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AIM Policy: Disability

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide AIM students and staff clear information about AIM’s position in relation to supporting and providing equal opportunity for people with disabilities. This policy sets out the framework for supporting students with disabilities during their student journey and outlines roles and responsibilities.

Scope

The policy applies to prospective AIM students and current AIM students enrolled in Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses with AIM. It should be noted that information does not replace any procedures or any other responsibilities which may apply under other policies or under statute or any other law.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 aims to eliminate discrimination against people on the grounds of disability including in the area of education. Its application in education includes access to enrolment and student services, and participation in learning activities on the same basis as a student without a disability.

Principles

  • AIM complies with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 including the clauses related to informing and protecting students and student support and progression – clauses 1.7, 5.1-5.3, 5.4 and 6.1 to 6.6.
  • AIM is committed to ensuring it is compliant with the requirements of the law, including those in relation to disability support.
  • Students are responsible for their own academic performance however, AIM recognises the pivotal role academic and student support staff have in contributing to student success.
  • AIM is committed to ensuring principles of access and equity are adhered to and complying with related legislation.
  • AIM seeks to provide support to students including health and wellbeing of students, language, literacy and numeracy (LLN), cultural awareness, disability needs or reasonable adjustment.

Policy

  • AIM endeavours to identify students with support needs at the enrolment stage to ensure early intervention.
  • During the enrolment process AIM will engage with prospective students to understand their individual needs and how to best support the student to successfully complete their course.
  • AIM recognises that it may not have the expertise and knowledge internally to identify and address the support needed for particularly disabilities. In these instances, AIM utilises external expertise.
  • If at the enrolment stage it is identified that the prospective students individual support need is such that AIM would be unable to provide appropriate support to meet the student’s individual need the student will be advised prior to enrolling with AIM.
  • AIM ensures prospective students and current students are aware of the support services available to them and how to access.
  • The type of individual support AIM may provide is dependent on the level of disclosure by the student i.e. AIM may not be able to make an accurate assessment and provide the most appropriate support if the student chooses not to provide specific details and/or medical documentation.
  • AIM proactively monitors student progression to identify any “student at risk” throughout the duration of their course.
  • Students may seek support from AIM for any support needs they have at any time throughout their student journey.
  • Bullying, harassment and discrimination, including in relation to disabilities, are not tolerated within AIM by students or staff.
  • Staff training in bullying, harassment, discrimination and relevant legislation is provided by AIM and reinforced in staff policies and procedures.
  • In the development of its Training and Assessment Strategies AIM integrates principles and practices of equality and inclusivity.

Students who need support

Students may seek support from AIM at any time throughout their student journey.

If a student requires any type of support, the student should contact AIM student support on 1300 761 700 or via email studentsupport@aim.com.au.

Students with a complaint

Students who believe they have been discriminated against, or have any other complaint about their student experience at AIM may take action under the Student Complaints Policy. This policy can be found on the AIM website in the Student Information section.

Enrolment

Students with disabilities are informed about support options during the enrolment process, in order to inform their decision-making.  The following processes are followed:

Student enrolment form completion

  1. An online enrolment form is completed by the Student on their own or alternatively, enrolment is completed with the assistance of a Course Advisor (CA) who conducts an interview with the potential student by phone or in person and completes the online form with them. This provides an alternative for students with particular disabilities who may need assistance with enrolment.
  2. Information about support for disability that may be provided by the AIM is inserted as part of the enrolment process email via a links to key policies and procedures, the Student handbook and the website.
  3. Where Course Advisors are assisting potential students to complete the enrolment process over the phone, disability support information may be read to the prospective student.
  4. The enrolment application form includes a section relating to disclosure of disabilities with an option to request support in their academic studies, via a tick box. During the enrolment process applicants may be requested to submit supporting evidence in the form of a Disability, Health Condition and/or Educational Professional Report completed by a medical practitioner, or other relevant professional, and that their enrolment cannot proceed until this evidence is received and considered by the AIM.
  5. The enrolment application form states that all information pertaining to the applicant will be treated confidentially.
  6. Course Advisors emphasise to potential Students who wish to register a disability that any supporting evidence must be submitted as soon as possible and that enrolment cannot be completed until AIM has considered this information and consulted with the student and/or their Associate. The CA also advises students that information about their disability will be disclosed in order for AIM to be able to make an informed decision regarding reasonable adjustment, however it will be treated as confidential information.

Enrolment is referred to the Consultants for evaluation

The AIM consultants will work in collaboration with consulting experts and faculty staff are responsible for:

  • Processing of applications where a disability has been disclosed and reasonable adjustment requested
  • Ensuring that any required additional supporting evidence is received from the potential student
  • Engaging with external disability support agencies for specialist advice in relation to disability, if required.

