Shadow Education Minister, Yvette D’Ath, says students with special needs are being shut out of TAFE courses because of the Newman Government’s massive hikes to course costs.

“Lifting course fees from $160 to $800 does not offer students the ‘bright future’ the LNP keeps talking about,” Ms D’Ath said.

“There isn’t a sector of the community that hasn’t been hammered by the Newman Government’s increases to the cost of living and the 2014 State Budget did nothing to ease the burden.876052-0a5ed4e6-096b-11e3-9655-84cdc5664765

“The TAFE sector in particular is becoming unaffordable, especially for those that rely on it the most.

“TAFEs provide courses for those with learning difficulties or living with a disability because private sector providers won’t, yet the Newman Government is simply making it too expensive.

“The Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek has dismissed concerns by suggesting these are not courses that have an economic value and by offloading them to community groups to deliver.

“But we are talking about courses in basic maths, literacy, and IT skills. These are general courses that equip people with the skills they need for day-to-day living or if they want to enter the workforce.

“People undertaking these courses want to go to TAFE as students just like other people in our community.

“But in many cases, course costs are increasing from around $160 to $800 from 1 July and students will need to be re-enroll as new students so they will face the higher fees.

“If you’re on a disability pension, that puts a TAFE course out of reach.

“We’re also being told that some of these courses are being cut without students being told, interrupting their path to a specific certificate level.

“By making it harder for people to go to TAFE, the Newman Government is stunting their ability to gain skills that will help them get a job and robbing them of crucial opportunities to participate in the community and improve their social and communications skills.

“The Minster claims he wants to support only courses that lead to a job but his own government is failing to create jobs — our jobless rate has jumped from 5.5% to 6.3% under the LNP despite Campbell Newman saying he had a plan to head our state towards 4% unemployment.

“We also need to ensure that people who may not be able to access a job can attain the basic skills through literacy, numeracy or IT courses so that they can contribute to our community and enrich their own lives.

“Queenslanders want to live in an inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to develop their skills and contribute to the economy though getting a job.

“The Newman Government is making an ideological decision to exclude these people from the TAFE sector.

“The Premier and the Education Minister should immediately explain to those affected why they’re making it too difficult for them to skill-up and prepare to enter the workforce,” Ms D’Ath said.

She said by contrast the Labor Party’s Jobs Queensland initiative released last week would specifically encourage people living with disabilities to enter the work force.



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