2,200 Tasmanian students with disability missing millions in support

An Australian Education Union analysis has found an estimated 2,202 students with disability in Tasmania are missing out on over $32 million per year in critical funding.

Students with disability in Tasmania are not receiving the educational adjustments they need to learn to their full potential.

The Australian Education Union and Disability Advocate Kristen Desmond have teamed up to call for every child with disability to receive the fully funded support they need.

“State and federal governments underfund every child in Tasmanian public schools and colleges nine percent below the minimum national standard,” said AEU Tasmania President David Genford. “This underfunding hits students with disability the hardest and it’s unacceptable – we demand urgent action.”

“The AEU’s research confirms what we always suspected – that too many students with disability continue to miss out on appropriate support,” said Kristen Desmond, Founder of Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby. “The Tasmanian Government needs to ensure that every student receives the support they need to succeed at school.”

The Australian Education Union analysis is conservative, using a national calculation that 11.5 percent of public school students have a disability, but knowing that rates of disability in Tasmania are higher than the national figure.

Out of 62,255 Tasmanian public school students, 4,957 are funded for educational adjustments that meet the test of a disability which “restricts everyday activities”. That leaves an estimated 2,202 students with disability without funding for additional support.

Students with disability are assessed on the level of support or educational adjustment required, with three funding categories being extensive, substantial or supplementary. Using the current student numbers for each category, the total funding shortfall for 2,202 students is $32.6 million per year.

Level of Educational AdjustmentCurrently funded public school studentsEstimated un-funded students with disabilityFunding shortfall
Extensive671297$11,198,979
Substantial2121943$16,631,691
Supplementary2165962$4,826,354
Total49572202$32,657,024

The Australian Education Union used the secondary student disability funding loading amount for the calculations, which is lower than the primary student adjustments, so the underfunding estimates are conservative.

“TDERL calls on the Education Minister to urgently review the way the Reasonable Adjustment model has been implemented to ensure students and teachers get the support they need when they need it in the classroom,” said Kristen Desmond.

“The Government needs to ensure that teachers and schools are also properly supported to ensure that they can provide quality teaching to all students and this means providing additional disability specific PD, appropriate resourcing and ensuring the funding process is streamlined to ensure minimal impact on teachers workloads.”

The 2020 AEU State of our Schools survey found 62 percent of Principals don’t have enough resources to meet needs of students with disability.

“As disgraceful as this situation is and damaging for students with disability and their families, it doesn’t tell the whole story – even students with disability who are receiving funding are short-changed as state-federal agreements leave schools nine percent short of the minimum funding required across the board,” said David Genford.

“It’s time to end the neglect of public education that has given us a teacher shortage and 2,200 children without the additional support they require.”

“Only fully funded is acceptable when it comes to the education of every Tasmanian child. We know what is needed and it’s time for the Gutwein Government to commit and deliver,” said David Genford.

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  1. So good to see this is finally being addressed. As a Support Teacher, I was appalled at the new funding adjustment model and how much schools around the state were going to lose out. It was evident back then and now backed up by these figures, that the major push for this new adjustment model came about, to try to cut even more funding from schools. It has been disheartening as a teacher, having adjustment meetings to try to convince the DoE that they have short changed the level of support a student is entitled to, only to be told this is the model and that’s how it works. Great to see the AEU taking this head on as these students are entitled to the full support and we need to stand up and advocate for them and their families.