How to create inclusive cultures and relationships

A continuation of part two in the IncludED@OSHC learning journey, relationships and families.

​Many people play an important role in creating an inclusive environment for children with complex disabilities at your service.

They include the other children attending your service, the parents of these children, your staff and the broader community.

Encouraging all children to be inclusive

  • role models respect, acceptance and understanding for diversity. For example, demonstrate ways to ask questions about disability that use appropriate language
  • show the other children how to communicate and play with a peer with a complex disability
  • answer questions from the children. For example, appropriately explaining why a peer uses a tablet or sign language to communicate
  • show children with complex disabilities how to navigate social environments and relationships with peers.

Encouraging all parents to be inclusive

  • communicate openly and welcome feedback from the parents
  • be aware that parents may influence the way their children interact with peers with complex disabilities. Parents are role models who teach their children about respect, acceptance and understanding for diversity.

Encouraging staff to be inclusive

  • foster supportive staff relationships; this enables staff to debrief, seek guidance, share ideas and address concerns
  • make sure staff are aware that, as an expectation of their role, they need to develop skills to work with all children
  • make sure staff are familiar with the children's individual profiles and support plans and can develop enriching educator-to-child relationships.

Encouraging the broader community to be inclusive

  • partner with local organisations to open up your service to benefits such as sharing community resources, celebrating community achievements and receiving grants (for example, you may be able to apply for local council grants for facility upgrades or equipment)
  • offer employment opportunities to people in the broader community
  • inspire community services, such as schools, sporting clubs and youth organisations, to adopt inclusive practices.

Case study: Helping a family stay together

With school holidays looming, the parents of Jay*, a child with a complex disability, were facing an awful choice. With a lack of other care options available to support the family during the holiday period, they were considering placing their child into foster care.

But after a meeting between Jay's parents, school and OSHC, Jay's OSHC enrolment was fast-tracked, staff were trained and, within a week, Jay was attending the service's holiday program. Jay then continued on to the after-school ca
re program during the school term. OSHC helped Jay's family to stay together.

*Name has been changed.

Responding to questions and concerns

When a child with a complex disability attends your service, you may find yourself having difficult conversations with various people as you field questions and concerns.

These scenarios may involve the parents of the child, the parents of other children, the child's teachers, or medical and disability professionals.

It's important to make difficult conversations solution-focused. You may need to:

  • request extra information
  • devise strategies
  • ask others to help at your service (such as support workers or therapists)
  • explore equipment or resources
  • work closely with a community of practice network to identify local solutions.

The parents of the other children may be worried about escalated behaviours, or whether their child will still receive the care they need when children with higher-intensity support needs attend your service.

You can explain your service is inclusive, and strategies and support are in place to make sure all children's needs are met. If in doubt about how to handle questions and concerns, contact your local Inclusion Support Agency for advice.