The purpose of these guidelines is to set out Swinburne's commitment to students living with disability and students with caring responsibilities. These guidelines will ensure that:

  • students living with disability, and carers, have an inclusive learning environment
  • students living with disability, and carers, have access to appropriate support services
  • the university meets its obligations under relevant legislation.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with Swinburne's: 


These guidelines apply to all Swinburne students.


This procedure excludes the Sarawak campus.

1. General principles

1.1. Swinburne University of Technology is committed, through the principles of equity, to increasing and enhancing practices and educational opportunities for students living with disability and carers. This commitment is based on a philosophy of inclusion which characterises the University's approach to service provision for students living with disability, and carers. This is outlined in the University’s AccessAbility Action Plan.

1.2. Through AccessAbility Services, Swinburne will ensure that, where possible, students living with disability, and carers, are provided with appropriate academic and teaching support and that activities that form part of the broader educational program are designed to include them.

1.3. It is not unlawful for a provider to fail to comply with a requirement if, and to the extent that, compliance would impose unjustifiable hardship on the provider.

1.4. The University is committed to work towards providing safe and convenient access to facilities and services with respect to the resources available.

1.5. Students living with disability, and carers, will be encouraged by the University to utilise AccessAbility Services to facilitate, organise and plan requirements to promote equal access.

1.6. Students living with disability, and carers, will be encouraged to become independent learners and to take responsibility for their own learning.

1.7. The University undertakes to respect the rights of students and prospective students living with disability, and carers, to privacy and confidentiality.

1.8. The University is committed to raising awareness of the needs and rights of both students living with disability, and carers.

1.9. The University will comply with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Disability Standards for Education 2005, the Disability Act 2006 (Victorian) [PDF 663KB] and the Carer Recognition Act 2010.

1.10. This policy must be read in conjunction with the University Statutes and Regulations of Council and is cognisant of the availability of resources.

2. Implementation

2.1. One Swinburne academic standard shall prevail for all students (as applicable to their course), but flexibility in arrangements can be made in the attainment of particular course requirements so that any student living with disability, is able to participate in the learning experience (including assessment and certification requirements) on the same basis as a student without a disability.

2.2. Students with significant caring responsibilities are also able to negotiate flexibility in arrangements made for the attainment of particular course requirements.

3. Reasonable adjustments

3.1. To comply with the relevant legislation and to eliminate, as far as possible discrimination against people living with disability, Swinburne will provide reasonable adjustments.

3.2. Agreed Reasonable Adjustments will be outlined in an Education Access Plan prepared in conjunction with the student, informed by recommendations made by the treating health professional.

3.3. In assessing whether an adjustment is reasonable, educational opportunities will be offered to students living with disability on the same basis as a student without a disability, providing that the necessary entry requirements for the program are met, the academic or teaching requirements of the program are maintained, and any other requirements or components that are inherent or essential to the nature of the program are maintained.

3.4. Where Reasonable Adjustments involve the provision of alternatively formatted course material, A maximum of 3 (three) textbooks per enrolled unit of study will be provided, including up to 2 (two) prescribed textbooks and 1 (one) recommended textbook only. Only material directly relevant to the unit of study concerned will be considered for provision in an alternative format.

4. Costs of reasonable adjustments

4.1. Costs as a result of the provision of reasonable adjustments or to meet specific needs for approved additional activities shall not be borne by the student.

4.2. Specialist support service not provided by the University, such as personal care, may be arranged by the University, but at the student’s expense (refer to section 8.5).

5. Eligibility to receive services

To be eligible to receive services from Swinburne AccessAbility Services, students must:

5.1. Be currently enrolled in any course provided by Swinburne University of Technology. Students need to have paid their fees and be able to show proof of this by producing their student card.

5.2. Either:

a) Live with a disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (refer to definitions). A disability may arise from an impairment, mental health or medical condition. Disabilities that may impact upon studies can be physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, medical or intellectual. Disabilities may be temporary or permanent, constant or occasional;


b) Be a person who provides unpaid personal care, support and assistance to another individual in need of support due to disability, medical condition, including terminal or chronic illness, mental illness or is frail and aged.

5.3. Make an appointment to see or speak to a staff member at AccessAbility Services and officially register. Any possible support needed throughout the year should be identified and organised before semester begins.

5.4. Provide relevant documentation from a qualified professional in the particular field of disability or health. The professional needs to be independent and cannot be related to the student.

5.4.1. Recognised health professionals include Medical Specialists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, General Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech Pathologists and Educational Psychologists.

5.4.2. Reports should be relevant to the student’s current situation. Documents are generally acceptable if dated:

  • in the last two weeks for a temporary condition
  • in the last six months for a fluctuating or degenerative condition
  • after the age of 16 years for learning disability
  • no date required for a permanent disability.

5.4.3. Documentation should:

  • state the specific disability, mental health or medical condition
  • indicate whether the disability is permanent, temporary, or fluctuating
  • outline the impact on the student’s ability to study
  • recommend Reasonable Adjustments
  • clearly identify the professional and credentials
  • be legible, on letterhead, dated and signed.

5.4.4. AccessAbility Services may request updated/further documentation is provided by a student when additional information is required in order to determine reasonable adjustments or to review or make changes to the student’s Education Access Plan.

5.4.5. Assessment of specific learning disabilities should be undertaken by the relevant professional and must outline at least some of the functional impacts of the condition. Assessments should be completed after the age of 16 or an update may be required:

  • Dyslexia, Language-based Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia – Psychologist with significant experience in the field of Education
  • Motor-Based Dysgraphia or Developmental Coordination Disorder – Occupational Therapist
  • Specific Language Impairments or Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) – Speech Pathologist.
  • Learning Difficulties identified via a WAIS IQ Assessment.

