Abbott Government must act on funding as new report shows huge numbers of students with disability missing out

8 June 2015

New evidence has emerged confirming huge underfunding of students with disability in schools, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the Abbott Government’s own data collection process was showing a shortfall in funding for students with disability and it was time it kept its election promise and eased the disability funding crisis in schools.

“A report from the 2014 South Australian trial of the National Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disability showed that 16.3 per cent of Australian students were classified as having a disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition – compared with just 5.3 per cent getting funded disability support at school,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This nationwide trial is being conducted to determine the real needs of schools for educating students with disability. It will be used to determine funding from 2016, and preliminary reports are revealing the true crisis in disability education.

“The majority of students with disability need funded support to be able to participate fully at school, and this research shows that too many are missing out.

“The problem is far bigger than recognised by our current funding system, and we will need urgent reforms and an increase in funding if we are to properly educate every child with disability.

“The AEU’s State of Our Schools survey found that over 80 per cent of principals say they shift funds from other parts of their budget to educate students with disability.

“Schools are struggling to provide a quality education for students with disability, because they do not have the resources to do so.

“Students with disability need in-class support, equipment and individual learning plans to achieve, but this requires funding. It is a national shame that students with disability are being denied the chance to participate fully in schools and achieve their potential due to a lack of support.

“ABS figures in the past have shown that at least 100,000 students with disability are not receiving funding, but this data shows the figure is likely to be even higher,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It is time the Abbott Government took action and kept its election promise to institute a full disability loading, not just indexation of the inadequate existing loading.

“Not only has Education Minister Christopher Pyne repeatedly denied the systemic underfunding of disability in schools, he has failed to make public the preliminary reports from the NCCD.

“He not only needs to admit that there is a problem, but he needs to tell us how he will work with the States and Territories to fix it.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291