Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: Access Plans for VET Educators: A Call to Arms

Jen Cousins, TAFE SA and Meredith Jackson, TAFE Queensland

The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015, require RTOs to have a process for identifying and documenting individual needs, and legally responding to students who disclose that their disability will have an impact on their learning. This information is often incorporated into the individual’s learning / access plan. These plans aim to document information about the impact of a student’s disability, mental health or medical condition on their studies, and identify potential reasonable adjustments to delivery methodologies and assessment practices, and support strategies that may assist the student to participate equitably.

This process is most often facilitated by equity, student or disability services or support personnel within the RTO. This process is widely known and adopted across the VET Sector however there has been limited discussion and exploration about how effectively educators respond when an access plan is presented to them. Anecdotally feedback indicates there is a significant gap between the formal process of acknowledging and developing an access plan for potential support and then what happens in practice when an educator receives that plan. Conversations between VET equity practitioners identified the need for a community of practice (COP) to be established to design and develop a framework and suite of capability building resources which can be contextualised to improve educator confidence, responsiveness and implementation of access plans.

This presentation explores the key challenges equity practitioners experience in working with educators in responding effectively and appropriately to access plans, the challenge of building educator capability in facilitating conversations, exploring inherent requirements and reasonable adjustments, and documenting these negotiations and agreements. We will showcase the new professional learning framework and resource, developed by our COP, encompassing the purpose of the access plan; educator and equity practitioner roles and responsibilities and strategies to optimise a positive learning experience for students with disability.


Jen Cousins has extensive experience and qualifications as a developmental educator, disability advocate, and VET practitioner. Within TAFE SA Jen has worked as Senior Consultant of Educator Practice, Principal/Lecturer in Community Services and Health, the National Disability Coordination Officer, and is currently the Teaching and Learning Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusive Education. Jen holds a Masters of Adult, Vocational and Workplace Education, a Bachelor of Laws, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability Studies-Honours) and has been involved in a range of national projects that endeavour to increase awareness of the rights of students with disability in VET and to build educator capability.

Meredith Jackson is highly regarded as an inclusive practitioner, having spent more than two decades teaching and managing in the VET sector. Meredith manages Disability Services for TAFE Queensland (TQ) Skillstech. Meredith is the TQ ATEND representative and an organiser of Brisbane’s NDCO Fresh Futures Expo. Meredith has worked for TAFE since 1994 in Coober Pedy (SA), Normanton, the Fraser Coast, the North Burnett and Brisbane (Qld). Meredith has facilitated and supported priority learners including those with a disability; disengaged youth; migrants, refugees and people in regional and rural sectors. Meredith continues to be involved in VET teacher education and mentoring and is excited to be undertaking this national project.