What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education is about everyone learning, growing and flourishing – together – in all our diversity. Inclusive education recognises the right of every child and young person – without exception – to be included in general education settings. It involves adapting the environment and teaching approaches to ensure genuine and valued full participation of all children and young people. It embraces human diversity and welcomes all as equal members of an educational community.
See our Fact Sheet What is Inclusive Education?
What is the current state of play for students with disability?
Every year CYDA completes a National Education Survey to advocate to government about inclusive education.
The results from the 2019 CYDA National Education Survey are available in our report Time for change: The state of play for inclusion of students with disability.
CYDA conducted the survey between August and September 2019. It provided important information on the school experiences of children and young people with disability, with 505 people taking part, including young people, families and caregivers.
In our 2020 report Not even remotely fair: Experiences of students with disability during COVID-19, we explore the experiences of students with disability in relation to the educational changes made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research evidence from before the pandemic suggests that despite a number of policy commitments and initiatives at local and national levels, we have seen only limited progress in moving towards inclusive education and that children and young people with disability often fare poorly in the education system. This is despite the fact that all of the evidence suggests that inclusive education is not just better for children and young people with disability, but can have significant positive impacts for the whole classroom.
Although the shift to remote learning and the associated impacts of the pandemic have raised some new issues, several respondents indicated that the issues faced are more longstanding. Over the longer term the only way to prevent these issues arising in future waves of the pandemic or during other emergencies is to genuinely implement inclusive education practices.
Can CYDA help us with individual advocacy at our school?
Individual advocacy involves helping to resolve individual issues that children and young people with disability and their families are facing in their education. Many people contact CYDA seeking individual advocacy.
CYDA is not funded to provide individual advocacy, however, there are many organisations that can help with individual circumstances. See our Get help section to find an organisation that can assist.
It is vital that young people and families continue to contact CYDA and tell us about their experiences. This insight and knowledge informs us about change that is occurring and identifies areas where systemic changes are required. You can contact us if you need a referral, assistance or just want to tell us what is happening for children and young people with disability in their education.
What are the benefits of inclusive education?
Research evidence overwhelmingly supports inclusive education. As well as positive outcomes for social justice and a sense of community and belonging, there are benefits for learning outcomes and for the social, behavioural and physical development of children and young people who do and do not experience disability.
Our Fact Sheet What are the benefits of inclusive education? outlines the benefits for all students, students with disability, teachers and educators, and families and the broader community.
What is ableism in education?
Barriers to inclusive education prevent children and young people with disability from learning and participating fully, with far-reaching and lifelong implications. Major barriers include negative attitudes and stigma around ‘difference’ and ‘disability’, inadequate education and professional development for teachers and specialist support staff, and systemic barriers, such as inadequate funding and support from education authorities. Underpinning these barriers is ongoing ableism.
See our Fact Sheet Addressing ableism in education for more information.
Why is a transformation needed to create inclusive education in Australia?
In our Fact Sheet Transformation to inclusive education: the next steps, we outline the steps needed to realise inclusive education in Australia.
Leadership is required to bring about the substantial change needed to ensure every child and young person can fully and genuinely participate and have the contribution they make recognised.
‘Driving change: A roadmap for achieving inclusive education in Australia’ has been developed by the Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education (ACIE) and endorsed by many organisations around Australia.
This is a 10 year plan recommending stepped change to realise inclusive education to ensure all students with disability are fully included in their education.
The Roadmap for achieving inclusive education in Australia has two key sections:
- the outcomes that need to occur, stepped out over the next 10 years; and
- the key levers for change needed to realise these outcomes.
Do you provide individual advocacy?
Individual advocacy involves assistance to resolve issues of specific relevance to a child or young person with disability and their family. Many people contact CYDA seeking individual advocacy. CYDA does not provide individual advocacy. Individuals and families can contact one of the disability advocacy organisations listed listed in the get help by state or territory section for individual advocacy.
It is vital that young people and families continue to contact CYDA and tell us about their experiences. This insight and knowledge informs us about change that is occurring and identifies areas where systemic changes are required. You can contact us to provide us with information about your experiences.
How do I get help or make a complaint?
