Behavioural Support in Australia

  • Wendi BeamishEmail author
  • Fiona Bryer
Part of the Advancing Inclusive and Special Education in the Asia-Pacific book series (AISEAP)


In the present Australian context, behavioural support for students with SEN is filtering through government and nongovernment educational systems as the complexity and number of students with problem behaviours in schools have increased. Historically, models for managing problem behaviour progressed from ABA-based behaviour modification for individual students with significant disabilities to more positive and ethical approaches. In the 1990s, the Americans LaVigna and Willis from IABA introduced professional audiences across the country to comprehensive training in individualised interventions for students with severe and challenging problem behaviours. Their multi-element intervention planning was based on detailed data gathering, functional behaviour assessment, and nonaversive procedures. This initiative gave rise to capacity building within several Australian universities that prepare specialist teachers for intensive behavioural assessment and intervention. Subsequently, visits by American leaders of the school-wide behavioural support movement such as Sugai and Lewis presented the multi-tiered whole-school approach to education department staff in several states and later to special education audiences at national conferences. Over the past decade, many Australian education systems and schools have adopted the school-wide model, adapted it to their local contexts, and rebadged it as Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL). Some clusters of schools are starting to cooperate to share the administrative tasks and training activities. Development has been hindered by the absence of large-scale federal funding and national and state legislation, as provided in the USA.


Intensive intervention Positive behaviour support PBL School-wide approach Australia 


