people at a meeting

Advocacy in Schools

There will always be a role for professional advocates to support families to deal with difficult negotiations, particularly when a situation becomes stuck or an impasse is reached. The knowledge that a professional advocate brings, regarding the laws and standards which act to uphold everyone’s rights in the  Disability Discrimination Act and  Disability Standards for Education  can assist  to ensure that your child’s rights are  observed and respected.  

Can I take someone with me to meetings at the school?

Yes, you can take someone with you to a meeting. It is a Natural Justice right to take a support person with you to a meeting. The Department of Education provides no guidance that would limit someone taking a representative with them to a meeting at the school. A support person can be someone from your family or community circle.  It can also be a professional or practitioner (therapist) who has some additional expertise to offer the meeting, as well as being a support to you.

Can an advocate come to the school with me to help me negotiate with the school?

You have the same right to take an advocate with you to a school meeting as you do to take a support person. An advocate may have Disability Rights knowledge, or Education knowledge or more general awareness about Human Rights.  Any advocate should be able to monitor that the meeting process is fair and intervene or speak up for you if there are concerns about proper processes being followed.

When planning a meeting with the school it is beneficial to provide the school details of who will be attending a meeting in advance. 

What do I do if the school is not listening to me?

Public (Government) Schools

In the case of public schools, you can always ask someone from the local regional office for advice. Education regional offices provide information on local public school options, special programs and services such as school psychology, behaviour centres, home education and reporting students not attending school. The Coordinator of Regional Operations (CRO) can assist you to restart a discussion with the school leadership team. The regional office may be able to provide the school with feedback on what is fair and reasonable and provide information on what is considered best practice in other schools.

www.education.wa.edu.au/contact

North Metropolitan Education Regional Office
T: 9285 3600 F: 9285 3730
A: Level 2/1 Puccini Court, Stirling WA 6021
P: PO Box 1126 Innaloo City WA 6918
Email
Schools in this region
South Metropolitan Education Regional Office
T: 9336 9563  F: 9336 2237
A: 184 Hampton Road, Beaconsfield WA 6162
P: PO Box 63 South Fremantle WA 6162
Email
Schools in this region
Goldfields Education Regional Office
T: 9093 5600  F: 9093 5656
A: Federal Road, Kalgoorlie WA 6430
P: PO Box 385 Kalgoorlie WA 6433
Email
Schools in this region
Kimberley Education Regional Office
T: 9192 0800  F: 9193 6718
A: 10 Coghlan Street, Broome WA 6725
P: PO Box 2142 Broome WA 6725
Email
Schools in this region
Midwest Education Regional Office
T: 9956 1600  F: 9964 1391
A: Level 2, 209 Foreshore Drive, Geraldton WA 6530
P: PO Box 63 Geraldton WA 6530
Email
Schools in this region
Pilbara Education Regional Office
T: 9185 0111  F: 9185 0137
A: Level 2, 20 Sharpe Avenue, Karratha WA 6714
P: PO Box 384 Karratha WA 6714
Email
Schools in this region
Southwest Education Regional Office
T: 9791 0300  F: 9791 2228
A: Bunbury Tower 5th Floor, 61 Victoria Street, Bunbury WA 6230
P: Bunbury Tower, 61 Victoria Street, Bunbury 6230
Email 
Schools in this region
Wheatbelt Education Regional Office
T: 9622 0200  F: 9622 3996
A: McIver House, 297 Fitzgerald Street, Northam WA 6401
P: Box 394 Northam WA 6401
Email
Schools in this region

Catholic Schools

In the Catholic Education system there are people in the head office of CEWA (located at Ruislip Street Leederville) who can assist. 

https://www.cewa.edu.au/site/contact-us/

Both systems have experienced specialist support teachers familiar with a range of disability issues who support schools.

Also see our FAQ’s on: What supports are provided for students with disability at my local public school? and; I have two children currently in the Catholic system, can my child with a disability attend the same school even though there is not an Education Support Centre at the school?

Can the school/Principal refuse to let an advocate attend a meeting that has been called about my child?

Yes, but they would have to have a very good reason and you can request that reason be in writing. In all cases the school must demonstrate transparently that they are working in the best interest of your child.

What if I want to a make a formal complaint about the way my child has been treated in a school or the conduct of a staff member. What is the best way to do this in public school?  

The Department of Education suggests you can make a complaint about: 

  • the provision of education 
  • any decision, including those about enrolment or support for your child’s learning 
  • their policies or procedures 
  • the conduct or behaviour of a staff member 

Talking to your child’s teacher, year coordinator, school administration or principal is the best place to start. If you are not able to achieve a satisfactory outcome with the teacher or staff member you can raise the matter with the school principal. You can then raise the matter with the education regional office if your concern has not been addressed by the school. 

You can ask an advocate to support you through this process. An advocate may assist you to get your concerns heard and guide you through ways to move forward with your concerns. You can then focus on getting a good outcome for your child (and hopefully for all concerned) rather than just making a complaint. 

More information on the process of making a complaint in a public (government) school is provided on their website:  

www.education.wa.edu.au/understand-the-complaints-process