UNE Disability Action Plan 2014-17

Download the Disability Action Plan ((PDF, 2653.88 KB))

Foreword Professor Alison Sheridan, Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of New England

Message from the Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

The University of New England has a strong commitment to building an inclusive and accessible University community. The 2014 – 2017 Disability Action Plan (DAP) builds on the work completed under the previous 2010 – 2013 Student Disability Action Plan, by incorporating staff and visitors to the DAP and placing a strong focus on capacity building within the University to improve online and physical accessibility. 

Being at the forefront of online education in Australia, UNE recognises its focal role in actively promoting accessibility to maximise opportunities for participation and education. UNE strives to continue providing excellent online study options that serve the needs of students from diverse backgrounds and life stages. At the same time, UNE provides unique opportunities of on campus study with a close connection between UNE staff and students. In 2014, UNE has maintained its reputation for excellence by again achieving a five-star rating for 'Graduate Satisfaction' in the 2015 Good Universities Guide. UNE has also been awarded five stars for socioeconomic equity, a well-deserved recognition of the University's commitment to one of its core values: inclusiveness. To ensure that UNE continues to provide excellent support and services for all students, the 2014 – 2017 DAP aims to shift the focus from the special needs of the student and staff member to improving the University's capacity to cater for the needs of all students and staff.

The DAP was developed following extensive consultation with UNE staff and students and will guide the delivery of programs and services to staff and students with a disability and other health conditions until the end of 2017.

The delivery of the DAP will be monitored and reviewed regularly to ensure its continued accuracy and effectiveness. While the responsibility for implementation of the DAP rests with the Executive of UNE, I encourage every member of the UNE community to actively engage in the implementation of the DAP to further improve UNE's position as an inclusive, accessible and respectful environment for all our students, staff and visitors. 

Senior Special Needs Adviser
Special Needs Office
Director
Human Resource Services

C033 – TC Lamble Building

University of New England

Armidale NSW 2351

Ph: 02 6773 2897

Email: disabilities@une.edu.au

C033 – TC Lamble Building

University of New England

Armidale NSW 2351

Ph: 02 6773 3705

Email: hr-services@une.edu.au

Preamble

A Disability Action Plan (DAP) assists in ensuring that UNE meets its value of 'providing an academic and work environment that is accessible to, and engaged with the communities we serve'. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act) requires that people with a disability be given equal opportunities to participate in and contribute to society. This includes the provision of equal access to higher education and employment.

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards) provide a legal framework for education providers to ensure students with a disability are provided with reasonable adjustments to participate on the same basis as students without a disability in all aspects of university life.

In 2010, all Australian Governments have committed to the National Disability Strategy 2010 -2020 (the Strategy) that sets out a unified, national approach to improving the lives of people with a disability, their families and carers. Policy commitments under the Strategy include increasing access to employment and education opportunities for people with a disability, their families and carers.

With the removal of the Disability Discrimination Commissioner from the Human Rights Commission in the 2014/2015 Federal Budget, the current Liberal Government may provide less direct funding and policy direction to people with a disability in education and employment.

Nevertheless, these developments should further encourage UNE to improve access for people with a disability. To initiate the systematic changes required to eliminate disability discrimination, the Act recommends that organisations prepare and implement DAPs. Through a DAP, a university can demonstrate that disability discrimination is being eliminated systematically and cost-effectively across the whole organisation.

Aims of the DAP

The primary aim of this DAP is to improve the university community's understanding of and support for students, staff and visitors with a disability to UNE. UNE's Special Needs Office and Human Resource Services aim to achieve this by developing the necessary capacity building services and structures for staff, students and visitors to UNE.

Associated aims of UNE's DAP are to comply with Commonwealth government requirements; minimise discrimination; encourage broader participation in studies and employment; and ensure UNE remains competitive and a positive role model in the wider community. This should also reduce the risks of having complaints made against it under the Act.

Current Situation at UNE

Current policies and practices that show UNE'S commitment to protecting and facilitating equal access of all students to quality education include:

  1. The Special Needs Office that coordinates and facilitates reasonable adjustments to allow students with a disability or health condition to participate on the same basis as other students;
  2. There are a number of alternative entry options for students without the educational background for admission to an undergraduate course at UNE, such as the Pathways Enabling Course, Mature Age Special Entry, Special Tertiary Admissions Test and Pathways for Indigenous Students.
  3. The Student Grievance Unit that is an independent investigative unit, which provides assistance with and the resolution of any issues, concerns or complaints submitted by students and staff.
  4. UNE's Ombudsman, who ensures that members of the University community are treated fairly by individuals, offices, committees, boards or any other group within the University.

