Exemption applications under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)

Section 55 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) gives the Commission the power to grant temporary exemptions from certain provisions of the Act. Temporary exemptions may be granted for up to five years at a time and may be granted subject to specified terms and conditions. The effect of a temporary exemption is that discrimination covered by the exemption is not unlawful under the Act, while the exemption remains in force. Because the Act already provides general exemptions (Part 2, Division 5 of the Act – ss 45-54A) and because any temporary exemption should be consistent with the objects of the Act, the circumstances in which it will be necessary or appropriate to grant such exemptions will be limited.

The Act does not set out in any detail the criteria or procedures that the Commission should use in considering applications for temporary exemption. Section 55 of the Act simply provides the Commission with a discretion to grant such exemptions.
Because of the importance of the power to grant exemptions, and its potential impact on rights and obligations under the Act, the Commission has developed guidelines to assist the Commission in exercising this discretion. By publishing these criteria and procedures, the Commission also aims to assist interested parties in having an effective say in decisions about possible exemptions that may affect their interests.”

Please note that the Commission has not been prepared to grant exemptions simply to certify that discrimination may continue, on the basis of unjustifiable hardship or other defences. For more discussion of this issue in relation to buildings, see our FAQ on access to premises.

However, the Commission has been prepared to grant exemptions on condition that the applicant makes and meets commitments to improve access or opportunity within a reasonable period. To grant an exemption in such circumstances (rather than leaving an applicant to raise possible hardship defences in response to complaints if access is not provided) can be appropriate as a means of promoting achievement of the objects of the Act.


Current applications for temporary exemptions

Department of Social Services (DSS)
DSS seeks an exemption for all existing Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) from sections 15 and 24 of the DDA and for the Commonwealth (and officers of the Commonwealth) from section 29 of the DDA for a period of three years. The exemption is sought to permit ADEs to continue to assess and pay wages using the BSWAT.
 

Commission decisions on applications for temporary exemptions


Current exemptions (still in force)

ApplicantSummaryDecisionDate of decisionDate gazettedDate of expiry
Australasian Railway Association

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) seeks to exempt members of the ARA from the operation of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 and certain obligations arising under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 for a period of fice years, on the condition that they comply with a proposed National Code of Practice for Accessible Rail Services.

The Commission advised ARA that no decision will be made on this application (the primary application) before 31 December 2013 when its previous exemptions are due to expire. Thus, the Commission has decided to grant the exemptions sought in the interim application for a period of six months while it considers the primary application.

Granted
Decision PDF
Decision WORD

19 December 2013

(exemption commences
1 January 2014)

7 January 201330 June 2014
Shane RadburnThe applicant seeks to use a bus that is not wheelchair accessible to provide:
  • a school bus service for Captain's Flat Primary School; and
  • a scheduled public passenger service from Captain's Flat to Queanbeyan one day per week after 9am (after school starts) and returning to Captains Flat prior to school finishing.
Granted
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
13 June 201319 June 201331 October 2014
Brisbane City CouncilThe applicant seeks to provide a public transport service with a number of buses that do not comply with Part 11 of the Transport Standards in relation to handrails and grabrails.Granted
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
16 April 20131 May
2013
16 April 2018


Past decisions (expired)

ApplicantSummaryDecisionDate of decisionDate gazettedDate of expiry
Moxamu Pty Ltd (trading as Lawrence Bus Service)The applicant seeks to use a bus that is not wheelchair accessible to provide two services per week between the towns of Lawrence and Grafton and one service per week between Lawrence and the town of Maclean.Granted
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
14 March 201327 March 201314 September 2013
Queensland and Western Australian Taxi CouncilsThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from the operation of Part 1.2 of Schedule 1 of the Disability Standards for Accessible Transport 2002. This Part provides that response times for wheelchair accessible taxis are to be the same as for non-wheelchair accessible taxis, and places responsibility for this requirements on taxi radio networks and co-operatives. The applicant argues that radio networks and co-operatives do not have the ability to ensure compliance.

Withdrawn

Click here for more information on the application.

