School looks to pay debts

Alan Lachman, founder of Insight Education Centre for the Blind and Vision Impaired, says it did not have the support of the Department of Education and Trainin. 177499_08. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Brendan Rees

The state’s only specialised school for blind children, in Berwick has officially entered administration but its founder says “no one is walking away” and are determined to “rebuild.”

After closing its doors in February this year, the founder of Insight Education Centre for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Alan Lachman said Insight was now focused on paying its debts.

“Whatever it is the creditors agree to, whatever that is, then the directors of Insight will meet that in the next month,” he said.

“There might be some asset sales but certainly not the building.”

The school made headlines earlier this year when it revealed at the beginning of 2018, there were only 11 students enrolled. By the end of 2018, Mr Lachman said three or four students were made to enrol in a mainstream school and the rest graduated.

The school went into administration on 27 March after Mr Lachman conceded “we had no option.”

Mr Lachman, informed the Department that the school decided not to operate in 2019 or 2020. There were no students enrolled at the former non-government school at the time it went in to administration.

Following the appointment of a voluntary administrator, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority cancelled Insight’s registration as it was no longer compliant with the minimum standards for registration as a school.

When asked how much money Insight was in debt, Mr Lachman said “I haven’t got the exact figure.”

“Everybody seems to focus on the money,” he said. “The main thing is we need to find a new strategy that allows us to deliver not exactly the same service but similar.

“The board is not walking away. I’m not walking away. No one’s walking away,” he said.

Mr Lachman put down a “lack of a partnership of any kind” with Department of Education and Training for the reason of a lack of student enrolments.

“Without support from the Department of Education and Training there are no students – simple as that.”

He said Insight was hopeful of a State Government promise of $1.5 million in funding however “the department made them drag out the negotiations as long as possible until we had no time left.”

Federal La Trobe MP Jason Wood said the closure of Insight was an “absolutely inexcusable behaviour” by the State Government.

“It not only jeopardizes the futures of blind and vision impaired students across the state, but it’s also a colossal waste of Victorian taxpayer funds.”