Inclusive Schools Australia strongly condemns the statements made by Senator Pauline Hanson in parliament on Wednesday 21 June 2017. Her statements showed a lack of understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders and a naivety about the type of support available to students with autism in schools.
Students with disability, including students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, have the fundamental right to participate in a regular classroom in a mainstream school. This right is recognised in Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in General Comment No. 4 (Right to Inclusive Education). In Australia these rights are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005.
We recognise that Senator Hanson’s comments may have been informed by the personal experiences of some of her constituents, however the evidence available does not support her assertions about the impact on other students in the classroom. The research evidence strongly and consistently demonstrates benefits both academically and socially for students with disability from inclusion in regular mainstream classrooms. This same research also demonstrates no impact on academic outcomes and positive impacts on social and emotional outcomes for their non-disabled.
All school settings require greater access to funding, resources and professional learning to develop the capacity of teachers, teaching assistants and school leaders to effectively cater for the wide ranging diversity of learners in Australian classrooms today. Teachers in classrooms need to be supported to provide high quality teaching programs that recognise the diverse learning needs of all students in their care.
Inclusive Schools Australia has been created to build capacity within the education sector to action the intention of the Australian Curriculum to provide high quality curriculum that promotes equity and excellence to all students without exception.