Services for students with disabilities to be cut

Robert Long
TAFE Organiser

Opportunities for people who have disabilities to gain skills and compete for employment will be compromised by the O’Farrell Government’s Smart and Skilled policy, Federation president Maurie Mulheron told an Australian Education Union (NSW branch) seminar on August 30.

Representatives from peak disability and community service organisations heard that Smart and Skilled, due to be introduced in July 2014, would change the level of support available to assist disadvantaged students (in particular students who have disabilities).

The union is deeply concerned that Smart and Skilled will strip government funds from support services for TAFE students with a disability.

Illawarra teacher consultant Lorraine Watson explained that currently, students with disabilities are able to access a range of support options but under Smart and Skilled those deemed eligible for support would receive a flat loading of 10 per cent, irrespective of the nature or level of support needed to undertake and complete VET programs.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s recent draft report into vocational education and training revealed funding would see an apprentice who is profoundly deaf receiving a total of four days support from an Auslan interpreter over the duration of a three year course. This is totally inadequate.

All members are encouraged to join the Stop TAFE cuts campaign at www.stoptafecuts.com.au.