MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:27): Last week was an important milestone for Melbourne’s west. I had the pleasure of joining Legislative Council colleagues Ingrid Stitt and Cesar Melhem, along with the member for St Albans, Natalie Suleyman, in the other place, to officially open Victoria University Polytechnic’s Sunshine Skills Hub. The skills hub was an important election commitment for the Andrews Labor government. We committed $10 million towards the $35 million project, funded through our TAFE Rescue Fund.
The facilities are just magnificent. The hub’s features include a student hub with study areas and a student service centre, an innovation centre, a tech shop facility to support working with industry in Melbourne’s west, a world-class nursing simulation lab and early childhood education teaching facilities. Importantly the facilities promote important industry collaboration to ensure that the training system is well connected with local employers—local training that leads to local jobs.
It was particularly special to open the facility last Tuesday on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Currently only 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to change that. We had the opportunity to meet a number of women studying science in free TAFE courses, including electrotechnology, engineering and cybersecurity. Free TAFE is breaking down barriers and encouraging more women to study in STEM. The facilities at Victoria University Polytechnic in Sunshine will only encourage more women, particularly those who live in the west, to get a good education and training in world-class facilities closer to home. I know all of my Legislative Council colleagues from the west absolutely are proud of these facilities, as are all members of the Andrews Labor government.