In general Australia is an accepting society, especially within the major cities. Although Australia is not absent of discrimination or stigma, people with disabilities are generally well accepted and supported within society, educational systems and the workplace. Anti-discrimination legislation is in place, buildings and transportation are generally wheelchair accessible and guide/support dogs are permitted within buildings and on transportation. Mental illness is still associated with some level of stigma, however it is becoming more accepted and is considered a disability under legislation and discrimination laws.
The University of Melbourne has a strong Disability Liaison Unit (DLU) that works with students with a wide variety of disabilities (including psychiatric, learning, attentional, chronic systemic, mobility, hearing and vision). The DLU has the primary responsibility of facilitating the participation of students with disabilities. This is done primarily by working with students to identify reasonable adjustments that promote opportunities and independence in the pursuit of academic success.
The amount of time a student spends in class and studying varies greatly with each student. A load of four subjects within a semester is considered a full study load. General science and humanities classes have up to 3 hours of lectures a week. The general rule of thumb is an extra hour of work for each hour of class time – however this varies greatly with each student.
In general subjects the course material is learnt from lecture (often Powerpoint presentations), readings and tutorials. Science courses may also have laboratory classes, and language classes may use audio or audiovisual equipment. Independent research (library/database reference searching and reading) is generally expected for essays or assignments. Submitted work is required to be typed, except in some special cases (such as music composition or formulae). Computer labs are available on campus and are wheelchair accessible.
Other classroom accommodations could be made such as finding note takers, allowing lectures to be recorded, allowing extra time to complete an exam, and allowing service dogs in the classroom. Sign language interpreters are available but they use AUSLAN. Transcription services are available.
Field trips or excursions are course specific. Alternatives or accommodations could be identified for students with disabilities. Students should speak with their instructors and DLU as soon as possible to discuss their individual needs.
The University would work with DLU, accommodation providers and the student to determine the most appropriate housing. Self-contained apartments in UniLodge on Swantson offer lifts, ramps, and are wheelchair accessible. However, the internal apartment fittings are not disability specific, and there are no rails installed. For fully catered accommodations, they can also accommodate students at residential colleges – they would look at each individual case in terms of what adjustments can be made to ensure accessibility for the student.
All residential colleges provide for special dietary needs, accommodations with kitchen facilities available to the student could be found, and assistance with carrying trays, cutting food, or reading menus could be arranged.
Computer labs with Internet access are available and are wheelchair accessible.
Students have access to library facilities. The library is wheelchair accessible and assistance is available to help access library materials.
The campus is relatively large and students generally walk between classes and colleges/accommodation for up to 5-10 minutes. Campus is wheelchair accessible; there is a specific map available of wheelchair accessible routes around campus.
Disability Liason Unit (DLU) website.