Western Australian children with type 1 diabetes given extra time to complete exams
The decision to award extra time to Western Australian (WA) students with type 1 diabetes to complete their Year 12 exams has been welcomed by diabetes educators.
Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre has long campaigned for this result, which will see students given an extra 10 minutes for each hour of their ATAR exams.
It took a lot of lobbying before the School Curriculum and Standards Authority eventually made their decision, but it marks a significant victory for WA children with type 1 diabetes.
Furthermore, the provisions are expected to be in place for this year’s exams, meaning children with type 1 diabetes will be able to benefit straight away.
Organisations such as the American Diabetes Association already allow students to take extended breaks, if necessary, to take care of their diabetes needs.
There are roughly 12,000 children with type 1 diabetes in WA, which is Australia’s largest state, and while students had been allowed to take insulin and food into exams, they had not been allowed extra time.
Instead, a “stop the clock” system was introduced which allowed children to either inject insulin or tend to a hypo during the exams.
A key argument for campaigners was that this time spent managing diabetes could cause children to lose focus.
Recovering from a hypo can take several minutes, and similarly, it can take some time before blood sugar levels stabilise following hyperglycemia.
While students will still need to apply for these new considerations, they will only require a letter from their doctor confirming that they have type 1 diabetes.
Bec Johnson, who is chief executive of the Family Centre, felt that children with type 1 diabetes were previously being treated unfairly in having to prove they had type 1 diabetes.
“If they applied, they had to submit to two extra exams to prove they needed it and we view this as similar to asking a person in a wheelchair to prove they can’t run,” said Johnson.
“They needed evidence of how many times they attended to diabetes management tasks during an exam, which are extraordinary requirements to place on an already vulnerable and stressed child.”
Johnson hopes this policy change could lead to other states in Australia adopting a similar stance.
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