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Senate delivers report on students with disabilities.



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Senator Lyn Allison Australian Democrats Schools & Training Spokesperson 10 December 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/602

Senate delivers report on students with disabilities

The Australian Democrats-initiated Senate inquiry into the education of students with disabilities has delivered a unanimous report today calling for immediate and significant Commonwealth attention.

Democrats’ representative on the Education Committee for the inquiry, Senator Lyn Allison, said, “This inquiry confirmed that disabled students are not getting the support they need, despite Federal anti discrimination laws and despite the rhetoric about equal opportunity.

“In particular, the Democrats are concerned that learning disabilities such as dyslexia are often undiagnosed and the educational success of students with these disabilities depends largely on the skill of their teachers, most of whom will not have been trained in the area.”

Senator Allison said, “Programs targeted at students with disabilities are mostly under-funded, particularly those attempting to bring disabled students into the mainstream of learning and learning disabilities are not included in the Commonwealth’s definition of disability for the purposes of funding. Furthermore, special education programs are suffering as a result of attitudes towards allocating time and human resources to them.”

Key recommendations include: • The Commonwealth to commission a study to develop a best practice funding model to support the needs of students with disabilities in schools • All university teacher-training courses should include a mandatory unit on the education of

atypical students • Teachers’ professional development programs should be extended • Teacher aides working with students with disabilities should be qualified in special

education • The Disability Standards for Education 2002 be put beyond legal challenge and that the cost of implementing the standards be shared between the Commonwealth and the States &

Territories • MCEETYA to develop national definitions of disabilities • Commonwealth funding to improve the physical environment of universities to improve

access

“As a priority, a nationally determined definition of learning disability is required and a national strategy to address the needs of students with less traditional disabilities,” Senator Allison concluded.

Contact: John Derry 0408 056 167

www.democrats.org.au