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Education - Disability Funding

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: Disability, Education, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - How many students with disability are currently enrolled in Tasmanian schools, including those who don't receive funding as part of the reasonable adjustment model?

Ms COURTNEY - I am proud of what we have achieved in supporting students with a disability. We have provided for an additional 2000 students through our nation leading educational adjustments needs based funding. It is making a real difference.

This program was only introduced in 2020, so it is relatively recent. It aligns support to the educational adjustments that teachers make in a classroom to assist students with disability to access, participate and engage in quality learning. Overall, it is estimated that funding of more than $90 million supports students with a disability in 2021. The government is providing $56 million over four years in the 2021-22 Budget to support the needs-based model which has delivered an additional 51 FTE support teachers.

I acknowledge the work of a number of advocates in ensuring we have additional funding. It has been a very good thing, and as minister for Disability Services as well, I am proud of what we have done.

An additional 2000 students are now receiving support, and as I mentioned there are 51 FTE more support teachers. This means there are now nearly 5000 students receiving support from this program, with an estimated $92.4 million in funding in overall support for students with a disability.

We are looking at how we can continue to support students. It is also important to recognise that there is no cap on the number of students able to be supported by the needs based funding. If students meet the threshold required to receive our support, it is our commitment that they will have that support.

Dr WOODRUFF - Why was the reasonable adjustment model budget line removed?

Ms COURTNEY - It wasn't removed. My understanding is that it wasn't removed; it was consolidated in the broader budget number.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. Do you know how many applications for funding under the reasonable adjustment model have been knocked back, and if that was the case, why they were knocked back?

Ms COURTNEY - I don't know whether we have that data.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is it possible to take that as a question on notice?

Ms COURTNEY - I am happy to take that on notice to see what information I can provide, but I don't have an indication from the secretary at the moment as to how exactly that data is collected. I will take that on notice and make our best endeavours.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you.

Dr WOODRUFF - What is the total budget allocated to support students with disability in 2021 22? How much goes to reasonable adjustments, how much to support teachers, how much to teachers' aides and what's the rest of it used for?

Ms COURTNEY - Thank you, Dr Woodruff. I outlined some of the funding before. Regarding the breakdown, in 2021 the Tasmanian Government invests a total of $127.3 million for targeted support. Of this total, $92.4 million is attributable to support the students with disability.

Dr WOODRUFF - Support teachers?

Ms COURTNEY - The remaining $34.8 million is attributable to support services funding, including professional support staff, the inclusive practice team, nurse educators, supporting students impacted by trauma and re-engagement support programs.

Dr WOODRUFF - That didn't answer the parts of the question about how much of it goes specifically to support teachers and how much of it specifically goes to teachers' aides and how much of it specifically goes to reasonable adjustments.

Ms COURTNEY - I don't think we have that broken down, at least we don't have it here with us.

Dr WOODRUFF - Could I take that as a question on notice then?

Ms COURTNEY - I'm happy to take that on notice and we'll see what we're able to provide.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. And how many applications for funding have been approved for students with disability who don't have a formal diagnosis?

Mr BULLARD - We have moved away from the medical model, where traditionally you would have had to go and have a diagnosis to say, yes, you have this disability or that. Now we've moved to adjustments. So, the question that is asked in classrooms is: what does that child require to engage in learning? It's a different model, based on need - it's a need based model, not a deficit based model.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. Good.