A week out from the first Disability Royal Commission hearing, Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) has released research revealing school children with disability are routinely enduring exclusion, segregation, bullying and, as a result, are being robbed of an education.
The national peak body for children and young people with disability has found that the current education system is systemically failing students with disability.
CYDA believes that children with disability in Australian schools are being denied their basic human rights to inclusive education.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CYDA, Mary Sayers, says, “CYDA wholeheartedly agreed with the [United Nations] when it recently said that Australia needs to lift its game and stop the segregation of children with disability in education, which is a fundamental denial of their human rights.
“The evidence shows that all children, those with and without disability, achieve best in inclusive schools, not in special schools, separate classrooms, not schooling part-time, and not doing a separate, or worse, no, curriculum.
“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.
“Australian society, and in fact law, emphatically says no to discrimination when it comes to gender, race and religion. So why does it remain acceptable to discriminate when it comes to disability? It’s more than time to stamp out ableism in Australia.”
The research canvassed nearly 500 parents and carers of primary and secondary students with disability.
Some of the shocking revelations coming from participants of the survey include:
One in ten students had been refused enrolment by a school
Almost half of survey participants had been excluded from school event/s or activities
Nearly a quarter of participants were enrolled in “segregated education”
One in four students with disability were restrained or secluded
Around half had experienced bullying
One in five did not attend school full time
14.7 percent of participants had been suspended
The most horrifying stories that stood out in the report included an experience of a student with disability, as young as 11, being suicidal.
One response from a family involved an under-12 student with disability hiding from schoolyard bullies in a rubbish bin.
Many families expressed grief over the fact that most student feedback from teachers revolved around behaviour, rather than educational achievements by the child.
Families in the study did not believe students with disability received adequate support in their education.
They also felt teachers provided poor regular communication about their child’s learning progress and teachers seemed to have high expectations of children with disability.
Also outlined in the report was feedback from many families who believe teachers were lacking training to provide supportive environments for educational purposes.
In response to the report findings, CYDA has released Towards inclusive education: A necessary process of transformation, a guide that shows best practice for inclusive education.
CYDA is also calling for the Government to develop a National Action Plan for Inclusive Education.
They want the action plan to include phasing out special schools and separated classrooms in mainstream schools, improve teacher education around teaching children with disability and making it required learning for teachers at university, and redefine the roles of aides so they can provide appropriate inclusive support.
To read the report or to view the Inclusive Education review, head to the CYDA website here.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability just released an issues paper on education and learning today.
Commissioner Ronald Sackville AO QC, says education is a main area that will be covered by the Royal Commission.
“Education and learning is an important component of inclusive societies. The Royal Commission has identified that abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in the education sector is an important topic to address,” says Commissioner Sackville.
“The Royal Commission’s first public hearing, to be held in Townsville from 4 to 7 November 2019, will focus on education and include a preliminary examination of inclusive education policies and their impact on the experiences of students with disability.”
The released issues paper outlines key issues and barriers of students with disability and their education.
The Commission is encouraging responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 20 December 2019, visit their website to find out how to make a submission.