Disability in Australian Education

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The issue of equity and equality has been a topic of discussion when assessing the Australian education system. All children in Australia deserve a quality education and that can be achieved by promoting equity and equality. Issues in equity and equality arise when some of the schools are under-resourced, they do not have expert teaching staff, and lack facilities. That results in a disparity to exist as students from low socio-economic communities continue to suffer. There exists an achievement gap and focusing on interventions, policy reform and creating better initiatives can help address the disparity (Loughland, 2016).

Equity and equality in the Australian education sector are defined by the rate of enrollment, dropout rate, completion rate and the test scores of the students. The education sector will continue to experience such issues and students from disadvantaged communities will continue to suffer if no short and long term measures are not created. To have a better education system delivered in Australia, the government and other stakeholders need to look at what is working and what is dragging the sector back (Clark, 2014). Initiatives such as the Gonski review was meant to address the issues of equity and equality in the education sector but the federal government has refused to commit.


Disability is one of the disadvantages that is affecting the education access, experience and outcome in Australia. The Australia government has been supporting the rights of children with disabilities to access educational opportunities as other students. Despite the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 and the Disability Standard for Education (2005), there have been cases of neglect and discrimination against students with disabilities. The Australian law and policy require adjustment to accommodate external educational accountability tests, assessment, and classroom instruction for students with a disability (Davies, 2016). The Checklist of Learning and Assessment Adjustments for Students (CLAAS) has existed for more than a decade but its assessment shows the considerable gaps that exist. Some of the educational institutions in Australia have not adjusted their school physical environment and their learning programs to accommodate the need of disabled children. The government and some schools have been identified as some of the players who hinder the successful adoption of disability policies in the education sector. With fewer budgets and lack of implementation policies, students with disabilities continue to be disadvantaged as they go through tough educational experiences. Stringent measures by the Australian government can help to address the issue and ensure all educational institutions including private schools adopt the disability adjustments.

Impact of Disability in the Australian education sector

According to Natasha (2016), half a million students in Australia have disabilities which expose the heave in the need of extra support. Lack of support from the government and other stakeholders affects the input of the teachers and managers of educational institutions and thus that affect the access, experience, and outcome for children with disability.

One of the impacts of disability is on the disruption it causes on the education sector. One in five children in Australia is reported to have disabilities and the current education system continue to make a disparity to exist. Teachers are currently teaching a range of kids with a disability a thing they were not originally no trained to teach. Considering that the education system has not been changed to accommodate the new changes, that is affecting the input of the teachers. The disruption is also affecting other children and that has an impact on the experience and outcome of the Australian education. More support needs to be accorded to the teachers to ensure better educational experience and outcome for the students.

The second impact of disability is it affects the adjustment the government makes on the education sector. The government has been forced on numerous time to adjust funding and the curriculum to accommodate the needs of all the students. Laxity and lack of support from all the stakeholders continue to impact the disability gaps in educational attainment and literacy in the Australian education sector. The law has built a border between academic integrity and reasonable adjustment to ensure better educational outcomes for students with disabilities (Dickson, 2018). Issues such as decreased funding from the government continue to affect the adjustments that are supposed to be made in educational institutions. Better funding will ensure better education experiences and outcomes for students with a disability.

Another impact of disability is it has a long term effect on the lives of children with disability. The concept of inclusive education has not been fully supported by the government and other stakeholders and that will have a detrimental effect on the future of the children. The existence of such exclusions is causing children with disabilities not to fulfill their education potentials. Lack of adjustments will make students have a difficult time when accessing education and that will affect the dropout and completion rates. To prevent the long term effect, the government and other stakeholders need to implement better policies to address the issues of disparity.

Measures to mitigate the impact of disability in Australian education

One of the measures made to mitigate disability is promoting inclusive teaching. The inclusion of children with special needs in regular classrooms has gained increased advocacy as the attitudes of the instructors continue to change (Lee, 2015). Equity and equality in addressing the disadvantage can be achieved by ensuring there is diversity in the classroom. The government has been providing support to teachers by incorporating child psychologists and counselors in the education system. That has benefited the change of attitude and ensure diversity is promoted.

The second measure made to mitigate disability is supporting states and territories that accommodate students with disabilities. The Australian government commitment to making higher education more inclusive has helped address the issues in the disadvantage. Through better funding and creating better policies, the government is supporting the education institutions to improve their educational outcomes and experiences for students with a disability. Fixing the current gaps will help to promote the participation of students with a disability in the Australian education sector.

The third measure made to mitigate disability is strengthening the link between schools and homes. There is still a perception that exists that students with disability need to attend special schools. That impacts the role that the government is playing to promote inclusive education. Through early tracking and registration of children, the government is able to plan and create better policies that will ensure children with disabilities will enroll and benefit from the education system.

The fourth measure made to mitigate disability is directing more resources to the inclusive programs. According to Jackson (2017), the federal and state government in Australia has been increasing funds allocated towards improving implementation of inclusive policies. The funds have been used to train more teachers, create better facilities and provide support to the education system. The measure is effective as it has helped to promote the lives of children living with a disability. That creates a better experience and outcome for the children.

Another measure made to mitigate disability is creating better policies and adjustments. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 and the Disability Standard for Education (2005) are some of the policies that have been adopted in the education system to help promote the educational needs of the children. The polices have helped to improve the learning experiences and educational outcome of the children. Other adjustments such as creating laws that require organizations to employ people with disabilities have helped to promote the right of the people.


The Australian education system has been facing challenges in trying to address equity and equality aspects. Disability is one of the major identified disadvantages that is impacting the education system. Various policies and laws have been created to deal with the disadvantage and that has helped to improve and promote the educational experiences and outcomes of children with disability. Through measures such as promoting inclusive teaching, supporting states and territories that accommodate students with disabilities, strengthening the link between schools and homes, directing more resources to the inclusive programs, and creating better policies and adjustments the government is changing the learning experience and outcomes of children. Despite the efforts made by the government and other stakeholders, there is a need for more adjustments to be made to ensure that the educational access, experiences, and outcomes of the children with disability will improve. Through more funding and creating better policies, the education sector can be improved and the outcome will have a long term benefit to the economy of the country.


Clark, J. V. (2014). The road to excellence: Promoting access and equity to close the achievement gap internationally. In Closing the achievement gap from an international perspective (pp. 307-315). Springer, Dordrecht.

Davies, M., Elliott, S. N., & Cumming, J. (2016). Documenting support needs and adjustment gaps for students with disabilities: Teacher practices in Australian classrooms and on national tests. International journal of inclusive Education, 20(12), 1252-1269.

Dickson, E., & Cumming, J. (2018). Reasonable Adjustment in Assessment: The Australian Experience. In The Palgrave Handbook of Education Law for Schools (pp. 315-333). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Jackson, G., & Allan, S. (2017). Fundamental elements in examining a child’s right to education: A study of home education research and regulation in Australia. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 2(3), 349-364.

Lee, F. L. M., Yeung, A. S., Tracey, D., & Barker, K. (2015). Inclusion of children with special needs in early childhood education: What teacher characteristics matter. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(2), 79-88.

Loughland, T., & Sriprakash, A. (2016). Bernstein revisited: The recontextualisation of equity in contemporary Australian school education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37(2), 230-247.

Natasha Bita. (2016, March 11th). One in five students has a disability: confidential data. The Australian. Retrieved from: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/one-in-five-students-has-a-disability-confidential-data/news-story/a3b1360c2185890344aa79e7f9097c73

November 24, 2023



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