Paul Omodei

Paul Omodei


    New report on post-secondary education for disabled students

    28/06/2000 10:29 AM

    Students with disabilities are under-represented in post-secondary education and training in Western Australia with fewer than three per cent making up the student population at most universities and TAFE colleges, a new study has found.

    Launching the report into post-secondary education for students with disabilities, Disability Services Minister Paul Omodei said the number of students with disabilities in secondary education was increasing significantly, and the post-secondary sector faced a challenge to create and deliver programs to meet the needs of those students.

    “To be able to continue with their studies, students with disabilities need a range of support including text books and notes in formats other than print text, sign language interpreters and computer technology that speaks the text on the screen.”

    Mr Omodei, speaking at Edith Cowan University’s Mt Lawley Campus, said WA was the first State to undertake this type of research, which looked at the 1997-1999 cohort of students with disabilities in high schools then tracked the progression of those students into post-secondary education.

    He said in 1999, there were:
    • 1,324 students with disabilities enrolled in WA’s four public universities;
    • 1,831 students with disabilities in metropolitan TAFE colleges; and -
    • 697 students with disabilities in country TAFE colleges.

    The report has put forward six recommendations to meet the needs of students with disabilities, including strategies to better identify emerging trends, improved information for students, and disability awareness training for staff.

    The recommendations included getting information to all secondary students on the opportunities and supports available in post-secondary education and improving the delivery of post-secondary education so that it is more “student friendly” for those with a disability.

    “Education and training should be a right for everyone in the community, not a privilege,” Mr Omodei said.

    “Resources for disability services are in great demand. Both State and Commonwealth governments do, however, contribute significant funds to post-school initiatives.

    “The State Department of Employment and Training, for example, is spending $2.3 million this year on a range of initiatives to help students with disabilities in TAFE training and apprenticeships.

    “It is essential that we work together to ensure that funds from all sources are well spent.

    “Inclusive and flexible delivery is not just of benefit to students with disabilities but enhances the educational experience of all students.”

    Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700