Inquiry into Access to TAFE for Learners with Disability – Economy and Infrastructure Committee

I am pleased to report on the recently tabled Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committee Inquiry into Access to TAFE for Learners with Disability. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this important inquiry that has identified that learners with disability face barriers to equal participation in our TAFE sector.

Whilst there is so much to say about this important report, I would like to take the opportunity to thank members of the Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committee, the committee’s secretariat and those who have taken the time to make submissions and be witnesses for the inquiry. During a very challenging year of COVID, our hearings were held virtually, and our work continued despite lockdowns, remote learning and all the challenges of the global pandemic.

Despite this, an excellent report has been delivered with 31 findings including that some people with disability do not get help to understand their choices after school, apply to go to TAFE, learn at TAFE and finish their TAFE course.

The inquiry also found that some people with disability feel scared to tell TAFE staff about their disability, ask for help at TAFE. We also found that some TAFEs could give more help to people with disability, and some TAFE teachers do not know how to help people with disability.

The inquiry has made 44 recommendations including that TAFEs should have staff to help people with disability move from school to TAFE, make it easy for people with disability to get help and give people with disability more help to learn and train staff to help people with disability. Further, DET should make clear rules about how TAFEs should help people with disability, give extra payments to TAFEs that help people with disability and get TAFEs to share resources for people with disability.

I wish to thank the chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, the member for Lara, for his leadership of this inquiry and his genuine interest in the area. I would also like to thank deputy chair the member for Narracan for his contribution to the committee. Since being appointed to the committee in 2019, it has been a very open, cooperative and supportive committee with members from both sides of the chambers working incredibly well together and being highly effective.

I have very much enjoyed working with the chair and deputy chair throughout this inquiry, as well as the member for Northcote, the member for Tarneit (until 17 February 2021), the member for Geelong (from 18 February 2021), the member for Sandringham (until 4 May 2021), the member for Ferntree Gully (from 4 May 2021) and the member for Euroa.

Thank you to our outstanding secretariat Ms Kerryn Riseley, committee manager;, Dr Marianna Stylianou, research officer; Ms Janelle Spielvogel, administrative officer; and Ms Anna Scott, administrative officer. It is a highly effective committee thanks to their great work, and I am sure I speak for all committee member when I say that we are very fortunate to have their support.

I want to thank the individuals and organisations who contributed submissions to the report, particularly those from Ballarat—Federation University, Mr Gabriel Gervasoni and the Ballarat Specialist School—and those from across Victoria, including Ms Madison Arimatea; Mr Johann Davey; Mr Darrell Saddington; Mr Peter Hirst; Mr Michael Meehan; Hume Valley School; I Am Ready partnership; Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism’s (Autism CRCs) Study of Australian School Leavers with Autism (SASLA); Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network; National Disability Services; Home Education Network; Australian Association oaf Special Education (AASE), Victorian chapter; Department of Education and Training; Victoria University Polytechnic; Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria; Victorian Trades Hall Council; Adult and Community Education Victoria; Neighbourhood Houses Victoria; Adult Learning Australia; Deaf Victoria; Children and Young People with Disability Australia; Brotherhood of St Laurence; Australian Education Union, Victorian branch; Swinburne University of Technology; Vision Australia; Mission Australia; Victorian Council of Social Service; Victorian Disability Advisory Council; Victorian TAFE Association; Dear Dyslexic Foundation; Aspergers Victoria; Amaze; Bendigo Kangan Institute; the Gordon Institute of TAFE; Melbourne Polytechnic; and GOTAFE.

I look forward to improving the access to TAFE for learners with disability as a result of this report.

Click here to read more of my contributions in Parliament. To access further Hansard transcripts, head to the Parliament of Victoria website.