Strategic Priority 2 | Strategic Priority 3
Implementation of strategic plan for disability education in public schools (Education and Training Directorate)
Therapy Assistant Program
Transition from school to adult life, partnerships and employment
Disability Employment Strategy
Social procurement and social enterprises
Implementation of Strategic Plan for Disability Education in Public schools (Education and Training Directorate)
The Education and Training Directorate’s (ETD) Everyone Matters – Excellence in Disability Education in ACT Public Schools Strategic Plan 2010-2013 culminated in 2013 with recognition that students are at the centre of all our work, including students with disability. This is also reflected in the Directorate’s strategic plan Education Capital: Leading the Nation 2014 -2017
A pivotal aspect of the change to including disability in the overarching focus for ETD is the ACT Engaging Schools Framework. The Framework describes four underpinning principles and four areas of good practice that all ACT public schools can use to become more engaging places for students. The underpinning principles are: ensure every student belongs to their school; engage everybody; focus on success; and respond to context. The four areas of good practice are: strengthening relationships; valuing, understanding and having high expectations of every student; and building an engaging school culture.
Network Student Engagement Teams in each school network have been established to support schools to meet the diverse needs of students. This includes a Disability Education Partner in each team. This position is a school leader classification that works shoulder-to-shoulder with school principals and their executive teams to build their capacity to meet the needs of students with disability in their school, in line with the Engaging Schools Framework.
Training packages for Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), with a discrete disability component, are finalised and are being delivered.
A focus for ETD has been on building the capacity of staff in schools to support students with disability to access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers. To this end, the Directorate has collaborated with the University of Canberra to develop online learning packages for the Disability Standards for Education 2005 for staff in all ACT public schools. The online learning supports improved understanding of legal obligations of education providers to make reasonable adjustments for students with disability in schools. To date, 1,010 staff members have completed the online learning modules. This model has been adopted across the states and territories.
Further, more than 440 teachers have completed a series of Disability Education Online Learning Programs, with another 420 in the process of completing.
All 86 public schools have a Disability Education Coordinator.
Networking and workshopping sessions have been held for families and carers related to disability education.
98% of ACT public school students with disability accessing special education in mainstream and specialist schools had Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) developed as of 2012-13 including Transition Action Plans.
Therapy ACT and the ETD have partnered to provide a successful therapy program in a number of ACT public schools.
The Health Directorate and ETD have collaborated to support school attendance for students with complex healthcare needs, many of whom have a disability, in the Healthcare Access at School program.
ETD, through ACT public schools, supports students from year nine with careers and transitions. This is led in schools by transitions and careers officers and augmented by programs developed with and delivered by House with No Steps.
For many students with disability, this transition and career support is enhanced with a Transition Action Plan and additional support through the school’s Disability Education Coordinator and system Network Student Engagement Teams.
Therapy Assistant Program
In 2012 Therapy ACT piloted a Therapy Assistant Program to enhance access to therapy services for students with developmental disabilities, and support teachers to embed therapy strategies into the school curriculum. The program enables therapy assistants to work in schools implementing therapy programs developed by physiotherapists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists in consultation with teachers. In 2012, seven schools participated in the highly successful pilot project with more than 270 children receiving therapy services. During the pilot phase there was an 80% success rate for children meeting their goals or improving on standardised testing leading to the program’s expansion. From January 2013, the program included services for preschool students in the seven schools and in 2013-14 the program continued, working with seven schools each school year.
Transition from School to Adult Life, Partnerships and Employment
Community Access Program
The Community Access Program is designed to support people with high support needs who require ongoing supports to maximise their potential for social independence. Since 2009 the number of students accessing the program has steadily gown.
Each school leaver with high and complex needs who was due to graduate between 2011 and 2013 received a $5,000 grant to enable their better engagement in the community.
School leavers will be amongst the first group of individuals to transition to the NDIS from 1 July 2014. This group was also allocated up to $12,000 of additional supports and services, as part of the Enhanced Service Offer. The funds were used to:
- attend a training course to develop new skills
- arrange for supports to take part in a social activity
- do something else that enables them to get out into the ACT community.
School leavers were assisted through individualised planning sessions to plan how they will use their additional supports to meet their longer term life goals and participate in meaningful activities that contribute to their lives.
Post School Options
The Post School Options Expo (Planning Future Pathways) was held as part of ACT Careers Expo in 2012 and has continued to be held in 2013 and 2014. Planning Future Pathways provides students, their families, carers and teachers with appropriate and timely information on issues related to post school life and disability services.
Work Experience and Social Placements Program
House With No Steps staff located at the Disability Information Support Hub (DISH) work with local businesses to create work experience opportunities for year nine and year ten students with disability. Operating since 2009, the Work Experience and Social Placements program (WESP) is designed to help students decide on their career path through work experience with mainstream employers. Approximately 120 young people with disability have been assisted through the program each year.
The ACT Government has supported social enterprises to broaden employment and vocation options for young people with disability as they transition to adult life through support of social enterprises including:
The New Shoots program was established, a collaboration between Fuji Xerox, Greening Australia, Bankmecu and Black Mountain School, to provide students with disability the chance to develop their independence through horticultural work. Read more about the New Shoots program
Six Seeds, a social enterprise developed through the partnership of five community organisations and supported by private sector organisations, delivers inclusive and creative opportunities for young people with disability to develop viable business ventures.
Enabled Employment received an Innovation Connect Grant of $21,000 from Economic Development Directorate in 2012-2013 to develop the Enabled Employment website.
Formally launched in September 2014, Enabled Employment is an innovative, online employment agency for people with disability that connects employees and employers through an online database. The agency provides a website platform to allow people with disability to work remotely. Employers may hire individuals by the hour or per day.
