Disability royal commission turns to education pathways for children and young people

By Melissa Coade

June 6, 2022

disability royal commission
(L-R) commissioners Barbara Bennett, chair Ronald Sackville QC, Roslyn Atkinson and Professor Rhonda Galbally during the hearing into health care for people with cognitive disability at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, February 18, 2020. (AAP Image/Supplied by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability)

From Monday, a five-day hearing in Canberra will examine the school experiences of Australian children and young people living with a disability.

Witnesses will include staff from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), as well as WA and SA education authorities. 

An ACT-based young person with a disability is also scheduled to give evidence about how they use assisted technology to communicate and learn.

Evidence will be heard about the primary and high school experiences of children and young people as part of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. 

“Having access to education is a fundamental human right, protected for people with disability under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),” a statement from the royal commission read. 

“Education is also a determinant of future outcomes such as employment and health, and vital to the full development of an individual’s potential.”

The commission will consider settings from early childhood to high school, including transitions to life after school as part of what is known as ‘public hearing 24’. Special schools in Western Australia and South Australia will be the subject of particular attention during the session.

“Witnesses will share their experiences of battling to ensure their children received a quality education and the same opportunities as their siblings without disability,” the royal commission statement said.

“They will share their experience of the schools failing to work with parents to develop individual learning plans, failing to provide adequate support, responding to behaviours of concern with restrictive practices and the impact of conflicts.”

Representatives from Children and Young People (CYDA), Inclusion Australia and the Yellow Lady Bugs will also give evidence this week. 

Ronald Sackville QC, will preside over the session in Canberra alongside commissioners Andrea Mason and Dr Rhonda Galbally.

The in-person hearings will be held at Rydges Canberra and a live stream will be available from the royal commission website

Public hearing 24 builds on the royal commission’s work (including hearing 2 and hearing 7) relating to the experiences of students with disability.


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