Every child has the right to an education and disability should never be a barrier to access.
We want to make sure that each and every child, no matter their abilities, gets go to school and participate just like everyone else.
Less than half of students with disability in Australian schools are currently being funded for their support needs. This is unacceptable, and unfair: it fails students, and it fails our schools.
Fixing the funding gap
The Greens are the only party to have a disability funding policy for schools based on the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD).
This policy funds the gap between what the Commonwealth Government has budgeted for in its disability loadings for schools, and the amount required when calculated against the NCCD.
Under Labor’s National Education Reform Agreement (NERA) and the Coalition’s Students First funding, disability loadings are calculated using different and disparate state and territory based definitions of disability.
Recently the Productivity Commission found that in 2013 there were 190,887 students who received extra funding for disabilities in Australian Schools. In 2015, Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) on School Students with Disability identified 467,842 students with a disability who required extra funding for extra school resources. This means fewer than one in two students with disability in our schools are being recognised and appropriately resourced by the government. Not only does this create funding inequities between the jurisdictions, but also problems for students when they move from one state or territory to another and find themselves losing the extra teaching resources they depended on.
What disability funding in school does
Disabilities can come in many forms, including intellectual disability, physical disability, sensory disability, and mental illness. Each disability can require a different set of infrastructure and support to manage in a school setting.
The following are just some of the extra resourcing needs of schools educating children with a disability :
- Infrastructure (modifications/additions to buildings, classrooms, toilets, pathways etc.);
- Assistive technologies (computer software, low-vision aids, communication tools etc.);
- Curriculum adaptation;
- Trained aides and ancillary and support staff;
- Teacher and aide training;
A national strategy
The Australian Greens support the development and introduction of a National Strategy to improve the education of students with disability as recommended by a Senate Inquiry – Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability . Key features of a National Strategy would include: Recognising all students with disability as learners, Ensuring all students with disability benefit from evidence-based, best practice programs, Best practice ongoing professional development for teachers and principals, and Including students with disability and their families in the development of educational plans.
Lifetime of learning
The Greens believe that investment in public education is essential to ensure a fair Australia and to support the transition to a sustainable new economy. Disability Funding for Schools forms a part of our Lifetime of Learning policy that includes early childhood education, support for schools, students with a disability and the tertiary sector.