Inclusion of people with intellectual disability at University in Australia

Dr Fiona Rillotta1, Professor Patricia O’Brien2

1Flinders University, Disability and Community Inclusion, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Bedford Park , Australia, 2Centre for Disability Studies, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney , Sydney , Australia

Background:
Globally there are several initiatives facilitating the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities at universities and colleges. However, there are only two such programs across Australia. Despite legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities there are a number of challenges to starting up and sustaining inclusive university programs for people with intellectual disability in Australia.

Purpose:
Information will be provided about the two Australian programs (Up the Hill Project and Uni2Beyond). Round table participants will then engage in discussion around critical issues associated with university supports/ programs for people with intellectual disability at Australian universities.

Controversial perspectives:
Some of the critical issues to be discussed include:

  • funding and opportunities (e.g. NDIS)
  • university systems and structures
  • transition to university
  • peer mentors
  • teaching staff attitudes, capacity and training
  • internships or work placements
  • pathways to degree qualifications
  • post-university support and outcomes
  • further research needed

Implications:
Participation at university provides opportunity for the development of academic skills, social skills, and social networks, as well as personal skills, such as, independence, self-determination and self-confidence. We will also engage in discussion about how to further develop the Australian evidence-base to promote inclusion of people with intellectual disability at more universities in Australia.


Biography:

Dr Fiona Rillotta is a Lecturer in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Program Advisor at the Up the Hill Project at Flinders University.

Professor Patricia O’Brien is Director of the Centre for Disability Studies and Professor of Disability Studies, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney.