TAFE Funding

(11.31am 9 September, NSW Parliament House, Sydney)

by leave: I want to make a brief contribution to this important motion moved by the member for Northern Tablelands requesting increased funding to TAFE to address underinvestment, help meet training needs and address the critical shortages in New South Wales. Education is fundamental to a civil society. I have consistently supported government investment in adult and community education, including TAFE. I am particularly concerned about the vital role of second-chance learning and retraining, which is important for women, recent migrants and refugees, people on low incomes, young people who missed out on school, those with limited literacy and older people. Ultimo TAFE and the Eora Aboriginal College are vital to adult learning in the inner city.

There should be strong efforts to help those disadvantaged in the labour market and those suffering the impact of industry reform. TAFE restructuring and changes over some years have resulted in the loss of a number of positions in TAFE curriculum centres and equity units, adding new tasks and workload for TAFE teachers and requiring them to develop new skills and expertise. TAFE teachers need to focus on students and classrooms rather than managerial and administrative tasks to ensure the greatest opportunity for learning in TAFE programs. Teachers need security of employment and proper pay and conditions that reflect their skills and expertise. Constituents regularly contact me about courses not being offered due to lack of funding—courses that are important to help them access training that would prevent and reduce unemployment and provide opportunities. For too long investment in TAFE has been inadequate. Education is vital to our future, and I strongly support the call for increased funding.