Click on a word below to reveal its disability related definition, or use the search bar overhead to find a word



Something that is readily usable by a person with disability; (may be with or without assistive devices)



Changes to make a program, facility, or resource useful to a person with a disability.


A place or dwelling where people can live.


In terms of legal rights, an ‘Act’ is a formal piece of legislation which sets out the rules for how things should operate to protect people’s rights.  If people are not doing what is outlined in the Act, then there can be a case for change.  There are several Acts which impact upon the life of a person with a disability including:

Activities of Daily Living

These include dressing, making the bed, showering, toileting, eating, making meals and many other things people do daily.


To delay proceedings to a later time or place.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

This tribunal makes final decisions on NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) complaints.  The Tribunal can decide if the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) should change or review a decision.


A person or government agency appointed by QCAT to help adults with a decision-making disability to make financial and legal decisions.

Adult (at QCAT)

The person whose decision-making capacity is being questioned, and who QCAT may make orders for.

Advance Health Directive (AHD)

An AHD can be completed when a person has decision making capacity, to record their wishes about their health and medical treatment.  An Attorney for personal and health matters can also be appointed in this document.


Recommendations or guidance offered about certain topics.


The act of speaking with or for people who would like support.  Advocacy seeks to empower the person to have issues resolved.


Someone who speaks with and for people with disabilities, so that the person with disability has their views heard.

Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland

An organisation that may be able to assist in resolving complaints of discrimination, sexual harrassment, vilification, victimisation and other contraventions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991. (See their listing in the ‘Contacts’ section of this guide).

Appeal (QCAT,AAT)

A process in which a party may request a higher decision-maker to reconsider a decision made.  Often permission to appeal is required.

Applicant (QCAT)

A person who has made an application to QCAT requesting assistance in resolving a dispute, or other issue.

Assimilation (Forced)

Being forced to take on the culture of another race.

Assistive Device

Item of equipment made to help someone be more independent.  Examples are telephone amplifier, wheelchair or reacher grab stick.

Assistive Technology

Technology developed to help people with disabilities, such as voice screen-reading software or eye-gaze software.


A substitute decision maker appointed by an adult by an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA); Advance Health Directive (AHD); or Advance Health Directive – Mental Health (AHD-MH).

Australian Human Rights Commission

An independent statuatory organisation that lead the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia. (See their listing in the ‘Contacts’ section of this guide).



When a person is unable to pay their debts, a court may order that their financial affairs be managed by a trustee.


Any obstruction that prevents people with disabiltities from using standard facilities, equipment and resources.

Breach of Duty of Care

Negligent or careless conduct, or failure to act, by a person who owes a duty of care to another and who fails to maintain the standard of care necessary.


Capacity (Qld)

Means and Adult is capable of:

  • Understanding the nature and effect of decisions about a matter; and
  • Freely and voluntarily making decisions about the matter; and
  • Communicating these decisions in some way.


A person, either a professional, a friend or a relative, who looks after a person with a disability.


Convincing a person to do something through the use of force or threats.


An independent body with authority to investigate complaints about particular topics.


Ways that people with express themselves, share infomtation with others and understand information. For example it may be through talking, listenting, computers, easy read or Braille.

Communication Device

Equipment that assists a person who has difficulty communicating.  For another person or organisation.


A person who starts a court or formal process to complain about another person or organisation.


A form of dispute resolution where the parties use a conciliator (independent 3rd party) to attempt to resolve their differences by exploring potential outcomes and finding one which is mutually acceptable.


Keeping information secret or private.


A process where people with disabilities are included about their own life and goals, or about decisions that affect them.


A person who is trained to give personal or psychological help.


A place where legal matters are decided by a judge or magistrate.

Criminal Justice System

A combination of Courts and legal processes that deal with crime.



An impression that is different from the true one.

Decision (Government Agency)

An answer about a particular topic made by a decision maker.  For example NDIS deciding how much funding to provide to a person.

Decision (Tribunal)

The Orders given by Tribunal when a matter has been determined by a Tribunal member.

Decision Making Disability/Impaired Capacity

The inability of an Adult to go through the process of reaching a decision, based on all three following parts:

  • understanding the nature and effect of the decision;
  • freely and voluntarily making a decision;
  • communicating the decision in some way.

NB. Not everyone with a decision-making disability requires a formal decision maker – see supported decision making.


The decision about a person’s disease or condition.

Directions (QCAT/AAT)

Orders made by Tribunal for parties to do certain things; to provide information; to arrange and pay for medical assessments.


Treat a person with disability unfairly.


Being treated unfairly because you have a disability.


Recognising and valuing differences between individuals and groups of people.

Domestic and Family Violence

When one person behaves in a way that controls or dominates another person and causes fear for their safety and wellbeing.  Maybe physical, financial, psychological, threatening or coercive, etc.  Includes informal care relationships, and family generations.



Meeting certain conditions or requirements.


A process by which individuals or groups of people gain the ability or confidence to make decisions and gain control over their lives.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)

Legal document and Adult with decision making capacity (Principal) can make to give someone else the power to make personal and/or financial decisions.


The facts, circumstances or documents that parties present to prove their case.


A process by which some people are left out of activities such as conversation, social life, politics, community activities, work and leisure pursuits.


