Everyone has the right to an education in a safe and supportive environment, free from harassment and discrimination, including genetic discrimination.This right is protected by the federal and state anti-discrimination legislation described in Section 4 of this booklet. The legislation applies to all kinds of educational authorities, including schools, universities and technical colleges. Trainees and apprentices are also covered.
Discrimination is prohibited in:
refusing, or failing to accept, a person's application for admission as a student;
deciding the terms or conditions on which a person will be admitted as a student;
denying or limiting access to any benefit provided by the authority;
There are exceptions in the legislation for institutions that help particular groups of students, such as schools for the blind (Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) s 22(3); Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic) s 38); and cases where a student would need special services or facilities that it is not reasonable to expect the institution to provide: Disability Discrimination Act s 39A; Equal Opportunity Act s 39.
Exercising your legal rights regarding education If you believe that an educational authority has unlawfully discriminated or treated you unfairly, you can:
talk to a counsellor/psychologist in the school or university concerned;
write to the authority concerned, using the proforma in the Appendix to this booklet; or
Henry applied for a competitive scholarship but was discouraged from continuing his education by the Dean due to his genetic risk for HD.
Betsy complained that her daughter’s school had failed to take reasonable measures to accommodate her daughter's diabetes. The complaint was resolved with an agreement for a diabetes educator to present information to staff at the school, a meeting to be held with a Diabetes Nurse Educator to develop a management plan, and that every endeavour be made to ensure that the girl not be excluded from any program, activity or service provided by the school due to her diabetes.
Loretta has a daughter with Downs Syndrome, and complained that her daughter had been discriminated against by a State educational authority providing education aide funding for only part of the school day. Her daughter has behavioural challenges including running away which require supervision. Following an inquiry by the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission the education authority advised that it had increased the level of funding for support services for the child so that the mother would no longer need to fund part of the aide's time herself.
This information is intended as a general guide only and you should obtain legal advice if you have specific questions.