In the get help by state and territory section you will find the organisations and phone numbers where you can make a complaint, as well as advocacy organisations who can help you with individual advocacy.
What will you do if I contact you needing assistance?
Although CYDA does not provide individual advocacy, you can contact us and we can make a warm referral to the right organisation to assist you or can direct you to other advocacy organisations that may be able to help address the issue you raised.
What else can CYDA do for me?
CYDA provides systemic advocacy to achieve better outcomes for children and young people with disability. Systemic advocacy seeks to influence and change a 'system' such as legislation, government policy and community attitudes. Through systemic advocacy, CYDA aims to create change and a more informed understanding of the experiences and challenges of children and young people with disability.
An imperative part of the work of CYDA is to raise awareness of issues impacting on children and young people with disability and their families. It is not possible to achieve effective policy and practice for children and young people with disability unless governments and the community are informed of the lived experience of disability.
You can have your say through getting involved in CYDA's activities.
What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of all people with disability. Australia signed this Convention in 2008.
Article 5 of the CRPD covers equality and non-discrimination, with obligations for signatories to the Convention including:
- State Parties recognise that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
- State Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.
- In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, State Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.
- Specific measures which are necessary to accelerate or achieve de facto equality of persons with disabilities shall not be considered discrimination under the terms of the present Convention.
Reference: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
What laws are there in Australia to prevent discrimination?
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) is Australia’s main source of legal protection of people with disability. The legislation is based on Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
All states and territories also have anti-discrimination legislation to prevent discrimination against people with disability:
- Australian Capital Territory – Discrimination Act 1991
- New South Wales – Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
- Northern Territory – Anti-Discrimination Act 1996
- Queensland – Anti-Discrimination Act 1991
- South Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984
- Tasmania – Anti-Discrimination Act 1998
- Victoria – Equal Opportunity Act 2010
- Western Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984.
Reference: Australian Human Rights Commission, A quick guide to Australian discrimination laws.
How do I know if I have been discriminated against because of my disability?
A person with disability may experience discrimination when they are treated less favourably than a person without disability in the same circumstances or situation.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against because of their disability. For example, not allowing a child to enrol in the local school because of their disability.
Indirect discrimination can occur if a person denies or proposes not to make reasonable adjustments for a person with disability. For example, not having reasonable adjustments at work or school to perform or learn on the same basis as peers without disability.
Indirect discrimination can also occur when a person with disability is not able to comply with a requirement or condition, or when the requirement or condition has or is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging a person with disability. For example, when a traffic light without sound to cross disadvantages a vision-impaired pedestrian, or there is difficulty in accessing a public building that does not have a ramp for wheelchair users.
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part 1, 5 and 6, direct and indirect disability discrimination.
In what areas am I protected from discrimination?
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects a person with disability in the following areas:
- employment – getting a job, the terms and conditions of a job, training, promotion and dismissal
- education – enrolling or studying in a course at a private or public school, college or university
- accommodation and land – renting or buying a house or unit
- getting or using services – such as banking and insurance services, services provided by government departments, transport or telecommunication services, professional services like those provided by lawyers, doctors or tradespeople, services provided by restaurants, shops or entertainment venues
- sport – to participate in a sporting activity
- clubs and incorporated associations – to be accepted as a member
- accessing public places or premises – such as parks, government offices, restaurants, hotels or shopping centres.
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part two, Prohibition of disability discrimination.
When is discrimination not against the law?
Discrimination may not be against the law in some situations, such as when a situation imposes an unjustifiable hardship on another person. For example, declining the employment of a person with hearing impairment in a call centre responsible for taking phone calls. As taking phone calls is an inherent requirement of the job, the person cannot perform the job requirements.
State anti-discrimination legislation also has exceptions where discrimination is not against the law in specific circumstances.
Reference: Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Part one, 11 and Part two, 21A and 21B.
Where can I make a complaint about discrimination?
You can make a complaint about disability discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission, no matter where you live in Australia.
You can also get help from state and territory anti-discrimination bodies and make complaints to them.
How much does it cost to make a complaint about discrimination?
It does not cost anything to make a complaint about discrimination.
Disability Royal Commission
What topics is the Royal Commission interested in hearing about?
