What does the DDLS do?
We provide the following free legal services:
The DDLS provides information about disability discrimination law in a range of formats free to all members of the community. The DDLS has developed, in collaboration with Villamanta Legal Service and Victoria Legal Aid, a publication about Commonwealth and Victorian disability discrimination laws. It is called Using Disability Discrimination Law: A booklet for people with disabilities. You can contact the Service to obtain a free copy.
When people contact us for legal advice and it is not about disability discrimination, then wherever possible, we provide a referral to another legal service provider that can provide advice or assistance.
If people who contact us do not have a legal problem, then wherever possible, we provide an appropriate referral to an organisation that provides help for that problem.
The Service also assists people with disabilities by providing a telephone or TTY advice service about disability discrimination. Face-to-face advice is also provided for people with disabilities who may need to meet in person.
This service is by appointment only. Contact our office to make an appointment.
The DDLS provides assistance to prepare and lodge complaints about disability discrimination with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) for the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) or the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) for Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic) matters. This service is by appointment only.
The criteria for people with cases to receive DDLS casework assistance includes:
Public interest test – the case must include issues that are likely to have an impact greater than that of the individual alone.
Merit test – the case must be based on sound legal principles and not vexatious or lacking in substance.
Reasonable chance of success – the case must have some reasonable chance that a positive outcome is likely. Cases that might set a bad precedent will generally not receive assistance.
No other assistance available – in general, cases that can gain legal assistance elsewhere and/or where the client can afford private legal assistance, will not be assisted.
The types of casework assistance provided include:
Advice and support for clients who wish to run their own complaint.
Advice and support for clients who already have a legal representative.
Running complaints on behalf of a client.
Running complaints on behalf of a group of clients.
At critical stages of the case, for example after conciliation or termination by the HREOC or EOC, cases may be reviewed to assess our capacity to continue to assist with the matter and what resources are required to successfully continue the case, for example briefing a barrister.
For more information about our casework assistance or to make an appointment please contact the DDLS.
Community Legal Education:
The DDLS provides community legal education about disability discrimination legal rights. This service is provided:
Free to people with disabilities and their associates, disability advocacy workers, community legal centre workers and for open public seminars.
At low cost to service providers, businesses and government.
CLE is targeted at people with disabilities and is tailored to meet the needs of participants. Outreach services are provided to reach people in rural and regional communities across Victoria.
For more information about our CLE services contact the DDLS office.
Policy and Law Reform:
Where disability discrimination is present but is not able to be the subject of a complaint and the discrimination has an impact on people with disabilities access to justice or their capacity to participate in community life, then the DDLS may work to change the laws or policies that cause the discrimination.
Examples of current issues that the DDLS has some involvement in include:
parents who have a disability and their experiences with child protection authorities
people with disabilities experience within the criminal justice system
the lack of a Victorian Disability Rights and Community Services Commissioner
The DDLS is a member of the Disability Working Group of the Federation of Community Legal Centres. This group supports the Law Reform activities of its members to achieve systemic changes. For more information about our policy/law reform activities, contact the DDLS Manager.