Join the fight to end violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability by engaging with the Disability Royal Commission.

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This page has information about Disability Royal Commission public hearings to do with education.

If you’re not sure about some of the language being used, see if it’s in our General Jargon Buster or the more specific Education Jargon Buster.

For more about disability rights in education, you can check out Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)’s website here. They have recently published a report on the experiences of students with disability during COVID-19.

Public hearings about education

The Disability Royal Commission has held three hearings on education. We live-tweeted most of them and you can find links below. Note that sometimes Twitter truncates threads and you need to tap “show more replies” to see the rest.

Public hearing 2 ran from Monday 4 to Thursday 7 November, 2019, and was focused on inclusive education in Queensland. You can find a transcript of the hearing here, as well as video with Auslan interpretation and various documents mentioned in the hearing.

You can also check out our live Twitter commentary here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Public hearing 7 ran from Monday 12 to Friday 16 October, 2020 and looked into “barriers to accessing a safe, quality and inclusive education and life course impacts”. An additional hearing day was held on Friday 7 May 2021 for Counsel Assisting to respond to States’ submissions and add some recommendations and areas for further investigation to the record.

You can find a transcript of the hearing here, as well as video with Auslan interpretation and various documents mentioned in the hearing.

Our live Twitter commentary can be found here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and the extra Monday.

Public hearing 24 ran from Monday 6 to Friday 10 June 2022. It focused on ‘the experiences of children and young people with disability across different school settings’, meaning segregated and mainstream settings. Witnesses included children and young people with disability, parents, advocates, and representatives of the government. Transcripts, video, Auslan and related documents are on the DRC website here. The DRC has recently published Counsel Assisting submissions for hearing 24, which discuss the international human rights approach to the right to education and how the Australian legal frameworks for students with disability fall short of substantive equality and inclusive education.

Our live Twitter commentary can be found here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday part one, and Wednesday part two. We were unable to cover Thursday and Friday.

Where we stand on education

Education is a human right. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) talks about education in Article 24.

It says all governments that have signed the CRPD, including the Australian government, needs to make sure their country has:

  • an inclusive education system at all levels – primary, secondary and higher education
  • reasonable support for the needs of people with disability so we can be part of the same education system as everyone else
  • training for teachers to make sure they can support people with disability

In the latest shadow report to the United Nations, Australian disability rights organisations wrote that Australia is not upholding its human rights obligations when it comes to education.

About one in three people with disability aged 15-64 years finish secondary school compared to nearly two out of three people without disability. 28% of school aged people with disability do not attend school at all.

Three quarters of people with disability report having a hard time at school. First Nations students with disability have a particularly hard time.

Students with disability often experience:

  • Discrimination
  • No support
  • Poorly trained teachers
  • A culture of low expectations
  • Bullying, restraint and seclusion, including children with disability being put in ‘withdrawal spaces’ like cages or cupboards

Children with disability and their families often find they have no choice but to accept segregated or ‘special’ education, and the government has no effective plan to do anything about this. A child with disability gets more funding if they attend a special school rather than a mainstream school.

The UN has asked Australia to do better on education for people with disability, including making it easier for us to access mainstream, public education in our communities.

Find out more

The Disability Royal Commission has published a research report and an issues paper on education, each with Auslan and Easy Read summaries:

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) have published some useful fact sheets about education:

Inclusion Australia, the peak body for intellectual disability advocacy, have published some real stories about education from people with intellectual disability. They also made a submission to the 2020 review of the Disability Standards for Education.

Our ongoing blog series by members of the disability community, Our Voice, includes several related posts:

These Disability Royal Commission reports and issues papers also provide useful context: