Test case highlights the need for better school support for children with autism

PIAC has commenced a discrimination test case on behalf of an eight-year old girl who has an autism spectrum disorder, after she was expelled from her primary school in Year 2.

PIAC’s client, Hannah Blundy, says that her daughter, Catherine, was expelled after her school failed to provide a range of supports and adjustments recommended by health professionals in time to keep her educational and social development on track.

The case, which was filed in the Federal Circuit Court in April, alleges that the school discriminated against Catherine because of her autism, including by failing to provide her reasonable adjustments to access education, by banning her from the school bus, and by expelling her from school. The case alleges both direct and indirect discrimination, and a breach of the Disability Standards for Education.

‘About 1 in 150 Australians are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Catherine’s case highlights some of the many challenges autistic children face every day at school,’ said PIAC Senior Solicitor, Chadwick Wong.

‘While many schools do an excellent job supporting all students, Catherine’s story also illustrates how hard it can be for families to get schools to understand these challenges and make reasonable adjustments in the classroom and playground.’

‘We hope that this case will give hope to students struggling to get the support they need at school, and encourages families to be strong advocates for their children.’

‘Catherine’s case also sends a clear message to principals that they have a responsibility to cater for the differing needs of students, to ensure that all children can have access to an excellent education,’ said Chadwick Wong.

Catherine’s Mum, Hannah Blundy, said that she had decided to take legal action as a last resort.

‘I felt that I needed to fight for Catherine, because her disability is invisible and she couldn’t say anything to the school about what she needed,’ said Hannah.

‘We just want all children, including children on the spectrum, to have the chance to win at education.’



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