CPActive calls for greater accessibility and equality in schools at NSW parliamentary inquiry

This week, CPActive Champion Sophie Geeves, Chair of our ‘Blaze the Trail’ working group, was invited to share her journey and perspectives with the NSW Upper House inquiry into children and young people with disability in NSW educational settings.

Sophie was joined by Professor Iona Novak AM, a world-renowned clinician, cerebral palsy expert and CPA’s Chair of Allied Health.  

The hearing was a valuable opportunity for CPActive to provide insights and perspectives that will be incorporated in the state’s response to both the NDIS Review and Disability Royal Commission, giving our community advocacy network a voice in the future disability policy direction of NSW.   

Sophie shared her experience as a young person with CP in mainstream education, reflecting that, despite a largely positive journey, she faced challenges due to an inflexible system that made it difficult to access reasonable accommodations and supports for exams. 

“Our focus and expertise is not in policy or legislation, but in our own lived experience – as young people with physical disabilities trying to navigate the NSW education system, having to advocate for ourselves on a daily basis and carry the extra burden of adapting to disabling processes that we face in education and wider society,” Sophie told the committee.  

“We can and should do so much more to support the next generation of young people with disabilities and set them up for positive experiences and equal and fair opportunities – and this starts with inclusive schooling.” 

Professor Novak, who has significant experience supporting students to access support and working with schools on inclusive practice, echoed Sophie’s statement: 

“Often, the focus is on what needs to be demonstrated by the individual with CP, an approach which reinforces difference and approaches disability from a position of deficit. Instead, we should think of how attitudinal changes and environmental changes can have a far greater impact and benefit, not just for young people with disabilities, but all students and the wider community.” 

The inquiry follows on from our recent meeting with NSW Minister for Disability Inclusion, the Hon Kate Washington MP. Our tireless CPActive champions will continue to push for meaningful change at a policy level to ensure true inclusion and accessibility is on the political agenda.  

The committee will continue to hear from people with lived experience, education experts and other relevant stakeholders in the coming weeks before handing down a report in June – sign up to the CPActive advocacy community to stay in the loop

You can read CPActive’s full submission to the inquiry here:  

Main image: Cerebral Palsy Alliance and CPActive representatives invited as expert witnesses at the NSW Upper House inquiry into children and young people with disability in NSW educational settings.