While supervisors are not required to have an intimate knowledge of the legal frameworks which guide these obligations, it is important have a general awareness and understanding of the legislation relevant to the management of mental health issues at the University of Tasmania. These include both federal and state legislation, as well as Standards specific to educational institutions.
Mental health is covered in this Act as a 'Disability' – which includes any of the following:
The Act identifies that Discrimination is explained in two different ways:
This Act similarly defines mental health and discrimination as outlined above and states that is unlawful for an educational authority to discriminate against a person on the ground of their disability by:
It is also unlawful for an educational authority to discriminate against a student because of their disability by:
These Standards clarify the obligations of education and training service providers under the DDA and the rights of people with disabilities in relation to education and training.
It may be necessary for a university to provide adjustments for Candidates with a mental health illness, enabling them to be able to participate fully in their studies. This may include providing more time to complete work, reducing stress by revising and prioritising goals, and offering flexible candidature options (e.g. part time candidature).
Sections 3.4 of Disability Standards for Education (2005) outlines that an adjustment is reasonable in relation to a student with disabilities if it balances the interests of all parties, and includes the:
These legal obligations are reflected in the University's Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Policy.
Supervisors also need to have an awareness of the Research Training Ordinance which outlines regulations relating to periods of leave and suspension. Specifically, the Ordinance (Section 4 - Candidature) deals with the circumstances under which a suspension of candidature, for illness or other reasons, would result in more than 12 months of total suspension over the course of the maximum degree period, and sets out the process to be followed.
Supervisors needing further guidance regarding legal considerations or obligations in relation to the management of Candidate mental health issues should contact their GRC or Legal Services, University of Tasmania.
For further information regarding reasonable adjustments, see the Human Rights Commission document: Workers with Mental Illness: a Practical Guide for Managers (PDF 1.52MB).