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Down Syndrome NSW
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T: 9841 444

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Threatened closure of school highlights system gaps ... again

There have been numerous stories, and an official inquiry into the provision of adequate care and support for people with severe disabilities and their families, and another threat is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning:

Harrowing choice put a loving mother to the test
Louise Hall, Sydney Morning Herald, November 3, 2009

Exhausted and depressed after devoting her life to caring for her severely disabled son Niall, Anita Cain took him to a respite centre - and left him there.
Abandoning him to the state's welfare system 3½ years ago was the only way the single mother could get the support she needed.

A rare genetic condition means Niall is deaf, blind in one eye and developmentally delayed, but Ms Cain's pleas for a permanent placement in supported accommodation were rejected until she relinquished day-to-day responsibility for him to the Department of Community Services.

''I only got one weekend every two months respite … all I wanted was more regular, longer breaks, but they wouldn't find anywhere for Niall to go unless I officially abandoned him,'' she said.

In NSW 32 children were given up to the Department of Community Services in the two years to June and this could worsen, with the state's only boarding school for severely disabled children facing closure.

Click here to read the full report.

While we are aware of at least one other school in NSW that does offer boarding facilities for children with disabilities, and that it is highly valued by the families of its students, the threatened closure of Kingsdene might well put pressure on the capacity of any other similar school, as well as on the families of Kingsdene students.

1 comment:

SPIDS said...

Convoy to Canberra - It’s all about the future -but what about today and the immediate tomorrow
Kingsdene parents and students appeal to the Rudd government to save Kingsdene Special School from closure because, not only is it the good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.
Bernadette Moloney chair of the Kingsdene Parent Group said: “Kingsdene parents and their severely disabled children will today travel to Canberra appealing to the Rudd Government to save their small charity-operated school from closure. “
“As we make that journey it is expected the government will announce the commissioning of a feasibility study into the possibility of a National Disability Insurance Scheme. An excellent idea well supported by the Australian community. Such a scheme coming to fruition is a long way “into the future” continues Ms Moloney
Vanessa Browne another parent representative says: “But, what about the today and immediate tomorrow of our severely disabled children and all those other severely disabled children who need Kingsdene Special School to remain open “into their future”?
The convoluted and unfair funding of students with disabilities in small charity-operated schools is a throw-back to the time when government deemed all children with disabilities could not be educated. The survival of Kingsdene Special School, in Western Sydney is a potent David and Goliath symbol and the Rudd government has certainly done much that is only symbolic.
Kingsdene Special School is a weekly boarding school for severely and profoundly intellectually disabled students. Its extended learning program is what makes it unique and does not neatly fit the funding formula applied to other private schools.
“Government spokespeople say Kingsdene students are funded to the maximum but do not deny the fact that Kingsdene students are not funded at the same level as a similarly disabled student in a government school “ said Vanessa Browne
Kingsdene singularly brings diversity across education models and sectors for students with severe and profound disabilities. Kingsdene students gain skills and knowledge in a program unparalleled in the country with brilliant outcomes, transparency and accountability” continues Ms Browne
“All our kids need is a chance to be the best they can be. Is it too much to ask our government to step in and do the right thing here?” said Bernadette Moloney.
“By saving Kingsdene the Rudd government can nail its colours to the mast both in education reform, inject some humanity into the education revolution funding model and move the focus of spending to students who will grow with support rather than buildings that decay with time. All students irrespective of their ability should be given the best chance to maximise whatever potential they have. Saving Kingsdene would give the federal government legitimacy in claiming the moral ground unclaimed by every government for the past forty years.
Contact: Bernadette Moloney 0409 200 660 and Vanessa Browne 0403 752 111