Current policies and practices that show UNE'S commitment to protecting and facilitating equal access of all potential and current staff members to employment at UNE include:

  1. The Health and Safety Consultant provides advice and support for all workplace health and safety matters.
  2. The Social Justice Committee has responsibility for ensuring that activities undertaken by UNE are consistent with principles of equity, social justice and social inclusiveness, as they relate to both staff and students of the University.
  3. The Health and Wellbeing Officer facilitates both the workplace adjustments for staff with a disability and also return to work programs for staff with a temporary disability.
  4. The Manager, Workplace Relations deals with issues relating to discrimination.

A number of policies at UNE directly or indirectly impact on students, staff and visitors with a disability (See: the A-Z listing of UNE Policies for the list of all policies):

Definition of Disability

The term disability has an evolving meaning and includes those with temporary illnesses and injuries as well as degenerative diseases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines disability as an umbrella term for limitations derived from health conditions as well as environmental and social barriers leading to a substantially higher rate of poverty and social exclusion for people with a disability.

While acknowledging WHO's holistic definition of a disability, UNE uses the Act's and Standards' definition of a disability in relation to a person, as:

  1. the total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions; or
  2. the total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
  4. the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
  5. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body ; or
  6. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  7. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour; and includes a disability that:
  8. presently exists; or
  9. previously existed but no longer exists; or
  10. may exist in the future; or
  11. is imputed to a person.

The Act also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis that her or his associate has a disability. An associate in this instance is:

  1. a spouse of the person; and
  2. another person who is living with the person on a genuine domestic basis; and
  3. a relative of the person; and
  4. a carer of the person; and
  5. another person who is in a business, sporting or recreational relationship with the person.

While the Standards refer specifically to students with a disability, the Act includes associates of a person with a disability, who should be supported by UNE, as needed. This issue will be addressed in this DAP.

UNE in Australia's Wider Environment

UNE's Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015 Mid-Term Refresh outlines UNE's vision that 'UNE will be known for the quality and accessibility of its on-campus and online education' and that it 'will remain known for its inclusiveness as both an education provider and employer'. While UNE's online learning model provides opportunities for many people with a disability to access the university, an inclusive and proactive approach to improve accessibility at UNE may shift the focus from ad hoc service provision for individual students to ensuring that UNE is more accessible to all. It is therefore timely to review UNE's support for students and staff with a disability.

According to the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, 4.2 million people in Australia (18.5%) reported having a disability in 2012. The Strategy (National Disability Strategy 2010-2020) states that 'concerted attention is needed to improve the responsiveness of Australia's policies in areas such as health, education, employment support, housing and income support. Australia's performance in these areas for people with a disability continues to lag well behind achievements for the rest of the population. 'In 2012, 13 per cent of people with a disability had completed a bachelor degree or higher compared to 25 per cent of people without a disability. People aged between 15 and 64 years with a disability have both lower participation (53%) and higher unemployment rates (9.4%) than people without a disability (83% and 4.9% respectively) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012).

To address this inequality, Australian governments have committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (Attorney-General's Department 2011). The increased publicity around disability rights and access to mainstream services as a result of the launch of the NDIS may lead to more people with a disability accessing universities as students and employees, who may request more inclusive and accessible services.

Challenges for People With a Disability at UNE

Current Deficit View of Disability

The Special Needs Office had identified that information about different types of disabilities, inclusive teaching methods and UNE's legislative requirements towards students with a disability was not available to UNE staff. This has also been identified at other universities in Australia and overseas (see Ryan 2011, 'Access and participation in higher education of students with disabilities: access to what?' & Hanafin et al 2007, 'Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education'). Ryan (Ryan 2011, p. 77-78) assessed that students with a disability are generally viewed negatively in higher education in terms of their abilities by both staff and students. This 'deficit' view focuses on what students cannot do, rather than on how the current system discriminates against students with a disability, which has led to an ad-hoc and inconsistent service provision (Ryan 2011, p. 78 & Hanafin et al 2007, p. 444).

