MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:33): I am pleased to update the chamber on the important work that the Andrews Labor government has been doing to make Victoria’s TAFE system more inclusive and accessible to Victorians with a disability. We know that education and training open doors into employment, and importantly access to meaningful work improves people’s quality of life. Since coming to government we have been focusing on making TAFE better than ever for all Victorians.
Free TAFE has been absolutely critical. We all know how successful free TAFE has been, including a 94 per cent increase in enrolments among learners with a disability from 2018 to 2019. Further, the Skills First Reconnect program, established by this government, provides wraparound service support for learners who need that little extra help. Twenty-six per cent of learners who have gone through Reconnect identified as having a disability. Of course our commitment to community service funding across the TAFE network means disability liaison officers are available to help learners enrol and complete their studies. I am also proud to have TAFEs step up to create new opportunities for learners with a disability. For example, Holmesglen TAFE offers horticultural pathways to employment for learners with a disability. In a supportive environment students do coursework and practical experience maintaining the grounds at Holmesglen’s campuses.
There is much more to do, and I look forward to the parliamentary inquiry into access to TAFE for learners with a disability providing advice to government on how we can build on the important work that we have done over the past six years.