The NSW Labor Opposition has demanded that Mike Baird explain how he expects people with disabilities to get a job when he is cutting their opportunities through TAFE while Tony Abbott removes their income support.
Shadow Minister for Disability Services Barbara Perry said that it was shocking Tony Abbott was looking to cut the Disability Support Pension at the same time as Mike Baird has initiated cuts to TAFE that his own Government admits will cause disabled enrollments to plummet.
A leaked cabinet minute report also confirms that the Baird Government will refuse to help people with disabilities who suffer due to Abbott Government cutbacks.
“How disgraceful to see the federal and state Liberals ganging up to punish people with disabilities instead of supporting them to learn new skills and enter the workforce,” Ms Perry said.
“In Canberra, you’ve got Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews cutting the Disability Support Pension.
“Here in Sydney, you’ve got Mike Baird openly admitting his cuts to TAFE will put a qualification out of reach for thousands of people with disabilities.
“What do these Liberal politicians expect people with disabilities to do?
“I’ve never met a member of this community who didn’t desperately want to work or improve their skills to the extent that their impairment allows.
“All the Abbott and Baird Liberal Governments are doing is trapping people with disabilities in a cycle of poverty – where they will have no income support and no opportunity to develop the skills to earn a wage of their own.”
As reported on the weekend, under the Liberals’ so-called “Smart and Skilled” reforms, TAFE colleges face severe cuts to their capacity to support students with disabilities from January 1 next year.
The Government will only offer TAFE colleges a flat 15 per cent loading for each disabled student they enrol – a fraction of what is needed to fund sign language interpreters and note-takers or specialised programs such as ZoomText or JAWS for the vision-impaired.
In its own Budget papers the Government predicts its cuts will cause the number of TAFE students with disabilities to plummet by 4,300, compared with two years ago.
“For the Baird Government to knowingly design reforms that will lock students with disabilities out of TAFE is simply appalling,” Perry said.
Perry noted that the Baird Government was brazenly using the National Disability Insurance Scheme as cover to walk away from its own responsibilities to people with disabilities.
“Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are getting lost in the cracks with all the buck-passing going on.”
“We have a Federal and State Liberal Government who simply don’t care.”
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