Service providers call on the Victorian government to reinstate funding for disability, learning support, counselling and libraries

Tuesday 2 October, 2012: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Victorian Association of TAFE Libraries (VATL) have released a joint statement calling on the Victorian Government to reinstate the $170 million funding for TAFE libraries, student learning, counselling and disability support, which has been axed as part of the $300 million cut in TAFE funding.

“The Australian Library and Information Association, representing more than 5,500 library and information professionals, and the Victorian Association of TAFE Libraries, representing library and information professionals working in the state’s 74 TAFE libraries, support the call for a review of the $130m in reduced funding for courses and the reinstatement of the $170m full service provider funding.”

Sue McKerracher, executive director of ALIA, said, “This is a hidden effect of the Victorian Government’s cost-cutting. People are focused on the $300 million total cut, without realising that, within this, the funding for these essential services has been completely wiped out.

“Not only does this take away the guarantee of support for the most vulnerable TAFE students, in terms of library and information services, it further short changes TAFE students by comparison with university students. In Victorian TAFE libraries, there was an average of one library staff member for every 793 students, compared with one per 352 students in Victorian universities. Budgeting for Victorian TAFE libraries worked out at just $26 per student, compared with the $460 library expenditure for every university student1.

“We are not seeking parity, but the level of library funding for TAFE students is only 5% of that for university students, and TAFE students, who need more assistance with study, have less than half the number of library and information professionals to help guide them.”


1 Calculations based on CAUL and VATL 2010 statistical data

For more information about TAFE libraries in Victoria:
Victorian Association of TAFE Libraries
President Paul Kloppenborg E T (03) 9606 2235
Australian Library and Information Association
Executive Director Sue McKerracher E T 0404 456 749
Media Coordinator Erin York E T 02 6215 8219

What the students say about libraries:

“At the moment I feel we don’t have as many books as other TAFE or university libraries, I worry about the future with resources here. Compared to other places, we only have a couple of books for the number of students, it’s so inconvenient for me to have to travel to borrow these books somewhere else. When I heard about the funding cuts, I knew resources would be the first thing that would go.”

“We need the library. If the resources are not there, lots of people will just give up on education.”

“I am a social work student and studying in the library is, literally, the only way I am able to do my assignments. Without it I could not do my course. I spend entire days here studying and collaborating with other students. The recent cutbacks in staff and library hours and resources have seriously affected me and my fellow students, and the situation can only worsen if the cuts continue or are not reversed.”

“I come to the library for two or three days of the week. I need to have access to the internet for my VCE and certificate 3 studies. At home, my dial-up connection and the laptop that my niece handed on to me are slow and frustrating to use.”

“A lot of us cannot access Internet facilities at home and this is the only place where it is free.”

“The library provides a space where we can get together to discuss assignments.”

“The school *TAFE library is very important to students. The library is the most important facility we need to do our homework and research. Without the library, I don’t know how and where I can go to do my homework.”

“The library to me is very important for all forms of studies…the resources can be hard to find and most times unavailable. The library enables me to access these necessary resources for me to keep up with my courses and the experience is always productive and worthwhile. Without libraries where will people get their knowledge? ”

“The library is not only a source of study material but also a social centre for students, thus it is a crucial facility for all students. I personally find the library is a welcoming place for extended study. The staff are very helpful and obliging. Without the library I would find study resources very restrictive, which of course would be reflected in the success of my studies.”

“The library is a fantastic place to for somewhere to go to study in a quiet atmosphere. It has great resources and facilities for study with the books, computers and library staff."

“I do not have access to the internet at home so the library is essential to my education and the course I am currently studying. The library is a place where I can find information from books I could not find anywhere else.”

“Having unlimited and affordable access to the printers in the library became essential to my comprehension skills, as I needed hard copy to hand after I experienced Acquired Brain Injury as a result of several strokes. On occasions, librarians and support staff needed to physically turn the computer on and off for me when I couldn't even remember how to do that.”

“If I did not have the library for advice, support and assistance I would have struggled throughout my studies here at TAFE.”

What students say about disability support:

“I think that there should be integration aid in classes to help people that need help. Because for those people that are like me that want to study and get a job in the workforce it really does help, because while I am studying I can be listening to the teacher talk while I have a note taker writing down the important information that I may need. If I didn’t have an integration aid I would not be able to handle everything and it would take me even longer to either finish a task or even an assignment that would have to be done.”

“My son is in Year 12 doing his VCE this year, next year his pathway will be (would have been) TAFE, either in a school based apprentice or following a building and construction/ bricklaying pathway. Without support from an interpreter Blake will not be able to participate in classes as he relies solely on AUSLAN for his communication, he does not lip read. These funding cuts are pure discrimination against people with a disability.”

“I want to have the same rights as other hearing students in the class to be able to study, get certificate and find work in my chosen area. Unfortunately with government cutting funding for support services at TAFE, for me this means I will not be able to participate in further study without the support of a communication aide/interpreter.”

“The government’s announcement of its cuts to the TAFE budget has left me totally confused and anxious. Only four months ago I started a course at TAFE and felt like I had been given another chance at life. But now I am completely confused and wondering what will be the outcome with no funding. How do I attend classes without an aide? How do I get to study if there is no access to adaptive tools or the library? And will my course even be available to complete? Will I be able to be employed or do I have to face a future of darkness and being locked away from the rest of the world?”

Tuesday 02 October 2012 9:00am