THE state government will revive Victoria’s only remaining sign language diploma course as it moves to stem the damage of Ted Baillieu’s TAFE cuts.
From the middle of next year, anyone who wants to learn Australian Sign Language will be subsidised by the government in a newly revamped Auslan training program.
The decision to reinstate the course comes after Kangan Institute — which now runs the state’s only sign language diploma — told students in May that it could no longer offer Auslan beyond 2013 as a result of the government’s budget cuts. GippsTAFE also withdrew its Auslan program last year.
Kangan’s decision sparked a backlash against the government, which subsequently commissioned a review into how Auslan is delivered in Victoria. The review’s findings, to be released today, suggest previous courses were not commercially viable, hard to access, and failed to keep pace with the needs of the deaf community.
“There is a general agreement from participants that current Auslan course delivery has, on the whole, not kept pace with the needs and requirements of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community or the learning needs of current and future student cohorts,” says the report.
Skills Minister Peter Hall said that, given the economic and social importance of Auslan, the government would undertake a competitive tender process to ensure a capped number of places could be delivered from mid-2013.
Students would be able to enrol in a certificate or diploma program, and training is expected to cost less than it has in the past (Kangan’s diploma, for instance, cost students up to $2000 in fees under the current funding system).
Labor spokesman Steve Herbert described the tender process as a wasteful “bureaucratic exercise.”
“Clearly there’s a need for this training, and the government should simply fund a TAFE to provide it from the start of next year,” he said.
Other problems identified in the government’s report include:
■ The lack of access to Auslan programs for people living outside of Melbourne.■ The need to improve career pathways for students of Auslan, including for secondary school students.■ The shortage of Auslan teachers, trainers and interpreters, particularly in rural and regional Victoria.■ The need for a new funding model to ensure courses were commercially viable in future.
The decision to reinstate Auslan comes as the government continues to take a hit over its $300 million cuts to TAFE, particularly in regional Victoria.
Australian Education Union TAFE vice president Greg Barclay said he supported the decision to reinstate the course, but questioned how the new program would be funded.
Kangan spokeswoman Yvette Bockisch also welcomed the government’s decision.
“The Auslan course provides a very important course to the deaf community. The majority of our students are hearing students and are learning the language to become interpreters at RMIT,” she said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.