The scope of the Disability Royal Commission is broad. The Commissioners have been asked to consider the violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability, and their exploitation, across all settings and contexts, including schools, workplaces, homes and hospitals.
The Commission's definitions of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation are set out on its website, and the full Terms of Reference are also available on the website (in the Letters Patent).
Who does the Royal Commission want to hear from?
The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear from all Australians about their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
More information about engaging with the Royal Commission is available from its website.
How do I share my story with the Royal Commission?
There are lots of ways to share your story, or your child's story, with the Royal Commission.
You can make a submission – in writing, by email, by telephone, or by voice or video recording. You can make as many submissions as you would like.
You can also apply for a private session with a Commissioner, where you can share your story directly.
Various free supports are available to help you in preparing your submission. For more information about making a submission, contact CYDA or the Royal Commission directly.
What supports are available to help me?
There are free, independent support services available to help you or your family interact with the Royal Commission, or support you through any emotional challenges you are experiencing that are related to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Brief information is provided below, with more information available on the Royal Commission's website.
A free, confidential counselling support and referral service is available through the Blue Knot Foundation for anyone who is affected by the Royal Commission, its activities, or the process of sharing their experiences.
To contact Blue Knot, call 1800 421 468 (9am-6pm AEST Monday to Friday; 9am-5pm AEST Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, call the National Relay Service on 133 677 and give 02 6146 1468 as the number you want to call.
For support in languages other than English, Blue Knot can access interpreters or you can use the free national Translating and Interpreting Service by calling 131 450.
Free, independent legal advice is available for people interacting with the Disability Royal Commission, through Your Story Disability Legal Support.
To contact the service, visit its website or call 1800 771 800 (9:15am-5:15pm AEST Monday to Friday).
Disability advocacy services around the country have received funding to support people with their submissions to the Royal Commission. To find an advocacy service near you, visit the Department of Social Services' Disability Advocacy Finder or the Disability Advocacy Network of Australia's Find an Advocate page.
What is the closing date for submissions?
There is currently no closing date for submissions to the Royal Commission. The Commission provides regular updates on its activities via its website and social media channels, and through its email newsletter. Any changes to deadlines will be shared through these channels.
The Royal Commission releases regular issues papers on various topics – these include suggested deadlines but they are not compulsory. You can still provide a submission after the suggested date.
How will my privacy be protected?
The Royal Commission will not make individual submissions public on its website, at hearings or through other activities of the Commission unless consent is provided by the person making the submission. You can make confidential submissions if you wish.
Before making a confidential submission, or for any other questions about confidentiality, please contact Your Story Disability Legal Support for free, independent legal advice.
When will the Royal Commission end?
The Royal Commission runs until 2022. The Commissioners have been asked to provide their final report to the Commonwealth Government by 29 April 2022.
What is the Royal Commission's interest in education and learning?
Education and learning is a key area of inquiry for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Royal Commission). The right to education is not only a right of every child and young person with disability, but it is also critical to achieving social transformation for people with disability through empowerment, inclusion and the unlocking of human potential.
The Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education has developed a fact sheet to assist people looking to engage with the Royal Commission on the topic of education and learning.
Disability Royal Commission-Education and Learning (PDF)
Disability Royal Commission-Education and Learning (Word)
Where is the latest information about the NDIS?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) website is regularly updated with new information. Visit the NDIS website.
You can also contact the NDIS directly by phone or contact Early Childhood Early Intervention providers, Local Area Coordinators, or NDIS through the NDIS directory.
What is the duration of an NDIS plan?
The NDIS plan length can vary depending on the participant circumstances. For children and young participants is common to have a twelve month NDIS plan due to the likely changes of support needs as the child grows.
For participants with support needs that are unlikely to change, you can request a plan duration of up to three years. If the participant’s circumstances change they can request a plan review.
How long does it take to have an NDIS plan approved for children aged 0 - 6 years?
The pathway for children aged 0-6 is called the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) pathway. To reduce the waiting periods for children aged between 0 - 6 years who have been found eligible for the NDIS and have been waiting more than 50 days, the NDIS has introduced a six months interim plan with a value of $10,000 for participants who are not categorised as complex. At the end of this plan a full NDIS plan will replace this interim plan with no gaps in between plans.
