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Pauline Hanson says “we need to get rid of” autistic children from mainstream classrooms.

Her argument is that teachers have to spend too much time with them at the expense of other students’ education.

Pauline claims parents and teachers have raised the issue with her about children with disabilities or autism in mainstream classrooms.

“These kids have a right to an education by all means, but if there’s a number of them these children should actually go into a special classroom, looked after and given that special attention,” she said in the Senate this morning.

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“Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education, but are held back by those.

“It’s no good saying we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and we don’t want to upset them and make them feel hurt.

“We have to be realistic at times and consider the impact that is having on other children in the classroom.

“We need to get rid of those people because you want everyone to feel good about themselves.”

Families share their outrage

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten read a letter out to fellow Members of Parliament from a mother disgusted by Senator Hanson’s comments.

“When you are a parent with a child with a disability you have your heart broken on a regular basis,” he read.

“Not because of their disability but because of the way they are treated by other people.

“Today isn’t any different.

“To hear one of our parliamentarians argue that kids with a disability don’t belong in mainstream classes doesn’t shock me but it does break my heart all over again.”

Parents groups have slammed Senator Hanson’s comments, reports 9 news.

“There are not strong enough words to fully articulate how dangerous and damaging Senator Hanson’s comments are,” acting executive director of The Parenthood Nicole Lessio said.

“While we’d prefer not to give more oxygen to Senator Hanson’s offensive comments, we cannot let bullies use their platform to insult and denigrate children.

“School should be a safe place for all kids. As parents, we teach our children to accept and support peers with all levels of ability.

“Senator Hanson has sunk so low she’s now bullying children with autism.

“Every day in classrooms across the country teachers are supporting students with all abilities – whether it’s kids with disabilities, learning difficulties or those having trouble at home.

“This juggle is what teachers do so well, which is why they are such incredible professionals.

“Segregating one group of students is not only unhelpful, it’s disgusting.

“Children’s lives and learning journeys are enhanced by embracing and accepting difference. Perhaps Senator Hanson missed those life lessons. She should hang her head in shame.”

The below is a statement from All Means All, The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education. 

“All Means All is extremely disturbed by and strongly condemns the comments made by Federal Senator Pauline Hanson today in relation to the education of students with disability.”

“Students with disability, including autistic students, have the right to attend a regular classroom in a mainstream school.  This right is recognised in Article 24 of the  Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (as clarified by  General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Inclusive Education) to which Australia is a Party, and protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 established under it).  This right also aligns with the priorities of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which states “The shared vision is for an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens”.

In fact, Australia contrary to its obligations under Article 24 of the Convention, has steadily increased the proportion of students with disability in segregated “special” education over the last 12 years. This regression was queried earlier this month by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Research evidence clearly suggests that students with disability benefit academically and socially from education in regular mainstream classrooms and the education of their non-disabled peers is not academically affected and is socially and emotionally enhanced.

Senator Hanson should read Article 24 of the Convention on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and  General Comment No. 4 before she advocates for a return to the segregated models of 100 years ago.

Italy which has an education system recently ranked by UNICEF well above Australia, abolished segregated special education in the 1970s and has educated all students with disability in regular classrooms for the last 40 years.

No one denies that regular schools need more resources to educate the diverse body of learners representing Australian school children or that teachers, education assistants and particularly school leaders need to be upskilled and supported. However, the denial of education rights to students with disability can never be the appropriate response.

We call on Senator Hanson and other public figures commenting education of students with disability in media in a manner that informed and  respectful of the fundamental rights of students with disability.”

What are your thoughts on special needs children in main stream schools? Are you for or against?

Share your comments below.

  • well the kids on both sides need to be able to get a good education and they deserve the best either way

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  • Oh Pauline! I do not agree with her views.

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  • As with everything she says, I think Pauline Hanson is not very well spoken and often offends by her blunt words. I in no way agree with how she said this. As a person who works in schools, I understand the need to treat every child as equally as possible. I love the idea of children with different abilities in the classroom as there is much they bring to the class and to the students in it but I want to make it clear that not all children with special needs are suited to mainstream classrooms. For public schools, there is a monetary cost involved in this through supervision and additional resources needed. Who bears that cost? And there is always time issues from catering to special needs kids. As I said, I love them and think they bring good insight and empathy to my kids but feasibly, it is not something that I could manage on a regular basis. I have seen some amazing integration ideas and facilities in the US/Canada which promote integration via satellite classes and opportunities which is more meaning for all involved.

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  • She is not a representation of the broader community

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  • It is not fair for children who are disruptive to be able to stop a whole class from learning – if they must stay in the mainstream education system then there should be aids to assist them and to stop them from stopping the rest of the class from learning. Both sides have rights – make sure both sides get them one way or another.

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  • everything that comes out of this woman’s mouth should be treated as a grain of salt.

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  • I do not listen to anything that comes out of this woman’s mouth!

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  • We’ve all seen a troublesome or special needs kid who seems to be disrupting the classroom… But the answer is more resources, not segregation.


    • Some of these children are simply not suitable for mainstream school. They can be disruptive, aggressive, inappropriate. They can be a bad influence on the other kids, as with the boy in my daughter in laws child care centre. The other kids mimic his bad behaviour. It should be decided on a case by case rate, they shouldn’t all be put in the same box. But Pauline has a good idea

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  • I am so upset by this persons comments when I thought she was their for Australian families.i really thought she understood .. But she has no idea .i think we need to start a class action lawsuit against her for discrimination.. because that is what she is doing to our children discriminating .Not all children with autism or a disability is disruptive..
    I think people with red hair and female with no brain cells should not be allowed in parliament. I wished to god now I never voted for her I really do..this picture is what I would like to do to miss hanson


    • But she’s not discriminating, she’s merely suggesting an alternative. It’s a fact that not all special needs children are suited to mainstream school. And it’s easy to say ‘just supply more help in the classroom’, but realistically where will the funding for that come from? There are special schools for these kids with specially trained teachers who know how to handle special needs kids, some are simply better off at these schools. I think people have immediately got their hackles up without really thinking it through and listening to ALL that Pauline had to say

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  • On the moment that teachers have to spend too much time with a special needs child at the expense of other students’ education, there should simply be more aid present in the classroom.

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  • Pauline seems to think she has the one shot answer to everything.
    It’s narrow minded blaming special needs kids for disrupting classes.
    Typical kids used to disrupt lessons when I went to school, it’s not just special needs (special needs kids are kids and need friends and support like any other kid).
    It’s not acceptable however that others are subjected to physical violence from any child regardless of background.

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  • I partly agree with Pauline on this issue. If there is only a few children with special needs then having a dedicated teacher for them in the mainstream class is ideal. To me it’s what makes the child happiest is the best.

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  • Children with special needs learn from other children and vice versa.
    Teachers experience a wide and varied academic, social and behavioural display in their students all the time …it’s called teaching.
    Special needs children should be in main stream/regular classes, the solution is simple…a special educational teacher as well as the class teacher in these classes …so we need more funding and the supply of more special needs educational teachers.

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  • Ohhhh Pauline, I have no words for you. I am speechless. As a mother of a child with Aspergers or high functioning autism, you do not deserve my words. I will not defend myself or my son. You are reprehensible.


    • Have you considered what your child may want? Have you considered the affect some of these children have on the other kids and teachers? Some are aggressive, lack focus and don’t even understand the school environment. More support is needed for these kids if they are to stay in mainstream school. A lot of teachers don’t even know how to deal.

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  • My daughter has had special needs children in her classroom and they have been disruptive, but for the most part everyone just gets on with their lessons.

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