ADJOURNMENT – Victorian certificate of applied learning: funding – Tuesday, 25 Oct 2011

Posted on 28. Nov, 2011 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — The matter I raise tonight is for the attention of the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that funding for the Victorian certificate of applied learning (VCAL) for 2012 and beyond be restored as a matter of urgency. The withdrawal of funding for the VCAL program is part of a disturbing trend of the Baillieu government. My electorate of Clayton has three secondary schools within its boundaries, two government schools and one independent school, which all operate the VCAL program. This year Westall Secondary College has been operating the VCAL program off site at two locations. It is a successful program. In fact it is so successful the college was intending to expand it by also operating two classes at the main campus in 2012. The funding cut to this school will be $105 000, and it is unacceptable and intolerable.
I take pride in the fact that Westall Secondary College is one of the few schools that offers English as a second language VCAL, with many of the students coming from refugee backgrounds. This year Westall Secondary College VCAL students of Burmese descent won a major prize at the Bayside Film Festival for a documentary film about their journey from Burma to the freedom of Australia. Westall’s program also achieved further success in that its 2011 local education and employment re engagement program won a major prize for being an excellent community VCAL provider, awarded by the Bayside Glen Eira Kingston Local Learning and Employment Network.
Westall Secondary College operates in a low socioeconomic environment and is doing significant work with refugee students, new migrants and disengaged students from its catchment area and from other local secondary colleges. It is extremely important that these marginalised young people do not slip outside the system. In fact it will be a failure of this government if it turns its back on these young people. The funding cut means that money will need to be found from an already tight school budget, and it could see the school operate in deficit.
I implore the minister to take immediate action to restore funding, provide certainty to this college and to all 400 providers and, most of all, show support to our most vulnerable and needy students.


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