IHC looks to Ministry of Education to step up for disabled students at Royal Commission

17 August 2022

Media Release

IHC looks to the Ministry of Education to step up for disabled students at tomorrow’s Royal Commission of Enquiry to abuse in State Care.

The Ministry of Education will be appearing at the Commission tomorrow (18 August) and is expected to face questions on the long-held belief that a lack of fair access to education and opportunity is abuse.

IHC was established in 1949 by families wanting fair access to education and health for their children. Since 2008 we have been suing the Ministry of Education for failing to provide inclusive education for all children.

IHC’s Inclusive Educative Lead Trish Grant says this is about a fair go at their local school for ALL children.

“I look forward to hearing Ministry of Education leaders address the Royal Commission, acknowledge the wrongs and outline what will be made right for disabled learners from today,” says Trish.

“Denying access, or limiting access, to education is a form of abuse – education is a paving stone for opportunity, citizenship, earning and independence. Our recent IHC survey shows disabled children throughout the country have reduced access to attend school and activities such as camp or swimming and are more likely to be left colouring-in in the corner than supported to learn.

“How many children are in this situation? We don’t know…the Ministry of Education doesn’t bother to count them.

IHC has also found disabled students also experience bullying and restraint in far higher numbers than their non-disabled peers – so we are calling for the Ministry of Education to explain how disabled students will be kept safe at school, will have the right support to belong and can learn and participate.

Trish says there are also concerns with segregated environments such as special schools where, as history shows, less visibility can lead to increased risk of abuse.

“We all want better for disabled students,” says Trish. “I look forward to the Ministry of Education outlining its plans for partnership with disabled people and whānau to develop a vision for inclusive education and a framework for action to achieve it.

“The disadvantage, discrimination and in many cases, abuse of disabled students has gone on for too long – it must stop.”