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:
- going to school, TAFE or university
- signing up for a course through adult education (external link)
- talking to the staff at a local library (external link)
- joining a group class at a community centre (external link)
- watching online tutorials on sites like YouTube (external link)
- enrolling in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (external link).
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).