You’re the voice

This month, the WA Government announced 38 students would form the state’s first student council representing 20 public schools in regional and metro areas.

The council will be made up of students from year 10 and 11 across the state. They will attend meetings, give feedback and share their perspective on the education system for 2022-23.

The councillors will attend leadership activities and work closely with schools in their region to discuss initiatives in the best interest of WA students.

Oscar Cuffe-Cain from Leeming Senior High School Education Support Centre is one of the new student councillors.

The teenager is the only student with autism and learning disabilities on the council.

Student services manager Yolande Stewart says youth advocacy means a lot to students. Photo: Rachelle Grosse.

Student services manager at LSHS ESC Yolande Stewart says Oscar was already a student councillor and sports leader at the school, and applied for the position to represent students with a disability.

Oscar was inspired by his sister to be a leader. Video: supplied.

“Diagnosis is a huge issue in mainstream schools, so Oscar wants to provide insight into what it’s like because he was undiagnosed for several years,” she says.

“He wants to raise awareness of how we can better cater for those students in a system that is not able to cater for their needs, and ensure there is equity in the system.”

Yolande Stewart

The students will meet virtually for the first time in September.

For more than 20 years, educational psychologist at Curtin University Dr Cindy Smith has worked with students requiring educational support as a researcher and teacher.

She says it’s important for everyone to have a say and encourages people to advocate for what they want.

“I think everybody needs autonomy over their life, what is important to them, and students with disabilities are not different in that regard than anyone else,” Dr Smith says.

She supports the new student council and would like to see more disability representation in future government initiatives.

Dr Cindy Smith says inclusive advocacy matters. Video: Rachelle Grosse.

Categories: Education

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