anti-Discrimination Act (1996 (NT)

Substitute and supported decision-making 

  • Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 (Vic) *replaced the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986
  • Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW)
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld)
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1993 (SA)
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA)
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1995 (Tas)
  • Guardianship and Management of Property Act 1991 (ACT)
  • Guardianship of Adults Act 2016 (NT)

Caring for people with disability

  • Carers Recognition Act 2010 (Cth)
  • Carers Recognition Act 2012 (Vic)
  • Carers (Recognition) Act 2010 (NSW)
  • Carers (Recognition) Act 2008 (Qld)
  • Carers Recognition Act 2005 (SA)
  • Carers Recognition Act 2004 (WA)
  • Carers Recognition Act 2021 (ACT)
  • Carers Recognition Act 2006 (NT)
  • Tasmanian Carer Policy 2016 * not an Act but a policy of the Tasmanian government that contains similar principles to those in the listed state and territory Acts

Income support – disability support and carers pensions, mobility allowance, rent assistance and special disability trusts

  • Social Security Act 1991 (Cth)
  • Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth)

The Australian Department of Social Services has published, and updates, an online Social Security Guide which is a useful tool to assist legal practitioners, advocates and others to navigate social security and related tax and other legislation.

Where can I find disability legislation?  

To access current and historical versions of the above-mentioned Acts and related subordinate legislation, go to the online legislation database for the applicable jurisdiction. Here are the links:

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is general only. While it may provide guidance on a issue or matter that you may have, it should not be relied on as legal advice. We recommend that you obtain legal advice specific to your issue or matter.

© A. Cox 2024
All rights reserved. This article is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research or as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this article may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without prior permission from the author.