The situation for UNE staff and visitors with a disability is similar, as support is provided in an ad hoc and inconsistent manner, impacting on university resources and effectiveness. Currently, there is no strategic approach to supporting and working with staff members with a disability to ensure their needs are met.

Socio-Cultural Model of Disability

The socio-cultural model of disability aims to shift the focus from the special needs of the student or staff member to what is 'wrong' with the educational institution. While there will remain a need for reasonable adjustments for many students and staff members with a disability, there are options to improve general access to study and work materials. To ensure that UNE remains at the forefront as an employer and in education delivery both on campus and online, it is critical that UNE staff consider the needs of all students and staff members when preparing and delivering traditional and new learning techniques and in the workplace. These include, among others, people with a learning disability, mental illnesses and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).

For example, the prevalence of Australians diagnosed with ASD, including High Functioning Autism (formerly Asperger's Syndrome), has more than doubled between 2003 and 2009 (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009, 'Autism in Australia'). ASDs are lifelong development disabilities characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities (Autism Spectrum Australia 2013). Learning disabilities are the result of nervous system dysfunction, which may cause a person to receive and process information differently. Research estimates that at least 5% of tertiary level students have a learning disability that impacts on their study (Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET)). Also, the prevalence of mental disorders needs to be considered. According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007, almost half (45%) of Australians have a mental disorder at some point in their life (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007). Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders, which can impact on a person's concentration, self-esteem and performance in assessments and in the workplace. By increasing awareness of the impact of various disabilities on students' and staff performance at university, UNE will be in a position to provide more inclusive and informed reasonable adjustments to affected individuals.

Process to Develop the DAP

To ensure UNE's DAP will be an effective and useful tool for the UNE community; it needs to include provisions set out in the Act. These include:

  1. a review of current activities;
  2. establishment of specific goals and targets, including timeframes;
  3. development of policies and programs to meet goals;
  4. development of monitoring and evaluation strategies;
  5. allocation of responsibility for each target; and
  6. development of a communication strategy.

Consultation

Heads of School, Directors and student representatives were invited to an information session about the DAP, before they were invited to comment on the draft document.

Following this, the draft DAP was distributed to all UNE staff for comment, prior to the finalisation of the document. 

The DAP was published during a forum open to all UNE staff and students on 26 June 2014, before it was lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Progress since 2010

The 2010-2013 DAP was developed for students only and aimed to eliminate any discriminatory practices, promote equitable experiences of university engagement to all students, to facilitate proactive solutions and to monitor the plan at all levels of the University. This was to be achieved by:

  • Identifying barriers (Awareness);
  • Developing actions to remove barriers (Access);
  • Demonstrating commitment to equality (Adjustments); and
  • Monitoring UNE's compliance (Accountability).

Achievements so far include (NB the numbers refer to the section 'Objectives and Outcomes 2014 - 2017' on this page):

  1. UNE has improved its provision of inclusive practice in all areas of a student's lifecycle (1.1 & 2.2).
  2. UNE endeavours to incorporate the principles of the DAP in all facets of university planning (1.3). The Special Needs Office is occasionally, but not yet regularly, consulted by relevant committees when developing plans and policies.
  3. UNE has introduced a compulsory Equity EO online quiz for new employees, which outlines UNE's legislative requirements under the Act and Standards (1.3).
  4. UNE provides learning materials in an accessible format in a timely manner (2.2).
  5. UNE launched its updated website in November 2013, which aims to be compliant with international standards for disability against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) (2.2) Level AA.
  6. UNE students are provided with timely services, which meet the substantiated needs of students with a disability (3.1).

Outstanding Actions

  1. Information regarding UNE's legislative requirements under the Standards and practices to provide reasonable adjustments to students with a disability is not readily available to staff, students and visitors to UNE (1.1).
  2. UNE currently does not provide specific training to support UNE staff and students in understanding different disabilities and to provide reasonable adjustments to students (1.3).
  3. A disability parking map is difficult to read and UNE is yet to develop a campus mobility map that incorporates disability parking, access into and within buildings, access between buildings and accessible toilet facilities (2.1).
  4. UNE's online learning system Moodle is not yet accessible to students using assistive technology and can be difficult to access by students with a range of print and learning disabilities as well as vision impairments (2.2).
  5. Information regarding disability services provided on UNE's website is insufficient and does not outline disability support provisions and processes (2.2).
  6. There is no evidence that an annual review of the DAP has been conducted (4.1).

