I rise to make a contribution in relation to the Gordon annual report 2013. This TAFE organisation is well known to a number of people in this chamber, as it is one of the oldest TAFEs in this state and has been operating for some time. It is the largest regional stand-alone TAFE in Victoria and has been operating for 126 years. It delivers a wide range of courses across the greater Geelong region, including apprenticeships and traineeships.
The Geelong community benefits significantly from the Gordon, with over 600 staff and almost 70 per cent of students being from the local region. There were also 274 international students enrolled in 2013 from 20 different countries. I join CEO Lisa Line in conveying my thanks to the Gordon staff for their hard work and dedication, which once again has seen positive outcomes achieved.
In doing so I also pay tribute to Grant Sutherland, who during the course of this reporting period resigned to take up another position, but Grant served the Gordon as its CEO for seven years and played a very active role as a leader within the Geelong community and the education community as well.
What can be actively achieved by the Gordon is somewhat restricted by this government’s allocation of funding, and that has been pointed out by Mr Melhem and Ms Pulford this evening. Between 2012 and 2013 funding to the Gordon was cut by approximately $23 million. Participation by students aged between 25 and 64 reduced between 2012 and 2013, with 1006 students being lost. Further, the participation of 24 to 25-year-olds reduced between 2012 and 2013 by 688 students. The equivalent of 103 full-time positions were lost at Gordon TAFE as a result of this government’s funding cuts.
These are trained and experienced people who until this government stepped in were playing a very vital role in providing skills and education to our local community. When Geelong is experiencing unprecedented unemployment levels it is hard to imagine a worse time for a government to enforce more job cuts, but it did. To make it worse, the people who have lost their jobs are the very people Geelong needs to assist unemployed people to skill up so they can get another job in the near future.
As a community we have lost teachers, support staff and students, and now we will see a significant reduction in people obtaining the qualifications they need to become a part of the workforce. This comes at a time when youth unemployment sits at around 13 per cent in my electorate, and the unemployment figures are likely to increase with the job losses at Ford and Alcoa.
The Geelong Advertiser featured a front-page article on 9 April titled ‘TAFE cuts revealed — $23 million ripped out of Gordon’. Geelong is clear about the impact that the Napthine government is having on its community. The article quotes Gordon TAFE CEO Lisa Line as saying that ‘decreased enrolment figures were in line with expectations given changes to the TAFE funding structure’.
Our attention is drawn to the key role that the Gordon plays in skilling and reskilling people. This importance cannot be underestimated, especially in Geelong, where industries are closing and people need training.
In conclusion, the people of Geelong and the whole state of Victoria are very upset and tired of seeing the negative impacts of the funding cuts to the TAFE system by the government. They want to see funding restored to TAFEs and training supported, which will benefit not only individuals but also the community as a whole through employment and the growth of industry. The Gordon’s annual report conveys positive achievements over the course of 2013, and the staff are to be commended for their effort, given the current climate of funding cuts from government — —