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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4688 ..


MRS DUNNE: So it is micro-economic reform to cut funding to deaf children and blind children in the ACT?

Mr Barr: To deliver services more efficiently.

Mr Seselja: A new definition. It is the Andrew micro-economic reform!

MRS DUNNE: A new definition of micro-economic reform? This is an example of micro-economic reform: cutting funding to deaf children and blind children in his department and shifting the cost somewhere else—shifting the cost to the parents and to Joy Burch’s department, because he does not care. He went on to say:

This government remains committed to our budget target and to achieving the efficient delivery of public services across all ACT government departments.

If you have to be efficient by cutting funding to deaf children and blind children, you have got your priorities wrong.

It goes back to the point made by Mr Seselja. Mr Seselja made the point that they failed to cut years ago and that the people who are bearing the brunt of those cuts today are the most vulnerable in the community. And people are not off the hook. Mr Doszpot and Mr Seselja read out the list of functions inside the department of education—front-line functions that help vulnerable people but that are potentially going to be cut.

I, too, would like to share some of the thoughts of the parents involved in this situation with the Assembly. We have the permission of the writers to read these letters. This again is a letter to Mr Barr. It reads:

My daughter is a 13 year old year 7 student in the A.C.T public school system. She has a vision impairment. A description of her vision impairment is as follows, bilateral high myopia of -16 right and left eye, mild bilateral subluxation of her lenses, bilateral cataract significant on the right, extensive bilateral chorioretinal atrophy involving the macula of both eyes and right extropia with some horizontal nystagmus. Her visual acuity is less than 6/60.

Does this description give you any idea of the functional vision my daughter has?

It does not to me, because I am not an expert. The letter continues:

Does it give you any idea of the optimum way for curriculum to be presented in a mainstream classroom setting in order to achieve the best possible educational outcome for my daughter? Do you think your everyday classroom teacher would have any better idea? Would the teacher know what sort of modifications to text are necessary and what sort of formats can make it virtually impossible for any significant learning to occur? Would they know what sort of lighting, seating position in classrooms, expectations of output of work my daughter is capable of in a set period of time? Not to mention where do the difficulties presented by the visual impairment finish and learning difficulties that have nothing to do with poor vision begin? Unfortunately our experience shows that the answer is “No”.


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