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Early childhood

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Research tells us that inclusive and accessible early childhood experiences lead to more inclusive adult lives.

When everyone has access to good education, employment, making friends and community life, we all benefit – culturally, socially and economically. 

The needs of a child include access to health, learning, housing, feeling loved and safe, and feeling good about who they are. 

Every child, with or without disability, deserves quality, accessible, inclusive early childhood learning. Many young children with disability don’t have this (with or without the NDIS).   

At CYDA, we work to make sure that families and children get the support they need to be included as early as possible. 

group of six young, school aged children playing and hugging on the carpet in a school library.
Two young people looking at each other having a conversation. One's back is turned and is holding out his hands gesturing while the other young person looks at them.

What does inclusion look like?

Inclusion might mean:

What are the barriers to inclusion?

A young person in their wheelchair playing with a stack of colourful blocks. An older person is next to her holding the blocks as well.
Two young people sitting at a desk painting holding paintbrushes, an older woman looks on.

Early childhood and the law

The Disability Discrimination Act 

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of a disability. The DDA protects people with disability against discrimination in many areas of public life, including education.  

Providers must also make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person with disability, unless making the adjustment would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the provider. 

All early childhood education and care services must comply with the DDA.

The Disability Standards for Education 

The Disability Standards for Education clarify the obligations of education and training providers and the rights of people with disability. The standards currently apply to preschools, including kindergartens (but not childcare providers).  

CYDA has been working with the Australian Government on resources that can help you understand the Standards which you can find here.  


The National Quality Framework 

The National Quality Framework (NQF) provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services across Australia. 

Children with disability (or any groups of children with additional and/or specific needs) are not explicitly mentioned. Instead, the NQF emphasises the inclusivity of all children and the need to tailor all aspects of education and care to the unique circumstances of ‘each’ and ‘every’ child.  


Relevant research 

Department of Education. (2019). Benefits of Educational Attainment: Employment and income support.  

Deloitte Access Economics. (2016). The economic impact of improving schooling quality. Department of Education and Training: Canberra.  

Cologon, K. (2010). Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation.  

Children and Young People with Disability. (2019). Time for change: The state of play for inclusion of students with disability: Results from the 2019 CYDA National Education Survey.