Friday, January 19, 2018
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5 Things I have learnt

My name is Rachel and I have officially been a Training Officer at Advocacy for Inclusion for six weeks today! Although nobody bought me a cake, the last six

weeks have been some of the most rewarding work I have done in my career and I am grateful to join such a strong team of women.  

The training team had a huge month. We ran a group for women with disabilities, supporting them while they navigate the difficult landscape of rights and their children.

We had a self-advocacy plus public speaking group for adults with disabilities who are learning how to speak up for themselves, their rights and to share the things they enjoy in life.

We visited a local mental health facility, holding weekly groups supporting adults with disabilities to make informed choices and decisions. This of course includes manoeuvring the NDIS and all that trickiness.

Finally, we had a few individual group home visits with remarkable men and women with disabilities that include everything from dancing to punk music and learning the difference between assertiveness and aggression. 

This month at Advocacy for Inclusion we have focused on education for our #DisabilityDisrupt campaign and I have certainly learnt a giant amount about education and disability thus far. I know I am just on the edge of this topic and there is so much more to learn.


 Here are a few things I have learnt in the last month -

1)    Respect and honesty should always go hand in hand

2)    Every person with a disability has the right to education - how that looks should be individual

3)    Never underestimate the power of music and dance - learning can be fun

4)    Just because someone is having a bad day, never give up on them

5)    To not leave my bags on the floor and my chair 3M from my desk



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Students with disabilities - disrupting the barriers to education

This month our newly launched #DisabilityDisrupt campaign is focused on education.   

Under Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Australia has obligations to ensure inclusive education is available to all children.

In January, the Senate Education and Employment References Committee released its Report on Access to real learning: the impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability. The Committee examined the huge barriers and difficulties that students with disabilities face in accessing education in Australia. During the Inquiry, hundreds of people and organisations from across Australia contributed evidence and shared their stories through submissions and public hearings.

Access to education can vary greatly depending on 

-          the financial means of individuals and their families;

-          geographical location;

-          cultural background (with particular challenges facing students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds); and

-          the culture of the school.

The practice of schools find ways of unofficially excluding students (dubbed “gatekeeping”) serves to further discriminate against and isolate children with disabilities and their families. The Committee found that far more needs to be done to enforce the law prohibiting the prevention of enrolment of students. (See this short article on The Conversation)

Another problem identified was the “systemic culture of low expectations” that often results in children with disabilities receiving “babysitting” rather than meaningful education that prepares them for a valued and productive adult life. (See this article in the Courier Mail and this column in the Sydney Morning Herald)

Further, it was established that there is widespread ignorance of the Disability Standards for Education 2005, formulated under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. These standards set out the legal obligations of education and training providers in relation to providing access and making reasonable adjustments to assist students with disabilities to participate.

The use of restrictive practices (such as physical restraint or isolation in separate rooms) was strongly condemned by the Committee. The lived experience of violence, abuse and neglect in schools was explored in another recent Senate Inquiry.  

There are huge costs to students and families, and ultimately to the broader Australian community in failing to educate students with disabilities in their school years.  The Senate Committee recommends that the government make funding commitments on the basis of need, according to the Gonski Review, and work cooperatively to establish a national strategy to improve the education of students with disability.

All students need access to real learning  - and Australia is currently failing in its human rights obligations to ensure inclusive education is available to all.

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Disability Disarupt logo

It’s time to change the way disability is talked about and stereotyped.


Let’s disrupt the assumptions about what disability is and isn’t, what people with disabilities can and can’t do, how it should be spoken about, and who should do the talking.


It’s time to set our own rules!


Let’s disrupt the systems that oppress us, and the current thinking about how our world should be structured. Let’s disrupt who makes policy and how governments plan for disability.


We want to disrupt the way disability is talked about, who does the talking and what the disability community gets to speak about.


Join in.


Each month #disabilitydisrupt will focus on a different topic, but it’s up to you to after that. You can email, tweet, blog, post, or whatever works for you. Share an article, quote someone, have an opinion, paint a picture to share, send a photo. Just use #disabilitydisrupt to be part of the conversation.


We’ll start by talking education, and focus on desegregation.


Join in the conversation by using #Disabilitydisrupt 


Join our mailing list to get regular updates and the monthly roundup. Make sure you don’t miss out -


Do you want to DISRUPT the disability conversation?


Email or tweet us with your suggested topic, or just start your own thread.


Have a lot to say on a #DisabilityDISRUPT topic?


Contact or email Email us if you are:

·        An organisation – talk about your work

·        An expert/professional in the area – would you like to contribute a guest article?

·        A Self-advocate – tell us what you think




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