Yarrabah School in Aspendale is excited to be included in a new $61 million State Government funding package that supports kids with disabilities so they won't get left behind.
The funding package contains $42 million in school initiatives to increase the participation, achievement and wellbeing of approximately 90,000 students in government schools with disabilities or additional needs.
Up to $7.5 million will go towards developing and running after school hours care and school holiday demonstration programs at Yarrabah School, as well as Kalianna School and Laurimar Primary School in 2018.
Yarrabah Principal Matthew Harris says a funded after school care program will be a huge benefit to Yarrabah School's families. Yarrabah is a small school of 170 students with varying mental and physical disabilities.
'One of the hardest things for families is that they're limited in their productivity and ability to be part of the workforce,' Mr Harris says.
'This could enable those who can't work the opportunities to work part-time.'
Mr Harris is also eager to use the funding to buy equipment such as communication devices, hoists, walking frames and bikes. This equipment will help improve students' physical strength and their ability to enjoy all the school's facilities.
'It's not about having more — it's about students having the same access as other students,' Mr Harris says.
Funding can also improve travel training so teachers can support students to explore their local area.
'It's about getting the kids in the community and not just be hidden,' Mr Harris says.
The new package of measures also includes:
- $12 million to buy specialised equipment, such as braille translation software, e-book and e-text readers, talking and accessibility software – to help students with their learning
- $6.5 million for scholarships for teachers and other school staff, including 145 scholarships for postgraduate studies in special education and 60 scholarships to undertake the Master of Education (Applied Behaviour Analysis) at Monash University
- $7.5 million to ensure all government schools are taking an inclusive approach to students at every level.
The funding package will also invest $19 million in early childhood education initiatives:
- $6.4 million to upgrade early childhood infrastructure and equipment – including playgrounds – across Victoria and provide grants to allow kinders to provide safe and more inclusive environments
- $3.2 million for the Kindergarten Inclusion Support program to give 225 more children with disabilities or developmental delay access to state-funded kinder in 2018 and 2019
- $5.1 million to train all maternal and child health nurses in early identification for autism and train 5,000 early childhood professionals in a new online assessment tool to provide a more tailored learning experience for children with a disability or development delay.
Victoria the Education State — fairness for all
The Government's Education State vision aims to build a world-class education system where everyone, regardless of background, circumstance or ability, is offered the best chance to thrive and prosper.
Supporting students and children with disabilities and strengthening inclusive education is a key Education State priority.
See: Students with a Disability Policy
Children with special needs