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Tag: #discrimination

The time to include students with disability in mainstream school is now.

Picture this..

A young girl with a physical disability aged six, looking at the other children without a disability playing happily in the school yard. This girl was staring at the children through heavy gates. She was in a unit for students with a disability located on the grounds of a mainstream school. She was only permitted to mingle with the other students at lunch.

I was this young girl. It was extremely painful. I felt as though I was in a cage.

My disability was amplified.

Fortunately, through the tenacity of my mother and other professionals, I was fully integrated at a local catholic school. This was the opening to a whole new world.  I had significantly more opportunities than I would have had at a segregated school, such as attending university.

As integration into a mainstream school played an important role in my life, I was alarmed when I read an article by journalist Luke Michael Showing that mainstream schools are currently discouraging the inclusion of students with a disability.

Michael wrote a national survey has revealed more than 70% of students with disability have been discouraged to enroll in mainstream schools. He wrote, Stephanie Gotlib, the CEO of Children and Young People with Disability Australia claimed the results show that the mainstream education system continues to resist the inclusion of students with disability.


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Mainstream Schools Discourage Inclusion of Students with Disability | PBA

Mainstream Schools Discourage Inclusion of Students with Disability Monday, 6th November 2017 at 4:12 pm A national survey of students with disability has revealed more than 70 per cent of students have experienced instances where their enrolment and inclusive participation in mainstream schools has been discouraged.

Craig Wallace, disability activist has direct experience of being segregated at schools. A few years ago, there was a debate regarding whether students with disability should be included in mainstream schools. Craig attended a ‘special’ school for a little while. He wrote they were sad places with low expectations. He claimed that students fail to thrive in segregated settings.

An article written by Catia Malaquias writes that research indicates that students with disability who were included in mainstream schools had better social and academic outcomes than students in special schools. Research showed people with disability who were included in mainstream schools are more likely to be employed or living independently later in life, compared to people who attended a segregated school.

Dr Kathy Cologon conducted an extensive literature review and found that inclusive education helps students with disability build friendship and have higher levels of interactions than students in a segregated setting.

However, despite the positives of students with disability in mainstream schools, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows between 2003 and 2015, there was a shift toward students with disability attending special schools, and away from attending special classes in mainstream schools.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) show that the outcome of being educated in a segregated environment can place people with disability on a ‘treadmill’ to a segregated life.

While inclusive education has been shown in most cases to outweigh segregation settings, it involves a concerted effort by teaching staff. Dr Phil Foreman wrote that inclusive education relied heavily on the attitudes of principals, teachers and staff.

When I was integrated into mainstream school, some of the teachers showed negative attitudes toward my presence in the classroom. There was a day when a teacher instructed us to draws angles. I raised my hand and said I’m sorry but I’m unable to draw. The teacher snarled ‘what are you doing in this class then?’. This was in front of my peers, I was humiliated!

An article by Linda Graham and Kate de Bruin and Ilektra Spandagou showed that Dr James Morton, who is a parent of child with autism, criticised universities for failing to prepare teachers to teach students with disability. Teachers must be equipped to educate students with varying disability.

However, the responsibility cannot fall directly on the teachers. AFDO claims Governments must ensure that teachers and school communities have sufficient funding for disability support or other resources. Thus, teachers will be able to meet the diverse needs of all their students

My life changed dramatically when I was placed into a mainstream school. The sad young girl I described has become an educated woman with an abundant life. My hope is that every child with a disability is accepted and feels valued in the community.

If society is serious about the inclusion of people with disability, they must ensure schools embrace all students so they can reach their potential.


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The new NDIS pathway is announced!

As a person with a disability I was excited when I first heard of the NDIS. The notion that we would finally have voice, choice and control over our support services was liberating. The NDIS promised we would have support to fulfil our goals and to participate as citizens. I felt as though a new day had dawned!

However, the implementation of NDIS ideals hasn’t exactly come to fruition.

Due to this, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has designed a new NDIS pathway.

New and improved NDIS pathway?

A central feature of the new pathway is that NDIS planning meetings will be conducted face to face as opposed to over the phone.

The new pathway plan will include:

  • A consistent point of contact
  • Having a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner who will understand the unique needs of each participant
  • A stronger focus on the broader system of supports i.e. transport
  • Information that is clear, consistent and available in accessible formats
  • An improved NDIS portal and tools

The new pathway will be piloted and tested over the next few months prior to being implemented nationally. The new pathway was the result of research conducted by the NDIA and the Productivity Commission.