Other Issues Identified

  1. When liaising with schools, the Special Needs Office identified inconsistent familiarity with the Standards and responsibilities of schools in providing reasonable adjustments to students. This issue impacts on UNE's accountability and transparency in providing reasonable adjustments to students with a disability.
  2. Information and clarity is required regarding Australian students studying at an overseas university as part of their UNE degree.
  3. The Standards include an associate of a person with a disability. Given UNE's average student age is much older than that of most other Australian universities; it is likely that a significant percentage of UNE students have caring responsibilities for persons with a disability. To ensure their needs are met and carers are not being discriminated against, an assessment into providing reasonable adjustments for carers needs to be conducted.
  4. Support for staff and visitors with a disability is ad hoc and inconsistent with no designated staff member across Schools and Directorates to facilitate and coordinate disability support.
  5. There is no Disability Employment Strategy to demonstrate UNE's commitment to recruiting and retaining staff members with a disability.
Objectives and Outcomes for 2014 to 2017
Table showing the objectives and outcomes of the Disability Action Plan, including tasks, responsibilities and target dates.
ObjectiveOutcomeTaskResponsibilityTarget Date
  1. The rights of students, staff and visitors with a disability are incorporated in all policies and planning.

1.1 The Special Needs Office and the Health and Wellbeing Officer in HR are consulted early when UNE policies are reviewed and developed.

a. The Special Needs Office and the staff Health and Wellbeing Officer are on the regular contact list for policies that are reviewed and developed.

Academic Board

UNE Council

Special Needs Office

Director, Human Resources (HR)

The Special Needs Office  and the Health and Wellbeing Officer have been consulted for all polices reviewed and developed by end 2017

b. Positive & inclusive language is used in all UNE documents that refer to students and staff with a disability.

Director, Marketing and Public Affairs (MaPA)

By mid-2014 & and ongoing

1.2 Develop knowledge and data on students and staff with a disability to enable better planning and delivery of services.

a. The number of students and staff is collected, who disclosed a disability and the type of disability and the number of students registered with the Special Needs Office.

b. This data is included in UNE annual reports.

Director, Student Administration & Services (SAS)

Chief Legal and Governance Officer

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

Data included in 2014 Annual Report & ongoing

c. Adding students registered with the Special Needs Office in class lists (Callista) is considered, bearing in mind privacy and confidentiality concerns.

Director, Student Administration & Services (SAS)

Chief Legal and Governance Officer

Special Needs Office

By March 2015

1.3 Monitoring,

evaluation and review of

the Disability Action Plan (DAP)

is ongoing, effective, has

clear implementation

timelines and reporting

and feedback mechanisms.

a. Quarterly updates on progress of the DAP to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

First update by October 2014

b. Access and Equity Committee will be established, involving Special Needs Office, staff and student representatives.

c. Quarterly meetings to address the DAP and other emerging issues.

Academic Board

Pro Vice-Chancellors

Elected student and staff representatives

Special Needs Office representative

HR representative

b. Structures in place by November 2014

c. first meeting held by January 2015

d. Annual survey of students, staff and external stakeholders to monitor and evaluate the success of the DAP.

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

c. first survey by December 2014, then annually

e. Report of survey results to Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Access and Equity Committee for review of the DAP and associated operational plans.

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Access and Equity Committee

First report by February 2015, then annually.

2.UNE remains known for its inclusiveness as an education provider and employer, ensuring all students and staff are provided with informed, supportive and appropriate support.

2.1 Improved awareness across UNE community of rights and responsibilities; disability types and teaching strategies.

a. Additional student disability support service sites on UNE website are developed, including detailed information on types of disabilities and recommended teaching strategies.

Special Needs Office

a. by March 2014 & ongoing review

b. Staff disability sites on UNE website are developed and promoted, including detailed information on available services.

Director, HR

By October 2014

c. Regular staff training (at least three times a year) in disability rights, legislation and responsibilities is provided.

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

First training by March 2014

d. Regular training (at least twice a year) regarding specific disabilities and recommended teaching strategies is provided.

