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Published on the VCOSS Voice on 30 May 2012.
The Save TAFE Auslan campaign is holding a silent march from Federation Square to Parliament House in Melbourne today (Wednesday) to protest the scrapping of Auslan at the Kangan Institute of TAFE in the wake of State Government budget cuts.
A community run petition has also been launched following the announcement by the Kangan Institute that it can no longer viably run the Diploma of Auslan, and is closing its department in December 2012.
The petition notes that the diploma is the only one of its kind available in Victoria and that its loss will profoundly impact on services to the deaf community, saying:
‘Overall the result would be a devastating setback in the rights of Deaf people and their access to unobstructed information, communication and services by means of reintroducing a severe cultural and language barrier’.
The personal impact of the axing of the course was powerfully outlined last week in The Age - A swing of the government axe restores the deaf penalty – by Karen McQuigg who told how she had completed the Auslan diploma some years ago – not to become an interpreter, but because she suddenly became deaf and could no longer communicate well enough to find a job.
As she explained:
‘I had never experienced the sudden cold feeling of seeing people I knew from my son’s school cross the road when they saw me coming because they did not know how to communicate with me anymore. Becoming deaf changed everything. Going to Kangan and learning Auslan changed it back.
The course connected me to a close-knit group held together by language and culture (collectively known as the deaf community), and introduced me to a beautifully expressive community language that sometimes expresses emotion better than English ever can.
Sometimes I find myself reverting unconsciously to a sign to try to convey the feeling more succinctly.’
The State Govenrment has accused Kangan TAFE of being ‘deceptive and duplicitous’ in presenting its decision to cease training in Auslan as a result of budget cuts, and says it has taken steps to ensure Auslan training can continue in Victoria.
Read more about the issue:
Crikey backgrounder by Adam Schembri: TAFE turns a blind eye to the deaf
7 News: TAFE scraps only Auslan course in the state
Statement from the Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall: Setting the record straight on Auslan
Save TAFE Auslan course campaign website
Or watch the ABC’s 7-30 Victoria report: Institute denies it wanted to drop Auslan course