N/AN/AN/A
Redline BusesThe applicant seeks to provide a public transport service using 11 buises purchased in 2010 which do not comply with the Transport Standards. The Applicant claims that it would impose a 'capital hardship' on it to make the vehicles in question comply with the Transport Standards.Refused
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
6 August 2012N/AN/A

Broadcasters of television programs screened on free to air television:

  • Seven Network Ltd
  • Nine Entertainment Co
  • Network Ten Ltd
  • Prime Media
  • WIN Corporation
  • Southern Cross Australia
  • Imparja Television Pty Ltd
  • Special Broadcasting Services Corporation; and
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

The applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the provision of open captions for people who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment on the television programs supplied or broadcast by the applicants.

The applicants propose that the Commission grant the exemption subject to the condition that the applicants will increase the percentage of captioning provided on a number of channels that they operate.

Granted
Decision PDF
Decison WORD

8 June 201220 June 201231 December 2012
Australasian Railway AssociationAustralasian Railway Association seeks a further exemption so as to continue the effect of the temporary exemption granted by the Commission on 7 September 2010.Granted
Decision URL
1 February 2012 31 December 2013
Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA)The applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the provision of open captions for people who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment on the television programs supplied or broadcast by the applicants.Refused
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
17 September 2010N/AN/A

Cinemas:

  • Village Roadshow Limited
  • Amalgamated Holdings Ltd trading as Greater Union Cinemas
  • Event Cinemas and Birch Carroll & Coyle
  • Reading Cinemas Pty Limited
  • The Hoyts Corporation Pty Limited
The applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the provision of open captions of films for people who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment and audio description of films for people who are blind or have a vision impairment.Refused
Decision PDF
Decision WORD
29 April 2010N/AN/A
Prime Media Group of Companies, WIN Corporation Group of Companies and Macquarie Southern Cross Media Group of CompaniesThe applicants seek a temporary exemption on the same terms as the exemption granted by the Commission on 13 October 2008 (expiry: 13 October 2011) to ABC TV, SBS Television, Network Ten, Channel Nine and Seven Network. That exemption followed earlier exemptions granted by the Commission, which had provided for staged increases in levels of captioning provided.Granted
Decision URL
12 May 2009 31 December 2011
WizzBus Bus and Coach ServicesThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to a bus service to be established between Moorabin Airport and Melbourne under a contract being sought with the Victorian Department of Infrastructure. The application seeks an exemption for 5 years, being the anticipated initial contract period, to enable the service to commence and enable WizzBus to verify the economics of operating a low floor route bus.Refused
Decision URL
9 March 2009N/AN/A
ABC TV, SBS Television, Network Ten, Channel Nine and Seven NetworkThe applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the captioning of television programing on a number of conditions as proposed by the applicants.Granted
Decision URL

See related Free TV captioning consultations report 
13 October 2008 12 October 2011
Regional Express ('REX') AirlinesThe applicant seeks to impose a requirement that passengers requiring staff assistance in transferring from a mobility aid to an aisle chair or from an aisle chair to an aircraft seat provide reasonable notice of this requirement.

Granted
Decision URL

10 October 2008 9 October 2013
ABC TV, SBS Television, Network Ten, Channel Nine and Seven NetworkThe applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the captioning of television programing on a number of conditions as proposed by the applicants.Granted
Decision URL
27 August 2008 26 August 2009
Buchan Bus 'n FreightThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from the effect of the provisions of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (2002) so as to permit the continued use for public transport service of a vehicle which is not wheelchair accessible and which was acquired second hand in 2004.Granted
Decision URL
27 June 2008 31 December 2010
Queensland Rail Limited

The applicant seeks a temporary exemption from the requirements of Part 9.6 of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 insofar as they require the provision of additional allocated spaces on the Tilt Train booked services operated by Queensland Rail Limited (QR).

QR seeks an exemption on the basis that existing provision of allocated spaces has been shown to be sufficient to meet demand, and that modification to provide additional allocated spaces on the Tilt Train booked services operated by Queensland Rail Limited.

Granted
Decision URL
3 March 2008 2 March 2013
Tiger Airways

The applicant seeks a temporary exemption from liability for failure to provide access for persons unable to board or disembark using passenger boarding stairs.

Tiger Airways is in a position to undertake that passenger lifting equipment will be available by the end of the requested exemption period.

