Parents, teachers, and advocates breathed a sigh of relief as the Andrews Government announced its decision to preserve visiting teacher positions, which cater to students with disabilities in Victorian public schools.
The reversal came in response to growing concerns from the Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian Branch, parents, and disability advocacy groups. The decision ensures that students with significant additional needs continue to receive education and support from visiting teachers.
The move follows the Education Department’s initial plan to slash 325 full-time equivalent jobs, including 85 from the longstanding visiting teacher program. This program offers one-on-one support to disabled students within state schools.
Education Minister Natalie Hutchins acknowledged the collaborative consultation process that led to the decision, affirming that the visiting teacher program would be sustained as part of a broader $1.6 billion disability inclusion initiative spanning five years, as reported by The Age.
Meredith Peace, Victorian Branch president of AEU, commended members for their dedicated efforts against the proposed cuts.
“This is an important win for our members and the students, their families, and schools they
work with,” she said. “By highlighting the important role visiting teachers play in our schools, we have been able to ensure the continuation of this important program.”
The minister’s decision also relieved stress among parents who had been anxious since the job cuts were announced.
One parent, Deborah Clarke, expressed her relief and gratitude for the reversal. Her 15-year-old son, Christopher, who deals with triplegic cerebral palsy and other challenges, depended on a specialized visiting teacher.
The visiting teacher supported Christopher’s full engagement in his education and provided strategies for other teachers to accommodate his unique needs.
“Without her input, I don’t think he would be at a mainstream school,” Clarke told The Age. “He doesn’t want to go to a specialist school. It’s just not the right fit.”
Peace underlined the importance of the decision in preserving the vital role of visiting teachers across Victoria’s public schools. “Visiting teachers are expert, specialised teachers who play a crucial role in our public schools and help ensure that students in need get the supports they require to thrive academically and socially,” she said.
“We are pleased the Minister has genuinely engaged with the AEU, parents, disability advocacy groups, families and the community and taken this proposal off the table,” Peace added.
“This Union win ensures that visiting teachers will continue to play an important role across Victoria’s public schools.”