TUE 03 MAY 2011
Prime Minister, Minister for School Education
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced new budget funding of $200 million to provide extra support for students with disability in Australian schools.
The Prime Minister said that every student in every school deserves a great education and this extra funding will help ensure that students with disability get that same opportunity.
The Prime Minister made the announcement today with the Minister for School Education Peter Garrett at Harrison School in Canberra.
There are more than 164,000 students with disabilities currently attending Australian schools.
The More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative will deliver new services, equipment and support. This will make a significant difference for thousands of children with disabilities at school and their families.
The Prime Minister said this budget will be tough but the Government is determined to ensure that funding is available where it can make the most difference in vital areas like health and education.
This initiative will build on the existing record investments in schools delivered by the Government, which is already supporting children with special needs in schools across the country.
The Gillard Government initiative will provide many benefits for students with disability and their families including:
- new services such as speech and occupational therapy delivered at school by health and student welfare professionals
- access to special equipment in classrooms such as audio and visual technology so that students can more easily learn and engage with their classmates and teachers
- additional hours of in-class support from staff including teachers aides, health and allied health professionals as well as enhanced support through team teaching
- adapted curriculum tailored to their needs based on the latest research and expert advice.
It will also improve support for teachers so they can:
- improve the planning and delivery of programs, lessons and activities that enhance the way students with disabilities learn and are included in the classroom
- better engage support staff, health and allied health professionals and curriculum experts to assist them in providing appropriate support for students
- access expert advice to learn the latest skills and strategies to improve the education of students with disabilities.
Government, Catholic and Independent schools that teach students with a disability are eligible so that students can benefit no matter what their background or circumstances.
The Prime Minister said every parent has an expectation that their children will realise their potential at school and achieve the results of which they are capable.
This latest initiative builds upon the Government’s record of delivering:
- more support for families with children with disability
- historic pension increases for parents caring for children with disabilities
- double the amount of funding for more specialist disability services under the National Disability Agreement
Mr Garrett said that under this new initiative, schools will work with families, support agencies and health and student welfare professionals to focus on students’ needs.
He said that the package has been developed after extensive consultations with school principals, disability organisations, unions, communities and other educational professionals.
The Gillard Government will immediately work with the States, Territories and education authorities on how the new funding can be delivered to achieve maximum benefit for students with disability.
Students will receive the benefits of the initiative by the time school starts next year.
Funding arrangements to support students with disability are also being considered by the independent Review of School Funding, which will report later this year.
More Support for Students with Disabilities supports the Government’s other commitments to supporting families and children with disabilities including the new $146 million program, Better Start for Children with Disabilities.
From 1 July this year, this program will provide eligible children under six years old diagnosed with sight or hearing impairment, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or Fragile X syndrome access to up to $12,000 for intensive early intervention therapies and treatments from allied health professionals.
The Better Start program builds on the Gillard Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package which has helped more than 12,000 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder access early intervention services.
Further information on the More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative is available at: www.deewr.gov.au
Further information on the Better Start for Children with Disabilities and Helping Children With Autism initiatives is available at: www.fahcsia.gov.au