Support for students with complex health needs or disability

Access Assistant Program

Students with invasive or complex health care needs or a physical disability, including those returning to school after a period of absence, can gain support from the Access Assistant Program. The program provides healthcare support that cannot be undertaken by education department workers including:

  • medical consultancy
  • training for students to self-manage their own healthcare needs where possible
  • on-site support from trained health support workers.

To access this service contact your child's school or preschool and see the referral to the access assistant program.

Refer to the Access Assistant Program brochure and referral form under 'Resources'.

Registered nurse delegation of care program

Children and young people with a physical impairment or complex and invasive health care needs sometimes require special support. The program provides training and competency-based assessment for health support workers who provide this support.

The program aims to ensure safe access for all students to services offered in any of the following settings:

  • school
  • pre-school
  • childcare
  • family day care
  • out-of-school hours care (including vacation care)
  • community accommodation and respite agency (CARA) services.

Visit the Department for Education website for more information on registered nurse delegation.

Learning support

Learning support may be provided for students who are unable to attend school for an extended period of time because of health issues. This includes students who:

  • have a disability, illness, or injury that is preventing them from attending school
  • have a disability, long-term or chronic health issue that requires periodic hospitalisation - for example, students with cystic fibrosis, diabetes, respiratory problems, or mental illness
  • spend extended periods away from school due to disability or ongoing ill health.

Talk to your child's school to make arrangements for school work to be sent home or to explore other services such as the Hospital School SA or the Open Access College.

Hospital School SA and the Open Access College can assist by:

  • providing a link between the hospital and the school
  • making referrals to other support agencies
  • working with the school on issues such as curriculum and support services
  • managing important documentation such as agency forms, and school and hospital notes.

Hospital School SA

Hospital School SA offers:

  • flexible learning programs connected to the school curriculum, within the context of student health needs
  • face-to-face teaching for students from preschool to year 12
  • face-to-face teaching for siblings of patients enrolled in non-metro schools
  • a consultancy outreach service that facilitates the student's transition back to the school they are enrolled in
  • assistance with sustained peer support and social contact
  • SACE for senior secondary students
  • preschool for three to five-year-olds
  • links with schools and regional support services to ensure continuity of curriculum and healthcare
  • a consultancy service for


Educational programs are delivered at:


Hospital School SA's services are available to any student of preschool or school age.

How to access the service

Students are referred by the school, the hospital, or other support services.

For more information contact Hospital School SA:

Open Access College (distance education)

Students with medical issues may be eligible to enrol with the Open Access College. Applications for enrolment will be considered based on the individual situation of the student.


Medical issues or disability preventing students from attending school on a full-time basis may be physical or psychological. In all cases, the student is required to have a comprehensive report prepared by a healthcare professional.

How distance education works

Open Access College provides a range of teaching and learning methods including:

  • telephone or online lessons in small groups
  • specialised course booklets
  • customised support material such as DVDs, CDs, and activity kits
  • face-to-face workshops, mini schools, camps, and excursions
  • visits from teachers.

Teachers and students communicate using telephone, email or fax, or mail. For more information see the Open Access College's enrolment criteria.

Returning to school

Before your child returns to school after an extended period of absence, provide the school with any information needed to support their health and learning. This might include:

  • information on the illness or disability
  • clearly labelled medication showing dosage and frequency along with a medication authority
  • how the illness or disability might affect learning
  • subjects the student may have difficulties with
  • a health care plan developed with the support of your doctor
  • ways the school can support the student to manage independently.

Monitor your child's progress and keep the school informed of any changes.

Related information

On this site

Support for children with disability to go to school

Other websites

Health support planning for children and students in education and care settings - Department for Education

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Page last updated 10 January 2023

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Department for Education
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