Justice & Safety

Justice and Safety

Discrimination happens when a person, or group of people, is treated less favourably than others because of their background or personal characteristics.

Experiencing discrimination makes participating in everyday life more difficult. It can affect education and employment opportunities and limit social interactions. A person unable to participate in everyday activities, or who avoids situations, may be at higher risk of adverse outcomes, including social isolation, unemployment and poor health.

42% of complaints received by the Australian Human Rights Commission are about disability discrimination.

  • 1 in 4 (23%) people with disability aged 15 and over experience some form of discrimination (including disability discrimination), compared with 1 in 6 (17%) without disability [ABS 2015].
  • 1 in 11 (9%) people with disability aged 15 and over experience disability discrimination [ABS 2016].
  • 1 in 6 (17%) people with disability aged 15 and over have had difficulty using public transport.
  • 1 in 3 (29%) people with disability aged 15 and over have had difficulty accessing buildings in the last year [ABS 2016]. This included:
    • 64% faced difficulty getting around the building, including with stairs, internal doors, corridor widths or obstructed walkways
    • 49% faced difficulty with approach areas, including ramps, handrails and lighting.

Of the people with disability aged 15 and over who experienced disability discrimination in the past year:

  • 1 in 4 (24%) said it was by an employer
  • 1 in 5 (21%) said it was by a person who provided goods or services (for example, health staff, bus drivers, rail staff, taxi drivers, restaurant or hospitality staff, or sales assistants)
  • 1 in 6 (16%) said it was by work colleagues [ABS 2016]

People with psychosocial disability are more likely to experience discrimination because of their disability.

  • Approx 1 in 5 (22%) people with psychosocial disability aged 15 and over experienced disability discrimination in the last year, compared with 1 in 17 (5.8%) with other disability [ABS 2016].

People with disability who experienced disability discrimination in the last year [ABS 2016].

  • 79% avoided situations in the last year, compared to 27% who did not experience disability discrimination in the last year.
  • 53% self-reported poorer health (‘fair’ or ‘poor’), compared to 33% who did not experience disability discrimination in the last year.
  • 63% self-reported a high or very high level of psychological distress, compared to 27% who did not experience disability discrimination in the last year.
  • 12% are unemployed (aged 15-64), compared to 4.5% who did not experience disability discrimination in the last year.
  • 75% have a low level of income, compared to 69% who did not experience disability discrimination in the last year.


View the full report “People with disability in Australia” by AIHW https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia/summary  

Sources: Except where stated otherwise, data is taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 via the AIHW Report 2019: Australians with Disability.  [1] VicDeaf.  [2] Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2011 ‘Disability expectations – investing in a better life, a strong Australia.’  [3] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aur.2016.  [4] Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)