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PAST CASE: Backing Hannah and Catherine’s fight to protect kids on the Autism Spectrum at school

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an even bigger village to make a change like this. The Grata village kicked in to support Catherine and her mum secure the changes that kids on the Autism Spectrum and living with disability at The Lakes Christian College in Sydney need to thrive. 

Catherine is a bright and bubbly girl who happens to have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2019, when Catherine was just 7 years old she was suspended, banned from the school bus and expelled from school. 

Hannah and Catherine are human rights advocates for disability rights

With the support of expert discrimination lawyers from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Hannah argued that Catherine needed a range of particular types of support in class because of her disability but that the School failed to provide them

Hannah, Catherine’s mum says “Without those supports it was like she was in a wheelchair and the school looked at her and asked her to go down a flight of stairs.”

The expulsion was deeply traumatic for Catherine and her family. When Hannah talks about that day she got the call she remembers a terrible pain in her stomach, because she knew the family would feel the impact of it for a long time. 

When Hannah made a complaint to the Australian Human rights Commission about disability discrimination the school refused to show up.  At that point Hannah either had to give up the case, or somehow find the money to get the case to the Federal Circuit Court to force the School to show up. 

That’s where the Grata Community chipped in, with their generous support Hannah was able to progress the case which ultimately led to the School agreeing to disability awareness training and a comprehensive review of their behaviour management policy to reflect best practices in educating students with disabilities. 

Hannah says “We ran this case because we wanted to highlight the challenges that children on the spectrum can face at school and because we want all kids to have the chance to win at education. This success is a really humbling moment and something we will be forever grateful for.  We couldn't have done it without the Grata Community standing behind us.”

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