Simon Birmingham must keep promise to fund disability in schools as data shows huge shortfall in funding in SA

10 March 2016

The Australian Education Union has called on Education Minister Simon Birmingham to keep the Federal Government’s promise to extend Gonski funding to all students with disability in 2016, after new figures showed that more than half of South Australian students with disability who needed funded support at school were not getting it.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe will lead a delegation of educators, parents and students to present a letter to Senator Birmingham today calling on him to fix the chronic underfunding of disability.

“Children with disability are attending SA schools in 2016 without the funded support they need due to the Turnbull Government’s failure to keep its promise to lift disability funding to schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“In South Australia only 7.2 per cent of students receive any funded support for disability at school but figures from the Federal Governments own Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on Disability (NCCD) for 2014 show that 17.6 per cent of SA students required some kind of funded support to learn effectively.”

“That means more than half of students who need funded support are not getting it – at least 20,000 students.

“This situation cannot continue. Every year that we delay is another cohort of students who do not get an education that equips them for work and life.

“The Federal Government promised to increase resources to students with disability at the 2013 election, to ensure that all students who required support, received it.

The promise was repeated by the Education Minister Christopher Pyne in June last year when he said that from 2016:

“Every child in Australia with disability will be able to receive the correct loading, as they should, to match their disability’

“However there has been no increase in funding to schools, and no timeline for when one may happen.

“There are thousands of passionate and skilled educators committed to ensuring that children with disability get a great education, and we need to back them with resources.

“Things like in-class support, equipment and individualised lesson plans can make a huge difference to a child’s experience at school, but they cost money which many schools don’t have.

“Our State of Our Schools survey has found that over 80 per cent of principals reported diverting funds from other areas of the school budget to meet the needs of students with disability.

“Disability in schools has been underfunded for too long, we need Minister Birmingham to fix this as a priority.

“Students with disability cannot wait any longer for the support at school they need.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291 and Danielle Forsyth 0432 859 535