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The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education (The Hon Dr Geoffrey Lee MP)

Jihad Dib is the Shadow Minister for Skills in NSW

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash is the Minister for Vocational Edcuation

Kate Ellis Shadow Minister for Vocational Education

Stand Up for TAFE media release pdf

Media Releases

The TAFE Community Alliance had an overwhelming response to their prelection questionnaire, with Labor, Greens, Animal Justice Party and Small Business Party giving their support, and candidates from most other parties as well as Independents answering yes and expressing their concerns as to the current state of TAFE NSW.

NSW Government Track Record on TAFE Challenged pdf

“The NSW Government’s claims about TAFE funding and student enrolments do not stand up to a simple fact check from information publicly available from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER),” said Linda Simon, spokesperson for the TAFE Community Alliance.

TAFE Community Alliance Stand Up for TAFE

"We are concerned about the government attacks, the competitive trading market, the effects this combined has had on loss of courses, loss of teachers and loss of quality in the system," Ms Simon said.

NSW election candidates Stand Up for TAFE

'NSW goes to the polls on 23 March and the outcome is not clear at this time. There are many programs being highlighted and funding promised by the major parties, with TAFE an area of concern. The TAFE Community Alliance asked candidates to ‘Stand Up for TAFE’ and were overwhelmed with the strength of the responses from many candidates and not surprised at the lack of interest from others.'

Fewer TAFE Students & Teachers, More Administrative Staff

The news is bad in the just released TAFE NSW Annual Report. There is a loss of $239m over the year 2017/18. Support staff have increased from 4194 in June 2017 to 4568 in June 2018. Teaching staff have declined from 5482 to 5458.

Jozefa SobskiJozefa Sobski:
profile & archive of speeches & letters

Linda SimonsLinda Simon:
Profile & speeches



Pollies TalkTAFE

As part of its advocacy role, the Alliance seeks a commitment from political parties in the upcoming elections to ensure that TAFE should exist and be supported by government to provide quality training incorporating ongoing development of appropriate educational pedagogy.  The statement of commitment published by the TAFE Community Alliance says: “We expect a commitment to a statewide publicly-owned technical and further education system.  We expect this system to grow and flourish as it meets the priorities of educational, social and industry policy.  We do not expect this system to operate like a business to break even or make a profit, but a public education and training system serving society efficiently and providing value and quality for the public dollar.”

Party Statements

.Labor Party



Senate Inquiry into TAFE pdf

IPART response pdf

NSW Parliamentary Economic Development Committee

"The Committee finds that TAFE NSW is the backbone of vocational education and training in NSW and that to achieve the state’s economic and social priorities it is vital that TAFE NSW receives appropriate and adequate funding."

To read full report pdf

Report on False Economies

Read the report from Centre for Policy Development. pdfIt is their series on False Economies. TAFE is referred to in the report where there is comparison of the work of TAFE and private RTOs.  

Stand up for TAFE

 TCA has sent the following letter to industry bodies, seeking to involve a greater number of organisations in the fight for TAFE.

Re: TCA Submission to the Productivity Commission on its interim report on the review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (See attachment) 

The TAFE Community Alliance (TCA) was established in 2013 by a group of former TAFE educators and community development leaders to advocate for the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system as an integral part of the VET system in Australia. 

Over the years, it has made submissions to parliamentary inquiries and representations to government Ministers and their Opposition counterparts; organized community forums and lobbied parliamentarians. 

The Alliance has been critical of government policies and funding. It has been particularly critical of the so-called competitive industry-led training market. It has asserted that competition between training organisations has not resulted in improved choice and quality of training for students or a more responsive system to the skills needs of the nation. It has resulted, on the contrary, in higher fees, rorts by private providers, fewer courses in fewer locations and a marked reduction in the quality of teaching and learning among many other problems and issues highlighted in government and statutory agency inquiries over the last two decades. The industry-led system continues to be criticized by industry! 

The TCA has made a submission to the Productivity Commission (PC) focused on the role of the public provider, TAFE. 

The Alliance considers that your organization may benefit from our critique of some of the assumptions and assertions made by the PC in its interim report. 

It is particularly important, at this time, to provide strong support for a national, publicly funded TAFE system to drive economic and social recovery as it has done in past decades at times of deep economic and social stress. 

National schemes like Job Trainer aimed to run new courses for thousands of workers cannot be effectively and expeditiously implemented without the geographically distributed specialist TAFE infrastructure.

The ideological blinkers, not to say outdated vision, evident in the PC report needs to be discarded for a fresh vision and a major re-commitment and reinvestment in TAFE.

The radically different economic environment faced by the nation needs the old and failed approaches to the VET system – fiscal sustainability, competitive neutrality and funding contestability – to be abandoned if there is to be a sound skills foundation for national economic recovery. 

The revival of the manufacturing sector in collaboration with industry requires a workforce, skilled, knowledgeable, adaptable and job-ready for all the industries identified by the manufacturing task force of the national COVID Coordination Commission – food manufacturing, mining technology, defence, renewable energy, healthcare and biotechnology, recycling and re-packaging, advanced manufacturing and aerospace. 

