If you’re reading this, you likely share my belief that education is one of the most important parts of any young life, and that it has the power to transform and change our communities for the better.

The Mparntwe Education Declaration sets out Australia’s vision for a world class education system that encourages and supports every student to be the very best they can be – no matter what kind of learning challenges they may face. This includes the more than 357,000 children under 15 with a disability in Australia, three-quarters of whom need assistance with at least one activity.

In March 2005, the Disability Standards for Education (DSE) were created. The DSE make clearer the obligations for educators under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 – giving teachers and school leaders defined standards for areas such as enrolment, reasonable adjustments and curriculum development.

In July of this year, AITSL released a suite of DSE resources for Australian teachers and school leaders to support their practice, connected to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Australian Professional Standard for Principals.

The DSE elaborations articulate the specific roles and responsibilities for teachers and leaders to support full participation of students with disability. The new resources also include implementation guidance materials for school leaders and new In the Classroom videos that showcase inclusive teaching practices.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to explore the resources, I encourage you to take some time to familiarise yourself with them.

Soon, the final report from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will be released. I have no doubt that it will prove to be confronting reading, and will bring to light historical and present failings in how children and young people with disability have been treated within our education system.

However, I am also confident that the findings and recommendations will set out a path for improvement, and I am committed to understanding what action needs to be taken to further improve the educational experiences of students with disability.

I will leave you with a quote from the Royal Commission’s interim report, published in 2020:

“Education is important to the life journey of people with disability and adverse experiences at school can have significant pervasive effects on a person’s life. The right to education belongs to everyone as a human right under international law.”