The NDIA conducted a study consisting of feedback from 188 participants and families. Other participants included frontline staff, service providers and state officials.  The results showed that participants, families and stakeholders felt that the NDIS was not meeting benchmarks.

The Productivity Commission produced a report, showing that many NDIS participants found the planning process complex and confusing. It showed that many participants and families were disgruntled with having their planning meetings over the phone.

The commission were also told that sometimes participants were not even aware that the phone call was a planning meeting, so were not prepared for meetings which affected the quality of outcome.


The NDIS pathway experience

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released details of a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ‘pathway’ designed to significantly improve the experience people and organisations have with the ground-breaking NDIS.

Amaze, a peak body for people with autism, stated that participants have reported feeling rushed in their planning meeting. They also felt forced into a phone planning meeting. Amaze claims there is a lack of clear and accessible information for participants about the planning process.

The Commonwealth Ombudsmen received complaints from participants and families who were given no option for a face to face meetings, even where it was clear a phone interview was not appropriate i.e. a participant who required the use of communication boards to participate.

Journalist Stephen Easton wrote, the problem is the government is exerting pressure on NDIA to roll out the scheme by 2020 and this has comprised the outcomes for participants. Therefore, the planning meetings were rushed.

It was due to complaints similar to the ones above, that the NDIA developed the new NDIS pathway.

Editor Lisa Caneva interviewed People with Disability Australia senior policy officer on the NDIS, Dr Meg Clement-Couzner. She believes that the new NDIS pathways is positive. However, she is anxious to see the outcome.

This year I didn’t have a meeting for a review of my plan. My plan was automatically renewed without any consultation from me. When I questioned this, I was told that someone tried to contact me via phone without success. So, they just continued my plan i.e. I received the same amount of funding. Due to my disability, I have problems communicating via phone, so I prefer email. The NDIA were aware of this, yet still phoned me.

Personally I can related to the fact that many participants would prefer to meet face to face with the planner.

However, despite some of these issues the NDIS has had a profound positive impact on my life. For instance, I’m able to fulfil a lifelong ambition of being employed. This was possible due to the direct assistance of the NDIS.

I applaud the NDIA for designing a new NDIS pathway. I do feel encouraged that we, people with disability will have more control over how meetings are being conducted. The fundamental purpose of the NDIS is people with disability having choice and control over their lives. I believe this can become a reality for people with disability.

With tenacity from people with disability, NDIS staff and stake holders, we’ll get there!


University graduates with a disability are falling behind in work participation.


I read an article recently written by Selina Ross which really resonated with my own battle…

Ross discusses the case of a woman Clair Cenin who graduated from university six years ago and is still struggling to find employment. Clair stated she didn’t expect to secure a job straight away, however she never anticipated it would take her so long to find employment.

Clair’s situation reflects my experience.

I have three university degrees. I was awarded my last degree seven years ago. I currently am working. However, for most of the seven years since I have graduated, I have strived to find employment to no avail. So, my blog this week will discuss the current employment situation for graduates with a disability.

Firstly as a graduate with a disability, I will share my personal experience in finding work.

I first attended uni with the belief that a degree would assist me to enter the labour market. When I finally left the ivory halls of university, I was filled with optimism. I was ready to make a contribution to society. This had been my dream. Unfortunately this dream was short lived. For six months I tried to find employment unsuccessfully. Due to this I decided to return to uni. I enrolled in a career orientated degree.

When I completed my second degree, I continued to study by completing an honours degree, upon advice of lecturers who believed it may secure me a job. After graduation, unfortunately my dream of employment didn’t eventuate. I sent multitudes of job applications without receiving the courtesy of a reply.  I’ve volunteered for years. I always have yearned to be a productive member of society. This desire was my reason to further my education.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom I have managed to secure some temporary roles. However struggling to find work after graduating is heartbreaking.

My situation reflects many other university graduates with a disability.

Graduating from The University of Newcastle


The graduate careers website shows that the rate of graduates with disability who are unemployed and seeking full time work is 23.5%, compared to students without disability at 11.3%. The Australian Network on Disability show that graduates with disability take 56.2 % longer to gain fulltime employment than other graduates. The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education found that graduates with disability earn less than those without disability.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission wrote that many uni graduates with disability embark on a continuous cycle of studying, hoping that the additional qualifications will eventually get them a job.

