Candidates for the Bega and Monaro electorates informed voters about their TAFE policies and heard about voters’ concerns for TAFE’s future at recent community forums.
Federation held the forums as part of the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign.
At the Bega forum on July 22 sitting Liberal member and Treasurer Andrew Constance was an apology and replaced by Upper House MLC Matthew Mason Cox. The ALP was represented by local candidate Leanne Atkinson and John Kaye MLC represented the NSW Greens. AEU National TAFE Secretary Pat Forward gave the local audience an overview of the state of TAFE across Australia.
Local Bega TAFE teachers expressed their concern about preparation for Smart and Skilled funding cuts that are increasing class sizes, reducing support for students with a disability, and seeing the reduction of permanent teaching positions. A number of TAFE students complained to all candidates that the increased fees in 2015 would be unfair.
In Moruya on July 22 the Treasurer was again an apology which disappointed the full house crowd: TAFE teachers in the crowd had many questions for Mr Constance.
The common thread of questions from the audience related to the dramatic cuts the new Smart and Skilled educational policy of the state Government will have on students enrolled at TAFE.
On July 24, 60 people came to hear ALP candidate Steve Whan, South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris and Pat Forward in Cooma. Unfortunately the local National Party Member, John Barilaro, did not attend.
A local business person commented that rural students at Cooma TAFE require extra funding to ensure they have access to quality vocational education. Steve Whan confirmed that the ALP, if elected to Government in March 2015, would dismantle and stop the Smart and Skilled fee increases.
Local teacher Rita Brademann expressed concern that the negative implications of cuts to TAFE students learning had not been fully analysed. TAFE teachers are deeply concerned for our students and the local industry.
Cuts to TAFE are now impacting directly on the education of our local TAFE colleges. Federation will continue to campaign to stop these cuts to TAFE students and ensure that all students have access to high quality vocational education.