5.5. Complete the Consent to Release Information form. Student details will not be disclosed or discussed without consent. Often teachers need to be told how the disability impacts on a student’s ability to participate in education and how they can accommodate the individual’s needs. Information is given generally and only on a need to know basis with the aim of enhancing the student’s learning experience.

6. Notification of a student’s disability

6.1. A student living with disability has a choice about whether they choose to disclose information about their disability to the University. It is important to note that a student is not obliged to disclose their disability but equally important is that the University is not required and may not be able to meet the student’s needs or offer Reasonable Adjustments if the University is not informed of the student’s individual circumstances or if those circumstances are not verified by recent documentation from a relevant health professional.

6.2. Students may choose, and are encouraged to identify themselves as having a disability when completing their enrolment form. Disability information disclosed on the enrolment form is for Government statistical purposes only and may also be used by AccessAbility Services to contact a student to make them aware of the service available.

6.3. Self-nomination on the enrolment form does not mean a student is registered with AccessAbility Services and is not sufficient to ensure Reasonable Adjustments are put in place. Any student who requires adjustments needs to notify AccessAbility Services and obtain an Education Access Plan that specifies the Reasonable Adjustments to be provided.

6.4. A student who does not wish to disclose a disability to AccessAbility Services may negotiate individual arrangements with relevant teachers or academics, however this will not enable the provision of any support staff or the implementation of Equitable Assessment Arrangements that cover formal examination periods. For these adjustments a student needs to register with AccessAbility Services and provide the relevant documentation.

6.5. Prospective students living with disability or who have caring responsibilities are encouraged to notify an AccessAbility Adviser at the time of application or enrolment so that Swinburne can assess the situation and consider what Reasonable Adjustments may be required.

6.6. At the time of re-enrolment or as soon as possible after they acquire a disability, current students living with disability are encouraged to notify an AccessAbility Adviser that they have a disability that may require Reasonable Adjustments.

6.7. Swinburne staff are encouraged to refer students living with disability to AccessAbility Services for an assessment and identification of Reasonable Adjustments.

7. Validation of a student’s disability or carer status

7.1. To be eligible for Reasonable Adjustments students must register with AccessAbility Services and are required to provide documentation from a qualified professional in the particular field of disability or health (refer to section 5.4).

7.2. AccessAbility Services has the right to request further information from the student if documentation is unsatisfactory and to request from the professional an impact on learning statement.

7.3. Should a student’s disability, medical condition or carer status change over time, Swinburne reserves the right to request additional documentation or cancel registration with AccessAbility Services.

8. Identification, implementation and approval of reasonable adjustments

8.1. Using the supporting documentation from the health professional and in consultation with the student, AccessAbility Services shall assess the impact of the individual student’s disability on their capacity to participate in the education activity, and identify and implement Reasonable Adjustments without compromising the academic requirements or learning outcomes of the unit or course. Reasonable Adjustments that include Equitable Assessment Arrangements which impact on the performance and/or assessment of course requirements require the approval of the relevant head of the academic unit.

8.2. Documentation will remain confidential and be stored electronically in a secure location within the Student Management System.

8.3. Faculties, Schools and other areas of the University may be advised of the identities of students registered with AccessAbility Services when appropriate and only with the student’s permission.

8.4. As far as resources permit, appropriately trained support staff such as interpreters, notetakers and participation assistants will be made available to students with a disability. While appropriately trained staff will be made available as support for students with a disability, there is no individual allocation of funds for a particular student.

8.5. The University, as an educational provider, is not required to provide, and does not provide the kind of personal care required for everyday living. Where a specialist support service is necessary and is of a kind that is not provided by the University, the University will take reasonable steps to facilitate the provision of the service to the student by another agency, however this will be at the student’s expense.

8.6. Where a student wishes to study overseas as part of an approved exchange / study abroad program AccessAbility Services may provide a referral, however it is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements directly with the exchange institution.

9. Service guidelines and agreement

9.1. The AccessAbility Services Direct Support – Service Guidelines and Agreement document provides a service agreement of rights and responsibilities and agreement by the student to the provision of direct support.

10. Participation in approved study abroad programs

10.1. A student wishing to study or work overseas as part of an approved exchange, work-integrated learning activity, or study abroad program will need to give a copy of their Education Action Plan to the relevant organising faculty, centre or administration area.

10.2. AccessAbility Services and the relevant organising faculty, centre or administration area will liaise to ensure that the services of the destination institution or workplace are suitable.

10.3. It is the hosting institution that takes responsibility for admitting and supporting the student during the term of the student’s study abroad program.

11. Interpreters and specific needs

11.1. Special arrangements for students with specific needs including interpreters and cross culturally trained personnel will be made available upon request where deemed necessary. This includes but is not limited to the enrolment process, review boards, complaint meetings or mediation, and graduation.

11.2. Where special arrangements for students with specific needs including interpreters and cross culturally trained personnel are required, AccessAbility Services will need to be contacted by the area of the University holding the activity, or by the student.

11.3. Depending on the circumstances, the University may provide students who are deaf or hearing impaired with either:

  • interpreters
  • interpreters and notetaker, or
  • live captioning.
12. Complaints

12.1. The University will manage complaints in line with its legal obligations and through internal policies and procedures in a sensitive and confidential manner.

12.2. Disability-specific complaints by students living with disability or their representatives will be resolved informally at a local level, where possible, with assistance from AccessAbility Services and/or People and Culture.

12.3. Where the complainant remains dissatisfied, the complainant may access the Swinburne Complaints and Feedback procedure. Swinburne will ensure that students using the process are not adversely affected by making a complaint.

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