3 November 2014

A new report prepared for State Education Ministers shows there are at least 100,000 students with a disability in Australian schools not receiving support funding, the AEU said today.

AEU Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the Price Waterhouse Coopers report was evidence of a crisis in schools and showed the need for an urgent increase in funding for schools which educated students with disability.

“It is clear that the current system vastly underfunds the real needs of students with disability, leaving them with a school system that does not let them reach their potential,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“We have had enough of excuses and inaction, the lack of proper support for students with disability is cause for shame. This neglect is affecting their education and their futures.

“The Abbott Government made an election promise in 2013 to increase the ‘disability loading’ paid to schools from 2015 but this report indicates that this will not be done until 2016 at the earliest.

In a media release from August 23, 2013, they said:

“We have long argued that the current funding arrangements for students with disability and learning difficulty are unfair and inequitable. If elected to Government the Coalition will continue the data collection work that has commenced, which will be used to deliver more funding for people with disability through the ‘disability loading’ in 2015.”

“All we have from this government is broken promises and cuts, cuts, cuts when it comes to education. Not only did they not increase the disability loading in this year’s Budget, they actually cut $100 million dollars from students with disability by failing to fund National Partnerships programs from 2015,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Making sure that students with disability can reach their potential should be a priority. Anything less is to fail to fulfil our responsibility to some of the most vulnerable children in our schools.

“Public schools are doing the heavy lifting by educating over 80 per cent of students with disability, and a higher percentage of those with the most severe disabilities. We need to ensure schools are properly resourced to be able to best meet the needs of students with disability.

“This report makes it clear that there is a huge unreported number of students with disability.

“Almost 25 per cent of the schools examined by Price Waterhouse Coopers were not properly identifying students with disability. Some are only reporting students who are receiving funded support, not counting those who are being funded from the school’s recurrent budget.

“The report also reveals that there is little examination of the effectiveness of existing funding and the outcomes achieved.”

“Educating students with disability is an area that has been neglected for too long. We need the Abbott Government to take the lead and work with States to ensure all students with disability can get the education they deserve.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291