Senate to probe treatment of children with a disability

by The Educator23 Jun 2015
.A senate inquiry will be launched into students with a disability and their experiences following a push by the Federal Opposition in concert with Independent MPs.

The motion, moved on behalf of Labor Senator, Kim Carr, and newly Independent Queensland Senator, Glenn Lazarus, called for the inquiry by the senate education and employment references committee.

The inquiry will look into the allegations of abuse as well as current levels of access for students with disability in the school system.

Senator, Mitch Fifield – who is also the Assistant Minister for Social Services – referred to reports of an ACT school locking an autistic boy in a caged structure “appalling” and said it was not an isolated incident.

“It’s appalling, what we’ve heard from the ACT. Regrettably, we do hear of instances around Australia in schools from time to time where there are inappropriate restrictive practices used,” Fifield told Pro Bono Australia News.

Queensland Teachers Union (QTC) president, Kevin Bates told The Educator last week that government action needs to be taken to ensure adequate support and resourcing for children with a disability.

“This includes more guidance officers to help children through short-term or long-term issues and the implementation of the needs-based sector-blind, Gonski Federal schools funding model that addresses educational disadvantage,” Bates said, adding that up to 100,000 students with a disability are still waiting for support.

“Federal funding needs to address the massive shortfall in funding for students with disability that has been revealed by the Federal Government’s own Nationally Consistent Collection of Data.”

Former disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes, said such abuses were widespread and called for a broad inquiry into the treatment of children with disabilities in Australian schools.

"It's not an isolated incident," Innes said

“The inquiry will investigate the barriers they face including the assumption of low expectations for people with disabilities.”

The Inquiry is set to report to Federal Parliament by 3 November 2015.

COMMENTS

  • by Lee 23/06/2015 11:44:37 AM

    Families, teachers, specialists and advocates across Australia have been fighting this issue for a decade or longer.

    No only that, researchers have a plethora of documents saying that there is a disconnect between the needs and the rights of children with disability in education.

    Human rights applications have risen regarding this issue. Homeschooling percentages have risen due to this issue. Attrition of teachers leaving or going on stress leave has risen due to this issue!

    I am yet to see figures from those in the social services industry but they are nervous about the volume of adults with disabilities who will be requiring their services on all kinds of levels - which will be more heavily weighted due to the lack of education when these children are younger.

    So what is the issue? Everyone of those sectors have a job to do and a willingness to do them BUT the State and Federal governments, policy makers and ministers do not support the increasing numbers and needs of children with disabilities in education.

    Specialists diagnose and write reports for schools. Teachers discard all or some because they don't have the time, resources, funding, ability, heirachy support or training to fully comply with those disability adjustments as they are required under Federal Law! They can't possibly cope and thrive under such trying conditions the government places on them. They do the best they can, but they are being failed in the trenches without back up.

    Carers can't work because they have to pick up the short fall from the Ed Depts. so in future - less super, less savings! Families are splitting under the stress.

    These children will be adults and then what?

    A Senate Inquiry is all well and good, but without a full Royal Commission and the power for substantial change, this will just be another document like those before it.

    The Disability Discrimation Commission can't make change - they can just rule that there is an issue and that someone has wronged another. Unless they go to court, the commission can't actually enforce the law.

    The Inquiry is the same. They will find all the issues and document them to no surprises to those of us fighting for change; but what then?