News | November 10, 2023 (Originally Published October 04, 2023)

Response to Disability Royal Commission report

Catholic Schools NSW supports the fundamental and universal right of all children to an education.

Catholic education supports families in educating their children across a range of settings, including mainstream schools, support classes within mainstream schools and specialist settings.

Catholic education has always upheld the sanctity of life from conception, and finding ways to care for individuals born with a range of special needs is a focus in our communities and schools. Students with disability have a diversity of learning needs and Catholic schools seek to cater for this diversity through diverse education settings.

Our schools are committed to providing a holistic education for students that builds capacity to become participating members of their community while dignifying their unique gifts. This is achieved through specialised programs, high staffing ratios, purpose-built school sites and support for parents and carers to empower their child to live enriched and independent lives.

Catholic Schools support parents’ right to choose the most appropriate educational setting for their child. Maintaining funding support for specialist schools is essential to continue to uphold the ability of parents to make a choice in the best interest of their child.

Catholic Schools NSW welcomes the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Catholic Schools NSW looks forward to engaging with the Commonwealth Disability Royal Commission Taskforce on the recommendations relevant to education, especially in relation to special education settings and inclusive education.

Comments attributable to CEO of Catholic Schools NSW, Dallas McInerney:

“Specialist Catholic schools and classes in NSW are not ‘segregated’ settings. Our families value participation within the community and local mainstream schools. In some cases, our specialist school campuses are co-located with mainstream schools. In others, buddy programs and other initiatives ensure integration with the mainstream Catholic community and school system.”

“The last thing students with a disability need is to have their futures hostage to activists seeking to re-ignite school funding wars. These schools need more care and support and less ideology.”

“Catholic Schools NSW acknowledges Commissioners hold different views about the need for special schools to be phased out over time. We support the Commission’s view that the complex question of ‘wholly separated and wholly inclusive settings’ is nuanced and requires consideration of the specific circumstances in which the physical separation takes place, we believe that special education settings are crucial to parental choice and can have an important role to play in supporting students with disability.”