Learning skills is one of the six policy areas highlighted in the National Disability Strategy, in acknowledgement of:
'A significant gap between students with disability and those without, notably in the attainment of Year 12 or equivalent, vocational education and training qualifications, and participation in university studies. Targeted support is needed to assist people who are disadvantaged in education and in the workforce, but mainstream education programs need to be designed for people of all abilities.' 4
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also addresses the rights of people with disabilities to access education. Article 24 notes signatories should ensure that:
'Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live.' 7
The number of people completing Year 12 provides a measure of whether people are continuing to study to the end of schooling opportunities (Graph 45). People with schooling or employment restrictions only are those who need extra support in their schooling or occupation because of their disability, but who do not fall into any of the other disability status categories.
In 2003, 49% of people without disability aged 15-64 years who were living in households, had completed Year 12. In 2009, there was an improvement with 55% of this same cohort completing Year 12.
However, the same degree of improvement in school retention rates was not evident for people with profound or severe core-activity limitations. In 2003, 24% of this cohort had completed Year 12. In 2009, 25% had completed Year 12 (roughly one quarter the rate of improvement experienced by those with no disabilities).
People with a profound or severe core activity limitation were also considerably less likely to hold a non-school qualification (40%) compared to those without a disability (57%) (Graph 46).
Of those who did hold non-school qualifications, their disability impacted on the likelihood of doing a higher level qualification. While people with disabilities were more likely to have obtained a certificate level qualification than people without disabilities, they were considerably less likely to have completed a higher level qualification.
Of those with profound core activity limitations who had completed a non-school qualification, 57% had completed a certificate as their highest qualification, compared to 40% of those without a disability.