Disabled children restrained at schools

A survey ahead of the Disability Royal Commission reveals children being restrained in schools.
A survey ahead of the Disability Royal Commission reveals children being restrained in schools.

More than a fifth of disabled young people have been subjected to some form of restraint at school in the past year, new research shows.

One parent said they were encouraged to medicate their son - who was aged between seven and nine - with the stimulant Ritalin while he attended a mainstream school in Queensland.

The parent told the Children and Young People with Disability Australia survey they argued against the child being treated with Ritalin, a common medication for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"I had to advocate that it is not required for my son's condition and only works on children with ADHD, which my child does not have," the parent said.

The CYDA said its survey of 505 disabled young people, their families and carers showed 21 per cent of disabled students had been restrained while at school.

The most common form of restraint was physical, followed by psycho-social, which involves using intimidation or threats to control a person. There was also mechanical restraint, where a child might be strapped down.

Medication was the least-used method. There is no suggestion any child was medicated without parental consent.

Some survey respondents gave examples of seclusion including a boy aged less than 10 being left briefly in a hot school taxi "and felt scared that he couldn't get out", while another young teen was made to sit on a playground bench and not move.

A total of 21 per cent had been subjected to seclusion.

Such restrictive practices are "disturbing", Mary Sayers, CEO of CYDA said.

"It's beyond belief that these practices are still going on in our schools," she told AAP.

Separately on Monday, the mother of a boy with ADHD collapsed in court where she is suing Education Queensland for disability discrimination.

Julie Connor and her husband Peter allege their son Beau was subjected to physical violence, restraint and seclusion at a school in Hervey Bay between 2011 and 2015 because of his disabilities

The CYDA said its findings show the education system is failing young people with disabilities and have called on the government to create a national action plan for inclusive education, including phasing out special schools and the separated units that currently exist within mainstream schools.

They are also urging improvement to what they describe as "inadequate teacher education", and a redefinition of the roles of aides for them to provide inclusive support.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the federal government has already pledged an additional $28.8 billion to support students with disability over 2018 to 2029.

The survey results come before next week's first public hearing of the Disability Royal Commission in Townsville.

Ms Sayers said that inquiry "presents an opportunity for Australia to right its wrongs and start providing children with disability the inclusive education they are entitled to - it is their human right".

SURVEY FINDINGS

* 40.2 per cent have been excluded from events or activities at school in the past year

* 12.5 per cent have been refused enrolment

* 47.9 per cent experienced bullying at school

Australian Associated Press