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

First training by end 2014.

e. Bi-annual mental health training for UNE staff and students is provided.

Director, HR

First training by end 2014.

2.2 Equitable support

Services are available to all students who need assistance.

a. Trial of a mentoring program for and with students with High Functioning Autism and other students with high support needs.

Special Needs Office

Trial in Trimester 1, 2014.

Full implementation by 2015

b. Information on UNE website acknowledging carers' needs is added.

Special Needs Office

By October 2014

2.3 People interested in studying and/or working at UNE have access to all information regarding UNE's disability services.

a. Processes established for Future Students team and Oorala's Student Support Team to remain up to date with Special Needs Office web information and processes.

Special Needs Office

Director, MaPA

Director, Oorala

Director, Future Students Team

By mid-2014 & ongoing

b. Processes to provide advice and support to future and current employees with a disability are easily accessible to interested individuals.

Director, HR

Director, MaPA

By end 2014

c. Improved information sharing between Special Needs Office and University of New England Students Association (UNESA).

Special Needs Office

Director, UNESA

By end 2014

d. Accessibility of the enrolment process for students with a disability is reviewed and improved.

Director, Student Administration and Services (SAS)

By mid-2015

2.4 Develop a Disability

Employment Strategy to encourage potential employees with a disability to choose the University as an employer.

a. A recruitment strategy, which incorporates people with a disability, is implemented.

Director, HR

By end 2014 and bi-annual review

b. Recruitment and hiring processes reflect a commitment to employing people with a disability.

Director, HR

By end 2014 and bi-annual review

c. Human Resource staff are trained to give relevant disability-related information to applicants about University policies, facilities and services.

Director, HR

By end 2014

d. Processes and responsibilities of UNE's Health and Wellbeing Officer are strengthened and promoted across UNE to provide reasonable adjustments for all staff members with special needs.

Director, HR

By end 2014

3. UNE is a leader in providing accessible information and technology.

3.1 Improved access to online learning and other student systems.

a. Moodle online learning system meets WCAG2.0 Level AA requirements as a minimum; is compatible with assistive technology and has a flexible display of information, as part of Moodle upgrade to Version 2.7 for Trimester 3, 2014.

Director, MaPA

Director, ITD

Director, Learning Innovations Hub (LIH)

By trimester 3, 2014 & Ongoing

b. Other current and future online systems are WCAG2.0 Level AA compatible and allow a flexible display.

3.2 UNE websites, including UNESA and UNE Residential Services, are fully compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA Guidelines as a minimum and meet higher standards, if possible.

a. When updating websites, WCAG2.0 Level AA requirements are met and websites include multiple display options, such as text, visual and audio display, where possible.

Director, ITD

Director, MaPA

Director, UNESA

Director, UNE Residential Services

Updates completed by end 2017

4. UNE provides a flexible, supportive and innovative learning and working environment that maximises access and participation for all staff and students.

4.1 Processes of providing reasonable adjustments and alternative assessments for students are streamlined to improve transparency, clarity and accountability.

a. Nominated staff member as part of a Special Needs Contact Network in each Academic School and relevant Directorates, such as Oorala.

Special Needs Office

HoS

Directors

By July 2014

b. Each Special Needs Contact is trained in relevant legislation, UNE processes and responsibilities of each staff member, as required.

Special Needs Office

Special Needs Contact Network

By August 2014

c. Action Plans developed in each school and directorate, outlining procedures to provide special needs support, and other strategies and support services, as they may arise.

HoS

Directors

Special Needs Contact Network

By end 2014

d. Special Needs Contact Network review after 12 months.

Special Needs Contact Network

Special Needs Office

HoS

August 2015

e. Process of collaboration established between Special Needs Office and UNE's colleges in providing effective support to resident students with a disability.

Director, UNE Residential System

Special Needs Office

Processes established by end 2014

f. List of students registered with Special Needs Office is provided to Dixson and Law Libraries regularly.

Special Needs Office

Library

Commence in Trimester 1, 2014

g. Library service standards for staff, students and visitors with a disability are established and communicated.

Special Needs Office

Director, Library

By end 2014

h. Clear processes and procedures about the provision of reasonable adjustments for students completing professional experience and clinical/practical placements are being developed and made available to UNE's community on UNE's website.

