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Our public consultations ran from 31 January to 11 April 2023.

Julia shares her experience with education during COVID-19

Julia’s Story:

I’m Julia, I did year 12 in 2021. I'm now at university doing Fine Arts. I'm based in Melbourne.

I really enjoyed high school. I think looking back on it now, I think I struck a good balance between like goofing off and like putting in work. I liked my peers, I liked the company I was in and I liked my teachers.

Before COVID, I really did well in a social environment, like that worked well with my type of learning and for like the condition I have for like my disability. Like I felt really integrated and I didn't feel isolated in any capacity.

Onscreen text: What changed for you during COVID-19?

During the lockdown period school couldn't compete with lockdowns and construction and everything else going on around me.

The problem for me with, with my vision was in exam conditions, looking at like a lot of tiny letters on the screen, like that became sort of illegible for me. And so I would ask if I could, and I was allowed to do work in like handwrite it and then upload photos. But that brought in like a whole new slew of problems. And so in getting the accommodations I needed, I just had a different set of problems that I also had to bring up, and it got a bit tiresome.

I applied and I got special exemptions for my SACS and for exams, which, because of my muscle condition, would let me have rest breaks. Except the way that that was organised for online learning really didn't cohere with my exemptions. We'd be doing it as a group and I didn't want to take ten minute breaks on the hour because that would mean I was behind everyone else. It just felt really disjointed to, to the rest of my peers.

In terms of disability, like online learning did have its perks in the sense that like you're not moving around as much and you obviously have all the accommodations you need in your own home. And so that was sort of helpful to me being more self, self-maintained.

Onscreen text: How did going back to school make you feel?

Going back to school in person, I was a bit out of step with everyone because I came back later and so I was on a different timeline and I felt like I needed to catch up more than everyone else had.

I think just being out of step with everyone else was really difficult and just making sure everyone's on the same timeline. Whether that be Iike going back to school or doing exams, like just keeping everyone at the same pace because as nice as it was to get those like exemptions and to be able to stay home, it was really isolating.

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