Media Release: Dyslexia advocates celebrate a step forward on the path to inclusive schools 

23 October 2015

The organisers of Dyslexia Empowerment Week have extra cause to celebrate as the week draws to a close. 

Today Minister James Merlino announced new requirements to support all teachers to build their capability to teach students with disabilities. SPELD Victoria welcomes this commitment to build the capacity of all teachers in Victoria to focus on improving teaching and learning strategies for students with disabilities as part of their ongoing professional development. You can read more about that on the VIT website.

This announcement coincides with Dyslexia Empowerment Week which concludes tomorrow.  The Week is by the state's peak body for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities, SPELD Victoria.  

SPELD is represented on the VIT Special Needs Plan Review Panel which advised the VIT on the roll out of providing additional guidance and support to schools. 

Clare Carmody Chief Executive Officer of SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties) Victoria says "it is great to see an increased focus on inclusion, and a reinforcing of the existing standards." 

"Every teacher, every class in the state of Victoria is likely to have a student with a disability.  This is just a recognition that including all learners is an integral, irrefutable part of a teacher’s job description.  Inclusion is nonnegotiable. As such, these professionals need to be given support to continuously extend their learning in this area.  However, training alone is not the solution.  Our professional teachers need to be heard and backed up when they identify the resources they need to support.  Professional learning is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle."

"Engaging in learning is a shared responsibility, between students, families and their schools.  Dyslexia Empowerment Week celebrates the important role that everyone plays in ensuring that students with Specific Learning Difficulties get the best chance to achieve their potential."

"Teachers and families have long been crying out for more support to identify and respond to the unique needs of students with dyslexia.  Professional development in what works is important, so that kids can get timely, targeted reading intervention in early primary and support to learn in a way that suits them throughout their education."

About Dyslexia Empowerment Week

An estimated 3-5% of have a persistent neurologically based Specific Learning Disability (SLD), such as dyslexia. Dyslexia is not an intellectual disability – but children with dyslexia struggle to read and often feel as though they are failing each and every day.

Ensuring that all children are given the opportunity to learn to read is important, as is providing appropriate support and understanding to the one or more students in every Australian classroom with dyslexia. Organisations and volunteers across the Australian SLD community to have banded together create Dyslexia Empowerment Week (DEW), now in its third year. This year DEW is 18 – 24 October 2015 with over 25 events crowd sourced from schools and communities across the nation.

Dyslexia Empowerment Week is currently managed by volunteers from SPELD Victoria in collaboration with AUSPELD. #DEW2015

Families of students with learning disabilities it's time to be heard! The Governments review of the Program for Students with Disabilities

The Victorian Government is currently reviewing the Program for Students with a Disability (PSD). The terms of reference for the review include looking at support for students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities (SLDs) through this $480m p/a funding pool. 

SPELD Vic has been appointed to the Expert Advisory Panel for the review as well as a focus group panel.  We've been consulting with families and working with our teachers and psychologists to make a case for a strengths and needs based, whole classroom approach to supporting the needs of all students. We firmly believe that supporting students with SLDs is great way to lift the performance of struggling students and raise the potential of all students. 

More information on the review is available here.

Now it is your turn to share your story. It is really important the Government hear the direct experience of students with SLDs and their families as well as your great ideas about what a fair, efficient and effective system could look like. 

There are two ways that you can have your say in the review:

  1. Tell your story directly to the review team via email

Share the challenges you or your child have faced and what could have helped overcome them.  A couple of short paragraphs describing you and your child's experience as well as a few good ideas would be great. 

Here are a few questions to consider when responding – but your response can address much more if you want to!

·         What are some of the difficulties that you have faced in the schooling system and how do you think these could be addressed?

·         Did you have any difficulties accessing the PSD program and was the support adequate?

·         What support could help teachers and schools to better meet the needs of students with SLD's?

·         How can we ensure that the funding is used appropriately for supporting student outcomes?

You can email the PSD review directly and we'd love it if you cc’s in Clare Carmody, our CEO.  The link below includes a cc to Clare, but if you don't feel comfortable passing on your story please delete our email address. All submissions will be treated confidentially.

Click here to make a submission now

2. Online Survey

A second way the Government is seeking your input is by running a survey, hoping to hear from current and previous students, their families, principals, teachers and disability professionals that will ask for your ideas and suggestions on how the PSD can be improved and strengthened.

*The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) Review survey has been extended to October 16- You can access the survey at:

CEO Tour

Our new CEO Clare Carmody is heading on tour next month to meet with parents support groups around the state.

Clare will share:
An introduction to Specific Learning Difficulties and Disorders
SPELD's strategy, advocacy work and new services

She will seek:
Your thoughts on how SPELD can best serve parents in your local area
Willing parents to express their interest in becoming SPELD's local champions

Locations and Bookings:

SPELD Lunch for members and friends 12pm 16 August RSVP with dietary requirements

Upper Plenty Primary 7pm, 19 August

Mt Martha Primary 7pm,25 August

Diversitat Northern Community Hub, Geelong in partnership with Kids Like Us 4:30pm, 1 September…

Slate Coal Mine Wonthaggi visiting the South Gipsland Dyslexia Support group screening of the Big Issue 6:30pm, 4 September

St Josephs Primary School, Brunswick West 2:30pm, 8 September

Ethic. Cafe, Street Woodend visiting DyslexiClever Support Group (Macedon Ranges) 9am, 11 September All welcome. Enquires to Marg: |0409 550 238

Sunbury Heights Primary School visiting SOLD support group 7:15pm 11 September Enquire via S.O.L.D.

