Foreword from the Vice-Chancellor

Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence

Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence

The University’s first Disability Action Plan was lodged with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1999. This is the University’s third Disability Action Plan and over the last 13 years the University has achieved key milestones in its journey to improve and increase access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

We are, of course, committed to meeting our legislative obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005. But, more importantly, if we are to be a university in which the brightest researchers and the most promising students can thrive and realise their full potential, we must ensure that we provide a learning and working environment which is inclusive and accessible to all our students, staff and visitors.

As a University and a community we still have more to achieve in access and inclusion. I welcome the University’s Disability Action Plan 2013–18 and urge the whole University community to commit to working towards the achievement of its objectives.

Dr Michael Spence
Vice-Chancellor and Principal


The University formally thanks all those who committed their time to provide feedback during the review process of the University’s Disability Action Plan 2006–10 and the development of the Disability Action Plan 2013–18. The University acknowledges the work of members of the Disability Action Plan Development Group, who worked together from 2011 to guide the process of the development of the Disability Action Plan 2013–18. The University also recognises the work of Margaret and Michael Fox from Access Australia in supporting the development of this plan. In particular the University also thanks all those students and staff who participated in the disability action plan workshops, student and staff surveys and those who commented during the drafting process.

Executive summary

This is the University’s Third Disability Action plan, and it aims to further the human rights and inherent dignity of all students, staff and visitors to the University. It is a mark of our recognition that people with disabilities have the same human rights and inherent dignity as everyone else. We are committed to working proactively together to ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to realise their full potential and capabilities at this university.

This plan seeks to enable students and staff with disabilities to lead full and enriched lives at the University and fully participate in all aspects of the life, education, research and administration.

It reflects our focus on becoming a world-class leader in the social and economic participation of people with disabilities in the life of the University. The Disability Action Plan also ensures the University meets its legislative and strategic requirements. More importantly, it provides the University with a plan of action for delivering an accessible best practice teaching, learning and working environment to our students, staff and visitors.

While the plan outlines specific heads of departments and units as responsible for specific strategies, every staff member across the University is responsible for enabling access and inclusion.

Key principles that underpin this plan include the following.

  • People with disabilities have the right to be treated with dignity and respect as individuals, and to realise their individual capabilities.
  • People with disabilities have the right to have access to the full range of educational and employment opportunities to maximise their learning and career development.
  • People with disabilities are consulted to determine the level and type of adjustment for their individual needs.
  • People with disabilities have rights to privacy, confidentiality and individual choices about disclosure.
  • People with disabilities have the right to work and study in environments free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, consistent with the relevant legislation outlined in this plan.

The University strives for a proactive capacity-building stance on the provision of services and opportunities for people with disabilities. Therefore, effective approaches that are strengths-based, rather than those that seek merely to minimise deficits, are embraced by the University.

To guide the University to uphold its principles and responsibilities as a leading education provider, the Disability Action Plan has six key objectives:

  1. The University incorporates the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities in all policies and planning.
  2. The University of Sydney is a tertiary education provider of choice for all students.
  3. The University is an employer of choice for people with disabilities.
  4. The University’s communication and digital environment is accessible to people with disabilities.
  5. The University provides an accessible built environment to everyone.
  6. The University provides leadership to the community in developing an inclusive Australian society.

For an understanding of the key terms used in this plan please refer to appendix 1.