Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Education for Students with Disabilities
Male announcer: On 1197AM 5RPH and digital radio its Question Time; a discussion with the decision makers.
Hans Reimer: And it’s time to say good evening again to Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent. Kelly, welcome to Question Time again.
Kelly Vincent: Good to be with you, thanks for having me.
Hans Reimer: Now what’s happening in the schools that’s got you all riled up this week?
Kelly Vincent: Well a few things, Hans. Parents are contacting me in absolute dismay over situations in which, for example, they are telephoned, from their child’s school on a daily basis, asked to come and collect their child from school, because the school can’t deal with their behaviour or their disability related needs. The behaviour might be part of their disability, and it may be reasonable to be expected to be disruptive at times, and yet the school can’t cope with that and they’re putting the onus on parents to deal with this when clearly it’s the responsibility of the education system to adequately resource and support students so that they can learn alongside their peers and achieve equal educational outcomes.
Hans Reimer: So Kelly, what are the ramifications for these families?
Kelly Vincent: Well as I’m sure you can image, Hans, there are many ramifications. According to a 2011 Productivity Commission report, the workforce participation rate for primary carers of people with disabilities is around 54%, compared with 80% of people who are not family carers of people with disabilities participating in the workforce, so the way Dignity for Disability sees it the economic ramifications of family carers being pulled out of the workforce to support their child when the education system can’t cope presents an unacceptable cost and loss of resources in the workforce. So of course there is an emotional toll for children and parents alike when they don’t feel that they are properly included and that they belong in the school, so it’s simply not good enough.
Hans Reimer: Kelly, the NAPLAN test is coming up again, what does that mean for students with a disability?
Kelly Vincent: That’s right, NAPLAN testing is coming up again in May, and under nationally agreed protocols, students with disabilities are of course entitled to sit the NAPLAN test with some adjustments as required for their disability. It is the responsibility of our schools to inform parents of these adjustments that are available and it’s of course imperative that schools are appropriately resourced to provide the necessary supports. In the past I have unfortunately, outrageously been told of parents being advised that their child should not sit the test, and that they can stay at home on the day that the test is to be sat. This is of course outrageous, and we are clearly so far behind other states on these issues and in other areas of education for students with disabilities. Currently South Australia spends just one third of the national average per student with disability related needs, and it’s high time that we resource this and lift our game both in the way that the education system views students with disabilities and the way that we resource supports for those students as well.
Hans Reimer: So how does Dignity for Disability plan to take action on education issues then?
Kelly Vincent: Well in the coming week, Hans, with Parliament about to resume, we’ll be seeking to establish a Select Committee of the Parliament to enquire into the experiences of students and families with disability in our education system. I think it’s very necessary because there are so many instances that indicate a level of blatant discrimination that the broader community would not accept. I’m especially interested in finding solutions, such as suggestions for broadening and improving teacher training around disability to ensure that students are supported to achieve their full academic potential regardless of disability, and I think that we need to have this inquiry to gather those real life stories that prove that there is a problem and that there is a better way forward. So I’ll be calling to establish that committee, and with the good will of the Parliament hopefully it will be established and we can get some good submissions to get some good work happening in this very important area.
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Hans Reimer: Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent, thanks once again for joining us on Question Time.
Kelly Vincent: That’s a pleasure, Hans. Thank you
Male announcer: Be listening at the same time next week for Question Time; a discussion with the decision makers on 1197AM 5RPH and digital radio.