  1. Anderson, J. (2003). School-wide supports for inclusive education: Restructuring for effectiveness [online]. In B. Bartlett, F. Bryer, & D. Roebuck (Eds.), Reimagining practice: Researching change (Vol. 1, pp. 1–15). Nathan, Australia: Griffith University, School of Cognition, Language and Special Education.Google Scholar
  2. Angus, M., McDonald, T., Ormond, C., Rybarcyk, R., Taylor, A., & Winterton, A. (2010). Trajectories of classroom behaviour and academic progress: A study of student engagement with learning. Mount Lawley, Australia: Edith Cowan University.Google Scholar
  3. Arthur, M. D., Bruveris, I., Smith, G., & Stephenson-Roberts, V. (2002). A NSW example of professional development in the design of effective behaviour support plans. Special Education Perspectives, 11(1), 51–58.Google Scholar
  4. Ashman, A., & Elkins, J. (Eds.). (1994). Educating children with special needs (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Beamish, W., Bryer, F., & Wilson, L. (2000). Positive behavioural support: An example of practice in the early years. Special Education Perspectives, 9(1), 14–29.Google Scholar
  6. Beamish, W., & Bryer, F. K. (2009). Professional learning of behaviour specialists: Reflections on postgraduate training in positive behavioural support. Paper presented at the International Association of Applied Behaviour Analysts conference, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Beamish, W. I., & Bryer, F. K. (2014). Social and emotional learning. In S. Garvis & D. Pendergast (Eds.), Health and wellbeing in childhood (pp. 163–177). Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Beamish, W. I., & Bryer, F. K. (2017). Teaching for social and emotional learning. In S. Garvis & D. Pendergast (Eds.), Health and wellbeing in childhood (2nd ed., pp. 197–209). Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bear, G. G. (2010). School discipline and self-discipline: A practical guide to promoting prosocial student behavior. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bryer, F. (2006a). Educating regular teachers for economies of ABC practice in the primary classroom. PowerPoint presented at the third international conference of the Association for Positive Behavior Support, March 23–25, Reno, NV.Google Scholar
  11. Bryer, F. (2006b). Positive behavioural support for Australian schools: Resources and challenges for building school capacity. Keynote PowerPoint presented at conference, Children and behaviour: A strengths-based approach to education, Southern Cross University and NSW Department of Education and Training, June 23, Lismore, NSW. Retrieved from
  12. Bryer, F. (2010, November). Studying classwide strategies of behavioural support in primary education: The deceptive simplicity of the ABC model. PowerPoint presented at College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists’ 2nd national conference on Theory into Practice: Social and Emotional Learning, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  13. Bryer, F., & Beamish, W. (2005). Supporting students with problem behaviour in school settings. In B. Bartlett, F. Bryer, & D. Roebuck (Eds.), Stimulating the “action” as participants in participatory research (pp. 146–159). Brisbane, Australia: Griffith University, School of Cognition, Language, and Special Education. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  14. Bryer, F., Beamish, W., Davies, M., Marshall, R., Wilson, L., & Caldwell, W. (2005). The first step to school-wide positive behavioural support in a Queensland high school: Laying the foundation for participation. Special Education Perspectives, 14(2), 26–45.Google Scholar
  15. Bryer, F., Beamish, W., Hawke, A., Kitching, A., & Wilson, L. (2003). School-wide initiatives in positive behavioural support: Examples of Queensland practice. In B. Fields & M. Aniftos (Eds.), Learning for life (pp. 1–12). Toowoomba, Australia: University of Southern Queensland, Faculty of Education.Google Scholar
  16. Bryer, F., Lang, W., & Shepherd, D. (2012, December). An application of the teacher professional standards self-assessment online tool in two beginning courses in secondary education: Improving awareness of prosocial behaviour and ICTS in special education students. PowerPoint presented at the Technology Education Conference Australia, Gold Coast.Google Scholar
  17. Bud Fredericks, H. D. (1979). A data based classroom for the moderately and severely handicapped (3rd ed.). Monmouth, OR: Instructional Development Corporation.Google Scholar
  18. Christensen-Foggett, J. (2017). Educators’ views of a local system-based model for addressing student behaviour through school partnerships: The LMG model. Doctoral dissertation. Retrieved from
  19. Cohen, D. K., Raudenbush, S., & Ball, D. (2003). Resources, instruction, and research. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(2), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Colvin, G. (2004). Managing the cycle of acting-out behaviour in the classroom. Eugene, OR: Behavior Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Crates, N., & Spicer, M. (2012). Developing behavioural training services to meet defined standards within an Australian statewide disability service system and the associated client outcomes. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37(3), 196–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Deloitte Access Economics. (2017). Review of education for students with disability in Queensland state schools. Retrieved from:
  23. Donnellan, A., LaVigna, G., Negri-Shoultz, N., & Fassbender, L. (1988). Progress without punishment: Effective approaches for learners with behavior problems. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  24. Dunlap, G., Iovannone, R., Wilson, K. J., Kincaid, D. K., & Strain, P. (2009). Prevent-teach-reinforce: A standardized model of school-based behavioral intervention. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 12(1), 9–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Elksnin, L. K. (2001). Implementing the case method of instruction in special education teacher preparation programs. Teacher Education and Special Education, 24, 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Evans, I. M., & Meyer, L. H. (1985). An educative approach to behavior problems: A practical decision model for interventions with severely handicapped learners. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  27. Foxx, R. M. (1982). Decreasing behaviors of severely retarded and autistic persons. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  28. Glasser, W. (1992). The quality school. New York, NY: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  29. Goss, P., Sonnemann, J., & Griffiths, K. (2017). Engaging students: Creating classrooms that improve learning. Retrieved from
  30. Hudson, A., Jauernig, R., Wilken, P., & Radler, G. (1995). Behavioural treatment of challenging behaviour: A cost-benefit analysis of a service delivery model. Behaviour Change, 12, 216–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hudson, A., Wilken, P., Jauernig, R., & Radler, G. (1995). Regionally based teams for the treatment of challenging behaviour: A three-year outcome study. Behaviour Change, 12, 209–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. LaVigna, G. W., Christian, L., & Willis, T. J. (2005). Developing behavioral services to meet defined standards within a national system of specialist education services. Pediatric Rehabilitation, 8, 144–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. LaVigna, G. W., Willis, T. J., & Donnellan, A. M. (1989). The role of positive programming in behavioral treatment. In E. Cipani (Ed.), The treatment of severe behavior disorders: Behavior analysis approaches (Vol. 12, pp. 59–83). Washington, DC: Monograph of the American Association on Mental Retardation.Google Scholar
