education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Students with Disabilities Transport Program (SDTP)

Criteria Determining Eligibility for the SDTP

This section explains the criteria used to determine a student’s eligibility to claim transport assistance under the SDTP. A student must meet all of the criteria detailed below to be considered eligible.

Criteria 1 – Be eligible for the Program for Students with Disabilities or Disability Inclusion Tier 3 student-level funding

The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) is a targeted supplementary funding program for Victorian government schools. It provides resources to schools to support the provision of school-based educational programs for a defined population of students with disabilities, with moderate to high needs.

For further information regarding this program, please refer to the PSD guidelines at Program for Students with DisabilitiesExternal Link .

Disability Inclusion Tier 3 student-level funding provides additional funding to support schools to deliver adjustments to meet the individual nature and acute impact of students with complex needs. The Disability Inclusion Profile process, which informs Tier 3 funding, will progressively replace PSD application processes.

For further information regarding Disability Inclusion, please refer to the guidelines for the Disability Inclusion Profile and Disability Inclusion Funding and Support .

Criteria 2 – Reside in the designated transport area of the school attended

A designated transport area (DTA) has been established for each government specialist and integrated school to ensure the efficient provision of transport services. To be eligible for transport assistance, students must reside within the DTA of the specialist or integrated school attended.

Parents/carers may choose to enrol their child at any specialist or integrated school outside of their DTA however, this precludes the student from accessing any transport assistance.

Criteria 3 – Be enrolled for 3 or more days per week

Students must be enrolled at a specialist or integrated school for 3 or more days per week to be eligible for transport assistance.

Criteria 4 – Be of school age and reside in Victoria

School is compulsory for all Victorian children aged between 6 and 17 years of age. For the purposes of the SDTP, students are eligible for assistance if they are aged between five and 18 years of age at the time of their application, and reside in Victoria.

Note: Students who turn 19 years of age during their time at school remain eligible for transport assistance until they complete their schooling.

Other important information

Change of address

If a student changes residential address, a new application must be made to the school and assessed against all criteria.

Priority of transport considerations

Once the school has determined that transport is required, together the principal, family and Student Transport Unit (STU) will determine the most appropriate form of transport assistance for the student. Determining the type of travel assistance must be made considering the nature of the child’s disability and, if possible, link to the student’s learning plan with the view to developing life-long skills. In some cases travel arrangements may be a combination of travel assistance such as free bus travel and conveyance allowance.

The department acknowledges that, due to the individual nature of each student’s circumstances and disability, travel arrangements will vary for individual students.

If bus travel is determined as the most appropriate form of travel assistance, school principals are responsible for assessing a student’s travel application and for informing parents/carers of the conditions for travel.

Principals must consider the following factors prior to placing a student on a department-provided transport service:

  • As parents/carers have primary responsibility for transporting their children to and from school, what contribution are they able to make in the transport arrangement?
  • Does the student have the capacity to learn to travel independently? If so, the student should have travel education included as part of their learning plan and have the goal of being able to travel independently to and from school.
  • Is it possible for rural and regional students to travel on existing public transport or School Bus Program services?

With some services, the demand for seats can exceed the carrying capacity of the bus. In these situations, the principal should give preference to students with higher needs or those travelling five days a week. If after applying these criteria there is more seating available, preference should be given to those who have the greatest distance to travel and to the youngest students.

Pick-up and drop-off points

Designated pick-up points

Where appropriate, students are expected to meet the bus service at designated pick-up points. This ensures time spent on the bus is kept to a minimum for all students and enables bus services to run as efficiently as possible.

Residential pick-up points

Residential pick-up locations are acceptable under the program but can only be endorsed once all transport factors have been considered, including:

  • ability for the vehicle to navigate residential streets without a requirement to reverse or conduct a three-point turn
  • impacts to travel time for other students, and
  • the ability for the individual to attend a designated pick up point to enable a consolidated pick up for students.

The principal, if they determine a student is unable to access a pick-up point and requires an alternative transport arrangement (including a residential pick-up point), must seek STU’s endorsement. The STU will consider each application for an alternative arrangement on a case-by-case basis.

Designated drop-off points

The department requires all students accessing a SDTP-provided service to be met by a parent/carer at the bus or taxi drop-off point. The student may only walk from the drop-off point to their home independently with the written agreement of the school and the parents/carers. This agreement should only be made when the school and parents/carers have determined the student is sufficiently capable of independent travel from drop-off point to home.

Students residing less than 4.8 km from the school

Parents/carers are deemed responsible for their child’s travel arrangements if they reside less than 4.8 km by shortest practicable route (drivable by car) from their local specialist or integrated school.

Access to a bus service may be provided to students residing less than 4.8km from their local specialist or integrated school if:

  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access have been accommodated
  • the student’s parents/carers accept the conditions of travel (which include restrictions such as relinquishing the seat should a student with a higher priority of access require the seat)
  • the department incurs no additional cost.

Exemptions

If the principal deems it necessary for the student to have unrestricted access to a seat then the parents/carers may apply through the school for the STU to consider.

Conveyance allowance is generally not provided to students residing less than 4.8km from the school. If the principal deems it necessary for the student to receive conveyance allowance below this distance (in lieu of a bus seat), the parents/carers may apply through their school for special cases consideration.

Independent Travel

Students travelling independently (in lieu of a bus seat), to and from school will have their public transport ticket (commonly the Victorian Student Pass) reimbursed by the department through a conveyance allowance even if they reside less than 4.8km from the school/campus attended.

Students who reside at more than one address

SDTP-provided transport services

Principals may approve students who reside at more than one address to access more than one service.

The student must be assessed against all criteria from each address. For example, if a student is eligible from two addresses, they may be permitted to access two bus services.

