Victorian Council of Deaf People Inc (VCOD) was established in 1982 as result of an identified need for deaf people to represent deaf people in all areas of public life.
Since that time VCOD has grown to become the peak deaf organisation of deaf people in Victoria. We are now a statewide government-funded organisation, funded through the Department of Human Services and Department of Planning and Community Development.
VCOD is an advocacy and information service provider and is affiliated with Deaf Australia.
The philosophy behind VCOD is that deaf people have an equal right to take part in and have access to all areas of community life and to do so with great pride as deaf individual.
The role of VCOD is to be accountable and responsive to the needs and feelings of deaf people living in Victoria. VCOD achieves this by consulting widely within the deaf and wider hearing communities to provide advocacy, advice, support, and information services.
College for deaf fights to save primary school and garden
December 7, 2010
Not for sale: Teachers, students and parents fear a primary school for the deaf and its garden will be sacrificed to developers. Photo: Penny Stephens
THE Victorian College for the Deaf is fighting to save its primary school, produce garden and other facilities that teachers say will be ''bulldozed'' if part of its land on St Kilda Road is sold to developers.
A section of the school site behind the frontage at 597 St Kilda Road has been listed in an expressions of interest campaign for sale or lease. Agents Kliger Wood's are marketing it as a multi-level development opportunity, which it is believed could fetch up to $20 million.
However, teachers, students and parents at the college that celebrated 150 years last month have reacted angrily, posting ''not for sale'' signs around the school.
The college has 68 students from prep to year 12, of whom 20 attend the primary school that is on the land in question.
The expression of interest listing is the climax in a disagreement between the college and charity Deaf Children Australia, which manages the school land.
''We intend to fight every step of the way to keep our school,'' said teacher of 28 years Angela Maclean. ''It is the home and the heart and soul of the deaf community.''
Ms Maclean said the primary school building, woodwork room, productive garden, car park and an award-winning Trade Block Cafe run by students would be ripped down, under plans by Deaf Children Australia.
''They intend to make as much money as they can and take away from the very children they profess to support.''
But Deaf Children Australia chief executive Damian Lacey said the charity had been providing the land free and paying the expensive upkeep of what was essentially a state school, since the Education Department tried to close the college 20 years ago. The charity had also paid $4.5 million to rebuild the college without charging the department.
He said college facilities would be moved to another part of the site should a potential sale or lease of the land demand it.
''The current expression of interest process is about creating a new vision for the property, including the retention of the school and also the development of a strong and viable community centre,'' he said.
''There is strong support in the deaf community for the process under way, although we do acknowledge there are some parties who are disaffected or misinformed and we intend to talk further with them.
''The board of DCA has given its assurances to the school and the department that it intends to honour all agreements.''
Teacher Jo Tilley said it was ''massive a slap in the face'' to the deaf community, most of whom opposed the sale or lease of the land.
Ms Tilley said she spent five years building the productive garden, using more than $15,000 in grants, including money from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation.
''You can't replace money that's been spent and a whole school co-operative effort to build that organic, sustainable garden,'' she said.
Another teacher, Kerrie Miller, said: ''We are absolutely outraged and distressed by Deaf Children Australia's move to put up the 'for sale' sign, knowing that we are against it.''
Acting principal Maureen Douglas said she had been in talks with Mr Lacey for several months in an effort to halt any sale or lease of the land and would now seek a meeting with the Baillieu government.
She said the school had an important a role to play in the deaf community.
Video / Photos