  34. Lengyel, L., & Vernon-Dotson, L. (2010). Preparing special education teacher candidates: Extending case method of practice. Teacher Education and Special Education, 33, 248–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lovett, S., & Gilmore, A. (2003). Teachers’ learning journeys: The quality learning circle as a model of professional development. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 14(2), 189–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Marsh, H. W. (1994). Using the National Longitudinal Study of 1988 to evaluate theoretical models of self-concept: The self-description questionnaire. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 439–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Martin, A. J. (2001). The student motivation scale: A tool for measuring and enhancing motivation. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 11, 1–20.Google Scholar
  38. Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments. American Psychologist, 53(2), 205–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McDougal, J. L., Chafoulas, S. M., & Waterman, B. (2006). Functional behavioral assessment and intervention in schools: A practitioner’s guide grades 1–8. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  40. Merrett, F., & Wheldall, K. (1990). Positive teaching in the primary school. London, UK: Paul Chapman.Google Scholar
  41. Meyer, L. H. (2003). Wanted: Internationally appropriate best practices. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 28, 33–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mooney, M., Dobia, B., Barker, K., Power, A., Watson, K., & Yeung, A. S. (2008). Positive behaviour for learning: Investigating the transfer of a United States system into the NSW Department of Education and Training Western Sydney Region schools (Research report). Retrieved from
  43. Myers, S., Sugai, G., Simonsen, B., & Freeman, J. (2017). Assessing teachers’ behavior support skills. Teacher Education and Special Education, 40(2), 128–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Radler, G., & Hudson, A. (1996). The behavior intervention support team program: Addressing challenging behaviour of people with an intellectual disability in Victoria, Australia. Positive Practices, 1(2), 3–8.Google Scholar
  45. Reynolds, A. R. (1984). From self-help group to complex organization: Evolution of a welfare organization with regard to its goals. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  46. Riffel, L. A. (2011). Positive behavior support at the tertiary level: Red zone strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.Google Scholar
  47. Roberts, J. M. A., Keane, E., & Clark, T. R. (2008). Making inclusion work: Autism Spectrum Australia’s satellite class project. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(2), 22–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rogers, B. (1995). Behaviour management: A whole-school approach. Sydney, Australia: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  49. Rogers, B. (1998). You know the fair rule (2nd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council of Educational Research.Google Scholar
  50. Rogers, B. (2009). How to manage children’s challenging behaviour (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Rogers, B. (2015). Classroom behaviour: A practical guide to effective teaching, behaviour management, and colleague support (4th ed.). London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  52. Savage, C., Lewis, J., & Colless, N. (2011). Essentials for implementation: Six years of school-wide positive behaviour support in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 40(1), 29–37.Google Scholar
  53. Scott, T. M., Anderson, C. M., & Alter, P. (2012). Managing classroom behavior using positive behavior supports. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Google Scholar
  54. Sigafoos, J., Einfeld, S., & Parmenter, T. R. (2001). An introduction to challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities. Special Education Perspectives, 10(2), 37–46.Google Scholar
  55. Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., & Sugai, G. (2006, May). Classroom management: Self-assessment revised. Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: University of Connecticut, CN.Google Scholar
  56. Simonsen, B., & Myers, D. (2015). Classwide positive behavior interventions and supports: A guide to proactive classroom management. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  57. Slider, N. J., Noell, G. H., & Williams, K. L. (2006). Providing practicing teachers classroom management professional development in a brief self-study format. Journal of Behavioral Education, 15(4), 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Snell, M. E. (2005). Fifteen years later: Has positive programming become the expected technology for addressing problem behaviour? A commentary on Horner et al. (1990). Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30(1), 11–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sprague, J., & Golly, A. (2004). Best behavior. Longmont, CO: Iris Media.Google Scholar
  60. Stephenson, J. (1997). Dealing with the challenging behaviour of students with severe intellectual disability. Special Education Perspectives, 6, 71–80.Google Scholar
  61. Stormont, M., Reinke, W. M., Herman, K. C., & Lembke, E. S. (2012). Academic and behavior supports for at-risk students: Tier 2 interventions. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Sullivan, A. M., Johnson, B., Owens, L., & Conway, R. (2014). Punish them or engage them? Teachers’ views of unproductive student behaviours in the classroom. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(6), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Umbreit, J., Ferro, J. B., Liaupsin, C. J., & Lane, K. L. (2007). Functional behavioral assessment and function-based intervention: An effective, practical approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Google Scholar
  64. Victorian Ombudsman. (2017). Investigation into Victorian government school expulsions. Retrieved from
  65. Wheldall, K., Merrett, F., & Houghton, S. (1989). Positive teaching in the secondary school. London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  66. Yeung, A. S., Barker, K., Tracey, D., & Mooney, M. (2013). School-wide positive behavior for learning: Effects of dual focus on boys’ and girls’ behaviour and motivation for learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 62, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Yeung, A. S., Craven, R. G., Mooney, M., Tracey, D., Barker, K., Power, A., … Lewis, T. J. (2016). Positive behavior interventions: The issue of sustainability of positive effects. Educational Psychology Review, 28(1), 145–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Yeung, A. S., Mooney, M., Barker, K., & Dobia, B. (2009). Does school-wide positive behaviour system improve learning in primary schools? New Horizons in Education, 57(1), 17–32.Google Scholar
  69. Zarkowska, E., & Clements, J. (1988). Problem behaviour and people with severe learning disabilities: A practical guide to a constructional approach. London, UK: Croom Helm.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith Institute for Educational ResearchGriffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia

Personalised recommendations