Education system is failing students with disability

National not-for-profit body Children and Young People with Disability Australia conducts a national survey each year on the educational experiences of students with disability in Australia. It focuses on the direct experience of students with disability. The most recent survey results again highlight that the present education system is failing to adequately meet the needs of students with disability.


• 56% of respondents reported bullying at school in the last year
• 38% of students with disability were excluded from activities at school in the last year
• 19% experienced restraint and 21% experienced seclusion at school in the last year
• 79% of respondents had not heard of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disability and only 19% reported that they or their child was included in the data collection

The survey summary provides an overview of the responses received. The summary can be viewed at There were 766 respondents nationally with representation from all states and territories.

The survey revealed that an alarming fifty-six percent of students with disability had experienced bullying in the previous 12 months. That is more than twice the rate of bullying estimated to occur in the general population of school-aged children.

The inequity experienced by students with disability has been highlighted in numerous national, state and territory inquiries, including the report of the national 2015 Senate Inquiry into Current Levels of Access and Attainment for Students with Disability in the school system, which stated:

The Committee received overwhelming evidence regarding the many barriers faced by students with disability and their families. Access to education is a basic human right, but for many students with disability in Australia, it is a right which they are prevented from accessing.

Unfortunately, the results of the 2017 survey confirm that not much has changed.

Schools often lack the required expertise in developing educational programs for students with disability. It is therefore vital that Australian governments invest appropriately in the education of students with disability and broader areas of reform so that students with disability are afforded their educational rights.