My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Education, and it is about the review of special education in the Geelong and South Barwon region. During the last parliamentary sitting the member for South Barwon in the Assembly, Andrew Katos, tabled a petition of 1699 signatures, drawing the attention of the house to the unacceptable conditions of schools in the Geelong region for students who have an intellectual disability. The petition requested that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria commit to both short and long-term solutions, including building a new special school facility.
When questioned by parents of students at the school, the Baillieu government’s consistent response is that a review of special education in the Geelong and South Barwon region is under way. This has been reported a number of times, including in the Geelong Advertiser of 14 April this year.
However, when the Baillieu government is asked to explain what elements of special education in the Geelong and South Barwon region the review encompasses, who is conducting the review and when the review is anticipated to be completed, the government refuses to answer.
This has prompted the opposition to make a freedom of information request to the department on the review and any documents relating to this review and the Barwon Valley special school. The freedom of information request revealed that there are four documents relating to the request; however, the government will release only one of those documents, choosing to keep the other three documents from the Victorian public and the Barwon Valley special school community. One of the documents which will not be released is a briefing to the Minister for Education seeking approval of the findings of the special schools provision plan for the Barwon-south western region. Another document the government will not release is the special schools provision plan report attached to the briefing.
It has been made perfectly clear by the people who have signed the petition that the community is not satisfied with the facilities at the Barwon Valley special school. However, the Baillieu government is sitting on a report which seeks approval of the findings of the special schools provision plan and will not release its findings to the public. It raises the question: is the government hiding something, or is it simply too lazy to address the issues raised by the 1699 people who expressed concern? I request that the minister release the special school review and the review findings to assure students with a disability, their families and the Barwon Valley community that their needs are not being ignored by this government.