Theresa who is now 24 years old was born with a disability of Cerebral Palsy. She now lives in a residential unit and has always been passionate about arts and performing. She attends a day art program that is run by a major Disability organisation in her local area, the workers from the house assist her with access to and from these activities. Apart of Theresa’s condition is the sudden losses of verbal control and as a result of this, the organisation has decided that Theresa having access to these programs is disadvantaging the other people who also attend this service.
The Act that rules this situation is the Disability Act 2006 which aims to protect disabled people and prevent all disability from discrimination; it provides legal rights for people with disabilities in areas that include: employment, accommodation, buying and renting land property, access to premises used by the public, administration of commonwealth government laws and programs, activities of clubs and associations, sports, education and access to goods, services and facilities.
This Act applies to this situation because the organisation is discriminating against Theresa by not wanting to serve Theresa access to the day program for a reason in which relates to her disability. There aren’t any sentencing involved with this act but you can make a complaint to the commission about the discrimination and they will deal with the matter appropriately and try to seek equality and justice.
The commission’s aim is to protect and promote the human rights of all Australians and they work under the following acts; Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, Sex Discrimination Act 1986 and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The commission handle the complaint through a process called ‘conciliation’. The outcome of conciliation can vary depending on the severity and the circumstances of the complaint but the outcome may include an apology, compensation for lost wages, the introduction of anti discrimination training and/or practical changes to facilities and services.
To deal with this issue in an ethical manner the worker must consider the claimants and each person who is likely be affected by the overall outcome. This is the client who you are responsible for, the major Disability organisation, the service provider, the worker from the house assist and the agency that you work for. The ‘claimant’ approach highlights our obligations and outlines any of the possible consequences that may occur, and then we can ensure that we are taking the reasonable steps to avoid the risk of any unjustified harm to others that may be involved.
The next step is to consider what your agency expects from you, these can be things such as any agency precedents, to uphold professional standards, follow and stay guided by the agency policies and procedures and are there any supervisory requirements? Some of these rules will restrict a number of the options that are available but will help find the best resolution for the overall outcome. You also have to think about what your professional practice expectations of you are; the profession expects you to abide by their pacific code of ethics and also to up hold yourself in a professional behaviour at all times.
The next thing is to consider is which would be the best course of action to take to get the best outcome for all persons involved. In this situation some of the options are; make a formal complaint to the commission regarding the discrimination made by the organisation against Theresa? Contact the Major Disability Organisation and talk to a service worker and try to come to a mutual agreement that is most suitable and that agree with both the organisation and Theresa’s needs? Or Theresa stops attending the day program and finds another organisation that may be able to suit her needs better?
After all the options are identified, analyse each one and make a tentative decision on the one that’s best to choose. When analysing the options you need to examine all the consequences that may occur for each option, you must consider what actions will be implicated? Will any of the persons involved be at harm and If so how? What agency, legal or professional requirements would invalidate any course of action? For example 1. Making a formal complaint against the organisation may take a long time and will involve the commission investigating the manner.
2. Contacting the Major Disability Organisation and talking to a worker you may not be able to come to an agreement therefore Theresa won’t be able to attend the day art program anymore 3. If Theresa leaves the organisation the workers from house may not be able to assist Theresa with accessing another one that could be further away or more expensive. After analysing all the different options provided and you have weighed up all of the good and the bad possible outcomes that may come from them. Review your
decision once again and choose which one is most suitable and that you are going to go forward with. Think about what actions that you will need to take to have them in place, The most suitable option in this situation would be to have the worker from the agency contact that major Disability Organisation on Theresa’s behalf and to discuss and negotiate with one of the service workers about what they would like to see as an outcome and to see if you come up with a mutual agreement with them in a professional manner that leaves all persons involved happy and agrees on the outcome.
If that option then doesn’t work to make a formal complaint to the commission about the unfair discrimination that has been put against Theresa. Now that the decision has been decided you are then ready to justify your decision and present it to your agency supervisor. Svetlana Belikov