Granted
Decision URL
1 February 2008 29 February 2008
Hervey Bay RSL Club LtdThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from the operation of sections 23, 24 and 27 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and from the oepration of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 to the extent that they might require replacement or modification of the Club's current courtesy buses .Granted
Decision URL
28 May 2007 31 March 2008
Australasian Railway AssociationThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to stowing mobility aids on booked services on booked services and transfer of passengers to and from their mobility aids.

Granted
Decision URL

Note: This decision is further to a number of separate exemptions granted by the Commission to Australasian Railway Association on 22 January 2007.

5 November 2007 Various
Australasian Railway AssociationThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to direct assistance to passengers.

Granted
Decision URL

Note: This decision is further to a number of separate exemptions granted by the Commission to Australasian Railway Association on 22 January 2007.

5 November 2007 Various
Australasian Railway AssociationThe applicant seeks a number of temporary exemptions from the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002.Granted
Decision URL
20 January 2007 

Various

Mr D Williams trading as Airport DirectThe applicant seeks to defer provision of wheelchair access on a public transport service known as Airport Direct operating from Shepparton to Melbourne.Granted
Decision URL
15 December 2006 31 March 2007
Department of Infrastructure, VictoriaThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from any provisions of the Disability DIscrimination Act which would prevent use of physically inaccessible buses (currently in use as dedicated school buses) for a trial of more general public transport services to operate between Daylesford and Ballan and between Mt Egerton and Ballan.Refused
Decision URL
19 June 2006N/AN/A
Capiteq Ltd trading as Airnorth

The applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to:

  • Lack of access to aircraft seats for people requiring wheelchair access, where this is prevented by limited aisle width;
  • Lack of access to aircraft or seats for passengers requiring lifting, where this cannot be performed in compliance with the requirements of applicable occupational health and safety laws due to space constraints of the particular aircraft; and
  • Requirements for notice of disability access requirements, where these requirements are reasonable in the circumstances.
Granted
Decision URL
15 February 2006 14 February 2008
Mr D Williams trading as Airport DirectThe applicant seeks to defer provision of wheelchair access on a public transport service to be known as Airport Direct operating from Shepparton to Melbourne.Refused
Decision URL
15 February 2006N/AN/A
La La Land Byron BayThe applicant seeks a temporary exemtpion from sections 23 and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to the extent that those provisions would require provision of disability access to the upper floor premises occupied by La La Land Pty Ltd.

Granted
Decision URL

May 2005 May 2006
BCACheck Building ConsultantsThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from section 23 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in relation to access to premises.Refused
Decision URL
April 2005N/AN/A
Bendigo Tram ServiceThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from sections 23 and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 insofar as those provisions would prevent installation of one tram stop using kerb side boarding.Granted
Decision URL
31 January 2005 30 January 2008
Mr G Kinny trading as Coffs Harbour-Sydney Travel and Tours ServiceThe applicant seeks to operate a public transport and tour service with a new vehicle lacking wheelchair access.Granted
Decision URL
22 September 2004 1 December 2007
Mrs Margaret Streitberg trading as Murranumbla Bed and BreakfastThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from sections 23 and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in relation to disability access to bathroom facilities at the applicant's proposed bed and breakfast.Granted
Decision URL
22 September 2004 21 March 2006
Australian Subscription Television and Radio AssociationThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to captioning of subscription television programming.Granted
Decision URL
4 June 2004 3 June 2009
Buchan Bus'n FreightThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from the operation of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport in relation to acquisition and use of a second hand bus for public transport service, to the extent that those Standards require compliance by vehicles newly entering public transport service.Granted
Decision URL
8 January 2004 7 January 2006
Northern Districts Model Engineering SocietyThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from sections 23 and 27 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 regarding lack of lift access to the upper floor of the applicant's premises.Granted
Decision URL
25 November 2003 24 November 2005
Capiteq Ltd trading as Airnorth

The applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to:

