Education for the community

    Overview

    Supporting inclusive education is a central part of CYDA's work. We undertake ongoing systemic advocacy to ensure Australia realises inclusive education for all children and young people with disability. Our work is informed by the experiences, challenges and needs of students with disability.

    Education and students with disability – the current state of play

    The key findings from our 2019 National Education Survey were consistent with the previous three surveys, showing that students with disability are routinely excluded in their education. Many students experience 'gatekeeping' and are segregated from ‘mainstream’ schools and classrooms, not attending school full-time, refused enrolment and excluded from school activities. Suspensions and expulsions are also familiar practices, showing the lack of understanding and support for students with disability. While most students receive some specific support at school because of their disability or learning difference, there are many families who are out-of-pocket for supports and equipment to enable their child to participate. Many students do not have a personalised individual education plan in place.

    Research evidence overwhelmingly supports inclusive education. As well as positive outcomes for social justice and a sense of community and belonging, there are benefits for learning outcomes and for the social, behavioural and physical development of children and young people who do and do not experience disability.

    The findings from our 2019 National Education Survey show it is time for transformational change in our education system to ensure the inclusion of students with disability. Sadly, the prevalence of educational segregation and exclusion, lack of support for students, non-inclusive school cultures and alarming rates of abuse and violence highlight that education systems are failing children and young people with disability. The Disability Royal Commission presents an opportunity for Australia to right its wrongs and start providing children with disability the inclusive education they are entitled to – it is their human right.

    Evidence for inclusive education

    The key findings of the Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation report were:

    • There is no evidence base to support segregated education in any form, including in special schools, units or classrooms. Segregated education is a breach of Australia’s international human rights obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD).
    • There is no child or young person too complex or ‘disabled’ to be included in general ‘mainstream’ education settings.
    • The research shows the benefits of inclusion in ‘mainstream’ education for students with disability, including: 
      • better academic and vocational outcomes than their peers in non-inclusive settings
      • greater social interaction, resulting in more opportunities to establish and maintain friendships
      • increased independent communication and speech and language development, in turn supporting greater inclusion and active participation
      • a sense of belonging and a self-concept of not just being a receiver of help but also a giver of help
      • access to a broader range of play and learning activities, which can stimulate physical development and enhance children’s experiences
      • Inclusive education also benefits students without disability, teachers and educators, and the wider community.

    Inclusion and the law

    The right of children with disability to attend their local government schools is a right protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 established under the Act). This reflects Australia’s international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (see Article 24) and the priorities of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which states, “The shared vision is for an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens”.

    Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, a school or other education authority is not permitted to discriminate on the grounds of disability:

    • in deciding an application for admission
    • in the terms or conditions on which it is prepared to admit a student (e.g. by requiring higher fees or accepting payment of the cost of an education assistant or aide)
    • by denying or limiting a student’s access to any benefit provided by the school (e.g. excursions, sports or extra curricular activities and areas of the school)
    • by expelling a student
    • by developing curriculum content that will exclude a student from participation
    • by subjecting a student to any other detriment.

    Although the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes an exception where the adjustment will cause “unjustifiable hardship”, it is up to the school or other relevant educational authority to prove this. As a matter of law, it can be difficult for schools to prove “unjustifiable hardship” even when accommodating a student with disability involves substantial costs.

    The Disability Standards for Education clarify the obligations of education and training providers and the rights of people with disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. You can read more information here and view fact sheets about the Standards, including about making complaints.

    When complaints of discrimination in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 are not able to be resolved at a more local level, the Australian Human Rights Commission is responsible for investigating and resolving them.

    Equal opportunity/anti-discrimination legislation in each state also applies in the area of education, and complaints may be made to the relevant boards or commissions.

    Policy, standards and regulations

    The Australian Curriculum sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life – wherever they live in Australia and whichever school they attend.

    Adjustments for students with disability are measures or actions taken to help a student participate in education and training on the same basis as their peers without disability.

    The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) is an annual collection of information about Australian school students with disability. The NCCD enables schools, education authorities and governments to better understand the needs of students with disability and how they can be best supported at school.

    Resources

    Media: Students with disabilities could be disadvantaged if HECS loans are removed from failing students

    News

    September 2020

    Media: Students with disabilities could be disadvantaged if HECS loans are removed from failing students

    Audio

    Media: Disability Royal Commission and CYDA in the media

    News

    August 2020

    Media: Disability Royal Commission and CYDA in the media

    Article

    No plan, no voice, clumsy solutions for children and young people with disability through COVID 19

    Media Releases

    August 2020

    No plan, no voice, clumsy solutions for children and young people with disability through COVID 19

    Download

    Podcast: Students with disability during COVID-19 - Advocacy for Inclusion

    News

    August 2020

    Podcast: Students with disability during COVID-19 - Advocacy for Inclusion

    External Website

    Research & reports

    August 2020

    Contact list - Disability Royal Commission support services by jurisdiction

    Download

    Article: Governments urged to prioritise Victorians with disability during second COVID wave Advocates warn of

    News

    August 2020

    Article: Governments urged to prioritise Victorians with disability during second COVID wave Advocates warn of "tragic outcomes" if proper planning is not undertaken

    Article

    The NDIA and Victorian Government must prioritise people with disability so they do not suffer in Stage 4 lockdowns

    Media Releases

    August 2020

    The NDIA and Victorian Government must prioritise people with disability so they do not suffer in Stage 4 lockdowns

    Download

    Podcast: Left behind: remote learning while living with disability By Hilary Harper on Life Matters

    News

    July 2020

    Podcast: Left behind: remote learning while living with disability By Hilary Harper on Life Matters

