Children with disabilities are being locked in rooms and tied up because of a lack of action by the Napthine Government to assist teachers and other school staff who interact with these students, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Colin Brooks said today.

Mr Brooks said Education Minister Martin Dixon was made aware of the issue of restraint and seclusion over six months ago, following the release of a highly disturbing report by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC).

“Mr Dixon has failed to act on a key recommendation to better protect school children with disabilities from harmful and degrading practices,” Mr Brooks said.

“VEOHRC had highlighted concerning practices involving the restraint and seclusion of children in its report – Held Back, The Experiences of Students With Disabilities in Victorian Schools.

“The Commission’s work included harrowing reports of students being tied to chairs, locked in rooms for hours and even one instance of a rope being tied to a child who had climbed up a tree.

“VEOHRC recommended that the Office of the Senior Practitioner should be given oversight of such practices in Victoria’s schools, but the Minister hasn’t acted on this at all.”

The Office of the Senior Practitioner, which already oversees the use of restraint and seclusion in adult disability settings, has the knowledge and experience to guide improvements in positive behaviour management through training and professional development in educational settings where required.

“Rather than acting to provide protection for Victoria’s disabled school children, the Napthine Government has failed to address the issues raised by the VEOHRC,” Mr Brooks said.

“Now the Office of the Public Advocate is also calling for better oversight in disability education, following a position statement issued in March 2013.

“Mr Dixon has shamefully tried to ignore the challenges faced by students with disabilities, hoping that no one will notice.

“The examples of restraint and seclusion of children highlighted in the VEOHRC report are far too serious to leave unaddressed.”

Published on April 8, 2013