MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:57): I rise to update the house on the work being done in our training and skills system in response to the coronavirus. As the Premier has said, the coming weeks and months will be tough on everyone. It will be tough on students, apprentices, teachers and trainers. It will be tough on our training system. Coronavirus will have an impact on the delivery of education services in our state, but we must listen to the experts and we must all play our part in keeping each other safe. As we all know, the situation is changing rapidly. The health and safety of our community is our first priority. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education and Training are continuing to work closely together to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in educational settings.
DET is continuing to provide the advice of Victoria’s chief health officer to TAFEs, dual-sector universities, Learn Locals and contracted private training providers. This advice is in accordance with national public health guidelines and the current information about the virus from the commonwealth chief medical officer. DET continues to progress planning for all possible contingencies. Education setting closures have occurred and will occur as a result of advice and direction from the Department of Health and Human Services. Providers are already working with students to minimise the impact of the current situation on students’ lives and studies, providing the necessary support and flexibility, and I thank them for that. These are difficult times, but I know that by working together, acting on expert advice and taking care of each other we will come out the other side stronger and more resilient.