The Exclusions Project

Project Overview

The Commissioner for Children and Young People partnered with the University of South Australia, UNICEF, the Australian Secondary Principals Association and South Australian Principals Association to participate in a national ‘education exclusion’ study.

The study was undertaken to investigate:

  1. the extent to which suspensions and exclusions are being used by schools across South Australia to discipline students and manage diverse student populations
  2. the reasons why students are suspended and excluded
  3. the profile of students who are suspended and excluded; and
  4. the impact exclusion has on the health, welfare and academic achievement of children who are suspended and excluded from South Australian schools.

The research will provide the evidence base needed for policy and school-based interventions, which will be designed to support the health and welfare of vulnerable children in South Australian schools.

A survey was undertaken in early 2019 to gather information on what children and young people understand exclusion to be and its impact on their lives. 

The survey results have been analysed and a report titled ‘The Blame Game’ is scheduled for release in late November 2020 following tabling in the South Australian Parliament. 


The Commissioner has concerns that childrens’ fundamental right to an education is being impeded due to the over-use of exclusion. She is also concerned about the health and wellbeing of children and young people who are being excluded from school, as well as the apparent lack of Australian research there is concerning the use of exclusionsary practices. 

On her 2017 Listening Tour, the Commissioner spoke to over 1,400 children and young people about what was important to them. A major concern for children and young people was schools excluding their fellow students, many of whom they felt needed the most help and support.

The Commissioner has also spoken to secondary agencies, including FLO agencies that have raised some concerns, including the increasing number of children and young people:

  • only attending school part-time;
  • opting out of formal learning because they are ‘a bit different’.

The Commissioner will contribute to the study by providing case studies on the impact exclusions and suspensions have on the child or young person, their family, and their support network.


The Commissioner released two reports on the School Exclusions project. The first report, The Blame Game, which focuses on perspectives from children and young people on the impact of school exclusions. The second report, Keeping Kids Connected to Learning and Schooling includes details from the summit held 29th March 2021.

Find Out More about the Exclusions Project