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What is a disability?

The definition of disability is very broad and includes physical, psychological, sensory, intellectual disabilities and medical conditions. Curtin recognises the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 definition of disability.

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Legal definition of disability

The legal definition of disability is broad and includes:

  • Mental illness/psychiatric disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Medical conditions
  • Physical disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Sensory disabilities
  • Temporary disabilities, illnesses or injuries.

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Disability Discrimination Act 1992 definition

The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability as:

  • Total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions
  • Total or partial loss of a part of the body
  • The presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  • The presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness
  • The malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body
  • A disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  • A disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour.

It also includes a disability that:

  • Presently exists
  • Previously existed but no longer exists
  • May exist in the future
  • Is imputed to a person.

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