25 signatures reached
To: The Federal Government Minister Responsible for School Infrastructure
Wheelchair Access in Public Schools
Public access to public schools across Australia should be for everyone. This includes people who happen to use wheelchairs for mobility.
Currently, not all public schools provide wheelchair access on all public school buildings across Australia. How do I know this? Because I could not get to my daughter’s classroom upstairs because there was no wheelchair access!
The choices for wheelchair users are to either go to a special school (and then not have access to the same curriculum), or to remain on the ground floor of buildings and be separated from their peers.
What follows then, is a lifetime of separation from their peers.
I have challenged this situation using the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 in QCAT already. What was the outcome?
An answer provided during the process was that there were "not very many disabled people and therefore, the cost of retro-fitting buildings simply wasn't worth it" (QC for Education QLD, 2019). And that "disabled people needed to provide notice that they were attending the school, so that arrangements could be made on the ground floor instead" (QC for Education QLD, 2020).
What a cop-out!
This is still segregation of able-bodied people and disabled people. It is still discrimination. It is still exclusion and a breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9:
Article 9 – Accessibility | United Nations Enable
1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
a) Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
Our government buildings need to set the standard for what is expected in our communities, and what we expected our Anti-Discrimination Legislation and Human Rights Legislation would protect us from.
As a wheelchair user, and community member I expect to be included in public life, including public schools. And I expect other wheelchair users to be included in all areas of public schools across Australia too.
Why is this important?
Currently in Australia, a Royal Commission is looking into the shocking cases of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability and Inclusive Education has been recommended during the hearings, utilising the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9 and 24 (see reference below).
These UN Articles can’t be properly implemented in our public schools unless we provide access to people who use wheelchairs.
15-20% of people in Australia have a disability. It makes sense to include disabled people in our community - we are not going away!
If you have an understanding of inclusion and don't believe in segregation in our public schools, please sign this petition and share it so we can make this change for our future generations to learn to accept diversity from the time they start school.
Thank you for sticking up for those who might be a little different you! Remember - it could be you next who might need to use a mobility device and need to be included...