Approved on by Levone


									Approved on                             by  Vice Chancellor     Res. No. (Refer AC/36/1995)
Last Amended       1/5/03               by  Vice Chancellor     Res. No. (Refer AC/59/2003)
Next Review Date   April 2008
Keywords           Access, Adaptation, Advocacy, Alternative Assessment, Complaints, Physical
                   Environment, Support.

Murdoch University Policy:
Revised Policy -
Students and Staff with Disabilities or Medical Condition(s)

Prepared and Published
by Murdoch University
Student Equity Section,
in conjunction with
the Equal Opportunity Office.

This document is available in alternative formats on request from the
Student Equity Office.

Policy Statement and Objectives
Policy Statement
Murdoch University is committed to making tertiary education and the working environment
accessible and inclusive for all students and staff including those with a medical condition
and/or disability.

This Policy and the Disability Action Plan (see Appendix 3.4) will assist the University to
meet its obligations under the Commonwealth’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (1992).
The objects of the DDA are:
   (a) to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the grounds of
        disability in the areas of:
            (i) work, accommodation, education, access to premises, clubs and sport; and
            (ii) the provision of goods, facilities, services and land; and
            (iii) existing laws; and
            (iv) the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; and
   (b) to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to
        equality before the law as the rest of the community; and
        to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that
        persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the

The University will encourage and assist staff to develop skills to help meet the learning and
support needs of students and staff with disabilities.

The implementation of the University’s Disability Action Plan will assist the University in the
operation of this policy.

Murdoch University’s objectives specifically aim to:
a. Provide current and prospective students and staff who have disabilities or medical
   conditions with the opportunity to realise their individual capabilities for physical, social,
   emotional and academic development through full participation at Murdoch University.

b. Ensure access to Murdoch courses for people with disabilities or medical conditions who
   meet the criteria for admission and develop appropriate administrative procedures for their
   enrolment, induction and orientation.

c. Develop and maintain an accessible and safe physical environment in which all people
   with disabilities or medical conditions can participate in university activities.

d. Ensure, as far as is possible, equity for students and staff with disabilities or medical
   conditions in all aspects of their participation in university life. For students, this may
   include reviewing, modifying, substituting or supplementing curricula and course work
   requirements while at the same time maintaining academic standards. For staff, this may
   include modifying work environments and practices.

e. Ensure that the policies and practices relating to the provision of support services and
   access to the resources and benefits of the University do not discriminate against people
   with disabilities.

f. Ensure that all staff have access to disability awareness training so as to enhance service
   delivery and communication with people who have disabilities.

g. Ensure that all contractors, in providing goods or services to the University, are made
   aware of their obligations and responsibilities to guard against action that may lead to
   discrimination and harassment.

h. Enable the transition to life long learning and/or employment of people with disabilities
   and/or medical conditions through the provision of inclusive employment practices and
   the removal of attitudinal and artificial barriers.

Through these objectives the University will endeavour to empower students and staff by
improving understanding of their rights and the procedures for effective advocacy where

1. Access and Equity Considerations
The University encourages prospective students with disabilities to disclose the nature of their
disabilities and medical conditions and their requirements during its outreach, admission and
enrolment procedures.

Students’ rights to privacy shall be respected and information disclosed shall be treated with
due regard to issues of confidentiality and propriety.

Where programs have a compulsory placement practicums or other compulsory
off - campus expectations, these components of the course are to be explained to the
prospective student. In the case where such practicums are required by the professional body
associated with the particular course, the University will endeavour to negotiate alternatives,
where such placement is not accessible by a particular student with a disability.

1.1 Outreach
The University will aim to achieve an increase in the access rates of students with disabilities.
The University will maintain a recruitment and information program for potential students
with disabilities.

The University will ensure that admissions information and promotional material aimed at
prospective students, includes information on the Murdoch Disability Support Program and is
available in alternative formats.

1.2 Admission
The University encourages people with disabilities and medical conditions to seek admission
to the University by all usual methods of entry. In addition to the standard modes of entry,
Murdoch University offers a number of access programs for people from designated equity
groups, including people with disabilities and medical conditions who are considered as a
priority group for access to these programs.

