The Canberra Times this week has reported on a child (aged 12) who is not able to access the school services she needs because her family is in the wrong location.
Molly’s parents plans have been dashed after they fell through this week, creating concerns “…she will lag even further behind her peers in a mainstream classroom”. The reason for the decision to deny … her postcode, not her needs.
“The family live across the border in Murrumbateman but said they had been assured for the past three years they would not have to move to Canberra to guarantee her a place, as Molly’s eligibility had already been ticked off”. Unfortunately the system places an emphasis on supporting children with disabilities to stay in mainstream classes due to its inclusion policy.
However, in Molly’s case this is to her detriment as quieter children like Molly who fall may fall asleep when upset, gets overlooked therefore funding isn’t being delivered specific to her needs. Molly who functions at the level of a six year old, needs to be integrated with children who can relate to her and vice versa. “She needs friends like her who still believe in Santa Claus and play with Peppa Pig figurines”
“In a unit, she’ll still be at school with her siblings, but she’ll be able to learn what she really needs, life skills.”
Specialist schools in the ACT such as Black Mountain School are also full at present. While the ACT is obliged to prioritise the enrolment of local students first, the spokesman did not say if this applied to enrolments of NSW students with disabilities, which are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Executive officer of advocacy group People with Disabilities ACT Robert Altamore said places in learning units should be determined by a child’s need alone.
Lets hope that the Federal Legislation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will start to address these sorts of issues