Cuts will cost the kids

Dave Hicks understands how important the role of an education assistant is. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d406558
Dave Hicks understands how important the role of an education assistant is. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d406558

Their daughter Mel suffered brain damage at birth and as a result, Mr Hicks became involved in Midway Community Care and Peel Community Living.

He and Elizabeth – a former education assistant – have first hand experience of the role that education assistants play in a child’s education and development.

Mr Hicks is outraged at recent job cuts made by the State Government.

These cuts extend to 350 education assistants and equal 500 job losses all up.

He fears that these cuts will extend to assistants in the education support area.

Mandurah MLA David Templeman said the cuts are an attack on the most vulnerable kids in our schools.

‘Hardworking education assistants work with children with disabilities, children with learning and behavioural problems and children who need constant one on one attention,’ he said.

‘It’s outrageous their jobs are at risk.’

Education assistant roles from kindergarten to Year 2 across WA will disappear.

Education Minister Peter Collier said the cuts were part of a major overhaul of public school funding.

Funding will be allocated on a child-by-child basis, based on individual needs, rather than by school types or programs.

The new model includes staff reductions where positions can no longer be justified, however teacher numbers would be maintained in 2014.

This is despite an increase in the State education budget of 6.3 per cent, since 2007.

‘Any teacher will tell you they can’t carry out their programs without education assistants,’ Mr Hicks said.

‘When the Education Minister said the only function these assistants have is to administer EpiPens, showed a total misunderstanding what these assistants do.

‘They get paid $30,000 to $35,000 a year; the Barnett government could pay eight education assistants’ wages out of Dixie Marshall’s (Premier Colin Barnett’s media adviser) salary.’