Public must learn that TAFE is under threat

Robert Long
TAFE Organiser

National TAFE Day on June 18 is a great opportunity to inform colleagues, students, local community and industry that public education at the post school level is under enormous threat.

Community awareness is needed to make TAFE funding a major issue at the 2015 state election.

Under the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled policy all vocational education and training funds will be subject to competitive tender — non-TAFE registered training organisations will be able to compete for funds that traditionally went to the TAFE system.

TAFE members are called on to organise National TAFE Day actions such as morning teas, BBQs or other activities to highlight the importance of TAFE as the preeminent public education institution in NSW.

The Coalition Government planned to implement the Smart and Skilled policy in January and then again in July 2014, but implementation has been delayed after Federation campaigning raised concerns about the impacts the policy would have on students, teachers and local communities.

As TAFE NSW prepares for the privatisation proposed by the State Government no amalgamations have yet been proposed, but courses have been cut, student fees and debt have increased and permanent and casual part time teachers have lost some or all of their work, including more than 400 teaching and support staff positions lost.

The union will continue to campaign for recurrent funding to ensure the viability of NSW TAFE.

Members are encouraged to send photos of National TAFE Day activities to www.stoptafecuts.com.au.

Local colleges have been lost

Privatisation policies in other states have resulted in TAFE institute mergers, amalgamations and partnerships.

Millions of dollars per year have been cut from the Victorian TAFE system since the Victorian Training Guarantee was implemented in 2008. More than 71 per cent of public VET funding is allocated for contestability between TAFE and private for profit training organisations. More than 2000 permanent teachers have been made redundant. Gipps and Advance TAFEs are to merge and in 2016 they will become part of Federation University (formerly Ballarat University).

From July 1 public VET funding will be fully contestable in Queensland. The Newman Government is to split TAFE building and assets from TAFE and allow private for profit companies access to TAFE college facilities. The colleges will be managed on a commercial basis; not just for public education. Some colleges could be sold. Queensland TAFE teachers are facing an attack on their working conditions and 212 educational staff has been offered redundancies.

In South Australia more than 74 per cent of public funding is contestable between TAFE and private for profit training organisations. Three South Australian TAFE institutes amalgamated into one organisation in February, resulting in more than 350 permanent job losses.