Inclusive fieldwork, work placements, excursions and practicums
Fieldwork education is any practical work, teaching, study or research activity required by post-secondary education providers as an integral part of a course. Fieldwork is also known as practicum, professional experience, internship, or clinical placement.
Fieldwork allows students to learn through direct implementation of their future professional roles in real workplace settings. It prepare students for meaningful and productive participation in industry, the workforce and the community.
The fieldwork education partner is an agent, contractor, collaborating agency, facility, industry, organisation, school, site or placement provider that provides structured and supervised practical experience for students for the purposes of a qualification.
A post-secondary education provider is responsible for ensuring that fieldwork partners provide reasonable adjustments for students with disability and comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005. To ensure students are aware of their right to reasonable adjustments, providers should ensure that students with disability are advised of these rights during orientation and at the commencement of each semester when fieldwork is undertaken.
Preparing students for placements
For students with disability to benefit fully from their courses, work placements need to be fully accessible to them. You need to be aware of any fieldwork barriers facing students with disability and identify areas of difficulty prior to fieldwork or placement and secure alternative arrangements through the preparation of an access plan. To be successful, work placements should meet the individual needs of students, the course requirements and make full use of the opportunities afforded by the placements.
To ensure that all these factors are working in harmony for individual students with disability, you may need to work closely with students, placement providers and course leaders. Such preparation may involve:
- ensuring consideration for carer responsibilities, financial concerns and other logistical elements have been discussed
- ensuring access to work placements, including transport arrangements
- ensuring physical access to workplaces including accessibility features such as accessible entry, lifts, ramps, bathrooms, kitchens, and other facilities
- ensuring access to any equipment that the student may need to use on the work placement
- ensuring access to audio material and meetings for students with sensory impairments, including the use of interpreters
- ensuring access to visual material and documents for students with visual impairments or dyslexia, including providing printed and digital materials in accessible formats
- ensuring access to assistive technologies in the workplace such as text-to-speech software
- ensuring placements are appropriate for students with mental health problems or who experience fatigue
- clarifying arrangements for support workers who may accompany students (sign language interpreters, personal assistants)
- ensuring ongoing support for those students who may need it through visits or telephone calls, particularly at the start of the placement
- ensuring access to relevant workplace induction information including relevant HR processes, health and safety information, and key contacts.
When working with students, you should discuss with and advise the student on the potential benefits of disclosure to the placement agency as well as the implications of not disclosing.