International legislation

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability – Article 24 The Right to An Inclusive Education

Australian legislation

A quick guide to Australian discrimination laws – Human Rights Commission

Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cwlth)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth)
Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cwlth)

What does the legislation mean for schools and teachers?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards) are intended to give students with disability the same rights as other students, including the right to education and training ‘on the same basis’ as students without disability.

The Standards apply to education providers, including principals, schools and teachers. Principals and schools can meet their obligations under the Standards by giving consideration to ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that students with disability are provided with opportunities to participate in education and training on the same basis as students without disability. Before any adjustments are made, ‘consultation’ takes place between the school, student, and parents or carers.

What does ‘on the same basis’ mean?

  • ‘On the same basis’ means that a student with disability should have access to the same opportunities and choices in their education that are available to a student without disability.
  • ‘On the same basis’ means that students with disability are entitled to rigorous, relevant and engaging learning opportunities drawn from the Australian Curriculum and set in age-equivalent learning contexts.
  • ‘On the same basis’ does not mean that every student has the same experience but that they are entitled to equitable opportunities and choices to access age-equivalent content from all learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.
  • ‘On the same basis’ means that while all students will access age-equivalent content, the way in which they access it and the focus of their learning may vary according to their individual learning needs, strengths, goals and interests.

What is ‘consultation’ and who is involved?

  • Schools need to comply with the Standards, in regards to the Disability Standards for Education 2005, in regards to consultation, ensuring that there is a team of people who have significant knowledge and understanding of the student, including the student and their family members or carers.
  • ‘Consultation’ can involve the principal, class teachers and support teachers, and can include the professional expertise of therapists and other community service providers.
  • The purpose of the ‘consultation’ is to identify the barriers to a student’s learning and any adjustments that could be made.
  • ‘Consultation’ should take place regularly and changes made to adjustments if needed.
  • ‘Consultation’ should continue for the whole time that the student is involved with the school.

Source: ACARA website (https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/studentdiversity/students-with-disability, accessed 18 June 2017)

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