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Practices in Special Education: Debates and Challenges|
UNESCO’s later report, Overcoming Exclusion Through Inclusive Approaches in Education: A Challenge and a Vision (2001), expanded the theme. UNESCO stated that
accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social,
emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and
Prescriptive legislation of the ilk of the American IDEA is not in place in Australia. However, as a nation committed to multiculturalism, Australia follows the principles of cultural diversity and a pluralist democracy. Therefore, commonwealth legislation and the policies of state governments on social justice, antidiscrimination, and equality have had a significant influence on educational provisions for students with disabilities (Westwood, 2001).
The commonwealth government of Australia showed little interest in special education until the reformist Gough Whitlam Labor Government was elected in 1972. During its 3-year rule, the government introduced a series of policy documents and legislation, including antidiscrimination laws. At the policy level, the government adopted integration as its preferred way of meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities. More significantly, it established the influential policy think tank—the Commonwealth Schools Commission—which became a major influence through its support of research and policy initiatives, as well as a vehicle for the commonwealth government’s policy of supporting integration (Winzer, Altieri, Jacobs, & Mellor, 2003).
In 1992, the commonwealth government passed the Federal Disability Discrimination Act (DDA; Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.) that came into effect on March 1, 1993. The DDA made it against the law for an educational authority to discriminate against someone because that person has a disability. Critically, a person with a disability has a right to study at any educational institution in the same way as any other student. This includes all public and private educational institutions, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions such as TAFE, private colleges, and universities (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.).
In 2004, the Disability Discrimination Amendment (Education Standards) Bill 2004 (Parliament of New South Wales, 2005) amended the DDA of 1992. The 2005 amendment, known as the Disability Standards for Education, plays a significant role in educational placement in Australia in general. The amendment came into being because there was the need to mandate compliance with the disability standards mandated in 1992 and to ensure that the provisions of the draft disability standards for education were fully supported. The main aim of the amendment was to explain and clarify the legal obligations of education and training service providers as well as the rights of people with disabilities under the seminal DDA of 1992.
The Disability Standards of 2005 (Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department, 2005) set out to ensure that students with disabilities have the same rights as other students in a number of interlocking areas:
A later education policy document (which now supersedes the Adelaide Declaration) was the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, 2008). It sets the direction for Australian schooling for the next 10 years and also addresses inclusive education. The education policy goals were developed by education ministers in collaboration with the Catholic and independent school sectors and following public consultation on the draft declaration (Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, 2008).