The law and Victorian government policy support your child’s right to participate at school on the same basis as students without a disability.
On this page:
- Education and participation ‘on the same basis’
- In every school, and every aspect of school
- Comparable opportunities and adjustments
Education and participation ‘on the same basis’
Under the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education (“the Standards”) and DET policy, your child’s school is required to:
- take reasonable steps to ensure that your child does not experience discrimination and can participate on the same basis as their classmates without a disability
- consult with you and your child about the effect of your child’s disability on their ability to participate
- make any ‘reasonable adjustments’ necessary to ensure your child’s participation, unless doing so would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the school.
Participation ‘on the same basis’ as students without a disability means that your child:
- should have comparable opportunities to take part in education
- doesn’t face unnecessary barriers that limit their opportunities
- has the opportunity to succeed and show their learning
- has the adjustments they require to make education accessible to them.
- The National Disability Coordination Officer Programme has produced a website guide to the Standards, which can help people with disabilities, parents and carers, and education provider to understand the most important parts of the Disability Standards for Education.
“It’s not always easy. There’s days when I wish I didn’t have to worry about which aide was with him. I wish I didn’t have to watch a school concert that he doesn’t want to participate in. That’s difficult for him. But as soon as I acknowledge and accept that, and the school does, and we work with that, then, well, it’s not an issue. It’s just Noam – it’s fine.
If he gets to a point where he doesn’t cope with a certain thing that’s happening at school, well let’s figure it out. And if we can’t figure out why and help him, and you know, move it along, well let’s just look at a different option within the school. And that, for us, has really worked.” Limor
In every school, and every aspect of school
All students with a disability or additional learning needs, in every type of school setting – mainstream or specialist, government, Catholic or independent – have rights under anti-discrimination laws and the Standards. These rights apply regardless of whether your child has a diagnosed disability or medical condition, or whether or not they are eligible for targeted programs such as the Program for Students with a Disability or their equivalent in the Catholic and independent school sectors.
By law, the rights of all students with a disability must be met through planning, partnerships and ‘reasonable adjustment’ of teaching and school programs. This includes adjustments to extra-curricular activities like sport, excursions, camps and other programs.
The Program for Students with a Disability (and its equivalent in the Catholic or independent schools systems) provide supplementary funding to schools to give additional support to students with a moderate to severe disability. However, these programs do not define or limit the adjustments that your child’s school should make for them.
- The AusVELS is the curriculum for prep to year 10 in Victoria. The AusVELS website includes guidelines for teachers to adjust AusVELS as needed for students with disabilities, with resources under each ‘domain’ or curriculum area.
Comparable opportunities and adjustments
Your child should have opportunities and choices comparable with those offered to students without a disability, including to participate in learning programs and use school facilities. Comparable does not mean the same. Indeed, the school might need to do a number of things differently (make ‘reasonable adjustments’), to ensure your child has equal access to the curriculum.
Many school programs can be adjusted to be accessible and appropriate for your child. For example, the teacher might choose activities for the whole class with your child’s access needs in mind. Or they might modify classroom activities or the classroom itself, adjust the curriculum or adjust their teaching or assessment approaches.
Depending on your child’s needs, the school might also provide additional supports such as an Auslan interpreter, education support staff (an aide), materials in accessible formats, additional time to complete tasks, or access to therapists or specialist equipment.
If an activity, facility, service or program cannot be adjusted or made accessible or suitable for your child, the school is required to offer an alternative comparable to that offered to other students. Importantly, it should be comparable in educational value when considered in light of the overall curriculum; the Standards protect your child’s right to an education that is designed to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding.