Text reads: Children and young people with disability.

Submissions, research and reports

Review of disability standards for education 2005

CYDA policy submission.

The present education system is not adequately meeting the needs of many students with disability. Children with Disability Australia (CDA) is of the view that the disability standards for education have not met their stated objectives.

The Senate Inquiry (2002) by the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Reference Committee into education of students with disabilities reported that:

 “quality education for students with disabilities is a scarce commodity in schools generally. A picture has emerged of students affected by disabilities taught in many cases by teachers unskilled or lacking confidence in their ability to involve them in the full curriculum, resulting in these students performing at less than their full capability and being regarded as marginal participants in the activities in the school community. Evidence also indicates that there is a considerable level of unmet need, especially in the area of learning disability. It was also reported that children and parents are not being given the support that they need in the education system … This is a human rights issue of considerable significance.”

The Committee recommended (Recommendation 17) that the:

 “Attorney-General formulate the Disability Standards for Education 2002, under paragraph 31 (1) (b) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.”

The objects of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 are:

  • to eliminate, as far as possible, the discrimination against persons on the ground of disability in the area of education and training: and

  • to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law in the area of education and training as the rest of the community; and

  • to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community.

CDA believes the observations made by the Senate Inquiry in 2002 remain an accurate description of the educational experience of many students with disability and their families in Australia today. Despite the implementation of the Disability Standards and their intent, as clearly stipulated in the above objectives, education continues to be an extremely significant area of concern for students with disability and their families. Many families report that, through their education experiences, their children are subjected to: limited opportunities; low expectations; exclusion; bullying; discrimination; assault and violation of human rights.

Increasingly families of children with disability are successfully pursuing legal action against state education departments to have the educational needs of their children recognised and met. In some instances families are taking their cases to the Australian Human Right’s Commission to pursue legal action for breaches of human rights against their children.

Many education providers are also genuinely concerned that they are unable to meet the needs of children with disability due to the lack of funding, lack of trained teachers and support provided by education authorities. It is of great concern to CDA that state and territory governments continue to settle legal cases without addressing the systemic issues they raise.

Feedback provided throughout this submission is based on the experiences of members that has been reported to the organisation over several years. Education has been one of the most dominant issues of concern for members since the inception of our organisation in 1992 (CDA was formally called the Australian Association of Families of Children with a Disability – AAFCD).

Recently CDA requested families share their educational experiences as part of a separate report it is preparing regarding education. The contributions received reflect appalling experiences of discrimination, inadequate and inflexible funding and a system that is failing to recognise the educational rights of far too many children and young people with disability. The quotes below aptly reflect an inadequate education system for children with disability.

Every promise of support and modification has yet to be delivered.”

“My son was never given the opportunity to reach his full potential.”

“My child is clearly not quite as entitled to education as the kid next door.”

“Sometimes the hardest thing about disability is expecting support but ending up with yet another time consuming fight.”

“I don’t have anything good to say about our son’s education except it gave the family “free child care.”

CDA welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback to the Review of Disability Standards 2005.

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CYDA policy submission.