Removing barriers to substantive equality: A case study of remedying disability discrimination complaints

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Disability discrimination complaints are primarily resolved in the privacy of a conciliation conference. Few complaints reach the courts so there is very little
available information about the outcomes negotiated by the parties or how this type of discrimination is being addressed. Drawing on settlement
agreements and decided cases from Queensland, this article examines how disability discrimination across a range of areas is remedied prior to hearing
and by the tribunal. The data suggests that complaints are predominantly remedied in an individualized way, mainly with compensation. Although the
parties negotiate wider, systemic outcomes on occasion, such as building modifications or better access to premises, courts rarely award remedies of this
nature. British law takes quite a different approach. The article considers three mechanisms used in Britain which could be adopted in Australia to
strengthen the law’s effectiveness for people with a disability: investing a public agency with enforcement powers; requiring organizations to make
reasonable adjustments for people with a disability; and placing a positive duty on public authorities to promote equality for people with a disability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159 - 184
Number of pages26
JournalAustralian Journal of Human Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • disability
  • discrimination
  • reasonable adjustments
  • remedies
  • equality
  • ADR
  • conciliation

Cite this