If the child is transferring from an existing program outside of the NDIS, the interim six months plan will support the current funding levels. If the current funding of the existing program is less than $10,000, the child will still receive the $10,000 standardised interim plan for up to six months.
How can I prepare for a planning meeting?
An NDIS planning meeting is an opportunity to discuss how the NDIS participant is progressing with their goals, what is working well and what needs to be changed or added. Being prepared for your planning meeting or plan review will assist in helping develop the new plan for the child or young person. You can have a friend, family member or advocate with you in the meeting to support you. Here are some tips on what you can bring/prepare:
- Reports or assessments from therapies or allied health providers to show how the participant is progressing and working to achieve their goals. This may be good for the continuity of goals or the creation of new ones. It is often best to request reports in advance at least six weeks before your plan review meeting.
- Any information about a new diagnosis or disability changes
- Your thoughts on the current goals and whether you need to add new ones. The goals can be short term or long term. It is good to have broad goals to allow you to use supports more flexibly.
- If possible, quotes or a list of costs of what you are currently using or need e.g. continence products.
- Think about new activities or skills you would like to gain e.g. learn how to cook to improve your independence skills
- A calendar of your current routine or daily activities and supports needed that are disability-related.
- A Carer statement, which is the document where you can describe all the caring responsibilities and support you already have or may need to support the participant, family situation. This could include a parent with disability or family with multiple children with disability, the impact of participant disability on the carer and their family, and whether you require training for the carer role.
- Whether your current plan management is working, for example agency or plan managed or or self-management
Preparing for your plan review
Planning Operational Guideline - The participant's statement of goals and aspirations
What does the NDIS fund and what do education systems fund?
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has information on the NDIS and education and what the NDIS funds and what the education systems funds. The NDIS funds disability-related supports for the student. Education systems fund schools, teachers, curriculum support, aids and equipment to make curriculums accessible, and a range of other educational supports.
Visit NDIS and education page for more information.
I am not happy with my child NDIS plan, what should I do?
You can request an internal review of your child NDIS plan. You must request this review within the three months of the notification of the decision. There are different forms to request an internal review:
- Call 1800 800 110
- Email: [email protected]
- Visit one of the NDIA offices
- Written request to NDIA to GPO Box 700, Canberra ACT 2601
You can complete an application for a review of a decision however is not mandatory. It is advisable to collect evidence of how the decision was wrong or is affecting your child to support your request. The NDIA will review your request and will confirm, vary or substitute the original decision.
If you are still unsatisfied with the outcome of the internal review you can apply for an external review with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). You can represent yourself or may want assistance with your review, visit the NDIS Appeals Supports.
Review of Decisions Operational Guideline - Internal review by the NDIA
Abuse & neglect
Can someone apply to the National Redress Scheme more than once?
No. An individual can only make one application for redress under the Redress Scheme, even if there was more than one instance of abuse. This is why it is important to speak with people who can assist you with your application. Please call or email us for more information, or contact knowmore, the free legal advisory service.
Can someone under 18 apply for the National Redress Scheme?
An individual can submit an application as long as they will turn 18 before 30 June 2028.
In this case, you will receive a preliminary assessment of your application, which may help you decide whether you would like to wait for redress or pursue other options. After you turn 18, the National Redress Scheme team will contact you again to ask if you want to proceed with your application or withdraw it. If you choose to proceed, your application will then be assessed. Offers may differ from the preliminary assessment as individual circumstances may change.
Individuals must be 18 years or older to accept an offer of redress.
I'm not sure if I'd like to apply, or if I'm eligible. Where can I find out more?
It is normal to feel nervous, confused or distressed about the idea of applying to the National Redress Scheme. There is information on the Scheme's website for people who are thinking about applying, or you can contact us for some preliminary information and a referral.
The application process has been designed with the intention to not cause further distress, but there still might be times when this process may be difficult. Free, confidential support services are available to help you before, during and after applying.
How do I know if an organisation has joined the National Redress Scheme?
