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Vocational Education and Training

The VET Sector is comprised of much more than the local TAFE. It can sometimes be a complex and confusing set of options, which may be further compounded by differing policies such as the current federal government focus on employment outcomes. You may be assisting your son or daughter to try and navigate this system.

What does VET mean?

VET is an acronym for 'Vocational Education and Training' and the first step to understanding the VET Sector is to understand the "players" in that sector. It is also crucial to understand that the VET Sector operates on a system of delivering a range of industry approved training packages that meet nationally endorsed standards. These training packages define the competencies required for successful completion of the qualification as well as providing assessment guidelines set out by the particular industry.

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What is a Training Package?

VET education is based around what is called competency based training. This means that someone studying a VET course proves their competency to perform certain tasks. When all competencies are met or satisfied, the student receives the qualification.The required competencies are outlined in the training package that the course uses. Training packages are developed as a result of consultation with the specific industry involved in the vocation or job. These are then agreed upon and standardised across all of Australia.This is very different to how schools teach. They use curriculum to define what is taught and exams to assess if the student has learnt the required work as well as to create a grade or mark to indicate how satisfactorily the student has performed. What is taught varies between states and territories and sometimes even from school to school.

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Where can you study in VET?

The VET Sector is made up of training in a number of different types of educational settings:

  • Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions (large institutions where a range of courses are offered from the training of apprentices in traditional apprentice agreements to Advanced Diplomas)
  • Private Registered Training Authorities (RTOs) (usually very small, private providers teaching the same training packages taught in TAFE, but usually specialising in a single, subject-specific area)
  • Other small Adult Community and Further Education (ACFE) providers such as Neighbourhood Houses (usually very small organisations which have as their focus courses of interest to their local community; they do not normally offer training packages, per se)
  • Group Training Companies (where apprentices are employed and trained by a company, but are placed with host employers for the practical aspects of their training)
  • Secondary Schools (where VET is part of the year 11/12 curriculum)

For potential students who are deaf, as well as for their parents, all of the options can be confusing and it can be difficult to know which pathway would be the most suited to their needs. As a parent, you may be supporting your deaf adolescent to make suitable choices with regard to an education provider.It is important for both you and your son or daughter to understand the different settings, how they are funded and how this could impact on the provision of support that is needed (e.g. interpreters, notetakers, additional tutorial support, etc.). back to top

The importance of good career advice

Even before trying to access the VET Sector, a deaf adolescent is already faced with some challenges in trying to navigate "the System." The Centre of Excellence has recently completed a research project,Connecting the Dots, which examined the process of transition from school to tertiary education to employment. One of the issues identified was that many deaf secondary students do not access specialist advice regarding career options. As a result, they are frequently misinformed about what options are open to them as a deaf adult; this misinformation is frequently based on misconceptions about deafness and what a deaf person can or cannot do in the world of work.You may need to support your son or daughter to challenge misconceptions about what s/he can or cannot do. Use Google to search key words - for example, deaf + motor mechanic - will lead you to websites where deaf and hard of hearing people work in certain industries and professions. Armed with that information, you can then ensure you get career advice that is accurate.

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What rights do deaf people in VET have?

Before entering into the VET sector, it is important to be aware of what rights your son or daughter has when engaging with it. Basically, there are three pieces of legislation that protect their rights whilst participating in TAFE or university. These three are:

  • Disability Discrimination Act (1992)
  • Equal Opportunity Act (1995)
  • Disability Standards for Education (2005)

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education (Education Standards) are both federal government legislation that are actually linked. The DDA was passed first and required that educational institutions not discriminate against a potential or actual student on the basis of disability. It also provided that 'reasonable' adjustments be made to enable a student with a disability to access the course and institution of their choosing, assuming that entrance requirements were met. Over time, it was acknowledge that the Act did not provide sufficient clarity regarding the meaning of support and/or 'reasonable' adjustments. Therefore, the Education Standards were developed and enacted by the Federal Government to inform compliance with the DDA.

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What support can be provided?

The DDA allows for the provision of support for deaf and hard of hearing students in either TAFE or university. Support can be:

  • an Auslan/English interpreter
  • a notetaker
  • real time captioning
  • a tutor
  • a participation assistant
  • technology, such as an RF unit
  • classroom adjustments
  • negotiation for 'oral' exams rather than written ones
  • negotiation for extra exam time
  • other identified needs

The Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) is Victorian legislation and only covers events within the state of Victoria. It covers several types of discrimination, of which one is discrimination on the basis of disability. It is not as prescriptive as the combined DDA and Education Standards, but it is one avenue that can be used if discrimination occurs.Under either one of the Acts, DDA or EOA, a complaint can be made. There are varying legal reasons that one would chose one or the either. It is best to seek advice from a qualified legal professional before deciding which Act to use as the basis of a complaint. Within Victoria, it is possible to contact the Disability Discrimination Legal Service, which can provide you with free advice in relation to such discrimination cases. Their Melbourne based, voice number is 9654 8644; for country callers, their voice number is 1300 882 872. Their TTY number is 9654 6817.

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Information provided by the Centre for Excellence for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NMIT)
Reproduced with permission.

10-Nov-2015 8:23 PM (AEST)