Inclusion, according to the Oxford dictionary is defined as, the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Inclusive Education is a term that has been part of the educational discourse in Australia for almost two decades.
While there is no overarching definition under which Inclusive Education operates in this country, it is accepted that the meaning behind the term has shifted from being exclusively about students with a disability to now encompassing the delivery of a high-quality education to all students.
With the situation that is happening around the globe, it highlights the continual development of inclusion and its partners of diversifying our thoughts, perceptions and behaviours.
Inclusion is seen as a universal human right. The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other need. It is about giving equal access and opportunities and getting rid of discrimination and intolerance (removal of barriers). It affects all aspects of public life.
What is Inclusive design? Inclusive design is about making places that everyone can use. The way places are purposely designed affects our ability to move, see, hear and communicate effectively. Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.
In education “inclusion” has become the term used to describe the right of parents and children to access mainstream education alongside their peers, where parents want it and children’s needs can be met. Integration, where the focus was on the child’s ability to adapt has somewhat been adapted by Inclusion. The focus for Inclusion is on the setting’s ability to adapt to the needs of the child, altering where necessary the way it works. An inclusive setting works towards providing effective planning and different activities (differentiation) in order to meet individual needs.
Anecdotally across Australia, a number of educational establishments have found that a move towards inclusive education has led to an improvement in inclusivity and pastoral standards.
Here at St Edmunds College and under the EREA banner, the Touchstones of ‘Inclusive Community’ & ‘Justice & Solidarity’ is at the forefront of our communities mind and hearts.
In 1987 Bruce Woodley, who had been a member of, The Seekers a famous singing group, wrote a song to celebrate the history and diversity of Australia called “I am Australian”.
The chorus of this song has now been translated into a number of languages, including Yawuru from the Kimberley region of Australia
ngayani kurnu, ngarla ngayani marpu
ya mitha partyarnandru ngayani nganayi
ngayani ngapitya pardayi ya wima wangkayi yarla
nganhi, yura, ngayani Australiamara
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
By myself, I am one, together we are Australian, even if a Kiwi wrote this article.
Head of Rice House