Inclusive language


DATE: 18 September 1997 IBC Resolution 97/1/5 and endorsed by Council 10 November 1997


10 October 1995 (SMG); 3 September 1998 Revision (SMG); 11 October 1999 (Manager: Equity and Diversity Unit); 2003 (Director: Human Resources); Council 18 May 2004; 1 August 2005 (Director: Human Resources); 18 August 2006 (Director: Human Resources); 19 November 2007 (Director: Human Resources); 16 June 2014 (Director: Human Resources); Revised 17 January 2020 (Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture).

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture


Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975

Commonwealth Racial Hatred Act 1995

Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012

Commonwealth Age Discrimination Act 2004

South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984

University of South Australia Act 1990

University of South Australia Equal Opportunity Policy (C-2).




Policy statement

The University will use inclusive language in all academic and administrative written and spoken communication.



  1. The University of South Australia is committed to promoting equal opportunity in education and employment. This commitment is clearly stated in the University's Equal Opportunity Policy, and is based on state and federal anti-discrimination legislation.
  2. The University acknowledges the following in relation to the use of language in verbal and written communication, and in visual representation:
  • language is not neutral - community values and knowledge are reflected in language use
  • non-verbal communication, including body language and tone of voice, also reflects an individual's self perceptions and world view
  • language use can contribute to positive and negative perceptions of individuals
  • the use of inclusive language acknowledges and values human diversity, and recognises that individuals have differing experiences, values, beliefs and lifestyles
  • when people are ignored or devalued, they may feel marginalised, and that their interests and needs are discounted or overlooked
  • discriminatory language can inhibit or prevent the achievements and satisfaction of both staff and students at the University
  • non-inclusive language use may result in unlawful harassment or discrimination; affect access to teaching, working and learning experiences at the University and contribute to feelings of discomfort and a lack of safety.
  1. The University values the diversity of its staff and student populations. Inclusive language represents this diversity accurately, and facilitates a culture where difference is respected and valued. For many individuals associated with the University of South Australia, the culture within the University is important to their ongoing intellectual and personal development and their sense of wellbeing and shared community.
  2. The University takes seriously its commitment to prepare its students for their life as educated professionals in local and international communities. To demonstrate this commitment to students and their future employers, professional associations and local communities, the University has developed a list of qualities of a graduate of the University of South Australia. The use of inclusive language is implicit in several of the University's Graduate Qualities including: life-long learning in pursuit of personal development and excellence in professional practice; working collaboratively as a professional; commitment to ethical action and social responsibility as a professional and citizen; effective communication in professional practice and as a member of the community; and the demonstration of international perspectives as a professional and as a citizen.


Responsibilities and/or authorities

The University’s commitment to inclusive language is supported by the state and national legislative framework.
Several University codes require the use of inclusive language, these can be found here.
All staff within the University community have a shared responsibility to ensure they and others with whom they have contact demonstrate an effective understanding of the principles and use of inclusive language.
Students or staff members who are unable to attend class or work because language used by others makes them feel excluded or harassed should contact the People, Talent and Culture Unit or Student Ombud’s Office.



This policy will be evaluated regularly by the People, Talent and Culture Unit and the Student Ombud's Office and recommendations reported to the Vice Chancellor.


Further information or assistance

The People, Talent and Culture Unit and the Teaching and Innovation Unit have prepared a set of guidelines for the use of inclusive language. These guidelines assist readers to recognise language that excludes and/or stereotypes and/or is discriminatory. They encourage communication that treats people equally, with courtesy and respect.

For further assistance in relation to inclusive language, or experiences of language use that result in discrimination and harassment, contact the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture or the Student Ombud.

In compliance with its legislative obligations, the University has developed separate student and staff complaint procedures for investigating and resolving any complaints that might arise on the basis of discrimination or harassment. These two processes are laid out in the University's Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedures (Staff) and the University of South Australia Student Complaints Resolution.

Copies for staff.

Copies for students