Children with disabilities continue to be segregated from their classmates as ACT public schools remain mostly inaccessible for people with disabilities and mental health concerns, an inquiry has heard.
Advocacy for Inclusion spokeswoman Stacy Rheese told the Legislative Assembly inquiry into school infrastructure that some schools were still using restrictive practices to separate children with disabilities from their peers.
"We've heard of an instance where a child was basically put in a trampoline... so while the rest of these children were participating in a PE class, a child was put in a trampoline and the meshing was zipped up so that they couldn't leave," Ms Rheese said.
Ms Rheese said inclusive education was not done well in the territory and school infrastructure needed to be more adaptable.
ACT Council of Social Services policy manager Craig Wallace said an audit of the accessibility of all public school was needed.
He said newer schools met minimum requirements under construction codes but did not necessarily reflect best practices.
He said ACTCOSS received data from the ACT Electoral Commission that showed none of the 62 schools that were used as polling places were accessible without assistance.
"If a voter can't access the public area of a school for half an hour to cast a ballot without assistance in Canberra, how likely is it that a child with a disability will complete years of concurrent education there?" Mr Wallace said.
"Inclusive education settings are not just about physical accessibility in bricks and mortar.
"They've also got to be spaces to encourage mental, emotional self-regulation, that are supportive and do not provide restrictive practices, bars or containment."
Mr Wallace said community groups in some parts of Canberra had difficulty finding a meeting place, including in Denman Prospect where the new school was not accessible after hours.
Carers ACT chief executive Lisa Kelly said the Education Directorate should consider mental health when designing accessible schools.
"Too often when we talk about accessibility we talk about it as terms of ramps... of wheelchairs or walkers and we don't consider psychosocial disability," Ms Kelly said.
"We don't consider the size of classrooms, the number of students, the echo sound that happens in concrete where there's no grass and there's no trees, and there's no relief to the structure that we've put into a school."
Ms Kelly said many of the sensory gardens built in schools were not accessible when students needed them. She said large "super schools" were less-accessible for people with a disability.
ACT Councils of Parents and Citizens' Associations recommended the Education Directorate create a centralised property management team as school struggled to keep up with maintenance and enrolment growth.
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