Where a disability has been disclosed and request for reasonable adjustment received, if required a consultant reviews the evidence submitted and advises AIM of actions to be taken (i.e. type and nature of reasonable adjustments, suitability to the course of study chosen). The relevant staff member within AIM is the Trainer who can provides the consultant with detailed information about the course and its requirements. The enrolment remains provisional at this point.

Communication with potential student

Following dialogue and agreement between AIM and consultant, the student is contacted by AIM for a preliminary discussion to ascertain whether the disability affects or could affect the applicant’s ability to participate in their chosen course, including using the facilities and services of AIM and/or any work placement obligations, on the same basis as a student without disabilities.

The discussion should include what support AIM is able to offer and take into account any recommendations made and the following factors:

  • the nature of the disability;
  • the student’s perspective on how the disability affects his/her ability to participate;
  • information provided by the student about his/her preferred adjustment (to learning and assessment);
  • the student’s (or Associate’s) views about potential adjustment (to learning and assessment);
  • the effect of the adjustment on anyone else affected; and
  • the effect of the adjustment on the potential student, their ability to participate, achieve learning outcomes and operate independently.

Decision made about student application

Decisions about acceptance or non-acceptance of a potential student’s application are made expediently.

The Head of Faculty and the consultant must decide whether an adjustment is necessary and achievable, in accordance with AIM’s policies and procedures. Advice from external disability support agencies may also be sought. Consideration will be given to the ability of AIM to make reasonable adjustments in relation to:

  • Curricula
  • Student participation
  • Student support services.

A Reasonable Adjustment Checklist may be useful in assisting trainers in their deliberations of whether reasonable adjustment is possible, and in developing an Individual Learning Plan Checklist.

Download the Reasonable Adjustment and Individual Learning Plan Checklist

Where reasonable adjustments are achievable, the trainer:

  • Informs the student
  • Documents the reasonable adjustments to be made, using an Individual Learning Plan template, taking into consideration items set out in the Reasonable Adjustment Checklist
  • Forwards a copy of the Reasonable Adjustment Plan to the student and attaches a copy to the student file.

Where the Head of Faculty, in consultation with the consultant, believes it is not possible to make reasonable adjustment, for example, based on unjustifiable hardship to AIM or for example in the case of an applicant who is not able to meet the learning outcomes of the course because of their specific disability, it must be on grounds that are defensible in terms of the law (the Disability Discrimination Act 1992). The Head of Faculty or equivalent must refer the matter to the AIM Director, Education Operations.

The Director, Education Operations will make a decision based on a range of factors, detailed in Section 10 of the Disability Standards for Education 2005, and in consideration of the definition of ‘unreasonable hardship’ defined under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The Director, Education Operations informs the Head of Student Support and Head of Faculty of any decision to not admit a student to AIM because of unjustifiable hardship or inability to meet course learning outcomes.

Student Support confirms acceptance or non-acceptance of the student enrolment

If the student application is accepted, enrolment is processed according to usual protocols. In the case where the application is not accepted by AIM, the student is advised in writing (via email) of the decision not to accept their application and the grounds upon which this decision has been made. The email includes the fact that the student has the right to Appeal and the process for appeal using the AIM Complaints Policy.

Implementation and monitoring of reasonable adjustment plan

Elements of a Reasonable Adjustment Plan

A Reasonable Adjustment Plan may involve, but is not limited to, the following items listed below. This information may also be provided as part of the explanation of ‘reasonable adjustment’.

  • Providing additional lighting
  • Providing an adjustable workstation or special seating
  • Modifying equipment or providing special adaptive technologies such as voice-activated computer software, special keyboard, large screen monitor or associated aids
  • Providing special assistance such as an interpreter for deaf candidates and provision of paper-based materials in advance of face to face sessions
  • Provide access to counselling support about their personal situation; lifeline 131114 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Adapting teaching and delivery methods, without impacting on the delivery of the essential skills, knowledge and understanding required to meet the student outcomes
  • Adapting the assessment methodologies, without impacting on the validity of the attainment of the relevant student outcomes. For example: allowance of extra time, varying question and response modalities (such as use of oral questioning rather than written, and audiotaped or videotaped answers instead of written answers).

A Reasonable Adjustment Checklist is provided on the AIM website (in the Student Information Section) which may assist Trainers and Consultants in considering Reasonable Adjustment Plan delivery.

