The Parent Forum is an initiative of the Disability Policy and Programs Directorate (DPP) and was established to inform and engage parents/carers about the services and support available for children and young people with a disability. The information presented and the knowledge gained through shared discussions, table talk and workshops, will help inform policy development and future direction.
The Term 1 2018 Parent Forum, themed “Inclusion” was held at SERU and allowed participants to hear different perspectives and share their own experiences.
Many participants submitted questions and topics for discussion on the day. Answers were provided individually or summarised for the group including information about Autism support for Department sites.
Ian May, Director, DPP, opened the Forum with the premise that South Australia aims to be “an inclusive education system for every child, that is world class” and a statement on Inclusion was a priority outcome of the day.
Deborah Crossing, Senior Project Officer, Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability (MACCSWD) presented an overview of the documented Principles of Inclusion for Children and Students with Disability in Education and Care and the role of MACCSWD. Participants were asked to consider and discuss the principles and their usefulness from a parent/carer perspective.
Four perspectives of inclusion were presented by parents reflecting their child’s journey in education.
- Julie Rungie shares Tom’s experiences from Kindergarten to year 11.
- Wendy Hosking highlights what inclusion looks like for Tahlia
- Trish Jones presents Millie’s experiences
- Kate Annells provides insight into what inclusion means for Shasta
The presentations were challenging to listen to, but inspiring. Table talk and workshopping followed the presentations and resulted in a range of thought provoking statements and ideas for future use in developing an inclusion statement.
“Parent speakers were informative and useful to support other families in their journeys to best support their own children”
“The presentations were incredibly powerful, insightful and extremely well presented”
“The parent presentations were great as people like to hear other people’s journeys as it helps draw connections and similarities as well as initiating energetic conversation in break times and during table talk”
The afternoon workshops offered an opportunity for participants to hear about key directions within the Department.
- Inclusive School Design by Judith Hodson, Senior Advisor, Special Options
- Personalised planning, One Child One Plan (OCOP), Ingrid Alderton, Manager OCOP, Jillian Denys, Senior Project Officer OCOP
- Health Support Planning procedure reviews, Ian May for Deb Heays, Senior Project Officer Health
- Special Education Resource Unit (SERU) roles and responsibilities, Libby Brown, Manager SERU.
The day also enabled parents and carers to have both formal and informal discussions about various topics including planning and brainstorming ideas for the proposed Parent Learning Conference, Conductive Education and Transition/Secondary options. Time was also made available for participants to learn more about SERU Services and Inclusive Technologies and to browse and borrow resources.
The energy from the presentations, conversations, questions and debates in the workshops raised a multitude of ideas and provided the participants with new knowledge including:
- understanding service provision available in sites
- gaining clarity on support and direction when transitioning from primary to secondary or post school
- the challenges of finding an education system that meets the needs of their children in a setting that offers programs they believe work
- finding a starting point for a Parent Learning Conference that meets the needs of children from preschool to high school in mainstream and in special classes and units
- capturing the successful ways that work for parents in identifying the support and services that can be recorded in a meaningful way through the One Child One Plan
- investigating the plethora of resources available from SERU for parents to borrow or seeking advice to support their child’s learning
- considering the range of technology to provide a different approach and support their child’s learning
- thinking of creative ways to design preschools and schools that focus on inclusive design and its implications to support and enable inclusive education practice
- giving advice about what is needed in the review of health procedures from a parent’s perspective to be used in conjunction with expert medical advice within a school or preschool.