    External Website

    Audio: Ann speaking on Jane's COVID story

    News & media

    July 2020

    Audio: Ann speaking on Jane's COVID story

    Video

    Article: 'One of the most difficult times we've ever experienced': Students with disability struggle during pandemic

    News

    July 2020

    Article: 'One of the most difficult times we've ever experienced': Students with disability struggle during pandemic

    Article

    Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19 - Summary Report

    Research & reports

    July 2020

    Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19 - Summary Report

    Download

    Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19 - Full Report

    Research & reports

    July 2020

    Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19 - Full Report

    Download

    Submissions

    July 2020

    Senate Select Committee on Autism inquiry

    Download

    Article: Only one fifth of school students with disability had enough support during the remote learning period

    News

    July 2020

    Article: Only one fifth of school students with disability had enough support during the remote learning period

    Article

    Almost half of students with disability denied key school supports during pandemic: New research reveals

    Media Releases

    July 2020

    Almost half of students with disability denied key school supports during pandemic: New research reveals

    Download

    Podcast: More than Isolated Advocacy for Inclusion

    News

    June 2020

    Podcast: More than Isolated Advocacy for Inclusion

    External Website

    Submissions

    June 2020

    Addition to submission 30 to inquiry into education in remote and complex environments

    Download

    Submissions

    June 2020

    Victorian consultation on lessons from remote learning

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    Submissions

    May 2020

    Inquiry into the Australian Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic

    Download

    More than isolated: The experience of children and young people with disability and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Research & reports

    May 2020

    More than isolated: The experience of children and young people with disability and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Download

    Submissions

    May 2020

    Disability Royal Commission - Emergency planning and response during COVID-19

    Download

    More than isolated’: COVID-19 compounds inequities for children and young people with disability

    Media Releases

    May 2020

    More than isolated’: COVID-19 compounds inequities for children and young people with disability

    Download

    Submissions

    May 2020

    Letter to PAEC's inquiry into the response to COVID-19

    Download

    ACIE providing inclusive education in a time of crisis - Principles & recommendations

    Research & reports

    April 2020

    ACIE providing inclusive education in a time of crisis - Principles & recommendations

    Download

    ACIE learning at home during a time of crisis COVID19 (coronavirus)

    Fact sheets

    March 2020

    ACIE learning at home during a time of crisis COVID19 (coronavirus)

    Download

    Submissions

    February 2020

    Inquiry into the education of students in remote and complex environments

    Download

    Submissions

    December 2019

    The review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training

    Download

    Transformation to inclusive education: the next steps

    Fact sheets

    October 2019

    Transformation to inclusive education: the next steps

    Download

    Addressing ableism in education

    Fact sheets

    October 2019

    Addressing ableism in education

    Download

    What is inclusive education?

    Fact sheets

    October 2019

    What is inclusive education?

    Download

    Time for change: The state of play for inclusion of students with disability

    Research & reports

    October 2019

    Time for change: The state of play for inclusion of students with disability

    Download

    Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation

    Research & reports

    October 2019

    Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation

    Download

    What are the benefits of inclusive education?

    Fact sheets

    October 2019

    What are the benefits of inclusive education?

    Download

    Submissions

    October 2019

    Disability Royal Commission - Education of children and young people with disability

    Download

    Submissions

    September 2019

    Restrictive practices authorisation in NSW

    Download

    Submissions

    November 2018

    Feedback regarding restraint and seclusion in Victorian government schools

    Download

    Submissions

    July 2018

    Supported school transport and transition to the NDIS

    Download

    Submissions

    November 2017

    Australia's draft report to the UN committee on the rights of the child

    Download

    Submissions

    August 2017

    Provision of services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme early childhood early intervention approach

    Download

    Submissions

    February 2017

    Inquiry into students with disability or special needs in New South Wales schools

    Download

    Submissions

    July 2016

    Abuse of students with disability in Australian schools

    Download

    Submissions

    June 2016

    National education evidence base issues paper

    Download

    Submissions

    January 2016

    CRPD draft general comment on the right to inclusive education

    Download

    Post school transition: The experiences of students with disability

    Research & reports

    November 2015

    Post school transition: The experiences of students with disability

    Download

    Submissions

    August 2015

    Hear our voices - current levels of access and attainment for students with disability in the school system and the impact on students and families associated with inadequate levels of support

    Download

    Submissions

    June 2015

    Review of the disability standards for education 2015

    Download

    Submissions

    March 2015

    CRPD general discussion on the right to education for persons with disabilities

    Download

    Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy

    Research & reports

    October 2014

    Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy

    Article

    Submissions

    September 2014

    Productivity Commission inquiry into childcare and early childhood learning

    Download

    Submissions

    September 2014

    Inquiry into childcare and early childhood learning

    Download

    Submissions

    March 2014

    Senate select committee on school funding

    Download

    Submissions

    March 2014

    Review of the national curriculum

    Download

    Belonging and connection of school students with disability

    Research & reports

    January 2014

    Belonging and connection of school students with disability

    Download

    Submissions

    February 2013

    Australian Education Bill 2012

    Download

    Legislation & acts

    January 2013

    Australian Education Act 2013

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    Submissions

    October 2012

    Senate inquiry into teaching and learning

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    Submissions

    February 2012

    Schools workforce - productivity commission draft report

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    Submissions

    September 2011

    Review of funding for schooling

    Download

    Submissions

    May 2011

    Review of disability standards for education 2005

    Download

    Legislation & acts

    December 2006

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability 2006

    External Website

    Legislation & acts

    December 2006

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability 2006

    External Website

    Legislation & acts

    March 2005

    Disability Standards for Education 2005

    External Website