Caregivers of Children With Disabilities in the Northern Territory, Australia: Experiences of Educational Non-Inclusion

Sarah Rheinberger, Bea Staley, Georgie Nutton

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Abstract

Inclusive education is enshrined in law and supported by the literature as best practice in education. Inclusive education has been shown to provide better academic, social and behavioural outcomes for children with disabilities than segregated learning environments. In the Northern Territory, Australia, however, the dual system of mainstream and special education persists and so too does segregation and exclusion. The Northern Territory education strategy commits to strengthening inclusion and empowering families in educational decision-making by listening to their voices. In this paper, we highlight some of these voices, examining the experiences and perspectives of caregivers of children with disabilities as they participate in education in the Northern Territory. Caregivers’ experiences were coded into categories of inclusion and exclusion. Those that were not clearly inclusion nor exclusion were identified and the theme of non-inclusion was created. Non-inclusion was analysed thematically and is discussed as a nebulous space that exists for caregivers, presenting significant challenges that threaten their child’s inclusion at school as they navigate this dual system. If Australian education systems are to provide genuine inclusive education, we need to understand the experiences of caregivers better so we can remediate the issues creating non-inclusion for children with disabilities and caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-122
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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