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Tag: #highereducation

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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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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