Media release – Forum on schools that re-engage students

7 November 2023

Independent Schools Australia hosts a forum on 7 November 2023 at Australian Parliament House on how special assistance schools re-engage students in education.

Principals and educators from around Australia will join politicians and experts at Australian Parliament House today to share innovative approaches to some of the challenges facing all schools.

National peak body Independent Schools Australia (ISA) is hosting a forum at Australian Parliament House to share the ways Independent special assistance schools (SAS) re-engage some of Australia’s most at-risk students in education.

ISA CEO Graham Catt said, “These schools create pathways to employment and further education, and in many cases can turn around young people’s lives.”

Principals will share their experiences and approaches to some of the issues that the Review to Inform a Better and fairer Education System has considered this year. These include the increasing rate of school refusal or ‘school can’t’, classroom disruption, student and teacher wellbeing, responses to teacher workforce shortage and providing inclusive places of learning for Indigenous students.

“The Independent school sector serves some of the most disadvantaged students, families, and communities in the country and our school leaders want to share the inspiring stories and innovative approaches to education that may be valuable for schools everywhere.

“This forum will bring together inspiring educators from Special Assistance and Majority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools, youth wellbeing expert Emeritus Professor Donna Cross, politicians and education policy makers,” Mr Catt said.

There are 95 Independent Special Assistance Schools, and the  Special Assistance Schools Showcase Report, released early this year highlights some outstanding case studies from these remarkable schools and dedicated educators.


  • Hosted by ISA CEO Mr Graham Catt
  • Opening by Senator the Honourable Anthony Chisolm, Assistant Minister for Education and Regional Development
  • Keynote presentation from Professor Donna Cross OAM on Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Panel discussion: “Breaking Barriers: Innovative approaches to empowering students”
  • Address by Senator the Honourable Sarah Henderson, Shadow Minister for Education
  • Presentation by Principal Gavin Morris, Yipirinya School, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school in Alice Springs
  • Panel discussion: “Building Trust, Building Futures: Creating a Positive Educational Community”


Special assistance schools in Australia