The Right of Persons with
Disabilities to an Inclusive Education
Office of the High Commission for
The UN has asked OHCHR to do a study on the
right to education of persons with disabilities in
consultation with relevant stakeholders, and report
in March 2014.
Definition of Inclusive Education
A clear definition of ‘Inclusive Education’ is
• To contrast inclusion in general classes with
groupings in separate classes/schools.
• To address the habit of labelling anything
’inclusive’ to meet principles and standards by
Students with disability data (2009)
173,900 students with disabilities are enrolled in
• 86,000 (49.7%) in general classrooms
• 60,800 (35%) in special classes
• 26,600 (15.3%) in special schools
Students with Intellectual Disabilities
(2009) enrolled in Australian schools
Students with intellectual disabilities are
disproportionately represented in special
classes/ schools in Australia
• 85.6% of all students in special classes
• 92.0% of all students in special schools
• 53.1% of students with intellectual disabilities are
segregated from general classrooms
Comparative Education Research
Research Analysis by Dr Jackson,
Edith Cowan University’ 2008.
• Students with intellectual disability significantly
benefit from inclusion in regular classes when
compared to special classes/schools.
• No review can be found comparing segregation
and inclusion that came out in favour of
segregation in over 40 years of research.
Legislation and Policy
• Disability Discrimination in Education is unlawful
(Disability Discrimination Act 1992)
• Disability Standards for Education (2005) clarify
education rights of students with disabilities.
• All Australian education authorities have some
form of inclusive education policy.
• The term inclusion is also used in segregated
settings in Australia.
Experience of Students and Families
Many people report
• Substantial difficulties with achieving inclusive
• A lack of confidence in HOW inclusive education is
• Complaints process is complex and costly
• Therefore a lack of complaints does not signify
successful inclusive education practices by education
There are reports of
• Systemic barriers accessing general classrooms
and schools for students.
• Lack of support from school staff for inclusion.
• Limited opportunities and low expectations for
students with disabilities, combined with
• Exclusion of students with a disability
• Bullying of students with a disability
• Violence against students with a disability
• Some students and families report substantial
‘pain’ in trying to achieve inclusive education
• Some families have decided to remove their
children from schools and ‘choose’ segregation
because of a perceived failure of ‘inclusion’ by
• A significant number of schools are not
welcoming of students with disabilities or their
• Some students and families report successful
experiences in inclusive education.
• These students and families identify the
leadership of the principle to work in
partnerships as critical to success.
Promotion of Inclusive Education
• The objective of the DDA is to promote the equal
rights of people with disabilities.
• A review of the Education Standards
• The need to promote inclusive education
• Development of good practice guidelines to
address bullying, restrictive practices and
inclusive teaching strategies.
• Families repeatedly identify the need for
teachers with skill on including students with
• The Commonwealth government has resources
for teachers on inclusive strategies/ practices.
• The DDA review found limited access to ongoing
professional development on inclusive
NCID is asking OHCHR to
• Provide a clear workable definition of inclusive
• Acknowledges some progress but there still
remains much to do to support inclusive
education in Australia.
• Student and families stories need to be promoted
in the OHCHR research
• Laws and policies are important but not
sufficient to achieve inclusive education.
• We need programs to support students. families,
teachers and school systems to achieve
successful inclusive education.
• Discrimination laws and complaints processes
are important but need to be simple, efficient
and inexpensive to increase use by students