The sophisticated middle level skills required can best be delivered through a well-resourced, revitalized TAFE system staffed by professional educators, by trained and qualified teachers and trainers attracted from industry. Our public VET system needs to be harnessed for this national economic reshaping and redirecting. 

The TAFE Community Alliance commends our submission and seeks your support and that of your organisation for a national TAFE system equipped to provide a return on government investment by producing enhanced community prosperity and confidence, industry innovation and growth: a system that is industry responsive, inclusive and promotes equitable and affordable access for all in our community. 

TCA believes that without TAFE as the bedrock of the VET system, setting standards for the quality of teaching and applied learning, the system will continue its downward spiral with fewer student enrolments and completions and a workforce without the capacity to meet skill needs of employers and ever-changing industries competing on world markets. At this time, the nation cannot afford more competitive market ideology.

Yours sincerely 
Linda Simon and Jozefa Sobski AM                                                                             

Hundreds of millions lost from vocational scheme

"Federal authorities have spent almost $10 million chasing shonky training providers who conned taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, but not a single person has been charged with fraud over the scheme." Read more in The Age - Dec 7 2019

Shocking rates of deprivation

MEDIA ALERT Survey of 892 young people on Youth Allowance or Newstart reveals shocking rates of deprivation

WHO: The National Union of Students, YOUNG Campaigns and ACOSS. ACOSS to also comment on Robodebt.

The National Union of Students, YOUNG Campaigns, and the Australian Council of Social Service, will today launch a joint report exposing the alarming rates of deprivation among young people currently receiving Youth Allowance and Newstart. The report is the result of a survey 892 people aged between 16-30 who are currently receiving an allowance. Key findings from the survey include:

(more key findings).

These results are yet another shocking wake-up call for the government to immediately raise Youth Allowance, Newstart, and other related payments by at least $75pw. It is time for the government to listen to the evidence; the people on Youth Allowance and Newtart who are sharing their stories; and the wider community that strongly supports raising the rate, and ending the 25-year freeze to these income support payments. Read more...

TAFE NSW to cull 70 IT staff before Christmas 

TAFE NSW is planning to cut as many as 70 staff and contractors from its IT group before Christmas as part of a wider restructure aimed at reducing duplication and so-called back office inefficiencies.

The NSW branch of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) revealed the proposed restructure last week, which it says was “sprung on employees” at the end of November. Read more

The TAFE plunder

How to lose $4 billion without even trying.

The federal government's botched vocational education and training scheme has cost taxpayers $6 billion. TAFEs, unable to compete with the private institutions, have been forced to close and thousands of teachers have lost their jobs. ReporterPaddy Manning investigates the rorting and the incompetence.



TAFEs shabby treatment

'The state government’s Smart and Skilled policy for vocational training is at the very least misname. It is discouraging would-be students from signing up to gain skills. Nothing smart about that, one would think. "

'TAFE was once the part of the education system that helped individuals negotiate the sometimes difficult transition from school to work.

It provided not only vocational education pure and simple, but also a safety net for those who had abandoned school early and subsequently wanted to return to the education system, whether to improve their work qualifications, or to broaden their minds.

It was an organic, flexible organisation that could offer students from different backgrounds, and in a wide range of personal circumstances, a way to improve themselves.

Now that schooling to the end of you 12 is, for better or worse, virtually compulsory, there is less need for that remedial role.

As universities, competing desperately for students, offer more and more vocational training courses which lead to a degree, not just a certificate, TAFE finds itself squeezed on several sides.

Both those trends, however, should be questioned. For many young people, schools are uncongenial and discouraging prices; more of them should be encouraged into TAFE courses.

Universities both demean their status and waste money by offering courses more appropriate for TAFE. Funding for education, like everything else, is limited, and must be made to stretch as far as possible.

Governments federal and state should think long and hard before they allow a sector of education as useful and as efficient as TAFE to expire through neglect. "


Who we are

The TAFE Community Alliance is an advocacy and strategy group that recognises the central role of the public VET provider in the building of social, cultural and economic capacity of communities across NSW. The Alliance campaigns to maintain TAFE's central role in vocational education and training.

The TAFE Community Alliance Submission in response to the Productivity Commission, Interim Report on the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development Review.

The Alliance does not support funding contestability involving the public provider nor its participation in a flawed and government manufactured training market. TCA supports collaboration across the TAFE system to drive a more rapid response to identified needs and efficiency and quality in education and training.

The TCA has examined the Productivity Commission’s report and offers observations and comments, primarily in relation to the role and rationale of the public provider.

COVID19 has highlighted the vital role of the public provider to respond with inovative just in time solutions to support individuals who are recently unemployed, to support businesses needing to quickly pivot their business model and plan for post-COVID recovery and to support those industries most affected by the pandemic.... Read the submission Read Correspondence from the Hon Dr Geoff Lee MP to Ms Linda Simon

Why is TAFE NSW not spending funding on education?