1.3 Enrolment
The enrolment form seeks self-disclosure of a disability and medical condition. While the
University undertakes to assist students with disabilities in their studies, it can do so only if
students disclose the nature of their disability or medical condition in the enrolment
The University is required by the federal Department of Education, Science and Training to
collect this information at enrolment.
(This information will be treated as confidential and subject to privacy of information

Subject to general entrance requirements, persons with disabilities or medical conditions who
are interested in enrolling in a particular course will be encouraged to liaise with the relevant
School to gain information on mode of study and any particular requirements of that course.

1.4 Delegation of Rights and Responsibilities
Students are encouraged to identify their support needs to the Disability Support Officer if
they require assistance. In turn, Murdoch University will endeavour to ensure that such
assistance is available.
A student has the right to:
     equal access to the academic environment which includes information, goods,
        facilities, and services provided on campus;
     reasonable and appropriate adjustments or accommodations to enable such access; and
     appropriate confidentiality in relation to the disclosure of any information in relation
        to a disability.

Confidentiality of information relating to students and staff with disabilities/ medical
conditions will be maintained. Access to information will be restricted to staff with a
legitimate need to know. Information will not be released until the student has given their
consent (written or verbal) for the release of that information. The Disability Support Officer
will retain all documentary evidence of disability or medical condition that has been supplied
to them, for a period of two (2) years after the conclusion of a student's study, unless
otherwise agreed to by the person with the disability/medical condition. Files will then be
archived in Central Records and marked as Confidential.

Students are responsible for:
    meeting the inherent requirements of courses which they undertake;
    identifying and registering their need for accommodations, (with the DSO), and giving
      sufficient time to allow these to be put in place;
    providing documentation from an appropriate professional or organisation verifying
      the effect of their disability on their ability to access academic resources;
    following the University procedures to access appropriate accommodations.

Support Services
2. The University will provide an appropriately qualified staff member, the Disability Support
Officer (DSO) whose primary responsibilities will be to provide support to students and staff
with disabilities/medical conditions as required. This officer will also facilitate and monitor
the implementation of the University’s Disability Action Plan.

Some support services available to students with disabilities/medical conditions are resource
intensive. The University may request that students supply suitable evidence of the nature
and extent of their disability/medical condition so that support provisions may be negotiated.
Such evidence may include medical or other professional advice, reports from previous
educational institutions or government and community agencies. Evidence must not be more
than three (3) years old when a student registers with the Disability Support Officer.

Adaptation of Teaching and Assessment Processes
3. The University will, where practicable, modify existing academic courses to accommodate
the range of disabilities/medical conditions that individual students may have, providing such
modification does not compromise the academic standard or the essential nature of the
academic course. This will, where practicable, include fieldwork and practical/laboratory
work, provided that no hazard is created for the students with special needs or for others
associated with the activity. Examples include alternative projects or the granting of

Where students with a disability/medical condition are enrolled in units or courses in a
Division, the Divisional Executive Dean, once informed (by either the student, their advocate
or the Disability Support Officer) shall be responsible for ensuring that:
a. appropriate and reasonable accommodation is made to teaching and assessment methods
    for them, where the need exists;
b. the student is provided with academic counselling; and that
c. the student’s education and performance in assessment, so far as is practicable, are not
    impeded by their disability/medical condition.

The University endeavours to support the use of alternative strategies for assessing students
with disabilities/medical conditions, when such students are prevented by their disability from
participating in the same manner as other students under normal assessment conditions.
Alternative strategies for assessment may include (among others) oral examinations, the use
of special equipment or furniture, separate examination room, rest breaks during tests, use of
visual aids, enlarged examination paper and allowing extra time for undertaking assessment.
Where special equipment or arrangements are needed for a student with a disability/medical
condition to participate in examinations or tests, the student should apply to the Disability
Support Officer for alternative arrangements.

The University supports the use of varied and flexible presentation methods and teaching
strategies to assist students with disabilities/medical conditions to undertake their studies.
This may include, (among other things), making book lists and study guides available prior to
the semester starting, providing material in alternative formats and providing copies of lecture

Students with a disability/medical condition will be permitted to use aids or have assistance
appropriate to their disability/medical condition during lectures, tutorials and assessment

Where special equipment or arrangements are needed for students with disabilities/medical
conditions to participate in classes or assessment procedures, the University will provide such
assistance, so far as resources may reasonably permit.

