Through wide ranging consultation undertaken for this submission, TasCOSS heard that the way in which any student, but particularly a student with disability, gets to school has an impact beyond simply helping access classroom learning. Well-supported transport to school can give students the opportunity to build relationships with peers and carers and to develop their independence. Where students are not adequately supported, however, getting to school can be a tiring, frightening or isolating experience. Any changes to the existing system—which works very well for some students, although not for others—should work to incorporate and expand all the advantages of the current system while addressing shortfalls.
It is not clear that program consultation to date will have reached most parents in Tasmania. More data is required before a conclusion can be drawn as to whether existing systems should be retained and expanded or whether NDIS should cover supported school transport.
In either case, NDIA should:
- Share all relevant data and research with all stakeholders—including students, parents and carers—to ensure that they have the opportunity to make fully informed decisions on the future of transport support.
- Provide clearer evidence as to why changes in the existing model are needed and why the proposed model has been chosen.
- Provide greater information as to how the proposed model will address the absence of critical mass, and what NDIA will be doing to ensure that existing services do not collapse.
- Ensure that students with disability who are not NDIS participants still have access to supported school transport services.
- Ensure that any new models are trialled in different environments and evaluated before broader roll-out.
- Maintain strong quality and safeguarding arrangements for supported school transport services.