6 October 2009
BER FARCE HITS STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Senator Mitch Fifield, the Coalition’s spokesman for Disabilities, today called on Education Minister Julia Gillard to promise that none of the Julia Gillard Memorial School Halls and Gymnasiums will compromise access to school buildings by students with disabilities.
Courtenay Gardens Primary School in the electorate of Holt, Victoria, has had wheelchair access to three classrooms demolished to make way for a Julia Gillard Memorial Gymnasium. Portable classrooms shoved aside to leave space for the gym were previously all wheelchair accessible.
According to the School Council President, Nathan Prowd, a concrete ramp to restore access is only being built for one of the classrooms. Roofing between classrooms to shelter students from rain and provide shade have also been torn down for the gym.
“This is just another bungle in the increasingly shambolic Building the Education Revolution program.
“This time, instead of taxpayers footing the bill for cost-blowouts, it is students who use a wheelchair who are being left out in the cold (literally),” said Senator Fifield.
“It is simply not good enough in the 21st century that all students are not able to access classrooms. It’s even more unacceptable in this case given their access has been compromised for the sake of a photo opportunity for a local Labor MP and a political advertisement for the Rudd Government out the front of the school.
“Julia Gillard must guarantee that these classrooms are rebuilt to be at least as accessible as they were prior to the building works, and that no other students with disabilities will be shut out of their classrooms because of the BER,” Senator Fifield said.