For you to access redress, the institution or organisation responsible for the abuse must have joined the National Redress Scheme. The list of institutions that have joined the Scheme, or intend to join, is updated regularly. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
How can I get some legal advice about my options about the National Redress Scheme?
knowmore is an independent service giving free legal advice to survivors of abuse by providing them with information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them.
knowmore helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse, and anyone contacting them on their behalf. This means people who were sexually abused at school, in a sporting club, children’s service, orphanage, foster care, residential care, religious organisation, government organisation or any organisation that was involved with children.
For more information or to speak with someone for advice or assistance please visit the knowmore website or contact them on 1800 605 762.
What does the National Redress Scheme do with my information?
There is legislation around the National Redress Scheme that sets out how your information is protected. There are strict rules about how the information in your application can be used. People who use or share your information inappropriately can be jailed or fined. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
I'm feeling really alone and overwhelmed by the process. Where could I find some help?
There are free, confidential and independent support services available to assist:
- Legal support services are delivered by an organisation called knowmore, which provides advice about your legal options, and applying for and accepting an offer of redress.
- Redress support services are available to help you understand the Scheme and guide you through the whole application process.
- Financial counselling services are available to help you think through how to manage your redress payment.
You can access these services at any time when considering applying for redress, if you are applying for redress, or if you are considering an offer of redress. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
What happens after I apply to the National Redress Scheme?
When the National Redress Scheme team receives your application they will phone you to let you know they have it. At that time they may also ask you for more information if needed.
An Independent Decision Maker will consider your application for redress. The assessment may take some time to complete.
You may want to think about who could give you some support if you need it. This could be someone you already know and trust or Redress Support Services can help.
More information about the application process and what happens next is available on the Redress Scheme website.
What do I do after I have received an offer from the National Redress Scheme?
The National Redress Scheme will call you and send you a letter about the outcome of your application. If your application for redress is approved, you will receive an offer letter. The offer letter will explain all of your options, including accepting or declining an offer or asking for a review of the outcome of your application.
If you do not agree with the outcome you can request a review. You need to apply for a review within six months of the date of the letter explaining the outcome. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
Will my redress payments impact my income support payments?
Are redress payments counted as income by Centrelink?
Redress payments are not counted as income for the purpose of any pension or benefit under the Social Security Act 1991, the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, and the income tax assessment act. This includes pensions and benefits such as the Age Pension, JobSeeker, Disability Support Pension and Family Tax Benefit.
This means a redress payment will not be counted as income for the purposes of calculating a Centrelink pension or benefit. However, the redress payment may be counted as an asset (see below for more information).
For people who already receive a Centrelink pension or benefit, this means they do not have to report the redress payment as income to Centrelink.
Are redress payments counted as assets by Centrelink?
A redress payment may be counted as an asset for the purpose of calculating a person’s pension or benefit. This is because the balance of a person’s bank account is considered an asset.
A redress payment may also be included as a liquid asset for the ‘liquid assets test waiting period’ for people claiming Jobseeker, Youth Allowance or Austudy.
The liquid assets test waiting period is the amount of time a person has to wait before receiving one of the above payments if they have funds that are readily available to them. The period can vary from one week to 13 weeks, depending on the amount of the person’s assets and their personal situation.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has allowed a temporary exemption from the liquid assets test waiting period for six months from 25 March 2020. This means people applying for a Centrelink pension or benefit will no longer have to wait to receive their payment, even if they have liquid assets such as a redress payment.
Are redress payments taxed?
No personal income tax is not deducted from redress payments. This means people who receive a redress payment will not need to declare it to the Australian Taxation Office as taxable income.
What happens if a redress payment is gifted?
If a person gives all or part of their redress payment to another person, then the amount given could be taxable income. It could, if that recipient is on a Centrelink payment, pension or benefit, also be considered as income and also an asset for Centrelink payments, pensions or benefits.
How do I get my documents certified?
The NRS need copies of your identification so they can assist you with things like requesting your records. To do this, they need copies that show your name, signature and a photo of you, if possible). A ‘certified copy’ is a copy of an original document. A qualified person must authorise (or stamp) the copy to prove it is a true copy of the original.
Below are links for each state and territory that explain how to do that: