Celebrations reflect on TAFE's achievements

TAFE teachers and students took time out on National TAFE Day on June 18 to reflect on TAFE’s achievements as a public education institution and the positive influence it has on students’ lives.

During celebrations it was also noted that TAFE adds to the economy and culture of local communities.

National TAFE Day was enthusiastically celebrated at Nirimba campus with the theme “TAFE too good to lose”. The packed lunchtime gathering of teachers and students in the campus courtyard was entertained by the sounds of modern soul music. Fabulous student divas sang in three-part harmony. A singer-songwriter belted out his own original rhythmic pop. The spirited time was completed by all supporting and signing up to the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign.

OTEN, the distance/online college of TAFE NSW located at Strathfield Sydney, celebrated National TAFE Day with a gathering at lunch time. For more than 100 years OTEN has been offering high quality distance/online courses in both vocational and second chance education. It has catered to those who cannot access face to face study for a variety of reasons such as work and family commitments, location in regional and remote country areas or overseas or due to disability or incarceration. Years of cuts to funding by state and federal governments and contestable funding under the Smart and Skilled policy threaten this vital and important publicly owned educational asset.

A morning tea was held at Grafton TAFE to celebrate National TAFE Day. Both students and teachers gathered to share their stories of the wonderful benefits that TAFE have provided over the years for the local community. Recent impacts of reduced funding, course loss and increased fees were also discussed. The most compelling moment was when a mature-aged prospective student, a single mother of a disabled son, emerged from an information session in tears. The would-be student explained that the fees needed to enrol in her preferred hospitality course were beyond her financial reach and therefore her prospects of reemployment were further dashed.

A BBQ was held at Maclean TAFE. The Student Association and local TAFETA branch organised for teachers and students to come together over a sausage sizzle to hear how TAFE was a vital part of the social fabric of regional communities. It was also alarming to hear what the introduction of the State Government’s Smart and Skilled privatisation policy might mean for the small but vibrant college.

At Moree a morning tea was held in the library to celebrate National TAFE Day and inform students about the implications of the Smart and Skilled policy.

Armidale had a street stall where community members received information to educate them in the lead up to the NSW March 2015 election.

At St Leonards a barbecue provided a great opportunity to provide students with Stop TAFE cuts campaign material.

National TAFE Day was also celebrated across the Hunter and Illawarra TAFE. In Cessnock local ALP state MP Clayton Barr declared his support for his local college and the important role the local TAFE teachers play in the social and economic development of the his electorate.

On the south coast, Wollongong and Moruya colleges held events with students, teachers and support staff. Students discussed the importance of low cost accessible vocational offered by TAFE. It is essential that all students can access TAFE not just those that can afford to pay.

Please ensure all members of your staff have joined the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign by signing up.

Written by TAFE Organisers Sharryn Usher, Rob Long, Kathy Nicholson and the Assistant General Secretary (Post School Education) Maxine Sharkey.

School-aged and Indigenous students

Stop TAFE Cuts campaign materials that focus on school-aged and Indigenous students are available on request.