Inclusive education is the right of all students including those who have traditionally been marginalised due to disability and/or other devalued characteristics. These other characteristics can be non-dominant cultural backgrounds and ways of knowing, including those of Indigenous peoples; languages spoken, other than standard forms of English; refugee/asylum seeker experiences; and low socio-economic conditions. While these other characteristics are not disabilities, they are often unrecognised and devalued in education.
Inclusive education is informed by the social model of disability which recognises that it is the attitudinal, environmental, financial, pedagogical and physical barriers that affect students’ access, participation and achievement, not the students’ characteristics themselves.
Inclusive education also encompasses students with other marginalised characteristics not just those with impairments, but who have the same experience of barriers in education. Inclusion in education is essential not only for the school years but for the quality of life that follows. It is also critical not only for students who are traditionally marginalised but also for society as a whole, as a means for developing the attitudes, values and beliefs that underpin welcoming, inclusive communities.
Inclusive Education is underpinned by a number of international and national pieces of legislation protecting human rights including:
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons Disabilities (CRPD; United Nations, 2006) and General Comment No. 4 (GC4; United Nations, 2016).
- The 1992 Disability Discrimination Act (Cth).
- The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth).
- The Queensland Human Rights Act (2019)
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