The first hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the education of students with disability has revealed the severe impact of the Government’s education cuts on the ability of schools to support children with additional needs.

The Government is linking school funding to the Consumer Price Index from 2018 - a decision which will leave the vital fifth and sixth years of the Gonski reforms completely defunded. It also rips $30 billion from classrooms over the next decade, putting in train a long-term spiral of decline and increasing inequality.

Among the most shocking revelations were the fact that independent special schools will face closure as a result of the Government’s savage funding cuts, and that desperate parents have had to beg schools to accept their child.

The Inquiry also heard:

  • The Government’s school cuts could see fees rise in Australia’s 1722 Catholic schools, impacting the families of more than 750,000 students;
  • Children with disability are still being denied enrolment; and are often only offered part-time; and
  • Schools supporting children with autism would have to close some classes as a result of the Government abandoning the Gonski reforms

Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said the confronting evidence was proof that more needed to be done to support children with disability.

“The Government’s school cuts aren’t just words in a Budget document – they are real cuts having a real impact on the ability of schools to support students with disability.

“The Government has dumped the needs-based Gonski reforms, cut $30 billion from our schools and terminated the $100 million per year More Support for Students with Disabilities program. As we heard in this first hearing, these cuts put severe pressure on the system and children with disability and their families are suffering as a result.

“Any school closures or rise in fees will put an inordinate amount of pressure on the entire school system, and further limit support for students with disability.

“The Government must act to fix this situation and drop their cuts – if Malcolm Turnbull really wants to make a change this is where he should start.”