Media Release - 3 December 2020
Every student counts – calls for more inclusive practices in education
To mark International Day of People with Disability (3 Dec), SA’s Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Emily Strickland is encouraging inclusive practices in education, to ensure all South Australian students have the opportunity for a good education and a full life after school.
In 2018, 9.6% of children aged 5-14 years across Australia had disability.
Two-thirds of children with disability and attending school experienced difficulties at school.
Education is an essential foundation to economic and social wellbeing later in life.
South Australian equal opportunity law makes disability discrimination in education unlawful.
“Last year we saw an 18% increase in complaints from the previous year about disability discrimination in education. Through these complaints and enquiries we see firsthand that students with disability can face significant barriers to achieving a good education,” Ms Strickland said.
Barriers like a lack of reasonable adjustments and supports, and the disproportionate use of suspensions and exclusions, were also highlighted as barriers to quality education for people with disability in the recent interim report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
“We know that a good education has positive impacts on a person’s economic security, health and social wellbeing later in life. The reverse is also true,” Ms Strickland said.
“Through their experiences at school, children and young people learn about themselves and the world in which they live. International Day of People with Disability is a timely reminder that inclusion from early on in life is key to ensuring the safety and equal opportunity of our fellow South Australians living with disability.”
Ms Strickland said SA’s education system provided a range of specialist support, through special needs programs, disability units and specialised schools, as well as tailored learning programs and additional support.
To further support parents, students and educators in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act, the Equal Opportunity Commission will be producing a practice guideline about reasonable adjustments in schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“With almost one in ten Australian school students having disability, the pursuit of inclusive education – where every child has an equal place in a safe, welcoming, quality learning environment – should be a priority for every school.”
Ms Strickland is encouraging anyone who believes they have been discriminated against in education on the basis of their disability in the last 12 months to contact the Equal Opportunity Commission on (08) 8207 1977.
“If you choose to make a complaint, the Commission may conduct a confidential conciliation with you and the other party to try and resolve the issue,” Ms Strickland said.
For media enquiries contact the 24-hour AGD Media Line 0422 007 069.