As students residing at more than one address will not be accessing either service fulltime, where spare capacity is limited, priority of access to each service must be considered by the principal using the advice above.

An eligible student who is accessing more than one service only contributes to a case for the addition, modification or retention of the service from their primary address. In situations where there is an equal time spent at each address, the parents/carers must specify the primary address. Each student then only counts as one eligible student over the whole network.

Conveyance allowance

A student who resides at more than one address can be assessed for eligibility from both the primary and secondary residence.

For students who are eligible from only the primary or secondary address, payment will be at a pro-rata amount based on the number of days they reside at the address.

For students eligible from both addresses, the school will claim a full allowance from the primary address and allocate appropriate amounts to the parents/carers. This also applies for multimode allowances.

Exemptions to the eligibility criteria

Interstate students

Each Australian state is responsible for the school transport of students residing in that state. Interstate students attending Victorian specialist or integrated schools may be permitted to travel on a department-provided bus service subject to the following conditions:

  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access have been accommodated
  • the student’s parents/carers accept the conditions of travel (which include restrictions such as relinquishing the seat should a student with a higher priority of access require the seat)
  • the department incurs no additional cost.

Interstate students cannot form part of a case for addition, retention or modification of service.

Early Childhood Intervention Services

Transport services are not provided to Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS). ECIS students may be permitted to travel on a department provided bus service subject to the following conditions:

  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access have been accommodated
  • the student’s parents/carers accept the conditions of travel (which include restrictions such as relinquishing the seat should a student with a higher priority of access require the seat)
  • the department incurs no additional cost
  • the student resides in the school’s DTA.

ECIS students cannot form part of a case for addition, retention or modification of service.

Travel to alternative locations

The department only provides services between a student’s residence and their local specialist or integrated school.

The department does not provide shuttle services between school campuses, base rooms or annexes, or to any programs not located on the main school site or campus.

Travel to alternative locations, such as respite care, therapy or out of school hours’ care, can only be accommodated if:

  • students can be dropped off or picked up on their existing bus route
  • the alternative location is within the school’s DTA
  • the arrangement does not adversely affect the other passengers or the existing timetable
  • the department incurs no additional cost
  • arrangements have been made for supervision at pick-up and drop-off points (for example, with respite facility staff).

Specialist or integrated schools that believe student transport services could be improved with the introduction of direct transport or shuttle services should contact the STU and request a comprehensive review of their network to occur for consideration of transport redesign.

Other exceptional circumstances or appeals or special cases

Making an application

Parent/carers wishing to apply for special consideration or appeal a transport decision must make an application through their school using the following form:

Transport special case consideration application form (DOCX)External Link

Schools who receive a written application from a parent/carer must:

To appeal or seek special case consideration, applications must be made by the dates set out under ‘Application closure dates and panel sitting dates’.

When are special case applications considered?

Special case applications will be considered by the STU in the following circumstances:

  • A student has commenced the final year of the school they attend and changes residential address.
  • A student is the subject of a specific court order stipulating the student must continue their education at a particular location (copy of court order is required with the application).
  • A student has moved school for reasons of:
    • Genuine concern for personal safety or for the safety of other students (documentation from the original school of enrolment and the student welfare coordinator will be required to support the special consideration; information will be also accepted from external welfare agencies).
    • Consistent with the staged approach recommended in the student engagement policy and guidance, the school has developed flexible learning options for the student, which may include transfer of a student to another school setting (this does not include intercampus movements). This recommendation must be supported by the relevant regional director and the two principals of the schools involved in the student transfer.

STU endeavours to complete its consideration of the application within the term in which it is made.

Transport special case consideration panel

In all other circumstances, or if the STU determines that an application is particularly complex in nature, the STU will refer the application to an independent panel known as the Transport Special Cases Consideration Panel (the Panel).

The Panel is convened by the department’s chief finance officer. Representation on the panel includes members from the Student Transport and Allowances Branch, practising principals, a representative from the department’s Wellbeing Health and Engagement Division and a representative from PTV.

The Panel meets each month in Term 1 and at least once per term thereafter. Prior to a panel hearing, the STU may seek further advice from the lodging government school’s regional director.

The student’s application must include applicable supporting documentation such as recommendations from the school’s student support group, and any individual education plan, behaviour support plans or other student support plans.

Incomplete applications will not be processed; the STU will contact the lodging school and request further information prior to submission of the case to the Panel.

Transport assistance is not available to a student until such time as the Panel meets and considers their application.

All recommendations of the Panel are forwarded to the department’s Deputy Secretary, Financial Policy and Infrastructure Services, for approval.

The Panel informs schools of its decision approximately three weeks after the panel meets.

Schools must inform families of the Panel’s decision.

Application closure dates and panel sitting dates

In 2023, applications for appeals and special consideration, and the corresponding panel sitting dates, are as follows.

Term in which application considered Application closing date Panel sitting date
Term 1 2023 16 December 2022 10 January 2023
Term 1 2023 20 January 2023 14 February 2023
Term 1 2023 17 February 2023 14 March 2023
Term 2 2023 28 April 2023 23 May 2023
Term 3 2023 30 June 2023 25 July 2023
Term 3 2023 11 August 2023 5 September 2023
Term 4 2023 20 October 2023 14 November 2023

Conditions of special case approval

The following applies to special case approval:

  • Special case approval is limited to the student and transport service involved in the application.
  • Special case approval will cease if the student moves residential address, changes school or transport mode, unless the student meets eligibility requirements following the change.
  • Special case approval is not automatic. Each case will be considered on merit with reference to the transport infrastructure in the area.
Guidance chapter on the eligibility criteria for the Students with Disabilities Transport Program (SDTP)

Reviewed 24 January 2023

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