History of the School Transport Committee of Review (1993 - 2005)
The early days 1993 - 1996
The Department of Education established a Committee of Review in July 1993 to consider applications for school transport assistance which fell outside the existing policy and guidelines. Some of the early committee members included Jo Diessel, Peter Blatch, Terri Lipscomb, Bob Leneham (Chair), Sue Macqueen, Max Rae, Max Clothier, Ross Kamp, a representative from the Minister's office and representatives from Queensland Transport. Between 1993 and 1996, approximately 230 cases were considered by the Committee with 85% of those cases relating to students with disabilities. Issues which were deliberated upon included:
- distance limitation on taxi transport
- suitability of educational programs for individual student needs
- location of appropriate programs
- split placements
- frail students
- pre-compulsory age students with disabilities
- students with autism
- the effect of institutional reform
- students in shared-care arrangements
- cases of assault and sexual abuse
- innovative transport arrangements.
The remaining 15% of the cases referred to the Committee of Review related to 'mainstream' students using general modes of travel. Issues considered by the Committee for these students were not confined to, but included:
- students wishing to by-pass nearer facilities
- applications for retrospective conveyance allowance
- cases of assault and sexual abuse necessitating removal of the student from the local school
- enrolment in other than the nearest school because of subject choice
- health issue.
The Queensland transport era 1996 - 2002
Following a government decision, the transfer of budgetary and policy responsibilities for school transport to Queensland Transport was formalised in early 1996 by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two departments. This MOU provided for a Committee of Review to be re-established by the Director-General of Transport with membership including appropriate Department of Education and Queensland Transport staff.
The primary role of that Committee was to continue to consider requests for school transport assistance in exceptional circumstances. Its particular functions were to:
- consider special transport assistance for students with disabilities whose particular circumstances required more detailed consideration.
- consider general transport assistance for students in exceptional or unusual circumstances.
- make recommendations to the Director-General of Transport in relation to transport assistance for students considered by the Committee.
During this period the Committee continued to consider school transport assistance for students with disabilities only.
Back to Education Queensland 2002 - 2005
In July 2002 Education Queensland became responsible for the budget and policy for the School Transport Assistance Program for Students with Disabilities. This responsibility included managing the School Transport Committee of Review.
Within Education Queensland, members of this committee were representatives from the Disability Policy and Programs Unit, Curriculum Services branch and the School Transport Unit, Facilities Services branch. This initial committee was chaired by the Manager, School Transport, Greg Duck and committee members included from time-to-time Stacey Barkworth (Executive Officer), Carolyn Forbes, Marion Wilde, Helen Beirne, Shane Waters and Lucy Matthews from Queensland Transport. The role of the Queensland Transport member of the committee was to provide an historical perspective and to inform the committee of the cost and availability of school transport assistance. Members of the Disability Policy and Programs unit liaised with District Office and school officers to determine the educational rationale for requests for school transport assistance to the committee.
The committee met around 25 times a year from July 2002 until August 2005 to determine school transport assistance for students with exceptional circumstances as defined in the School Transport Assistance Program for Students with Disabilities. The committee had 518 individual submissions in the three years of its existence and after determining eligibility for assistance, the committee requested Queensland Transport to arrange the school transport for students.
Exceptional circumstances for school transport assistance included bypassing the nearest appropriately coded program, exceeding the cost limit of $250 a week, exceeding the distance limit of 25km radial distance, exceeding the time limit of 1 hour 15 minutes, part-time attendance, split placement and isolation from an educational program.
The major exceptional circumstances considered by the committee included:
|Exceptional circumstance||Number of cases|
|Students bypassing a closer program||299|
|Students attending on a part-time basis||166|
|Over 25 km||70|
|Tennyson Special School||5|
Where a case included more than one exceptional circumstance it is included in both.
The last rites
After August 2005 the implementation of a new policy gave the Manager, Education Services in each district the responsibility for making decisions regarding school transport for students with disabilities which were previously referred to the School Transport Committee of Review. Some districts formed their own committees. The new policy in 2005 extended the cost limit of school transport assistance to $300 a week for contract transport assistance and petrol and oil allowance as a form of assistance was removed from the program. Other new criteria included the use of minimum distances, a student travel capability rating scale, the use of a parent application and the removal of restrictions that students must attend the nearest appropriately coded special education program. Students are now eligible for school transport assistance if they attend the recommended program in a district which could be the local school. The School Transport Committee of Review concluded after an extensive training program of the new school transport policy by project officer, Terri Lipscomb.
Compiled by Helen Beirne, School Transport Unit, Department of Education and the Arts (December, 2005).