Kymberly Martin

Urgent call for education reform

A new survey has found that students with disability are being failed by a broken education system with almost half excluded from school events and activities, one in five not attending school full time, and one in 10 refused enrolment.


Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) launched the results of its recent survey of almost 500 parents and carers of primary and secondary students with disability. The survey was released on the eve of the Disability Royal Commission’s first public hearing on education being held in Townsville this week.

CYDA also found that over the past year around:

  • One in four students were restrained or secluded
  • Half had experienced bullying
  • And 14 per cent had been suspended.

According to the organisation, this micro-exclusion, which the survey results highlight, reflects a deep systemic and cultural problem that needs to be urgently addressed in Australia’s educational system. It indicates this cannot be solved without whole-of-system educational reform and investment in inclusive education and is now calling on the government to develop a National Action Plan for Inclusive Education that sets direction to:

  • Phase out special schools, separated classrooms/units within mainstream schools
  • Improve inadequate teacher education, including new recruitment for a mandatory full semester subject at university, in addition to mandatory professional development for current teachers
  • Redefine the roles of aides so they provide inclusive support.

CYDA CEO Mary Sayers said that 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”. According to Sayers, evidence shows that all children, those with and without disability, achieve best in inclusive schools. “Not in special schools, special classrooms, not schooling part-time, and doing a separate, or worse, no curriculum.”

For a copy of survey findings and fact sheets go to: