Evolution of education supports for people with disability

Posted on 07 September 2015 by

Access to learning and education opportunities is a recognised human right and essential for an inclusive society.

People with disability often face barriers to accessing such opportunities particularly in adulthood, after compulsory education. 

How have things changed over the years?

In recent decades, laws and regulations have been introduced but the rates of education attainment have only changed gradually. 

View the evolution of education supports timeline.

1992 – Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) becomes law

In 1992, it became unlawful across Australia to not provide a service (including education) to a person because of disability on an equal basis, unless reasonable adjustments would cause “unjustifiable hardship”.

2003 – education rates

19 percent of Australians with disability (15-65) have a degree or diploma. 25 percent have a certificate level qualification.

2005 – Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education becomes law

The Commonwealth Disability Standards clarify the implications of the DDA, requiring schools, TAFEs, universities, and other providers to make reasonable adjustments, in consultation with a student with disability, regarding:

  • enrolment
  • what is taught
  • how it is taught
  • support services
  • assessment and more.

2009 – education rates 

22 percent of Australians with disability (15-65) have a degree or diploma. 27 percent have a certificate level qualification.

2012 – review into the Disability Standards for Education

A review into the Disability Standards for Education by the Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations finds that awareness and understanding of the standards is low.

2012 – education rates 

23 percent of Australians with disability (15-65) have a degree or diploma. 25 percent have a certificate level qualification.



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