3.1 Complaints Procedures
In compliance with its statutory obligations, the University has developed procedures for
dealing with complaints of discrimination based on disability or medical condition. The
process is encapsulated in the University’s general policy covering grievance and harassment.

Internal Community and Infrastructure Development
4. To facilitate the full participation of students with disabilities/medical conditions in the
University, academic, general staff and fellow students will be given the opportunity to
acquire the understanding and competencies necessary to meet the educational support, social
and employment needs of these students.

Mechanisms for raising the awareness and responsiveness of staff and students to the needs of
students with disabilities/medical conditions will include:

a.   promotion and of the policy “Students And Staff With Disabilities Or Medical
     Condition(s)” and the “Disability Action Plan”;
b.   ensuring that all general and academic staff orientations include information on the rights
     and responsibilities of people with disabilities/medical conditions who may access the
     University, information to enhance awareness of the University's policy and objectives in
     relation to people with disabilities/medical conditions, and information on the
     University’s Equal Opportunity Policy;
c.   incorporating issues related to students with disabilities/medical conditions in staff
     development training sessions or appropriate student gatherings. This will include
     explanation of a student’s responsibility for disclosure and the concept of universal
d.   the preparation of discussion papers and seminars on issues relevant to students with
     disabilities/medical conditions; and
e.   full consultation with relevant staff when complaints are made by people with disabilities
     or medical conditions.

4.1 Language
Everyday language usage sometimes includes a number of derogatory and discriminatory
terms for people with disabilities/medical conditions. Many of these terms have evolved
through the misuse (or colloquial use) of terms ascribed to particular disabilities/medical
conditions. The University discourages such language.

4.2 Advocacy
The University recognises the importance of consultation with people with
disabilities/medical conditions in all decisions that affect their opportunity for full
participation. The principle mode of consultation is provided by the Advisory Group on
Disabilities, Students and Staff (AGDSS). This group takes an active role in providing the
University with current information on issues concerning disabilities and assists with the
initiation of various projects relating to access. This group reports on its activities to the
Equity Coordinating Committee (see Appendix 3.5).
The advisory group membership is open to students and staff with disabilities/medical
conditions and to other designated University personnel (see Appendix 3.3).

4.3 Physical Environment
The University will ensure that all new buildings are designed and constructed to provide for
access and use by people with disabilities or medical conditions, in accordance with the
appropriate current Australian Building Standards. In addition the University will, in
consultation with Advisory Group on Disabilities, Students & Staff, develop its own
additional design standards for the construction of buildings to improve access and use by
people with disabilities or medical conditions.

The University will regularly review existing campuses, buildings, signage, maps and
facilities to identify any deficiencies with regard to access.

The University recognises that it is important for students to be able to access their scheduled
lectures, workshop/laboratory sessions and tutorials for units in a timely manner. Hence, the
University will take those issues into account in room allocation, and timetabling where
practicable. Students with a disability or medical condition may be given preferential tutorial
allocation, where required.

The University gives priority to students with disabilities or medical conditions for on-campus

4.4 Information Technology
The University will progressively provide and up-date adaptive and assistive technology for
students with disabilities/medical conditions.

The University endeavours to ensure that access issues are considered when purchasing new
software and hardware for general student use and when developing teaching and resource
material that is electronically delivered. Help sheets/information on the use of software and
accessibility options and aids will be readily available in alternative formats throughout the

All I.T. support staff and persons responsible for I.T. training will be trained in accessibility
options for students and staff.

4.5 Budget
There shall be a special budget line for the implementation of support services for students
with disabilities/medical conditions administered by the University's Disability Support

The responsibility for upgrading the physical access to the University’s grounds, buildings
and rooms lies with the Office of Facilities Management (OFM) who, in liaison with the
Advisory Group on Disabilities, Students and Staff, the Disabilities Support Officer and the
Equity Coordinator identify and prioritise works identified via the Access Audit (see
Appendix 3.2).

