|Pic courtesy Montrose Services|
The Disability Royal Commission has just released its findings.
There are over two hundred recommendations. Enacting them will be a monumental task.
The last Royal Commission with as many recommendations as this one was the 1991 inquiry into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Of *RCIADIC's 339 recommendations, a Deloitte Access Economics review in 2018 found that, 64% have been implemented in full, 14% have been mostly implemented, 16% have been partially implemented and 6% have not been implemented.
It's to be hoped that twenty-seven years down the track, the disability royal commission has a better outcome.
Somehow, although I won't be around to see it that far down the track, I believe that the result for people with disabilities will be similar to that for indigenous people in custody.
I write this because everything I saw in my 40 year career in special education points in this direction. Ironically, the five years I spent in aboriginal education in remote North-West Queensland confirms it.
Both are areas of enormous challenge, and both are shaped by the general population's disregard, sprinkled with a fair amount of fear and ignorance.
It is dismaying to note the disagreement about recommendations for the future of both special schools and group homes reflected in the findings. The commissioners were divided.
It's profoundly depressing, that in the year 2023, we are stuck in the worn out debates about provision, with the argument cycling around binary concepts, of one style of organisation opposing another.
Here's a simpler solution. All schools should be special schools, and all accommodation universal. By that I mean that the lock-step, highly graded and hierarchical organisational structure of conventional schools doesn't really suit anyone, let alone students with disabilities.
Schools should be ultimately flexible, and organised around the learning needs of the enrolment, not the classroom spaces and timetable. It can be done, and has been successful. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has released a paper that is well worth a read.
State governments in this country are generally responsible for schooling, and I can't see any of the current governments with the requisite courage and foresight to change the fundamentals. This is, of course, because governments are run by politicians, not teachers, and education is one of the most politically sensitive aspects of government. It was ever thus...
*Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody