Understanding Inclusion via lived experience of children with disability

The Healthy Development Adelaide Forum took place on 26 May 2022 focusing on understanding inclusion via lived experience of children with disability. Simultaneously, the Commissioner released the From Checkbox to Commitment report. 

During 2020/21 the Commissioner undertook a targeted listening project in a range of education and community settings to connect to and hear directly from this group of children and young people. What was found was that whilst South Australian children and young people living with disability have contact with many services and systems, they have very little say in how they operate. A point reinforced in the Royal Commission interim report where they stated they had “no comprehensive data of experiences of children and young people”.

This is indicative of the continuing marginalisation and ignoring of the voices of children with disability, and of a failure to recognise and resource opportunities for their participation. By not involving children and young people with disability, the “system” reinforces a perception that children can’t, or don’t want to express their views and make their own decisions. Over time this can become a self-perpetuating cycle. It is reasonable to ask that our systems and decision-makers can hear from children and young people living with disability.

This session focused on the experiences of children and young people living with disability and sought to address some of the current knowledge gaps by reporting on what children and young people with disability have said about their lives. The views expressed were those directly from the children and young people who participated. They included both positive and negative personal experiences and reflected their individuality and commonalities.

In hearing their voices, we are reminded that there are diverse needs, capacities, resources, personalities, and experiences that we can only seek to understand and include by listening to what they have to say.

Helen Connolly, South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People

Katherine Hawkins,
Executive Director, Inclusion and Reform, Department of Human Services
A/Professor Pammi Raghavendra, Disability and Community Inclusion, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University
Penny Miller, Neurodevelopmental Service Stream Lead, Novita
Ruby Nankivell, Peer Crew Leader, South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability
James Beaumont, Peer Connector, Enabled Youth Disability Network

Read what children and young people with disability said about identity, inclusion and independence in From Checkbox to Commitment.