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In August, 2015, I prepared a Submission to the Australian Federal Senate Committee conducting the Inquiry into Education of Students with Disability in Australia, titled “Achieving Inclusive Education -The Need for Systemic and Structured Transformation of Education in Australia”.
In my Submission, I introduce the notion of inclusive education from a human rights perspective, and I present evidence-based research that supports inclusive education for ALL students. Subsequently, I describe the current situation in Australia: sadly, a very considerable proportion of Australian children with disability, and in particular intellectual disability, continue to be educated in segregated “special” school or “special” unit settings; and of those that get to attend mainstream schools, many routinely experience poor practices, exclusion and discrimination.
Sadly, a very considerable proportion of Australian children with disability, and in particular intellectual disability, continue to be educated in segregated “special” school or “special” unit settings.
In the final part of the Submission, I propose a systemic and structured transformation of the Australian education system: in particular, I present the SWIFT program developed by Dr Wayne Sailor, a Professor of Special Education at Kansas University and the Director of the SWIFT National Centre.
The SWIFT model addresses important factors that have been identified in the research as essential to implementing inclusive education:
[Head photo © Larry Darling]
Cátia Malaquias is a lawyer (LLB/BA), Director of Down Syndrome Australia, Deputy Chair of Down Syndrome WA and an active member of PLEDG, an organisation of parents of children with disability pursuing inclusive education for all children. She is also the founder of Starting With Julius, a project promoting the inclusion of people with disability in media and advertising.
As the mother of three children, one of whom has a disability, she aspires for all children to grow up in a world that respects their rights, embrace their diversity and includes them on an equal basis. Catia advocates for that change through her various roles and in her personal capacity, in the media, social media and public discussion spaces.