Specialist Services

The Department of Education provides the following specialist services to support the access, participation and engagement of students with disability in Tasmanian Government schools:

Autism Consultants are qualified teachers with specific expertise in working with children on the Autism Spectrum.

They provide:

  • Support and assistance to families and schools
  • Input into planning for individual students and support appropriate curriculum differentiation
  • Professional learning to support the capacity building of staff in schools.

Hearing Services offer state-wide specialist educational support for children from 0 to 18 years who have a hearing loss. We support students in their local schools so they remain connected to their community, and we support individual programs to enhance their resilience in the hearing world.

Working alongside teachers and students assists with building capacity to ensure our students can succeed.

Depending on the individual needs of the students, Hearing Services can:

  • Provide Auslan interpreters or signing teacher assistants
  • Provide professional learning for teachers and classroom peers
  • Work in the classroom with the student
  • Deliver specialised intervention with the student
  • Work with families in partnership
  • Be a partner in planning for personalised learning
  • Assist with adjustments to the curriculum to enable full participation
  • Provide Deaf mentors to support in schools to enhance students language and cultural identity
  • Provide Technology support for assistive listening devices

Our programs involve teaching Auslan signs and grammatical structure for signing students. Those students who are hard of hearing receive therapy sessions as required to develop auditory discrimination and auditory memory skills. Students and families are supported in understanding their hearing and how to appropriately use and maintain technology with independence. Auditory verbal therapy programs are available for students with cochlear implants. We assess student progress regularly to ascertain if intervention has been successful, and monitor phonological, literacy, listening and language skills development.

For further information please contact: Disabilityprograms@education.tas.gov.au

Inclusion and Access Coordinators (IAC) are committed to ensuring that students and disability have equal access to learning resources that will optimise their learning potential.

Inclusion and Access Coordinators work with school staff and specialists to determine access requirements for students. This may be in the form of transport assistance, assistive technology or physical access issues requiring structural modifications. IAC’s also facilitate professional learning for teachers, teacher assistants and specialists in areas such as technology, manual handling and other specific areas related to students with physical and medical issues.

For further information please contact: Disabilityprograms@education.tas.gov.au

The Department of Education contracts Life Without Barriers to work across the state to support families of children with disability and schools.

Life Without Barriers provide a liaison and mediation service to support families and school staff develop positive and close working partnerships for children with disability in Tasmanian Government schools.

The Life Without Barriers (LWB) Education Team deliver this through a personal service, visiting families and schools as required and working with all parties to resolve problems or issues.

LWB can assist families and schools to:

  • Support the learning and educational development opportunities for children with disability
  • Build positive working relationships between schools and families of children with disability.

Life Without Barriers can accept referrals directly from families, schools or from Learning Services. The service is free to schools and families.

Referrals can be made via email to educationreferrals@lwb.org.au or calling Paul Cairns, Manager, Specialised Programs on 0458 592 777.

For further information, refer to the Education Liaison and Mediation Services flyer.

The state-wide Respectful Schools Support Team works with schools to build whole school inclusive communities and school-wide positive behaviour support systems. The team works with support teachers to help build the capacity of teachers in making educational adjustments to meet the diverse learning needs of students.

The Respectful School Support Team works with schools to:

  • develop supportive environments and teacher capacity to support student engagement in learning. The goal is to realise each student’s potential.
  • build inclusive communities and classroom practice where all students are valued and respected.
  • develop effective ways to enable students to become self-assured, resilient learners.
  • use evidence-based practice to improve our work with schools, enabling students to become life-long learners who participate in and contribute to their communities in authentic ways.
  • build staff capacity in trauma informed practice.
  • Make individual student observations and recommendations (behavioural, educational adjustments, learning plans.
  • Build collaborative team processes.
  • Liaise with a range of professional support staff, external agencies and NGOs on behalf of schools and students.

For further information, refer to the Respectful Schools, Respectful Behaviour Resource.

The Safe Homes Safe Families team provide support to students enrolled in Tasmania Government education settings who are impacted by family violence.

Safe Homes Safe Families teams support children affected by family violence in government schools and Child and Family Centres by coordinating the care and support to children and families. Six professional support staff (including social workers and psychologists) are based across the state to provide practical support to school-based staff, children and families.

The Safe Homes Safe Families teams work with staff in schools and Child and Family Centres to build knowledge and understanding of the impact of family violence on children and to identify services and supports available to children and families. In consultation with school-based staff, Safe Homes Safe Families team members at times provide direct support to children.

For further information, refer to the Safe Homes, Safe Families Action Plan.

We are committed to provide high-quality psychological services to foster optimal student access, participation and engagement with particular focus on literacy, numeracy & wellbeing.

All schools have access to a School Psychologist service to provide interventions for learning, engagement and positive student outcomes.

School Psychologists are nationally-registered health professionals (through AHPRA) who can translate findings from the science of Psychology into practical interventions to help students learn.

Services include:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of developmental, cognitive, social-emotional (mental health) and educational functioning to gain information that is useful for learning plans and educational adjustments for student engagement
  • Counselling, therapy and programs for students and schools
  • Consultation and collaboration with schools, staff, parents and other professionals and organisations
  • building capacity through professional learning for school staff.
  • Leadership, advice and support in response to crises and critical incidents that impact upon students, families and school communities
  • Creation of respectful and collaborative relationships within school communities.

