ACT News

Disability ACT primary school program wins national award

A teaching resource for primary schools that promotes inclusion has won an ACT team a national disability award. 

Three women from Disability ACT developed the resource, the Everyone Everyday Disability Awareness Program, which saw them named a joint winner of the Improving Education Outcomes Award at the National Disability Awards on Tuesday night.

Maureen Howe, Megan Campbell and Fiona McIntosh said they were delighted to have been finalists in the awards and thanked the ACT government, especially Disability ACT and the Education and Training Directorate, for backing the program.

"Our executive team at Disability ACT understand that inclusion doesn't just happen by osmosis but to create truly inclusive communities, we need to invest in evidence-based, tangible programs like Everyone Everyday," Ms Howe said. 

After winning the award, Ms Howe said events such as the National Disability Awards were important to showcase the positive work that was being done to make a more inclusive community for people with disability. 

Community Services directorate director-general Natalie Howson said the awards were necessary to shine a light on the positive work being done for people with disability. 

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"The more we see this, the more it's normalised," she said. 

Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the awards were about embracing diversity and inclusion.

"Australians are starting, at long last, to get the better deal they deserve," he said. 

"There are good things happening across the nation. It is important that we acknowledge that and that we celebrate the individuals and organisations who are seeking to make a difference in their community." 

Ms Howe said there had there had been a long history of exclusion and segregation of children and adults with disability, which was why it was important for all states and territories to implement inclusion programs like Everyone Everyday.

She said the program aimed to create a cultural shift in community attitudes towards disability. 

Ms Campbell said the resource was aimed at mainstream primary teachers and consisted of 35 lessons focussing on the concept of inclusion. 

"All lessons are linked to the Australian Curriculum and encourage students to take individual and collective action to ensure the inclusion of children with disability," she said.

The program focuses on key areas such as ability, a cultural shift from exclusion to inclusion, putting people first and not after their disability, and supportive environments.

"The underlying assumption is that we all benefit when the environment in which we work, live and play are inclusive and that we all have a role to play to create inclusive communities," Ms Howe said. 

Ms McIntosh said another key area of the program was around taking action.

"Small changes can collectively make a big difference and Everyone Everyday invites all participants to make these changes," she said.

The Stirling Community Early Learning Centre in South Australia was the other joint winner of the Improving Education Outcomes Award for its practice of including children with disability in every activity without question or stigma.

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