The Disability Inclusion Profile and surrounding process is designed to helps schools and families identify the strengths, functional needs, and educational adjustments schools can make to assist students with disability and additional learning needs. The profile is part of a broader package to strengthen inclusive education across the school system including the expectation that schools must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that students with disability can access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability, regardless of the availability of additional funding.
Another State responsibility, the education systems, could also be letting children with developmental delay down, Minister Shorten believes, causing more parents to look for support from the NDIS and driving growth in participant numbers above expectations.
A key concern identified was that schools failed to follow policies and laws when denying or discouraging the enrolment of students with disability, and failed to identify and implement appropriate, reasonable adjustments for students with disability.
Australia’s first university chancellor who identifies as having a disability says things have improved since the days when his law studies revolved around whatever resources he could obtain in Braille or reel-to-reel audio tape. “I had a smaller range of material,” said lawyer and disability advocate Graeme Innes, who was born blind. “My challenge was that I had to know that material better than other students who could research more broadly than I could.”
‘I’ve had people express to me that we shouldn’t be fighting’: Barriers facing disabled activism at university
Disability is often relegated to “second-class” status in student activism. More effort, listening and discernment is needed from other activists to build a genuinely inclusive student movement.
CRPD requires segregated education to be phased out: Expert opinion for Disability Royal Commission rejects Australian Government’s position
The bottom line of that analysis is although … a contested issue, my own view is the better view of the Convention’s obligation, in particular Article 24, is that Australia needs to move progressively over some time to have [a] transformed system with inclusive education, which does not, as a matter of principle, include special schools as a long-term separate form of education. And I think that is also a position taken by the CRPD Committee.”
Students with disabilities have been the worst affected by the upheaval caused by this year’s severe staff shortages in Victorian schools, according to principals, education experts and the students themselves.
Disabled students in public schools are missing out on $600 million a year, because of onerous and unfair funding arrangements.
In 2022, people with disabilities made up just 6.3 per cent of university enrolments in Australia, and only 1.2 per cent had a profound disability. Of those, only a handful studied science. Geologist and lecturer Melanie Finch believes the lack of inclusion in geoscience is an attitude problem rather than a lack of opportunities for disabled academics.
Why do students with disability go to ‘special schools’ when research tells us they do better in the mainstream system?
An estimated 10% of school students (aged 5–18) in Australia have a disability, although this number is much higher in some states. Most of these students (89%) attend mainstream schools, but an increasing number of students with disability and their families are choosing special schools.
But Ms Sayers argues separating students into mainstream and special schools is “a form of segregation”, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “We need to be transforming our education system so that all students are included alongside their non-disabled peers in education,” she said.
If you asked me at the time, I would have gladly skipped school and played video games instead. And yet, I did learn. I learnt how to spell, write, to do maths, languages, chemistry and drama. More importantly, I learnt soft skills. I made friends, navigated social cliques, traded lunchbox snacks, was teased, teased others, took risks and learnt from them, avoided girls then later discovered they weren’t so bad after all.
children have developed by the time they commence school. Key findings from the 2021 AEDC data found that children who started school in 2021 experienced some disruption to their early learning, but at a glance, the majority of children were developmentally on track on all five domains.
Mary Sayers, chief executive of Children and Young People with Disability Australia, said the organisation was calling for federal funding for the plan to be created and rolled out over a decade.
Almost one in three students expelled from Victorian government schools during the first year of the pandemic had a disability, up from one in seven the previous year, in a pattern of exclusion that youth disability advocates warn is merely “the tip of the iceberg”.