Trainer Responsibilities

In addition to the responsibilities pre-enrolment (described earlier), Consultants (or the equivalent) have the following responsibilities:

  • Following enrolment, the Consultant is responsible for informing the student’s designated Trainer of the Reasonable Adjustment Plan, and the requirement that this information is kept confidential
  • Where reasonable adjustment of learning resources, delivery and/or assessment is recommended, the Trainer may liaise with the Curriculum Team for assistance
  • The Trainer may also liaise with external disability support agencies for additional advice in actioning the Reasonable Adjustment Plan
  • The Head of Faculty is responsible for communicating any adjustments to learning delivery and assessment that need to be made as a result of the Reasonable Adjustment Plan. Trainer’s should work closely with Student Support to ensure that Reasonable Adjustment Plans are implemented and if necessary, adjusted as a result of feedback from the student. The requirement for confidentiality of information in relation to disclosure of a disability should be emphasised to all staff
  • Trainers may receive advice in relation to the experiences of a student with a registered disability at any time during the student’s course, which may require additional adjustments to be made to the initial Reasonable Adjustment Plan. It is the Trainer’s responsibility to ensure that Consultants are aware of their responsibility to report any feedback from a student with a registered disability in relation to reasonable adjustments made to their learning, and to consider and effect any consequent actions eg. alterations to the student’s Reasonable Adjustment Plan.

External Consultants Responsibilities

The External Consultant is responsible for:

  • Providing advice to AIM staff on the Reasonable Adjustment Plan; and
  • Providing trainers with any information necessary about reasonable adjustment in relation to the student.

Head of Faculty responsibilities

The Head of Faculty is responsible for:

  • Actioning those items in a Reasonable Adjustment Plan that relate to learning delivery and assessment, considering those issues/items set out in the Reasonable Adjustment Plan Delivery Checklist
  • Ensuring that students with a registered disability are informed that if they experience any difficulties in relation to their learning experience and reasonable adjustments, these may be reported to the Study Coach at any point during their study
  • Reporting any complaints or dissatisfaction made by a student with a registered disability.

Curriculum design and delivery

As part of an ongoing process of continuous improvement, course material is analysed in terms of its inclusiveness in relation to students with disabilities.

Where a Reasonable Adjustment Plan has recommended changes to assessment, Trainers may contact the Product Development Team for advice and development of bespoke assessments that allow for reasonable adjustments.

The Reasonable Adjustment Plan Delivery Checklist sets out considerations for changes to curricula.

Victimisation and harassment prevention strategies

AIM has the following policy measures in place in relation to victimisation and harassment prevention strategies:

  • AIM Access and Equity Policy
  • AIM Complaints Policy
  • Student Code of Conduct, which includes reference to bullying, harassment and victimisation
  • Bullying and harassment training is offered to staff.

Staff training

All staff must be aware of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the responsibilities of education providers under this Act. All staff training should include this component.

Course Advisor training

CAs are trained in the enrolment process that includes the following elements:

  • Advising applicants that students with disabilities may request reasonable adjustment to their learning
  • Advising applicants who have disclosed a disability and requested reasonable adjustment of the process that will be followed in assessing their application
  • Scripts to assist Cas are available.
  • CAs should also be provided with training on bullying, harassment and victimisation that includes in relation to disability.

Heads of Faculty (or the equivalent) and Trainers (or the equivalent), Consultants (or the equivalent) undertake training in the following:

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Bullying, harassment and victimisation (including but not limited to in relation to disability)
  • ‘Unjustifiable hardship’ in relation to education providers
  • Reasonable adjustment and development and implementation of Reasonable Adjustment Plans;
  • How to induct students including: Student Complaints Policy and AIM’s Access and Equity Policy.

Academic Staff training

As part of staff induction and as part of ongoing professional development, undertake training in the following:

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Bullying, harassment and victimisation (including but not limited to in relation to disability)
  • Inclusive teaching practices including assessment
  • Monitoring of students with Reasonable Adjustment Plans
  • Reasonable Adjustment Plans
  • How to induct students including: Student Non-Academic Complaints and Appeals Procedures, AIM’s Access and Equity Policy and the Student Code of Conduct.

External disability support agency

When required, AIM engages external disability support agencies to provide specialist advice in relation to applications from students with disabilities who request reasonable adjustment. The external agencies may also be engaged to provide specialist services for individual students with disabilities on behalf of AIM.

Rights of students and staff

Student Rights

Students have the right to expect that:

  • They will be treated with dignity and respect
  • AIM will establish an inclusive educational environment
  • They can undertake their studies free from discrimination and harassment;
  • Staff will invite them to discuss their requirements for reasonable adjustment and treat the request promptly and seriously
  • Where required, they may be assisted by independent advocates
  • Staff will be given appropriate training to become skilled in good practices for meeting the requirements of the students
  • They will be given the opportunity to develop skills which will enable them to obtain maximum benefit from available services
  • Confidential information about their disability will not be disclosed without their permission, except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. when safety factors are involved).

Staff Rights

Staff have a right to expect that students seeking reasonable adjustments to the learning program will discuss their specific requirements with relevant AIM representative (with assistance if required) and share responsibility in negotiating solutions.

