Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Disability and Education

On 27 May 2015 Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station regarding her motion to establish a select committee to enquire into the experience of students with a disability. This motion will go to a vote in the Parliament on Wednesday, 3 June. Here is the audio and transcript of that interview.


(Upbeat synthesised music)
DEEP MALE VOICE: On 1197 AM, 5 RPH, and digital radio, it’s Question Time – a discussion with the decision makers.

(Music fades) FEMALE PRESENTER, PAM GREEN: Time now to welcome to 5 RPH Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly.


PAM GREEN: Well, look, last week when we spoke to you, you were preparing for a forum you were holding in Parliament House on education and students with disabilities. How did the forum go?

KELLY VINCENT: Look, it went very well, thank you, Pam. We had about 60 people attend the forum and they were representing an array of stakeholders in our school-aged education system, including current and former students with disability, who have attended both government and non-government schools; teachers, parents, and education professionals from both government and non-government schools; as well as parents of young people with disabilities. So there was a wide range of experiences and views represented which is really positive. It’s great to have so many people turn out. It shows a lot of interest. But at the same time, I think it also demonstrates that there are a lot of issues, because (chuckles) 60 people don’t usually turn up…


KELLY VINCENT: … To Parliament House to tell us that everything is okay.

PAM GREEN: Exactly.

KELLY VINCENT: So, we discussed both the success stories and the current challenges in our education system – including some rather harrowing stories I have to say about how the basic right of young South Australians to access an adequate education on par with their nondisabled peers is really not being met at this point in time. We heard some very concerning stories about bullying, seclusion, and exclusion. And I don’t think that taxpayers would be very happy to hear that in 2015, students with disabilities are still being excluded – particularly excluded from attending full-time our education system due to a lack of support.

PAM GREEN: Well, in the media release prior to the forum, you used the title “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. What did you mean by that?

KELLY VINCENT: I guess when I talk about soft bigotry of low expectations, really, it’s about the passive exclusion, or the unconscious exclusion or lowering of expectations that we might have on a person, based on the fact that they have particular label – in this instance, a label of disability. More clearly, when somebody has a disability -particularly an intellectual disability, for example, all sorts of assumptions might be made about their capacity, rather than focusing on whether they actually are as an individual, and what they want to achieve and what their abilities are. So when I talk about the soft bigotry, I’m talking about our unconscious and conscious biases…

PAM GREEN: Mmm-hmm.

KELLY VINCENT: Bias and how they operate against people with disabilities, and how we need to move from a deficit model that operates on the assumption of incapacity, toward a model that assumes capacity and the individual skills and talents of a student as an individual. How we as a system, and as teachers, and at a societal level as well, can better support those individual talents to be nurtured.

PAM GREEN: So where to from here on this issue, then?

KELLY VINCENT: Well, Pam, I’ll be taking my motion to establish a select committee to enquiry into the experience of students with a disability to a vote in the Parliament on Wednesday, 3 June. And I hope to have the support from both major parties, as was the crossbenchers to get that committee established. Because the education and the future of young people in South Australia should be beyond politics. So I’m hoping to establish a multi-partisan committee to get a range of views represented, so that we can make good consensus recommendations about how to improve the system. Once the motion is passed, the committee will then be formed by members of the Legislative Council and take written and oral evidence from anyone interested. And from those submissions, whether written or oral, the committee will form recommendations about how the government can improve. So, it’s really important forum for people to use their personal experience and their lived experience and their expertise to inform the way forward. So I’d certainly encourage anyone interested to make a submission. And it doesn’t have to be complicated as it might sound. It might just be a two-page letter, or even just an email with some dot points of points that people really want to get across. So I’d encourage people to get involved, do not be put off just because it might sound really offputting; a parliamentary committee, and make sure that we can utilise people’s lived experience and their expertise to find the right way forward.

PAM GREEN: Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.


PAM GREEN: And that was Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent.
(Upbeat synthesised music fades in. Question)

DEEP MALE VOICE: Be listening at the same time next week for Question Time – a discussion with the decision makers, on 1197am 5RPH, and on digital radio.