MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:25): I am pleased to share with the house the role that free TAFE will play in Victoria’s economic and social recovery. We have all seen the success of free TAFE since it began in 2019—significant increases in enrolments in priority courses, significant uptake by women, significant uptake by culturally and linguistically diverse learners and significant uptake by First Nations learners. Free TAFE is not only about creating a skilled pipeline of workers for jobs out there but also a means of tackling inequities while building the economy, and in this year’s budget we are investing $631.4 million for extra training places, with 60 000 places funded for free TAFE.
We on this side of the chamber are incredibly proud that TAFE is at the centre of this state’s recovery. Whenever I visit TAFEs across Victoria I meet students who have experienced the benefits of free TAFE. Last week in Hamilton I met Brenda at South West TAFE. Brenda had always wanted to study nursing, but family responsibilities and financial barriers had made it impossible. Now in her early 50s, it is Brenda’s time. Free TAFE has made studying possible from a financial perspective. She has now completed a diploma of nursing and has recently started working at Western District Health Service. These are the stories of free TAFE. Free TAFE is changing lives. Free TAFE will make our economy stronger in the recovery and will continue to open doors for thousands of Victorians, particularly those who have done it tough over recent months.