The opportunity to develop a progressive disability policy-funding system providing seamless access to appropriate services and support has not been realised with the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), show researchers from Deakin University.
A recent paper lead by Dr Ben Whitburn demonstrated that while the NDIS constitutes unprecedented legislative reform that will provide choice and control for people with disabilities, restrictions around possible crossovers with any mainstream services – and particularly education – makes the scheme instantly restrictive.
Whitburn says the NDIS has missed the mark on providing the transformative educational aspects that it might have achieved.
“It is well recognised that access to education is core to providing people with disabilities access to appropriate support in their schooling to achieve a fully inclusive life,” he said.
“The way that funding for educational provisions is demarked through the NDIS funding, though, means that supports that students need for educational equity sit outside the remit of the NDIS.
“This means that if a student needs equipment and aids to use within school, they will not be funded by the NDIS; but if they need them for use outside of the education system, they will be funded.”
The failure to provide staff training in relation to students on the autism spectrum for students in schools through the scheme is perplexing, Whitburn said.
“Young people with autism constitute the highest proportion of funded NDIS participants, but while disability training for staff is made available to further and higher education providers, it is not available in schools – where we know staff need assistance. Access to education is a priority in achieving an inclusive society, and we still have further to go.”