TAFE Community Alliance Launch – 22nd February, 2013
Thank you for inviting me to speak today at this very important launch of the TAFE Community Alliance.
Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this Alliance together – you have the strong support of the NSW Labor Opposition.
We recognise the vital role of TAFE as the pre eminent provider of quality vocational education and training and second chance education. And we recognise the vital role of TAFE in building the economic, social and cultural capacity of communities.
This is a critical time for TAFE in NSW. I’m sure it is fair to say that many of you have been disappointed at times with the support for TAFE from Governments of all persuasions - however I can’t think of a time when there has been such a serious, concerted attack on TAFE and its very existence.
In the last 12 months in NSW we have seen budget cuts announced that will slash 800 teaching and other jobs in TAFE and increase fees.
We have seen the smart and skilled reforms which threaten the viability of TAFE campuses across NSW.
And now the Government is proposing to replace teachers with unqualified paraprofessionals undermining the quality of training TAFE can deliver and TAFE teachers have still not received the 2.5% wage increase that almost all other Government employees have.
These are grim times indeed and the disaster with the vocational and education reforms in Victoria, demonstrates the importance of strong and vocal advocacy. This alliance brings together the community, teachers, unions and politicians to campaign against these retrograde changes.
People in NSW are rightly proud of TAFE – it plays a key role in tackling skills shortages, training the plumbers, electricians, hairdressers and chefs of the future.
It provides educational opportunities for those who have disengaged from education for whatever reason and gives people mid career or re entering the workforce the chance to upgrade their skills.
TAFE makes a great contribution to our creative and cultural life by training many of artists and designers. And in regional and rural communities, TAFE Institutes are often one of the most significant employers and make all the difference to those communities economic and social life.
Barry O’Farrell’s actions are placing all of this at risk. I have been inundated with letters, calls and emails from students, teachers, parents and community members outraged about these attacks.