Campus closures are like a runaway train

Rob Long
Kathy Nicholson

TAFE Organisers

The Liberal-National Coalition fire-sale of TAFE campuses is rolling along in NSW like an unstoppable train. Did NSW vote for this?

According to a leaked cabinet in-confidence document published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the government had plans to sell 27 TAFE sites across NSW. Entire campuses would be sold off, including Chullora, Murwillumbah, Narrandera, Corowa and Dapto.

TAFE teacher members have since been told by management that the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled funding model provides insufficient funding for TAFE to maintain its many campuses.

Figures from the leaked document include $32 million for new projects, but more than half of this is earmarked for IT, with expectations of increased online course delivery. And $10 million is earmarked for relocating services from sold-off campuses, presumably to proposed ‘pop-up’ shopfronts.

This does not wash with TAFE teachers who face hugely increased workloads brought on by the EBS computer system. Teachers continue to report that TAFE is spending lots of money on bandaids that do not fix the system.

The planned closures in the leaked document are now becoming evident. It was revealed that Quirindi TAFE campus in New England would be closed. In an email to staff, management said it was “relinquishing an old facility that is no longer fit-for-purpose” and replacing it with a leased shopfront.

The introduction of Smart and Skilled has seen all TAFE courses and staff removed from Dapto TAFE. Local community members witnessed NSW police inspecting the college last year amid rumours the college would become an anti-terrorist training centre.

Skills Minister John Barilaro announced on February 16 that NSW Police will lease Dapto TAFE for the next three years.

The college will remain in public ownership. Illawarra Institute will open a shopfront “Learning Centre” in the Dapto shopping centre. It will be opened by Mr Barilaro in April.

When were the people of NSW, who own the public TAFE system, asked if they agreed to the closure of TAFE campuses and sell-off of sites?

This process of defunding and then closing TAFE sites is having a devastating impact on enrolments, especially on the ability of the system to deliver trades-training in areas such as western Sydney and in rural and disadvantaged communities in NSW.

Federation urges members, family and friends to contact their NSW State MP today and ask them what they are doing to stop the TAFE selloff.

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