General Principles

Guidance on how substitute decision makers are to make decisions.  Found in the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld) and the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld).




A person or government agency appointed by QCAT to help an Adult with decision-making disability to make personal and health care decisions.

Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld)

Qld Legislation that allows for substitute decision makers and gives QCAT authority to appoint decision makers.


Health Matter

The care or treatment of, or service or procedure for, a person’s physical or mental condition carried out by a health provider.

Hearing (AAT/QCAT)

A term used to describe a formal meeting set up with a tribunal (AAT,QCAT) where people can raise their views of a decision that has been made and have it considered for review.

Human Rights

A right which belongs to every person.  See Understanding Rights Tab.



Integrated electronic Medical Record.


Involving people with disabilities in everyday activities.

Inclusive Education

The education of children with disability side-by-side with children without disability, rather than in segregated education such as special schools.


Able to function without depending on another person.

Interim Order (QCAT)

A 3 month Order that is not a final order of the QCAT.


A person who assists a person in communicating with others, either because of language, communication or sensory difficulty.



An independent person who controls the court room and makes the decisions.



Written law made by the Parliament.



A judge who makes decisions for criminal and minor civil cases.


An issue or topic that may require a decision to be made.


Dispute resolution meeting used to assist agreement or reconciliation between parties.  This involves exploring possible agreements.

Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld)

Qld Legislation that regulates care and decision making for adults with mental health issues who are unable to make their own decisions.

Mental Health Court

Decides the state of mind of people charged with criminal offences.

Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT)

An independent Qld tribunal to review orders for Adults under Mental Health treatment orders such as Treatment Authorities (TA), Forensic Orders (FO) and Treatment Support Orders (TSO).

Mobility Aid

Item of equipment made specifically to help overcome a physical disability through the promotion of independence of mobility.  Examples are crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs.


Natural Justice

The principle that requires a tribunal or court to conduct a fair and proper hearing without bias.


National Disability Insurance Agency.  The government body that is overseeing and in charge of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).


National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the new system in Australia of funding people under 65 with a lifelong disability.



Investigates complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by a government agency.


Participant (NDIS)

A person with disability who is receiving funding under the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

Participant Plan (NDIS)

This is the term commonly used to describe the sorts of supports a person will be funded to receive under the NDIS.


The choice by a person with disability to take part in activities such as conversation, social life, politics, community, work and leisure pursuits.

Personal Matter

Relating to an Adult’s care, health or welfare.  For example, where they live, what work or education they undertake, their health care.

Power of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld)

Qld Legislation that regulates substitute decision makers appointed by an Adult under an Advance Health Directive (AHD) or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA).

Presumption of Capacity

The legal presumption in Qld that all adults have capacity to make all their own decisions, regardless of any health conditions.


Refers to an Adult who has completed an Advance Health Directive or Enduring Power of Attorney, appointing one or more attorneys.

Procedural Fairness

Part of natural justice.  The obligation to ensure that parties are given the opportunity to be heard, including being able to respond to another parties case.

Public Guardian (Office of the Public Guardian – OPG)

An independent statutory body that protects the rights and interests of persons with decision-making disability to make their own decisions.  The OPG may be appointed as Guardian or Attorney for adults to make some or all of their personal decisions.

Public Trustee Qld (PTQ)

A self-funding statutory body that provides trustee, financial and related services, and may be appointed as Administrator or attorney for Adults who have decision-making disability to make their financial decisions.


Qld Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

An independent Qld tribunal who can review an Adult’s decision-making capacity, the appointment of Guardians and Administrators, and the conduct of attorneys.



An act of revenge.


A person or organisation who is replying to a formal legal process.


Screen Reader

Software used to relay text on a computer screen to audio output, often used by people with visual impairments or learning disabilities.


A person who is independent in managing their own needs.

Sentence (criminal)

The consequences given to a person found guilty of a crime.

Speech Recognition

A method of controlling a computer and creating text by dictation.  Speech input software is combined with a microphone.

Statutory Health Attorney (SHA)

A person informally able to make health decisions for an Adult when the Adult has a decision-making disability for a health decision and there is no other substitute decision maker.

The SHA hierarchy is:

  1. Adult’s spouse (must be close and continuing, includes de facto and same sex)
  2. Adult’s unpaid carer (may receive Centrelink benefits and not employed carer)
  3. Adult’s close family or friends
  4. The Public Guardian

Substitute Decision Maker

A person who ‘stands in the shoes’ of the Adult and can make all decisions the Adult themselves could make.  A substitute decision maker can be informal; under a SHA; appointed by the Adult under an EPOA or AHD; or formally appointed by QCAT Order.

Supported Decision Making

Support provided to an Adult, to enable them to make their own decisions.


Tactile Communication

Nonverbal communication such as touching, shaking hands, etc.


The meeting of parties to a dispute, to present information in a formal setting, with an independent decision maker to make a decision.


An independent body established by legislation to hear and determine applications and complaints between parties.


United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability UN CRPPD

This document recognises that people with disability have the same human rights to live independently and with respect for their views, wishes, preferences and choices.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

An international document that states basic rights and fundemental freedoms to which all human beings are entitles.


Universal Design

Designing programs, services, tools and facilities that are useable, without modification, by the widest range of users possible, with a variety of abilities and disabilities.