In a week when TAFE NSW has been caught spending $6.4 million on consultants, has tried to cut a further 200 employees and has revealed a high level of employee dissatisfaction with the organisation, it has also been exposed as having 113 managers paid at or above Senior Executive Service level, which means that salaries will start at around $200,000 going up to at least $487,000.

TAFE NSW revealed the additional 101 Senior Executive Service (SES) level managers in a recent Budget Estimates reply, The TAFE NSW Annual report only listed 12 SES. When the SES came in 1992 TAFE NSW had 55, but by 2005 this number had been reduced to around 23. Now the number has increased to 113.

“The TAFE Community Alliance condemns this trend and the state budget cuts and their impact on quality education in TAFE NSW. We know there are skills shortages. We strongly support increased vocational opportunities for the young people of NSW,” said Linda Simon, a spokesperson for the Alliance. “We cannot understand how educational funding can be used to employ consultants and an increasing number of high level managers. How does their employment improve the educational experience offered by TAFE NSW?”

“The Alliance calls on the government to ensure that TAFE funding is spent primarily on education including permanent teachers and the educational support staff needed to help students gain needed qualifications,” said Ms Simon. “No wonder staff are dissatisfied. The recent organisational health survey had just over 50% of staff feeling that they wanted to come to work each day. These poor results from TAFE staff were damning and reflected badly on the NSW government’s TAFE policies and management.”

More of the same in VET or a new vision?

"There are significant differences between the views of the major parties in relation to the future of vocational education and training, including the amount of money promised and their commitment to rebuilding the TAFE sector as the cornerstone of VET." Read Linda Simon's succint summary, 'a critical contribution at this moment...'

No matter who you are TAFE is open to everyone.

TAFE gives everyone a second chance, the opportunity to learn skills for employment and an opportunity to contribute to the community. If you are uncertain about your career or need more education and training; TAFE has always been there - affordable, accessible - providing great quality education and professional specialist student support. There is a TAFE College in every community across NSW.

John Kaye - TAFE Hero

Since the las t election we lost a great man, a friend and a tireless campaigner for TAFE. The rallies will never seem the same without John at our side.

John Kaye TAFE hero

TCA is appalled that the Berejiklian Government continues to take even more funding from TAFE, and increase student fees above already unreasonable rates. Fees are obviously going to keep increasing, making an entitlement model a joke. Contact your local State MP and protest

Berejiklian locks in multibillion-dollar pokies deal with Clubs NSW

TAFE training facilities and Service NSW kiosks could be located inside registered clubs across the state, under a deal struck between the NSW government and the powerful clubs lobby that also maintains the special tax treatment for the pokies industry for another four years.

The agreement between the Coalition and Clubs NSW, signed at the conclusion of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week at the weekend, has reignited criticism from anti-gambling advocates over the government's relationship with the clubs lobby. Read more...

Jozefa Sobski Statement to Senate Inquirypdf

"The TCA views TAFE as a public education and training system for building a productive and skilled workforce and an inclusive and fair society."

TCA VFH Senate Submission

We want to put on record the damage that the wider application of VET FEE-HELP has made to the VET system, its providers and students. Submissionpdf

Why so long?

Why has it taken the Government and the ACCC so long to realise the money that was being ripped out of the system, and the students being taken for a ride?

The ABC reports the consumer watchdog targeting a second private training college, alleging it signed up vulnerable people — some with intellectual disabilities — and citing problems with the Government's VET FEE-HELP system.

TCA Letter to Minister Barilaro

'The TAFE Community Alliance welcomed both your freeze on TAFE fees and the reduction of fees for some pathways courses. ...' Read the letterpdf

TCA Letter to PM

'The Alliance has been particularly concerned at the impact of VET reforms on the quality and sustainability of TAFE Institutes across the country...' Read the letterpdf

Flaws of free-market thinking

Senator Simon Birmingham says the low completion rates are "absolutely unacceptable. See Letters to the editor: "Governments constantly call for more skilled workers, yet at the same time have cut the funding to TAFE so significantly, that it is just a shadow of its former self. Courses are being closed, hours cut and fees are also out of the reach of many Australians. Is this the sort of vocational education system we want in Australia?"

The state budget revealed 83,000 fewer students enrolled in 2015 than in 2012, despite a $2-billion investment this year.

Short sighted and damaging
School leavers vote with their feet
Ghost town campus

Students hit hard - TCA Repsonse

WAVE National Conference 2015

WAVE partnered with Manufacturing Skills Australia to hold its national conference entitled 'Leaders, teachers, learners, leavers:  Women in the Australian VET market'.

No matter who you are TAFE is open to everyone.

TAFE gives everyone a second chance, the opportunity to learn skills for employment and an opportunity to contribute to the community. If you are uncertain about your career or need more education and training; TAFE has always been there - affordable, accessible - providing great quality education and professional specialist student support. There is a TAFE College in every community across NSW.