Download Schedule 

SPELD in the paper today

Today The Age featured the story of one of our members as it covers the challenges of VCAA special provisions…

“Charlie Frances has dyslexia and completed his VCE last year.

But the 19-year-old builder still gets annoyed thinking about how he had to lodge three time-consuming applications, over three years, to use a computer during his VCE exams and assessments. "I told them I hadn't lost my dyslexia."

"My handwriting wasn't legible. I'd hand something in that was the right amount of words that I was happy with, but no one could read it."

In an ironic twist, Mr Frances had to hand write an essay explaining why he needed support.

"They were literally telling me to write in 800 words or less why I can't write an essay in 800 words or less."

Charlie's story of the mountains of dyslexia unfriendly paperwork he had to do to apply for VCAA special provisions sounds funny, the way he tells it.  But it's a sad story for the many students who can't even get an application in.  Gladly VCAA is talking the serious issue that is failing hundreds of students that need to get the accommodations they get in class, equitably applied in exams. 

Read the story:

house in sepia compressed


Dear members and friends

After much deliberation and consultation with members the board has decided to sell our property at 494 Brunswick Street.  

An auction is scheduled for 2pm on the 29th of August.  The sale will be managed by Chambers Real Estate - you can view the househere.

Saying goodbye will not be easy.  Hundreds of people worked tirelessly for decades to secure and maintain that home as a stable base for the SPELD.  It has been a place where thousands of people have received (often life changing) assessments and learning support.  It has been the HQ for hundreds of events that have taught thousands of teachers and parents how to better support students to learn and achieve at school and home.

But the truth is, if we are to serve the 47,000 Victorian students who need our help, we need to outgrow that home.  We need to move across the state, and online, we need to be there where and when people need us - in homes and schools.

SPELD’s strategy sets us up to advance from a focus on one-to- one center based assessment and tutoring services to direct more of our energies on development, advice and support services for members that proved to be so successful in the past, married with the technologies and techniques that the evidence shows drive learning.

The next five years will see us reaching further out to dramatically transform learning and peer support in schools and families across the state.  I trust that this is the right decision and am positive that as we grow we will keep with us the important values and achievements this house represents. 

These values are best encapsulated by the quotes from our history....

Addresses to Open the SPELD Centre - Thursday 29th June 1978

It is often said the worth of a society can be judged by the way it treats the very young and the very old. I believe it to be true. But it is also true that a real test of compassionate people lies in its attitude to the handicapped. By this test, Victoria stands increasingly high through the concern, commitment and involvement of the Government. But this we regard than no more than our duty, and what I find truly impressive is the commitment of private citizens through organisations such as SPELD….

I suppose that, as one member of the association said this week, SPELD should eventually put itself out of business by establishing such a firm bond between parents, teachers and professional advisers in an atmosphere of compassionate community concern that its works would become superfluous.
SPELD has helped awaken the community to the problem of learning difficulties but we still have great need of its sense and direction, and so it is that SPELD has moved here from Collins Street. These premises provide all the facilities which the association needs – an office, a consultation room, a library, a conference room, a coffee room for the comfort of parents after consultation – and it has been financed by more than $72,000 raised over five years by private appeal to members of the association and interested supporters. For our part, the Government pays the consultant’s salary.

But it is the people who give themselves who give the most. This is when out community is at its best – when it cares for its weaker members. Government cannot legislate compassion and self-respect. They cannot impart dignity and human understanding. But there are in Victoria, fortunately fine citizens that can and do.
The Hon R.J. Hamer. E.D. MP, Premier of Victoria

I’d like to finish by giving a message to all SPELD members. Now that this Centre is in existence don’t relax your efforts. There is still a lot of work to be done. Your professional sub-committee has just completed the preparation of a statement of where we stand today. Starting from there, I hope that every member will now carefully consider our hopes and priorities for another successful ten years. 
Dr T.G. Hagger


...We must go on working because this area is still in great need of our community.
Dame Elizabeth Murdoch 

These quotes acknowledge the efforts of the members of SPELD, hundreds of volunteers every year equalling over 23,500 annual members since 1969 who have worked out of that house to serve tens of thousands of Victorian students.  

46 years since our first meeting was attended by 500 members we are still seeking to grow.  Our growth, to reach more students, regardless of income or location is supported by an awakening in community awareness driven by volunteers and practitioners from within and without SPELD.  We are growing almost as quickly as in our first days.

What next?
I have 
written some FAQ’s and made short videos answering some of immediate questions:

Why sell?            

What does this mean for the SLC and Assessment Services?       

How was the decision made?    

Does this mean that SPELD is in financial trouble?            

What will be done with the proceeds of the sale?            

Is the money going to be spent on expensive management consultants?             

How will the management of the money be overseen?

How can I ask more questions/raise concerns? 

Watch the videos here.

Please join us to honour our history and celebrate all of the good things yet to come:  

Farewell to 494 Brunswick Street

Lunch from 12pm on 16 August 2015

RSVP with dietary and access requirements by August 10

I hope to see you there.


Clare Carmody
P:(03) 9480 4422 | M: 0450 718 054


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