Staff with Disabilities or Medical Conditions
5. Statement
Murdoch University is committed to enhancing the employment of people with disabilities or
medical conditions across all sectors and levels within the University. The aim is to have
representation of people with disabilities proportionate to the Western Australian population.

5.1 Recruitment
When advertising positions, all managers/supervisors are encouraged to undertake an
affirmative action approach to broaden the scope for people with a disability/medical
condition to apply for various positions in the University. All staff members involved in the
recruitment process are encouraged to take the following steps:
a. refer positions to the Equity Employment Officer to identify clients with the skills and
    ability who are available for the vacancy;
b. contact the Occupational Health and Safety coordinator, who may have staff who are
    seeking re-deployment or require job re-design and workplace modification because of
c. send copies of advertisements to agencies that support clients who have
    disabilities/medical conditions; and
d. state in advertisements that people with disabilities/medical conditions are encouraged to

5.2 Selection
All Managers/supervisors must adopt the following guidelines when preparing to interview
persons with disabilities/medical conditions:
a. use non-discriminatory language and questions during interviews;
b. ensure that an accessible interview location and time is available. Take into account the
    person’s disability/medical conditions when arranging the interview, eg provide a sign
    language interpreter for a deaf person;
c. ensure that the person’s disability/medical condition is catered for during the interview,
    eg. speaking clearly for someone who lip-reads;
d. ask applicants how they will manage necessary tasks related to the position. Do not
    simply assume they cannot do them; and
e. not to reject an application on the basis that the duties or work environment may need to
    be modified.

5.3 Induction
Induction will be provided to all new staff with disabilities/medical conditions to introduce
them to employment within the University and assist in their transition. This will be
coordinated by the manager/supervisor with assistance, if appropriate, from the Equity
Employment Officer.
Induction will be provided to supervisors/managers and staff who will work with people with
disabilities/medical conditions and provide training and information to assist them with any
necessary changes to their work practices and environment.

5.4 Training and Development
People with disabilities/medical conditions will be actively encouraged and supported to
identify and pursue careers within the University. Training information will be provided in a
manner that is accessible and appropriate.
Career support programs such as formal and informal mentoring programs will be established
by the Equity Employment Officer.

5.5 Support Initiatives
The University will support initiatives that will assist in the employment of people with
disabilities/medical conditions. These will include (among others):
    a. the Supported Wages or other productivity based wage systems;
    b. the use of specialist employment agencies;
    c. the use of Specialist Employment Placement Officers;
    d. the use of specialised/targeted recruitment programs; and
    e. reviewing workplace recruitment procedures and job design
    f. provide work experience and work trial

Graduate Employment
The University will facilitate access to training and placement opportunities that will enable
its students and graduates with disabilities/medical conditions to develop appropriate work

The University will develop strategies to take full advantage of funding initiatives by
Government agencies aimed at providing employment opportunities for its students and
graduates with disabilities/medical conditions.

5.6 Responsible Officer
The officer responsible for employment policy of persons with disabilities/medical conditions
is the Equity Employment Officer.

Responsibilities and Strategic Planning
6. Responsibility
The position responsible for overseeing this policy will be the Vice Chancellor (VC). The VC
will ensure that the Advisory Group on Disability, Students and Staff (AGDSS) are consulted
for any reviews regarding this policy or other matters pertaining to students and staff with a
disability/medical condition.

6.1 Strategic Planning
In order for Murdoch University to meet its objectives, it will develop and maintain a
Disability Action Plan that incorporates strategies to ensure that issues of access, participation
and retention of current and prospective students and staff with disabilities or medical
conditions are addressed. The University’s Disability Action Plan (Employment and
Education) for people with disabilities or medical conditions is available as a separate and
complementary document to this policy.

6.2 Implementation and Review of the Policy
Following the review of this document and its acceptance by Academic Council it will be sent
to the Vice Chancellor for approval.
Notification of its location on the web will be provided to the University community.

The Policy will be overseen by the Equity Coordinating Committee and reviewed every five
years. The review process will involve consultation with the Divisions, specifically the
Executive Deans and other relevant University staff. The outcome of the reviews will be
reported to the Academic Council and Senate.

