In which you are given information you may be able to use to help a few thousand disabled students out!

Hey, is anyone here from NSW? If you are…

a) Wondering what on earth that is, it is New South Wales, a state in eastern Australia.
b) Aware of what I am talking about but are not from NSW, hello there!
c) From NSW, greetings fellow New South Welsh creature! We’re pretty great, aren’t we?

Well, we are, but, in an incredibly subtle segue, I must tell you that the NSW education system does not exactly treat all of us as though we are. And a good bit of that flows down from the Federal government – I still have rage over the Howard government’s cuts to literacy program funding, SO much rage – but, of course, education is run on a state level. And let me tell you something, going through the NSW education system as a disabled student was a collection of some of the most rage-inducing, frustrating, difficult experiences of my life. For portions of high school, campus was inaccessible to me and I was self-taught. And other people had it so much worse than I did, not being given appropriate literacy and numeracy support, or having the system used switched around on them. Having, and/or their parents/carers having, to search around until they could find a high school that could or would take them. Endless funding cuts. Shaming and poor accessibility and a lack of respect for these fine young people. It’s appalling and thinking about it can send me into hot teary fury. I could fill a book with my rage over the treatment of PWD in my fair state’s education system, but I have a suggestion that is much more practical.

The NSW Parliament is conducting an inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs. The focus is on students attending primary or secondary schools. According to their media release (PDF format):

A number of other important issues are also covered by the terms of reference, including:
• Level and adequacy of current special education places
• Adequacy of support services for children with a disability in mainstream school classes
• Provision of a suitable curriculum for intellectually disabled and conduct disordered
• Access to professional support services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy,
physiotherapy and school counsellors
• Adequacy of pre-service and post-service teacher training.

I’d tell you what they said in their two public hearings thus far but, ah, there are no transcripts available.

Moving right along to what you can do! The general public can make suggestions through email, fax or post (they’d like written and electronic format best, but you can use other formats such as voice recordings or video if that would be preferable for you). You can write as much or as little as you like, it can be your opinions about how things stand, recommendations for action, that sort of thing. The kicker is that submissions close by 19 February (sorry, I would have told you sooner but I just found out about this!) Submission extension requests are possible; click through to find out more.

So, NSWites, please consider making a submission, and I suppose non-NSWites who have been watching us in horror can submit too if they have suggestions. Please please please, because no one should have to go through what thousands of NSW students are going through.

>>>All the contact information you need to submit is right here.<<< If you are in need of assistance or suggestions in putting together your submission, please leave a comment. Alternatively, I may be able to help out if you'd prefer to email me at chally [at] disabledfeminists [dot] com. Very warm thanks to Mindy from Hoyden About Town for raising this. Feel free to use comments to rant about your experiences as a disabled student if you’re so inclined.