The question is why are graduates with a disability struggling to find work?

Unfortunately, graduates with a disability face many barriers to finding employment.

One barrier is graduates with disability have reduced opportunities for work experience. A report by an organisation Australians For Disability And Diversity Employment Inc. showed that students with a disability tend to be less prepared for work than other students because they devote their time to studying not work related activities.

When I was at uni I did not have the time or the stamina to work and study at the same time, so I missed out on work experiences. One solution to overcoming this barrier would be for students who are unable to work during the semesters to have some sort of work experience throughout uni breaks.

Read the article here

Claire Cenin graduated six years ago and is still looking for a job

Updated September 10, 2017 11:32:18 For most young people who go to university, the aim is to study, graduate and, with a bit of effort and luck, get a job within a year or two. For Claire Cenin, the six years since she graduated have been a lot more frustrating.

The University of Western Sydney wrote that a barrier to employment for graduates with a disability is that employers may have prejudicial attitudes toward people with disability in the workplace. To overcome this barrier uni career services and Disability Employment Services (DES) have to make employers aware of how valuable graduates with a disability can be. It takes great tenacity to complete a degree and this could be a valuable quality an employer may desire

I strongly believe that the difficulties graduates with disability face can be overcome. However it requires an investment by the government into services that offer adequate assistance.

Most of us graduates with a disability, attended university in the hope of having fruitful careers, it’s time for employers to use our talents.

Shouldn’t we as university graduates be able to reap the rewards of our hard work?

Let’s find a solution.






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Disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society, why is it still happening?

As a person with a disability I often wonder why we, people with disability, are still denied equal rights in 2017…

The Disability Discrimination Act was enacted in 1992, however disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society. Professor Roberto Saba wrote an article expressing similar sentiments, entitled ‘Around the Globe People with Disabilities Face Unseen Discrimination we must do better’.

In this article, Professor Saba discusses the prevalence of structural inequality, experienced by people with disability on a worldwide scale.

Professor Saba believes that to understand why people with disability do not have equal rights, one needs to understand the difference between legal equality and real equality.

Legal equality involve citizens having the right to fair treatment under the law. However, real equality requires governments dismantling structures that perpetuates disadvantage among minority groups. One way governments can achieve this is by implementing policies such as affirmative action (preferential treatment) for minority groups.

Read the article here


Around the globe, people with disabilities face unseen discrimination. We must do better.

In Argentina, there is no formal or legal barrier to women becoming judges. But according to a 2013 report, 56% of Inferior Judges, 67% of Appeal Judges and 78% of State Justices in Argentinean courts are men. Why should this be the case? The answer is, of course, structural inequality.


Currently in Australia people with disability experience severe levels of disadvantage in comparison to people without a disability. In a submission by the National Disability Services Victoria (NDSV), they stated that 43% of people with a disability rely on income support as their main source of income.

They claimed that 53% of people with a disability are employed compared to 83% of people without a disability.

Employees with disability have a significantly lower income of $400 per week compared with $750 per week for people without a disability. The NDSV wrote that the government has a large role to play in addressing these grim statistics.

What I’ve discussed so far may appear discouraging. However, it is beyond time for the government to acknowledge and dismantle the structural barriers people with disability face.

A researcher Mark Sherry claimed that the removal of structural barriers requires government investment in transport, buildings, communication and education infrastructure. Another researcher Rose Galvan claimed that further structural changes are required to dismantle the barriers people with disability face.

These changes may include adaptions to the built environments to make public places physical accessible. This requires a great investment by the government, however the question remains will governments be willing to do this?

In fact some may claim that government occasionally benefits from maintaining some of the structural disadvantage confronted by people with disability.

Researcher Alan Morris states that in the current labour market, values of profit margins, efficiency and productivity are predominant, making it difficult for people with disability to compete with other employees.  Some policy makers prefer economic rationalism, so equal opportunities for people with disability in the workplace wouldn’t appeal to them.

Is it all doom and gloom?

Although, it may seem doom and gloom, people with a disability have come a long way in trying to achieve equality. However, there is a long way to go before we are all on an even par.

We must urge policy makers to eradicate structural barriers preventing us to achieve equality. I strongly believe it can happen. I know that professor Saba is right in saying people with disability need real equality.

Let’s start the discussion and turn the dream of real equality for people with disability into a reality!


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