Down Syndrome Awareness Month 2023

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Today Abigail gave notice of a motion calling out the continued failures of successive governments that have driven the barriers that people with Down syndrome face every day in our society. 

(1) That this House notes that:

(a) October 2023 is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which celebrates the strengths, achievements and contributions of people with Down syndrome in our community, and calls on all levels of society to break down barriers that people with down syndrome face in education, employment, accessing health services and other areas of society,

(b) people with down syndrome face significant and disproportionate barriers in society which are driven by successive governments' choices to put people with disability last, as an afterthought or not at all in public policy, such as the continued failures of the former Coalition Government to create any policy that delivers real outcomes in the lives of people with disability,

(c) there is an overwhelming lack of data collected by governments in relation to the experiences of people with disability including people with Down syndrome and the barriers they face,

(d) a common key recommendation called for by several peak disability organisations, inquiries and groups, including Down Syndrome Australia, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the Australian Human Rights Commission, is for governments to ensure all policies, programs and legislation are in full alignment with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),

(e) education is a key area of life where people with Down syndrome face discrimination, segregation and exclusion early in life, and in order to reform our education system to be one which provides truly inclusive education we must appropriately fund and resource our schools and enforce robust and nuanced policy, and

(f) according to Down Syndrome Australia in their first ever annual survey conducted in March 2017:

(i) 46 per cent of students were attending mainstream schools,

(ii) 46 per cent were attending special schools or a special unit within a mainstream school,

(iii) the remaining 8 per cent were in other settings, including mixes of mainstream and special schools,

(iv) 25 per cent of parents who had children in a segregated setting, felt that this was not their preferred setting and that they would prefer their child to be in a mainstream school environment,

(v) a key barrier experienced by people with Down syndrome is dealing with health professionals who have a lack of understanding of Down syndrome, with nearly a third of respondents having concerns about the safety and well-being of the person with Down syndrome within the health system,

(vi) 77 per cent of respondents felt that health professionals would benefit from workshops or webinars on Down syndrome,

(vii) 70 per cent of families indicated that the biggest health system barrier that they experience is lack of up-to-date understanding about Down syndrome, and families described experiences where doctors did not include the person with Down syndrome in discussions, or made incorrect presumptions about their capabilities.

(2) That this House calls on the NSW Labor Government to continue taking direct action to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome in New South Wales by creating policy that is truly inclusive and appropriately resourcing services and programs.

Join 50,289 other supporters in taking action