Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has met with members of the deaf and hard of hearing community this week to discuss the impact of recent cuts to the Visiting Teacher Service.
More than 80 jobs provided by the Visiting Teacher Service have been slashed by the Labor Government, leaving some of the state’s most vulnerable students at a disadvantage.
The job cuts have been made a program that provides support to children with hearing, visual, physical, and mental impairments.
The visiting teachers also support students who are severely ill, including pupils with cancer and diabetes.
Ms Cleeland thanked Deaf Hub Bendigo, Deaf Victoria, Deaf Australia, and Deaf Aboriginal Services for visiting Parliament to meet with her, saying their stories about existing shortages in the teaching field were extremely saddening to hear.
“It was heartbreaking to learn that a talented year 11 student, Calvin – who excelled in math and physics – failed English due to the denial of an AUSLAN interpreter,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Calvin represents one of the 2500 deaf and hard of hearing students who are currently facing the imminent loss of the Visiting Teacher services—a vital lifeline of support for these children at school.
“While the program was not perfect, it stood as one of the only crucial services available to deaf children in regional Victoria.
“We had the opportunity to listen to brave, inspirational, and heart-wrenching stories that shed light on this pressing issue.
“We will continue to call on the Andrews Labor Government to reverse this cruel decision to cut the Visiting Teacher Service.”
Ms Cleeland said these cuts were impacting Victoria’s most vulnerable children all for the sake of a minor budget adjustment.
“These jobs cuts are truly unconscionable,” Ms Cleeland said.
“These are children that require the highest level of care in our schools.
“Cutting staff that work tirelessly to assist these students, and the schools they work in, can only have a negative impact.
“Once again, Labor’s financial mismanagement has resulted in essential services being slashed as blown out infrastructure programs continue.”
Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Gaelle Broad, who was also in attendance at the meeting, said some of the stories she’s heard have been absolutely heart wrenching.
“I have been contacted by families, as well as people in the education system, who have shared their concerns about these job cuts,” Ms Broad said.
“Cutting these jobs will have a significant impact on our most vulnerable students.
“For students living with disabilities, the Visiting Teacher Service is a critical lifeline that ensures all students can access education.”