Roles and responsibilities

Student Responsibilities

Students and where applicable prospective students with disabilities have a responsibility to provide information which assists AIM in the timely planning and implementation of appropriate services by:

  • Disclosing their disability on enrolment
  • Making early contact with the appropriate AIM representative
  • Notifying and verifying their requirements to the extent necessary to ensure an appropriate AIM response
  • Being proactive in advising AIM of the difficulties they encounter in accessing aspects of the life of AIM and how to overcome these difficulties
  • Engaging with the strategies set out in their Reasonable Adjustment Plan
  • Ensuring that specialised services provided are utilised in a fair and effective manner.

Responsibilities of Staff in General

All staff take responsibility to ensure equity for students with disabilities and discharge their duties in a non-discriminatory manner. Staff are expected to undertake development activities in their annual development calendar, which ensure they become familiar with the general requirements of students who have disabilities. Staff have a responsibility to:

  • Create a climate that encourages students to approach them to discuss issues impacting on their studies that arise from their disability
  • Respond to the particular requirements of students who have disabilities by making reasonable adjustments within a flexible curriculum
  • Understand and constructively manage behaviour arising from disability which impacts upon others in the class.

Head of Faculty (or Equivalent) Responsibilities

Head of Faculty (or equivalent) are responsible for:

  • Analysing curricula in terms of its inclusiveness in relation to students with disabilities as part of curricula renewal
  • Reporting on compliance with this Policy and Procedure
  • Incorporating relevant aspects of this policy and procedure as part of AIM Teaching and Learning Plans.

Director, Education Operations

The Director, Education Operations is responsible for:

  • On receipt of a documented recommendation from the relevant staff that reasonable adjustment is not achievable, making a decision based on consideration of a range of factors and in consideration of the definition of ‘unreasonable hardship’ under the Act
  • Informing the Head of Student Engagement, any decision to not admit a student to AIM because of unjustifiable hardship or inability to meet course learning outcomes
  • Ensuring relevant staff training under this policy and procedure is provided.

Definitions

Disability

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) defines disability as:

  • total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment, or that results in disturbed behaviour;

and includes disability that:

  • presently exists
  • previously existed but no longer exists
  • may exist in the future
  • is imputed to a person (meaning it is thought or implied that the person has disability but does not).

Reasonable adjustment

A measure or action taken to assist a student with a disability to participate in training on the same basis as other students. An adjustment is reasonable if it considers the student’s learning needs and balances the interests of all parties affected, including the student, the provider, staff and other students.

Harassment

In relation to a person with a disability, includes an action taken in relation to the person’s disability that is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to humiliate, offend, intimidate or distress the person; and in relation to a person who has an associate with a disability, includes an action taken in relation to the associate’s disability that is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to humiliate, offend, intimidate or distress the person or the associate.

Discrimination

Discrimination is taken to have the same meaning as described under Sections 5 & 6 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992:

Direct disability discrimination

(1)  For the purposes of this Act, a person (the discriminator) discriminates against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of a disability of the aggrieved person if, because of the disability, the discriminator treats, or proposes to treat, the aggrieved person less favourably than the discriminator would treat a person without the disability in circumstances that are not materially different.

(2)  For the purposes of this Act, a person (the discriminator) also discriminates against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of a disability of the aggrieved person if:

(a)  the discriminator does not make, or proposes not to make, reasonable adjustments for the person; and

(b)  the failure to make the reasonable adjustments has, or would have, the effect that the aggrieved person is, because of the disability, treated less favourably than a person without the disability would be treated in circumstances that are not materially different.

(3)  For the purposes of this section, circumstances are not materially different because of the fact that, because of the disability, the aggrieved person requires adjustments’.

Indirect disability discrimination

(1)  For the purposes of this Act, a person (the discriminator) discriminates against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of a disability of the aggrieved person if:

(a)  the discriminator requires, or proposes to require, the aggrieved person to comply with a requirement or condition; and

(b)  because of the disability, the aggrieved person does not or would not comply, or is not able or would not be able to comply, with the requirement or condition; and

(c)  the requirement or condition has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons with the disability.

(2)  For the purposes of this Act, a person (the discriminator) also discriminates against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of a disability of the aggrieved person if:

(a)  the discriminator requires, or proposes to require, the aggrieved person to comply with a requirement or condition; and

(b)  because of the disability, the aggrieved person would comply, or would be able to comply, with the requirement or condition only if the discriminator made reasonable adjustments for the person, but the discriminator does not do so or proposes not to do so; and

(c)  the failure to make reasonable adjustments has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons with the disability.

(3)  Subsection (1) or (2) does not apply if the requirement or condition is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances of the case.

(4)  For the purposes of subsection (3), the burden of proving that the requirement or condition is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances of the case, lies on the person who requires, or proposes to require, the person with the disability to comply with the requirement or condition’

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