Gladys Berejiklian came to office on 23 January 2017 after Mike Baird’s murky resignation.
As the bushfires raged the state of NSW was thankful she had the decency to remain in the country unlike hot Scott on his hula holidays.
Now in 2020 the NSW Government should bow their heads in shame as the findings of the Royal Commission into Disabilities reveal systemic injustice.
Although every child in Australia has the right to an education many disabled children are denied access.
After researching accessibility in Western Sydney it is clear there is limited access for students with moderate and mild disabilities. Although government funding has been pushed in the area of autism there are gaps as large as Kings Canyon in Western Sydney’s support classes.
Government policy caps support classes at eighteen students per class with one teacher’s aide per room. Classes can be comprised of students ageing from seven to eleven years resulting in year three students and year six students sharing the same classroom.
Support classes are not available in all schools and students as young as seven have to travel to regional centres unless they remain in mainstream classes at their local schools. Local schools encourage students to travel to support classes relieving the pressure as many public schools are drastically underfunded, although government policy states it is a student’s right to remain in their local area.
There is also a hidden secret. If a student does choose to remain in their local school after a disability diagnosis a student can then find themselves on limited attendance. One such student has spent the last six weeks on a limited attendance of just one hour a day. This means he attends school for no less than five hours a week.
Is this access to education for disabled students?
When public schools are underfunded disabled students miss out on an education. If there is no money for teacher’s aide support students are simply sent home. Teacher’s aides often replace teachers when dealing with disabled students. No training in disability teaching is required. Teacher’s aides don’t even have to be qualified teachers. One on one teacher’s aide time is given to disabled students. In most schools they are often parents of other students.
The students of NSW that require the most support are systematically removed from the classroom and parents are told ‘We can’t afford to support your child needs’.
Why does the Liberal Government insist on creating welfare dependency over educating disabled students?
Abigail Nash is a teacher in Western Sydney and a member of NSW Labor.