Federal Opposition backs calls for national inquiry into education of children with disabilities after ACT cage incident


Original post from ABC

‘………By political reporter Susan McDonald

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The Federal Opposition is pushing for a national inquiry into the education of children with a disability in schools following revelations a Canberra student with autism was held in a cage.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described reports of mistreatment this week as “shocking and deeply disturbing”.

Mr Shorten has backed a call from the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, for an inquiry.

The Federal Opposition is pushing for a national inquiry into the education of children with a disability in schools following revelations a Canberra student with autism was held in a cage.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described reports of mistreatment this week as “shocking and deeply disturbing”.

Mr Shorten has backed a call from the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, for an inquiry.

“We cannot assume this is a one-off case,” Mr Shorten said.

“We need to hear the voice of parents of children with disabilities as well as schools and teachers in such an inquiry.”

The Opposition has suggested the Human Rights Commission carry out an inquiry and that a dedicated Disability Discrimination Commissioner be reinstated.

Mr Innes said the ACT case in which a child with autism was put in a two-metre by two-metre cage-like structure made of pool fencing was not an isolated incident and a broader inquiry was needed.

“I think that the key issues here are both the lack of resourcing for schools and training for teachers, and just lack of awareness of teachers who could possibly think that such actions are appropriate,” Mr Innes said.

But a spokesperson for Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the operation of schools was a matter for state and territory governments.

“The Commonwealth doesn’t employ any teachers or have any role in managing students,” the spokesperson said.

The Minister also defended the level of federal funding to states and territories for students with a disability.

“The Commonwealth is also providing record funding … $1.2 billion in 2015 alone and $5.2 billion over the period 2014-17,” the spokesperson said.

“States and territories can spend this funding on additional teacher training or other support services for students with a disability. It is a matter for them.”

The Education Minister’s office has also pointed to the Federal Government recently accepting a recommendation for the national curriculum to better meet the needs of students with disabilities.

RELATED STORY: Cage for boy with autism at ACT school prompts call for national standard
RELATED STORY: Claims ACT cage incident not isolated, as more stories emerge on social media
MAP: Australia………..’

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