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An Open Letter To Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek

An Open Letter To Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek

14th November 2012


To the Honourable John Paul Langbroek, MP

As our representative education minister, I am writing to you as a parent, mother, carer, Queenslander and concerned citizen.   As the mother of two hearing impaired (HI) children, I am concerned with your decision to remove funding for Advisory, Visiting Teachers (AVT’s) to visit Independent and non – government schools, to assist HI children state-wide.  This will have detrimental effects to their education, choices for their education and educational outcomes.

I am not sure what consultation was undertaken to achieve this decision but its ramifications could not have been implicitly outlined otherwise it wouldn’t have seemed like a good idea. I can only assume this is purely a fiscal motivation at the expense of the most vulnerable group in society- children with a disability.

As parents we are the frontline army who is best qualified to advice on the importance of an AVT visiting your child at school.  By capacity building of teachers and staff, student and parent advocacy, one on one teaching of new and difficult concepts or advising teachers on how to support the HI child in the best possible way.   After 14 years of dealing with HI in mainstream education settings – I can’t remember what I didn’t know prior to this experience and I don’t have half the expertise of an AVT professional.  I also can’t imagine how you can get the best possible outcome without the current collaborative approach.
 
In an ideal world I wish all students could benefit from a school principal, learning support officer, AVT, classroom teacher and aid and two parents all present with the best interests of the student central to the collective.   My children are currently in Catholic school so this doesn’t affect them directly – at present – but my daughter was enrolled to begin middle school in 2013 at a local independent school and we have withdrawn our enrolment based on this decision.    Our educational options have been significantly diminished due to this callous decision.  Our children’s education is one of the largest financial expenses for most families and we don’t have the freedom of choices.   As children with a disability their options are less than their hearing peers.
    
This is the future of HI –health and medical collaborations, technologically up to date hearing aids or cochlear implants- along with global best practice early intervention and educational support systems put in place over the last 20 years have these children achieving at comparable levels to their hearing peers.  All this good work will be undone in an instant with this decision to remove AVT support.

Although these children present very well, are articulate and can hear, it still requires a massive effort on their behalf to be in a mainstream school with general environmental noises in any day to day classroom routine.  To do this without support from experts who understand and know HI is to assume you could do your job as effectively without a PA.  AVT’s provide specific advice, guidance on teaching and adjustments to accommodate the HI pupil in the classroom, playground etc.  To pull the rug out from underneath them is very unsettling and destabilizing.

I fear that this action will plunge Qld’s deaf and hearing impaired community back three decades.  Removing  support  to  already vulnerable  students will  diminish their  educational outcomes and hinder their independence and   employment opportunities,  jeopardising  their future-  and  tax paying abilities.  I don’t think the government will accept paying tax at a lower rate because they received sub standard support while at school and they weren’t able to reach their true potential.  
Queensland’s Naplan results have us performing way beyond our NSW and Victorian counterparts – Not being able to adequately  cater to HI pupils  will deliver  a below standard education system in Queensland in the 21st century.
 
I am sure as a Queenslander you enjoyed having a range of options for your own children’s’ educational choices – State, Catholic and other religious affiliated schools and Independent schools- so too should my children have these choices.  If you remove this vital service and support it will narrow it down to one option, outside of state schools   –Catholic schools- and there are issues with this as –

arrow What if I weren’t Catholic or didn’t wish my child to attend a Catholic or religious affiliated school?
arrow Waiting lists at Catholic schools are quite long and it is difficult to secure a position.
arrow

This is only of benefit if you are in a major city or Brisbane.   Regional and remote areas were serviced by Education Qld and Catholic Education can only support children in the Brisbane and surrounding district.  Rural, regional and remote will suffer.
arrow This decision will have a knock on effect and put further pressure on already stretched services in state and catholic education AVT’s.

I request a meeting for myself and a group of parents and welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally to discuss why this service is vital to my children and HI children in Qld and help you to understand the importance of continuing this service further.

Tina Worland

 

How you can help:
ArticleAdvisoryVisitingTeachersEar Sign the Queensland Parliamentary petition here: Objection to removal of funding for AVT support teaching staff from Education Queensland to non-state and independent schools
ArticleAdvisoryVisitingTeachersEar If you have a child in the same situation, write your own letter or email detailing your story, opinions, feelings, anger, anxiety. Send your letter to all the email addresses:

 

Minister for Education Honourable Mr John-Paul Langbroek MP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Minister for Disability Services Honourable Ms Tracy Davis MP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Treasurer Honourable Mr Tim Nicholls MP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Opposition Education Annastacia Palaszczuk This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Opposition Disability Services Desley Scott This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Opposition Treasury Curtis Pitt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related Links:
Convention On The Rights Of Persons With DisabilitiesUN Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities
Newman’s numbers don’t add up on NDISServices Provided to Independent Schools by the Disability Services Support Unit Will Cease January 2013
Newman’s numbers don’t add up on NDISHear And Say

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