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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Parents forced to speak

Media Release

Shadow Minister for Education
Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Parents forced to speak out publicly over
cut in hours for special needs children

Northern Tasmanian parents of special needs children are so fed up with the treatment handed to them by the State Labor Government that they are being forced to speak out publicly over the Department of Education’s decision to cut their children’s funding and school support hours, Shadow Education Minister Peter Gutwein said today.

Mr Gutwein said that at the end of last year, many parents of children with special needs were informed that their child’s access to school support hours and funding were being cut with some now not even receiving any support at all.

“The way that these parents have been dealt with by the Education Department has been woeful at best and disgraceful and uncaring at worst,” Mr Gutwein said.

“A number of parents, absolutely desperate for a change in decision by the State Labor Government, have now been forced to go public. According to one parent, “a family friend took their child (who has autism) to the UK to finish the child’s education because of the lack of assistance they were receiving in Tasmania.”

One concerned parent wrote to the Examiner newspaper, disgusted by the Department of Education’s behaviour with respect to their daughter:
“we have been stuffed around in regard to what will be happening in her first year of school.”

“The powers that be just don’t seem to care about the children’s needs”

Another concerned parent of a child with autism also clearly upset by the State Labor Government’s actions said:
“This is not inclusion, this is just a way for the Education Department to save money.”

Mr Gutwein said that a number of parents have contacted his office since learning of the Education Department’s decision and were very worried that the special needs support hours for their children had been severely reduced by the Education Department.

“The treatment given to these parents and their children makes a mockery of the Education Minister, Paula Wriedt’s claims that the new Essential Learnings for All system would put “more resources through the school gate”,” Mr Gutwein said.

“Minister Wriedt, when announcing changes to the special needs education structure, claimed that there would be greater resources and greater flexibility for schools with special needs students, but all many of them have received is a less funding and a cut in contact hours.

“The Minister needs to start taking responsibility of the decisions being made by her Department and stop buck-passing this issue off to the school cluster administrations.

“Parents of special needs students don’t want to simply hear rhetoric from the Minister Wriedt about so-called extra funding and resources. They want what every parent expects and deserves of the school education system and that is a proper education for their children,” Mr Gutwein said.

Mr Gutwein said that he planned to attend the January 24 meeting in Launceston of concerned parents as part of their campaign to get better outcomes from the Education Department.

For more information, please contact:
Patrick Clancy (03) 6233 2505 or 0411 279 252

Adam Kok


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