Catia Malaquias is a lawyer and the mother of three young children, one of whom has a disability.
She is also the Founder and Director of Starting With Julius, a co-Founder of All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education and a director of the boards of the Attitude Foundation and Down Syndrome Australia.
Catia won an Australian Government National Disability Award in 2017. She was also a finalist in 2016 and 2017 for an Australian Human Rights Commission’s Community Individual Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Award.
Catia has spoken at the United Nations in New York and Geneva on a number of occasions and in 2015 she participated in the United Nations Day of General Discussion in Geneva on the right to inclusive education, which culminated in General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Inclusive Education.
Inclusive education has been recognised as a fundamental human right of all children for some time. Article 24 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expressly recognises the responsibility of governments to ensure an inclusive education system and the corresponding right of people with disability to an inclusive education. However, segregated “special” education settings have remained the norm for many students with disability and in Australia there has been a proportionate increase in educational segregation in recent years.
Governments point to strong parental demand for segregated settings for students with disabilities as justifying, without more, the need to maintain and invest in segregated education. This justification has become in large part the last bastion of the defenders of the segregated “special” parallel education system and operates to shield segregation from scrutiny, including insulating the policy-setting of Governments and the decision-making of parents.
Catia will discuss the flawed narrative of “parental choice” in this context and the importance of informed parental decision-making framed by respect for the rights of the child.