1. Legislation – Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), 1992
The federal Government passed this act in 1992 in order to assist the process of eliminating
discrimination against persons on the ground of disability in several areas, including

 2. Process for students with disabilities seeking variation on assessment
The student or Disabilities Support Officer (DSO) may approach the assessing academic
(usually the Unit Coordinator) to organize variation in assessment. The Unit Coordinator and
DSO will liaise to discuss suitable assessment accommodations or variations.
In the case of disagreement in variations offered by the Unit Coordinator, the issue proceeds
to the Head of School.
Students who are unhappy with the decision reached by the Head of School may appeal to the
University’s Appeals Committee.

3. Definitions
3.1 Academic authority
Whilst the intent of this Policy is to ensure that students with disabilities or medical
conditions access and participate fully in tertiary study it must be made clear that this must
not be implemented in any way that will lower or challenge academic standards.

3.2 Access Audit
The University, has included within the Disability Action Plan provision for access audits. An
initial audit in 1998 identified a number of facilities and areas of the campus which were not
accessible. The Audit will be an on-going component of the University’s continuous
improvement plan and operate on a five year cycle.

3.3 AGDSS – Advisory Group on Disabilities, Students & Staff
This group meets monthly and reports to the Equity Coordinating Committee.
The group draws membership from students and staff who identify as having a disability or
medical condition. Also forming part of the group are the Equity Coordinator, the Disabilities
Support Officer, The Equity Support Officer, Guild President, Guild Disability Officer and a
representative from Office of Facilities Management.

3.4 Disability Action Plan (DAP)
The DAP is the operational part of the University’s commitment to providing an inclusive
study and working environment for all students and staff.
It is being developed through extensive consultation across the University’s campuses, the
final draft version of the DAP (2003) will be listed on the web for comment and a weblink
provided in this document following its completion.

3.5 Equity Coordinating Committee
This Committee is chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor and reports to Senate. It assists the
University to meet its commitment to increasing diversity in both student and staff intakes at
its campuses.

3.6 Unjustifiable hardship (see DDA, Section 11)
The term “reasonable” as used in this document, relates to provision of accommodations,
materials, staff or equipment, where these resources would be required by the student with
disabilities to enable them full access to their educational environment and materials.
Section 11, paragraph C of the Act is relevant to the University in any decision relating to
expenditure and disability.
Section 11 states that in a claim by the University of “unjustifiable hardship” in relation to
provision of suitable and adequate support all relevant circumstances of the particular case
would be taken into account including:
    “ (a) the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue to be suffered by any persons
      concerned; and
      (b) the effect of the disability of a person concerned; and
      (c) the financial circumstances and the estimated amount of the expenditure required to
      be made by the person claiming the unjustifiable hardship; and
      (d) in the case of the provision of services, or the making available of facilities – an
      action plan given to the Commission under section 64.”

4. Funding Sources – Disability Access & Support
4.1 University budget
Since 1995, the University has supplied a budget to employ staff to facilitate the access,
progress and educational outcomes for students with disabilities. The University has also,
through the Equal Opportunity Office, provided a program to increase the on-campus
employment of people with disabilities.

Included in those budgets have been funds to ensure provision of materials and specialized
educational support equipment to ensure equality of opportunity for students and staff with

4.2 DEST – Additional Supports Fund
In 2002, the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Science Education and
Training (DEST), set up the Additional Supports Fund, encouraging universities to identify
and apply to recoup money spent on high needs, high cost students. DEST allowed for claims
to be made where the cost to provide one student with appropriate supports or
accommodations exceeded $500 in one semester.
Murdoch University made successful claims under this category.

Responsible Officer              Equity Coordinator, Student Equity, Health & Counselling
Implementation Officers          Disability Support Officer, Equity Support Officer
Information Contact Officer      Disability Support Officer
Related Materials/ Policies: Racial Discrimination Act, 1975; Sex Discrimination Act, 1984;
Disability Discrimination Act, 1992; Equal Opportunity Act (WA), 2001; Equal Opportunity
Policy, 2001 (Murdoch University); Disability Action Plan, 2003 (Murdoch University).


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