The Greens' motion was moved to mark National TAFE Day. The proposed $1.5 billion in cuts to VET will have disastrous impacts on TAFE staff and students in a sector that has already been severely undermined by successive Coalition and Labor governments.Greens MPs in state parliaments around Australia have given notice of similar motions, calling on state governments to stop gutting TAFE through budget cuts and for an end to the diversion of substantial public funding from TAFE to private for-profit training providers.
The failure of the current competitive funding model, implemented by both Labor and Coalition governments was repeatedly raised in the recent Greens initiated Senate inquiry into TAFE. Thousands of TAFE jobs across the country have already been slashed as a result of this privatisation agenda, and there have been enormous fee increases, putting TAFE out of reach for many prospective students. The stories I heard of how vital TAFE is range from giving a young vision impaired refugee from Ghana the ability to learn Australian sign language and get a job in that field to retraining a man who had become quadriplegic as a design instructor. As a result of huge funding cuts to TAFE both these men would no longer receive assistance to follow their TAFE pathway that delivered the training and work they wanted.
It is vital that TAFE continue its historic role in providing high quality technical and further education to Australians of all ages and backgrounds and from all communities including regional Australia. The Greens are calling for guaranteed funding for public TAFEs based on the real costs of providing education including delivery to students in rural and remote areas as well as for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with a disability. The Coalition is on a war path with public higher education in Australia and this is going to have irreversible consequences for generations to come.