  • Lack of access to aircraft seats for people requiring wheelchair access, where this is prevented by limited aisle width;
  • Lack of access to aircraft or seats for passengers requiring lifting, where this cannot be performed in compliance with the requirements of applicable occupational health and safety laws due to space constraints of the particular aircraft; and
  • Requirements for notice of disability access requirements, where these requirements are reasonable in the circumstances.
Granted
Decision URL
October 2003 October 2005
ABC TV, SBS Television, Network Ten, Channel Nine and Seven NetworkThe applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the captioning of television programing.Granted
Decision URL
29 May 2003 28 May 2008
Toowoomba City CouncilThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption from sections 22 (access to premises) and 24 (provision of goods, services and facilities) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.Refused
Decision URL
February 2003N/AN/A
Civil Aviation Safety AuthorityThe applicant requests an exemption from sections 19 and 29 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in relation to persons acting pursuant to Civil Aviation Regulations and their medical fitness.Granted
Decision URL
26 November 2002 25 November 2007
Queensland Rail

The applicant seeks a temporary exemption from having to instal tactile ground surface indicators.

Granted
Decision URL
11 February 2002 10 August 2002
Kendell Airlines

The applicant seeks an exemption in relation to:

  • Lack of access to aircraft seats for people requiring wheelchair access, where this is prevented by limited aisle width;
  • Lack of access to aircraft or seats for passengers requiring lifting, where this cannot be performed consistently with the requirements of applicable occupational health and safety laws due to space constraints of the particular aircraft;
  • Requirement for a passenger to be accompanied by an assistant (so long as an if an assistant is required by Kendell travel is at "carer fare" as presently applied by Kendell's parent company Ansett) if the passenger is:
    - unable to understand instructions given by the flight crew (even if instructions are available in both visual and audible form), or (where there is no cabin attendant)
    - unable to exit the aircraft unaided in case of an emergency, or
    unable to administer themselves oxygen unaided during a depressurisation of an aircraft during an emergency, or
    - unable to attire themselves in a life jacket during an emergency landing over water (where applicable to the flight concerned).
Granted
Decision URL
17 August 2000 16 August 2005
Regional Airlines Association of AustraliaThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to accessibility of small aircraft.Refused
Decision URL
17 August 2000N/AN/A
Infinity (Gold Coast) Pty LtdThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to access to premises.Refused
Decision URL
27 June 2000N/AN/A
Olympic Roads and Transport AuthorityThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to the proposed temporary transfer of accessible buses from existing services in relation to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.Granted
Decision URL
27 June 2000 4 November 2000
Lautoka Pty Ltd trading as Wild Bunch Floral DesignersThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to access to premises.Refused
Decision URL
27 June 2000N/AN/A
Commissioner of Police for Western AustraliaThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to decisions to refuse permits or licences under the Firearms Act 1973 (WA) and related matetrs.Refused
Decision URL
16 May 2000N/AN/A
Gladstone Touch AssociationThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to lack of ramp access to upper level additions to the premises of the Gladstone Touch Association.Granted
Decision URL
28 September 1999 27 September 2004

Joint application by:

  • Public Transport Corporation;
  • Met Tram 1 and Met Tram 2 (now known as Yarra Trams and Swanston Trams);
  • Department of Infrastructure; and 
  • Minister for Transport for the State of Victoria.
The applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the manner in which the applicants provide tram and light rail services in Melbourne.Granted
Decision URL
16 March 1999 15 March 2004
Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland DistrictThe applicant seeks to institute a procedure for assessing the needs of students with disabilities at schools for which the applicant is responsible and, in the event of failure of that procedure in any individual case, to apply to the Commission for a specific exemption.Refused
Decision URL
10 June 1997N/AN/A
Minister for Transport for the State of South Australia, the Passenger Transport Board and TransAdelaide.The applicants seek a temporary exemption in relation to the manner in which the applicants provide all services relating to transport in the State of South Australia.

Granted
Decision URL

19 March 1997 18 March 1999
Women's Legal Service IncThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to premises at 387 Ipswich Road, Annerley, Queensland.Refused
Decision URL
3 September 1996N/AN/A
Minister for Transport of the State of South AustraliaThe applicant seeks a temporary exemption in relation to its existing fleet of buses and lack of access for people who use a wheelchari.Granted
Decision URL
8 February 1996 6 November 1996