Who stands up for TAFE ideals and principles?

Dinoo Kelleghan

Pat Forward warned that the problems facing vocational training are showing up on the horizon for schools

TAFE teachers have been attacked in every way and yet, AEU Deputy Federal Secretary Pat Forward told Federation members at Annual Conference, compare their attitude and that of their employers towards the institution they all serve.

“When we have asked our members to stand up for the ideals and principles of public education in TAFE institutions they have done so — even though TAFE employers have attacked them, undermined them, under-resourced them and, often, sacked them. State governments, the ‘owners’ of the state system, exhibit no pride in their work and have shown little courage in standing up to defend the ideals of TAFE,” Ms Forward told members at Annual Conference.

TAFE is the worst-funded education sector, she said.

Ms Forward warned that the problems facing public vocational education are showing up on the horizon for public education in schools. She condemned the belief on both sides of politics that “a public good such as education can be determined by the market”. Also addressing Annual Conference, AEU President Correna Haythorpe calld on all members to stand alongside TAFE colleagues in the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign.

“You know that TAFEs are under attack from an agenda of privatisation that has seen huge numbers of taxpayer dollars go to low-quality private providers and caused massive problems for students and our TAFE colleagues,” she said.

“The Coalition...will do nothing to fix this — all it has on offer is a cap on the flawed VET Fee-Help system, which limits providers to making the same amount of inflated profit this year as they did in 2015. The ALP has taken some steps towards protecting TAFE but neither major party has agreed to our position that 70 per cent of contestable funding must be reserved for TAFE.”