Special Needs Office

Director, Legal Office

Professional Experience Offices in the Schools of Education, Health and Rural Medicine

By mid-2015

i. Clear processes and procedures about the provision of reasonable adjustments for domestic students studying at an overseas university as part of their studies at UNE are being developed and made available to UNE's community on UNE's website.

Special Needs Office

Director, Legal Office

Director, UNE International

By mid-2015

4.2   Processes of providing reasonable adjustments for staff are streamlined to improve transparency, clarity and accountability.

a. Position and role of designated HR officer is promoted across UNE.

Director, HR

By end 2014

b. All training sessions and materials are offered in accessible formats by training providers.

Director, HR

From 2015 onwards

4.3 To provide teaching, learning and assessment practices that are flexible and inclusive, and allow for additional adjustments for the needs of individual students with a disability, as required.

a. Inherent requirements are developed for all courses that outline all requirements explicitly. 

Academic Board

HoS

By end 2017

b. Preparation of accessible course materials that allow for alternative formatting for and by students.

HoS

Director, LIH

Majority complete by September 2014 & ongoing

c. Strict timelines (6 weeks prior to beginning of trimester recommended) promoted for the availability of subject prescribed and recommended reading lists to enable alternative formatting.

HoS

Learning Resource Centre (LRC)

By end 2014

d. All course information is fully accessible.

HoS

Director, MaPA

By end 2015

4.4 The need for reasonable adjustments is being considered and addressed, when new teaching formats and styles are introduced across the university.  

Clear procedures established and made available online to consider the needs of all students when new teaching formats and styles are planned and implemented.

HoS

Director, LIH

By July 2015

5. All of UNE's physical facilities are accessible and compliant with Australian Standard 1428 and current Building Standards.

5.1 Physical structures and buildings are accessible.

a. Accessible toilets, corridors, doorways, ramps and lifts according to current Building Standards, are available in all buildings.

Director, Facilities Management Service (FMS)

Review by end 2017

b. Provision of accessible paths of travel across campus.

Director, FMS

Review by end 2017

c. UNE Life facilities (Sport UNE, food and bar services) are fully accessible.

Director, FMS

Director, UNE Life

Review by end 2017

5.2 Signage and safety provisions are provided and updated to incorporate the needs of people with a disability.

a. Safety inductions and policies for labs and other potentially hazardous environments for staff and students are updated, to include needs of people with a disability.

Director, FMS

HoS

Director, HR

By mid-2015

b. Safety directions and emergency procedures accommodate the needs of people with a disability and are widely accessible (e.g. fire alarms and evacuation procedures).

Director, FMS

Director, HR

By end 2015

c. Accessible Campus Access Map is developed and made widely available, including building access, disability parking, accessible paths and accessible toilets.

Director, FMS

By mid-2015

d. Clear signage of directions to buildings, rooms and key areas is placed across campus.

Director, FMS

By end 2015

e. Students and staff requiring accessible facilities are informed of building and road works and provided with alternative options for travel.

Director, FMS

Special Needs Office

Director, HR

By mid- 2014

Review and Evaluation

This DAP is a tool to ensure UNE proactively works to improve the experience for students and staff with a disability and is compliant with relevant disability legislation. The DAP therefore requires regular review and evaluation to ensure that its strategies and outcomes remain relevant and that all staff at UNE ensure its implementation. UNE will monitor, review and evaluate the DAP in the following ways:

  1. The Special Needs Office and Human Resource Services will provide quarterly reports to the Senior Executive on progress, implementation and outstanding issues of the DAP.
  2. Establishment of a
  3. University-wide Committee to oversee implementation of the DAP.
  4. An annual survey of students, staff and external stakeholders will be conducted to ascertain UNE's progress towards implementation of the DAP and whether the identified outcomes remain relevant and appropriate.

Ongoing Feedback

This DAP is continuously evolving and UNE staff and students as well as visitors are encouraged to provide regular input and feedback. Please contact:

Senior Special Needs Adviser

Special Needs Office

C033 – TC Lamble Building

University of New England

Armidale NSW 2351

Ph: 02 6773 2897

Email: disabilities@une.edu.au

Director

Human Resource Services

C033 – TC Lamble Building

University of New England

Armidale NSW 2351

Ph: 02 6773 3705

Email: hr-services@une.edu.au

Appendix

Relevant Legislation Policies and Strategies

Disability Discrimination Act (the Act) 1992

The Act provides legal protection for every individual in Australia against all forms of discrimination based on disability. Disability discrimination occurs when people with a disability and people who are associated with a person with a disability are treated less fairly than people without a disability.

Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Standards)

As a requirement of the Act, the Commonwealth Attorney-General formulated the Standards, which provide a legal framework for education providers to ensure that students with a disability are able to access and participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability. UNE uses the Standards in lieu of a disability policy to ensure UNE fully incorporates the Standards' scope.

National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy

As part of the Social Inclusion Agenda, the Australian Government has developed a National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy, which involved consultation with consumers, peak bodies, employers, state and territory governments and experts.

The Strategy aims to address the barriers that are faced by people with a disability and/or mental illness that make it harder for them to gain and keep work.

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (formerly called the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986) established the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now known as the Australian Human Rights Commission) and gives it functions in relation to the following international instruments:

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • Convention Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (ILO 111)
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Declaration of the Rights of the Child
  • Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons
  • Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons, and
  • Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory organisation and reports to the Federal Parliament through the Attorney-General, keeping the Federal Government accountable to national and international human rights standards. The Australian Human Rights Commission aims to promote and protect human rights in Australia by working with organisations and individuals to ensure the values of human rights are a part of everyday life.

The National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020 (the Strategy)

The Commonwealth, State and Territory and Local Governments have developed the Strategy under the auspices of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). The Strategy sets out a ten year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with a disability, their families and carers.  

As part of the Strategy, the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry into a long-term disability care and support scheme for people with a disability.  COAG subsequently agreed to the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which was launched on 1 July 2013 (see NDIS).

United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Concluding observation on the initial report of Australia

In September 2013, the UN assessed whether Australia is meeting its international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by Australia in 2008. The UN is concerned that despite the adoption of the Strategy and the NDIS, Australia has not yet brought its legislation fully into line with the Convention. Further, the Committee identified that there are not enough mechanisms for engagement between Government and persons with a disability and their organisations and that not all organisations of persons with a disability are provided with adequate resources for their operations.

Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee (AVCC) Guidelines relating to Students with a Disability

In 2006, the AVCC developed guidelines to assist universities in providing accessible services to all students. The guidelines encompass the key areas of policy and administration, teaching and learning and campus life and services. Resources to assist universities in meeting the best practice indicators are available in the Carrick Institute funded Creating Accessible Teaching and Support (CATS) web resource available at http://adcet.edu.au/cats/.

Other key legislation and guidelines include:

References

Attorney-General's Department 2011. National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020, Canberra. Retrieved on 14 November 2014 from http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/national_disability_strategy_2010_2020.pdf.

Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2007, National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results (cat. no. 4326.0), Canberra. Retrieved on 15 November 2013 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4326.0Main%20Features32007?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4326.0&issue=2007&num=&view=.

Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2009, Autism in Australia (cat. No. 4428.0), Canberra. Retrieved on 21 October 2013 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4428.0main+features420099.

Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2012. Survey of disability, ageing and carers, summary of findings (cat. no. 4430.0). Canberra. Retrieved on 14 November 2013 from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/A813E50F4C45A338CA257C21000E4F36?opendocument.

Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) – Opening all Options 2013. What is a Learning Disability. Accessed on 21 November 2013 from: http://www.adcet.edu.au/Oao/What_is_LD.chpx.

Autism Spectrum Australia 2013, About Autism Spectrum Disorders. Retrieved on 21 October 2014 from http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/content/what-autism.

Hanafin, Joan; Shevlin, Michael; Mairin, Kenny; McNeela, Eileen 2007, 'Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education', Higher Education, vol 54, pp. 435 – 448. Retrieved on 15 November 2013 from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10734-006-9005-9.

Ryan Janette 2011, 'Access and participation in higher education of students with disabilities: access to what?', The Australian Association for Research in Education, Vol 38; pp. 73 – 93. Retrieved on 15 November 2013 from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13384-010-0002-8.

UNE Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015 Mid-Term Refresh. Accessed on 11 November 2013 on: http://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/23466/MidTerm-Refresh-Strat-Plan2011-2015.pdf.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Definition of Disabilities. Accessed on 11 November 2013 on: http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/.