For further information, refer to the School Psychologist Fact Sheet..

School social workers engage with students and school communities to promote access, participation and engagement and the well-being of students through inclusive practice and the celebration of diversity.

Social workers are professional practitioners who provide confidential counselling and support to students and their families around a range of issues. These may include relationships, mental health difficulties, stress management, attendance issues, and grief counselling and conflict resolution. They provide assistance for families/students at risk of harm (from self or from others) such as suicide, self-harm, child protection issues or risk of homelessness. Social work services can be accessed directly by families or students, or through a referral from school staff.

For further information, refer to the Professional Support Fact Sheet.

School speech pathologists provide interventions for learning, engagement and positive student outcomes.

Speech pathologists work with students who:

  • are difficult to understand when speaking
  • have difficulty with understanding language (eg. question, instructions)
  • have difficulty expressing themselves with words
  • stutter
  • have a husky, hoarse or nasal voice
  • have difficulty with eating and drinking
  • have a disability
  • have complex communication needs
  • have difficulty with literacy
  • have difficulty with social skills

Speech pathologists assess students and provide support through:

  • individual therapy
  • group therapy
  • home programs
  • individualised class programs
  • teacher assistant programs.

Speech pathologists work with class teachers, support teachers and teacher assistants to help students participate at school and achieve their educational goals. Speech pathologists also work closely with school psychologists and social workers. Some children will see a private speech pathologist outside of school. School speech pathologists will work with these providers to help children achieve the best outcomes.

For further information, refer to the School Speech Pathologist Fact Sheet.

The Student Wellbeing team provides support to students enrolled in Tasmanian Government education settings for whom there are safety and wellbeing concerns.

The Student Wellbeing teams comprise a principal leader and highly skilled social workers who play an important role in the Children’s Advice and Referral Alliance. They develop strong links with the Children’s Advice and Referral Service. Student Wellbeing team members participate in multi-agency coordination/collaboration forums focussed on assessing student safety and wellbeing needs and determining required supports and interventions.

Student Wellbeing teams work in collaboration with key school, professional support and Learning Services staff to provide intensive and targeted support around students with complex safety and wellbeing needs. They:

  • undertake complex case co-ordination where student engagement and wellbeing is impacted by child safety issues
  • support school staff to build understanding of the impact of trauma on children and families
  • work collaboratively with relevant agencies and organisations including Child Safety Services to improve outcomes for children.

For further information, refer to the following documents:

The work of Support Teachers aligns with the Department Strategic plan across all priorities; access, participation and engagement, early learning wellbeing literacy and numeracy.

The role of Support Teachers is to:

  • Help optimise the educational opportunities, engagement and learning outcomes for students with the highest educational needs.
  • Enhance collaboration with other professional support staff to ensure expertise from a range of services.
  • Ensure learners have access to a relevant curriculum and effective instruction within a positive inclusive learning environment.

Support Teachers focus on working with classroom teachers to improve outcomes for students with disability or additional support needs.

Support Teachers regularly meet with specialist support staff, parents, school staff and other service providers to develop, implement and evaluate Learning Plan/personalising learning for students with additional support needs.

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Consultancy Services

The Department of Education contracts Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy consultancy services for students in schools in the three regions of the state:

South – Delivered by PANDA Physiotherapy

North – Delivered by St Giles

North-West – Delivered by North-West Regional Hospital, Tasmanian Health Service (THS)

The purpose of the program is to support education staff to meet the diverse learning needs of students who have a primary cognitive delay with associated physical (gross and fine motor), sensory needs, and/or need support with activities of daily living.

Occupational Therapy/Physiotherapy consultants can provide:

  • Professional learning opportunities for education staff (teachers and teacher assistants).
  • Assistance for education staff with resource development (gross, fine and life skills programs)
  • Screening of students to assist teachers to cater for the learning needs of students (through programming advice), with a view to maximising their engagement and learning.
  • Providing other incidental support (e.g. addressing minor equipment needs)
  • Work with small groups of teacher assistants and students to demonstrate programming recommendations.

These services accept referrals from schools.

For further information, refer to the Therapy in Schools Program.

The Vision Service is committed to supporting children and students who are blind or have low vision and their families. We use evidence-based best practice to ensure that students are able to access the curriculum. We offer access to specialist teaching and learning programs and individualised curriculum resources for children who are blind or have low vision.

Vision Services work with young people 0-18 years across the State. Vision Services personalise all aspects of support to meet the learning needs of each young person. We offer specialist teachers, and a broader team of support professionals.

Our staff can support schools to explore the Expanded Core Curriculum for students with vision needs in the following areas:

  • Communication (e.g. Braille)
  • Adaptive technology
  • Sensory efficiency skills
  • Liaison with local and national specialist support services, for example: Low Vision Clinic (Royal Hobart Hospital), Vision Australia, Visability/Guide Dogs, Early Childhood Intervention Services.
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist to support safe movement and learning within the environment.
  • Adaptive technology may be provided to support access to the visual curriculum e.g. large print, Braille/tactual, auditory.
  • Vision Equipment Library provides students with access to current adaptive technology.
  • Provision of hard copy alternate format materials e.g. large print, audio, Braille, tactual curriculum resources.

For further information please contact: Disabilityprograms@education.tas.gov.au