The education of students with disability has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Universal declarations and conventions have underpinned many of these changes at both an international level and within Australia. In the early 1970s, the philosophy of John Rawls provided a theory of justice to preserve social justice and individual liberty within communities. This mirrored attempts to advance education to ensure social justice, rights and access to education for learners with disability. This micro-historical ethnography provides a review spanning the past half century in Australia of changes to the education of students with disability. Underpinned by an ethnographic epistemology through interviews with the presentism of eight educators involved in Western Australian education for learners with disability, and viewed through an interpretivist lens, major elements of change are identified. An analytical framework deduced from the work of Rawls is used to reflect upon the changes and discuss the degree that Rawls’ justice as fairness has been enacted in education for learners with disability from 1970 to 2021 in Australia. Key words: Australia, learners with disability, special education, inclusion, Rawls, equity, social justice.


Australia, learners with disability, inclusion, Rawls, equity

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