Federation, the Public Service Association and John Kaye MLC put their messages across at Blue Mountains TAFE.

Rough seas for TAFE

David Pisani
Relieving TAFE Organiser

A catamaran and sheep were seen on the TAFE campaign trail on February 21.

The catamaran, made by TAFE students and displaying the Public Service Association’s banner “Save Our TAFE”, travelled to four venues across western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

More than 100 students, staff and the general public stood by the catamaran for a joint unions rally at Mt Druitt TAFE.

The crowd heard the O’Farrell Government had deleted 43 full-time positions from local TAFE campuses in 2013, while youth unemployment in the area was running at 15 per cent.

The next whistle stop was on the green pastures outside Richmond TAFE, where the Federation and Public Service Association delegation was welcomed by students, teachers, members of the general public and some sheep.

The audience heard of severe cutbacks in plumbing and electro-technology courses at various colleges: that face-to-face teaching hours have been wound back, courses abandoned or transferred to online learning in the Agriculture section at Richmond TAFE, and floristry students are being forced to travel further to attend courses that were once offered locally.

After Richmond it was a race to get to Blue Mountains TAFE at Wentworth Falls. The delegation was greeted by the student union president Rod Wilson. He said many students were on concession rates and would not be able to afford the high fees they would be expected to pay. Many do not want to take out a VET FEE-HELP loan as they do not want a debt after completing a course.

TAFE TA President Phill Chadwick told a group of 60 parents, students and employers at the Grand View Hotel in Wentworth Falls he feared the Government would commercialise more TAFE courses.

“Commercialised TAFE courses cost thousands of dollars. This is far beyond what the average TAFE student now pays. Commercialised courses attract no concessions. So, whether you are Aboriginal, unemployed, a person who may be injured and wanting to retrain in another vocational field, you will not be able to attain a concession for the course. Only the wealthy will be able to afford to do a commercialised course.”

Greens MLC John Kaye addressed all events on the day.

Register your support for the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign at www.stoptafecuts.com.au.