A range of government policies and guides outline how schools and other education providers should work to maximise the opportunities for students with disabilities.
On this page:
We explain key information for parents and carers from all of these policies and guides throughout Learning Together. Here we summarise key relevant disability policies and guides, with links you can follow to read the documents yourself.
“Just knowing your rights, I think that’s such an important thing. It was about the right to be able to communicate, and the equal opportunity, to be able to have an education.
Everybody is allowed to have an education. And things need to be modified. There’s a term called ‘reasonable adjustment’ that needs to be taken into consideration. And what a school thinks is reasonable adjustment, and what you believe to be reasonable adjustment can be at polar ends of the universe, but I think its about working that out, and coming together.” Christel
The Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education (2005) outline the obligations on school and the rights of students under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (1992). They cover a range of issues related to enrolment, participation, curriculum development, student support services, and harassment and victimisation. The Disability Standards for Education are accompanied by Guidance Notes, written in relatively plain English. These notes are intended to help people to interpret and comply with the Disability Standards for Education. We explain schools’ obligations and students’ rights under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Standards for Education throughout this section, including in The law and your child’s rights.
The National Disability Coordination Officer Programme has produced a website guide to the Disability Standards for Education, which can help people with disabilities, parents and carers, and education provider to understand the most important parts of the Disability Standards for Education.
A package of assessment tools, curricula, teaching strategies and resources designed to help schools to understand the specific learning needs of individual students with a disability, and tailor their learning programs accordingly.
AusVELS is the curriculum for foundation (prep) to year 10 in Victoria. The AusVELS website at ausvels.vcaa.vic.ed.au includes guidelines for teachers to adjust AusVELS as needed for students with disabilities, with resources under each ‘domain’ or curriculum area.
Support for students
This is a guide and resource to support successful transition of children with disabilities from Kindergarten to school. It is relevant to all children with disabilities, although it has been produced specifically for those with severe disabilities who receive additional support in kindergarten through a Kindergarten Inclusion Support (KIS) Package. It includes information for parents and carers, for schools, and for early childhood services, early childhood intervention practitioners and pre-school field officers, parents and carers.
Transitioning from Primary to Secondary School – supporting students with additional and complex needs that arise from a disability when moving form primary to secondary school (DET handbook).
Student Support Groups (SSGs) are the main way that families and educators work together to support students with a disability. SSGs are compulsory for students with PSD funding (see below), and are highly recommended for all students with additional needs. The SSG Guidelines explain how SSGs should work: the roles of different members, and how they should work together to plan, carry out and monitor a student’s educational program.
- We explain SSGs in detail under Supports for students with disabilities
- We give tips for being an effective part of your child’s SSG under What families can do to help.
The SSG Guidelines recognise that ‘effective schools have high expectations for all learners’. They emphasis that ‘(i)t is essential that a cooperative working relationship is developed and maintained within the Student Support Group and with the school. The Student Support Group represents a partnership in the educational planning process between the parent/guardian/carer(s), the student and the school.’
The SSG Guidelines summarise school’s legal obligations, and further state that:
To maximise opportunities for students with disabilities and additional learning needs to succeed, policy and practice should reflect:
- collaboration between teachers and students, parent/guardian/carer(s), education and health professionals to develop criteria for agreed understandings and responses to a student’s behaviours, communication skills and learning needs
- curriculum-based Individual Learning Plans developed by a Student Support Group that set out the student’s short-term and long-term learning goals
- teaching and learning strategies that take account of a student’s background, experiences and individual goals
- opportunities for the student to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours in a range of domains and contexts
- opportunities for all students to participate in classroom activities and other curriculum and learning opportunities such as camps, excursions and sports events with other students.
Schools are eligible for supplementary funding to help support students with moderate to severe disabilities in seven eligibility categories.
The PSD Guidelines include information on eligibility, how to apply, different types of applications, deadlines for the application process, how schools are notified about applications, appeals processes, and how funding is allocated and spent, if your application is successful, and the Year 6/7 review.
- For much more information about Program for Students with Disabilities and its equivalents in the Catholic and Independent schools systems, visit the section A guide to the support system.