Disability ACT engaged a teleworker through Enabled Employment to assist with canvassing and processing nominations for the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards
Disability Confidence Canberra
The ACT Government, Nican and ACT Inclusion Council (formerly BLITS) introduced Disability Confidence Canberra a new speaking program to equip business, government agencies, community organisations and local communities to understand disability. Speakers provide information and practical tools to improve access and inclusion for people with disability. Visit the Inclusion Council website
Payroll Tax Concession
The ACT Government has introduced a payroll tax concession to encourage ACT’s biggest businesses to benefit from the talents and skills of school leavers with disability aged 17-24. The payroll tax exemption is a $740,000 initiative over two years (2013-2014). It provides ACT businesses paying payroll tax with a concession of up to $4,000 for each school leaver with disability they employ. Disability ACT has produced a range of promotional materials to engage the business sector with this initiative. Read more about Disability Employment Concessions
Disability Employment Strategy
The ACT Public Service Employment Strategy for People with Disability 2011-2015 was launched in April 2011. Read the employment strategy
An ACT Government coordinator has facilitated whole-of-government support to embed the ACTPS Employment Strategy for People with Disability (the Strategy) in several ways, including:
- whole of government promotion
- linking entities across the ACTPS with service providers and sustaining those linkages
- providing advice and support to human resource professionals across the ACTPS
- providing advice in the development of specific employment programs
- amending legislation to develop ‘designated positions’ in line with the Commonwealth Government
- providing policy advice to support the principles of the Strategy
- connecting with local universities to better promote employment programs in those universities
- developing whole-of-government policies in consultation with the Australian Network on Disability to develop and maintain a disability confident ACTPS.
The proportion of the ACTPS workforce composed of people with disability has increased from 1.9% (384 employees) in June 2013 to 2.0% (415 employees) in June 2014.
Whole of government separation rates for staff with disability increased from 6.8% in June 2013 to 7.4% in June 2014. This is in contrast to the continued decrease in separation rate for the ACTPS, which decreased from 6.8% to 6.2% in the same period.
The ACTPS Employment Strategy for People with Disability is currently being reviewed through the comprehensive review of the Respect, Equity and Diversity (RED) Framework, to bring innovation to the way employment programs are structured within the ACTPS and promoted throughout the disability community.
Social Procurement and Social Enterprises
Since the ACT Social Enterprise Hub was established in 2009, 44 income streams have been established for people with disability.
The ACT Government established a Social Procurement Manager in 2012. This position promotes and facilitates social procurement by ACT Government. The Social Procurement Manager assists Directorates to develop tenders which include social procurement provisions, such as employing or contracting people with disability, young people, and people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The ACT Government, including the Community Services Directorate, continues to include social benefit requirements as part of its tendering process.
All goods and services procurements managed by Procurement and Capital Works (PCW) (>$200,000) are assessed for their potential to include social benefit provisions. When it is considered that a procurement offers opportunities to realise social benefit outcomes, specific social benefit evaluation criteria are included in the Request for Tender. In addition, PCW has established a pre-qualified panel of social enterprises that can provide services to directorates on a quotation basis. To date, two social enterprises have applied for pre-qualification. Pre-qualified social enterprises will be listed on the Shared Services Procurement Portal for the information of directorates.
A limited tender only open to social enterprises for the operation of the Civic Merry Go Round was conducted in late 2013. LEAD was the successful tenderer.
The Volunteer Principles Statement was launched in December 2011 to represent a whole of government approach to supporting and recognising volunteers.
In 2013-14 Volunteering ACT supported people with disability engage in volunteering placements as part of an Inclusive Volunteering project. In June 2013, Disability ACT committed an additional funding package of just over $50,000 to continue the program for another 12 months.
The project provides the opportunity to educate organisations in the process of engaging vulnerable volunteers while assisting people with disability to increase social and economic participation through volunteering.
As at June 2014 the Inclusive Volunteering Program had received 119 referrals and succeeded in placing 42 vulnerable people, including people with disability in volunteering placements.
Disability ACT continues to be involved in national discussion about data development related to disability inclusion. In June 2012, the former Disability Policy and Research Working Group, representing inter-governmental disability officials, offered a tender for an Audit of Disability Research in Australia. The main aim of the Audit of Disability Research was to produce a report that provides a comprehensive picture of the current state of disability research in Australia. Read the Report of Audit
The Audit’s main finding is that the current disability research base is not ‘fit for purpose’ to the reform agenda and is fragmented and diversified across topics and study designs. There is not a critical mass of research on topics of priority to the National Disability Strategy, the National Disability Research and Development Agenda and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Disability Services National Minimum Data Set continues to be collated and now includes data on transitioning dates of people with disability to the NDIS. This will be included in the 2014-15 dataset. Read more about the National Minimum Data Set
The number of people with disability is identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics via the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) which is collected every three years. Planning for the 2015 SDAC is now underway. Read the Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012
The number of people with disability aged 0-64 who may require disability support services at some point – even if they do not use or demand those services (the ‘potential population’) is estimated by the Productivity Commission in its Report on Government Services. Read the Report on Government Services
In 2012, a client satisfaction survey was revised and provided to all people with disability who receive services funded through or provided by Disability ACT. Approximately 1,800 client satisfaction surveys were disseminated through service providers and results indicated that 76% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the support services provided or funded by Disability ACT. The survey’s response rate was 19%. In 2014, over 1,870 people were sent the survey and 81 percent of the respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the service they receive. The improving rate of satisfaction is consistent with the trend since 2009-10.
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