Families of children with Down syndrome frequently face challenges in mainstream educational settings, with schools often citing insufficient support or funding. Many teachers feel ill-equipped and lack the resources to adequately assist these students.
Over the next three years, the funding will allow DSV to expand its inclusive education program to more schools in Victoria, supporting more teachers and helping students with Down syndrome achieve better learning outcomes.
Sally-Anne O’Brien Bank of Melbourne Foundation CEO said the multi-year grant was designed to support smaller organisations to enhance the lives of children and young people beset by physical, social, or economic challenges.
“Down Syndrome Victoria is an exceptional charity that works alongside people with Down syndrome and their families to reach their potential.”
“This program creates opportunities in the education sector to enable a smoother transition for students with Down syndrome through the provision of tailored support and educational resources,” said Daniel Payne, CEO of DSV.
“With this funding, we will be able to access areas and schools we currently do not service and equip educators with the knowledge and confidence to implement inclusive strategies to deliver better learning outcomes for students.”
For over 10 years, DSV have worked in partnership with thousands of educators to improve educational outcomes for more than 450 students with Down syndrome.
The funding from Bank of Melbourne Foundation will also help DSV develop its online platform which provides learning modules and resources for educators to support students with Down syndrome.
Daniel Payne said some of the barriers to inclusive education are systemic and require a rethink from the ground up.
“A segregated learning unit or classroom within a mainstream school is not inclusion and shouldn’t require alternative pathways for good educational outcomes.
“Feedback from educators has indicated the need for ongoing support, resources and information that can be accessed on a centralised platform.”
DSV’s education service is partially funded by the Victorian Department of Education and supports over 70 Victorian schools with half of the schools in regional Victoria.
Since 2013, Bank of Melbourne Foundation has provided over $5 million to Victorian charities through its Community and Multi-Year Grant Programs, aiding individuals and addressing issues like mental health, medical needs, trauma counselling, and educational barriers among children and young people.
Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.