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March 29, 2003

Deaf students in need

From: Warrnambool Standard, Australia - Mar 29, 2003

THE Government must act on its own commissioned report to improve education services for hearing impaired children in south-west Victoria, member for South West Coast Denis Napthines told State Parliament.

"There are 40 school-age deaf and hearing impaired children in south-west Victoria and they are suffering severely in their education with a lack of quality visiting teacher services in that specialist area," Dr Napthine told parliament.

"The State Government commissioned an absolutely brilliant report on the issue and they've done absolutely nothing about it," he said.

Key recommendations contained in the report released last December, following a $93,000 study, included the appointment of a statewide co-ordinator for deaf education and a scholarship system to train teachers to become specialist teachers for hearing impaired students.

It also recommends funding a regional consultant for hearing impaired students and localised visiting specialist consultants to work with teachers and school communities.

The new model would cost about $220,000 yearly and the scholarships would be a $40,000 one-off cost.

South West Hearing Support Group president Greg Lee, who has a nine-year-old hearing impaired daughter, said: "All we are after in this region is having the recommendations in that report funded.

"It's a total and absolute disgrace that the Government wouldn't provide the funding. The study behind the report cost $93,000 and it's fairly ridiculous if you run with such an impressive study and then throw it in a drawer," Mr Lee said.

The report was the result of a partnership between the Education Department, South-West Hearing Support Group which has been lobbying for improved services, and Victorian Services for Deaf children.

A statewide study will be considered with the south-west study, Education Services Minister Jacinta Allan said.
- Report: EVE LAMB

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