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Education

Going to school and getting an education can help all people, including women with disability, to build their knowledge and skills and get a good job.

This page has information about your right to take part in all levels of education and get the support you need.

Watch WWDA's video about the right to take part in work and study:

Learning opportunities

In Australia there are lots of ways you can learn new things. This could be through formal education, or informal classes or information sessions.

Some ways you can learn include:

Schools

Every state and territory in Australia has public and private schools. You can send your child to a public school without paying fees for teaching. However, most public schools do charge fees for extra things like excursions and technology devices.

Photo of a young woman in a wheelchair picking out books in a library.

When studying or sending your child to school, it is important to remember that different people learn in different ways. Teachers and educators are trained to address the different ways people process information. If you or your child require supports, equipment or resources to help you learn successfully, this should be made available.

Regardless of disability, all students have a right to ask for any extra educational support that they need. This may include:

  • technology devices like screen readers and learning apps
  • extra time to read information and complete tasks
  • individual tutoring
  • quiet learning spaces
  • learning materials in different formats. For example: large print or braille for vision impaired and blind students and videos for students who have dyslexia or other impairments.

    Note:
    If you are a NDIS participant, or you have a child/children who are NDIS participants, you may be eligible for additional support.

University and TAFE

Everyone has the right to study higher education courses in Australia. This includes studying at a university or TAFE (both on campus and online), and learning on the job through an apprenticeship or Vocational Education and Training (VET) course.

Starting a course at the level of higher education can be difficult for many people, but it is important to remember that support is available. When you first enrol, you will usually be sent information and be invited to an orientation day to show you around and help to make you feel comfortable. It is helpful to also register with your university or TAFE’s disability services as soon as you start studying.

Disability support at university

Most universities and TAFEs in Australia have support programs and disability consultants to help students with disability. If you have a disability that makes learning and studying challenging for you, you can ask for the support that you need.

You have the right to get support to help you study. If you ask for support and do not get it, you should talk to a student advocate, student union disability department or an external disability advocacy service (external link).

Other student supports

Most universities and TAFEs have support programs and services that all students can access. This includes:

  • tutoring programs and drop in centres for academic help
  • private study rooms
  • counselling and psychology services
  • health clinics or on-campus doctors
  • student housing.

You can talk to your university or TAFE about the services they offer or look on their website.

Learn more about support you can get in Higher Education on the Australian Disability Clearinghouse website (external link).

Disability collectives

Most universities have disability collectives. These groups are run by and for students with disability. They offer you an opportunity to meet other students with disability, get support and advocate for your rights.

Tip: Ask your student union about how you can get involved, or get in touch with the National Union of Students (NUS) Disability Department (external link).

Government support

If you can provide formal evidence of disability (for example, a letter from your doctor), you can study at many TAFEs free of charge.

If you are accepted into a higher education course course, you can also apply for a loan to help you pay your fees. This is called a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loan.

A HELP loan covers all teaching costs and other fees like student services and amenities for Vocational Education and Training (VET) and/or university courses. You can apply for a HELP loan through your university or TAFE.

Learn more about financial support for education on the Australian Government’s Study Assist website (external link).

Centrelink

If you are studying at university or TAFE, you can apply to receive income support from the Government through Centrelink while you are studying.

Learn more about Centrelink payments on the Centrelink website (external link).

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

If you have a disability that affects your study, it is the usually the responsibility of your school, TAFE or university to provide you with the support you need. However, you may be able to get funding for extra support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Learn more about supports you can receive through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (external link).

Important Resources

Publications
WWDA Position Statement 3: The Right to Participation
Information from WWDA on the right of all women and girls with disability to take part in all areas of life.
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Guides
WWDA Easy English Book: Your Right to Learn
Easy English book about your rights to and in all levels of education.
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Guides
Zoom Meetings
Zoom is a program that allows you to run or join a meeting online. This document explains how to download Zoom, create an account, host a meeting and join a meeting.
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External website
Independent Learning Centres: Using Assistive Technology
A website that explains what assistive technology is and how it can be helpful.
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External website
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
A website with information, advice and resources for students with disability, their teachers, support workers and families.
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Where to next:

External website
Australian Government: Study Assist
Information about help you can get with the costs of studying.
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Australian Government: Students with Disability
Information for students with disability, as well as education providers.
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The Australian Schools Directory
An online directory of all primary and secondary schools in Australia.
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The Good Universities Guide
An online directory of universities, tertiary education courses and student accommodation facilities in Australia.
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External website
Centrelink: Payments for Students and Trainees
Help for students, trainees and Australian Apprentices.
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External website
National Union of Students (NUS)
NUS is the national representative body for students at university and TAFE in Australia.
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Coursera
Coursera is an online platform that offers courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies.
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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): Education
Information about supports that NDIS participants can get for educational purposes.
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External website
Centre for Disability Studies: Uni 2 Beyond
uni 2 beyond is a program offered by the University of Sydney that supports people with an intellectual disability to study courses for interest and take part in university life. You can study some subjects at the university without enrolling in a degre
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