Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise to make some comments on South West Institute of TAFE. Members might recall that I often talk about TAFEs in western Victoria. That is largely because they do such an amazing job. They provide access to education for a number of students in their local communities, which would not be possible if those TAFEs did not exist. South West Institute of TAFE was awarded the honour of being no. 1 training provider in Victoria by winning the Victorian large training provider of the year award during this reporting period. Although there are a number of highlights contained in this annual report, this honour really is a standout achievement in a year which exceeded the performance targets set at the beginning of the reporting year.
South West Institute of TAFE is an institution that people living in the area, whether they live in Portland, Hamilton, Warrnambool or around Glenormiston, are really proud to be associated with. The community understands and appreciates its close connections to local industries and the importance of the work the institute does in skilling up people in the region and its close connections to local industries. It was a real surprise when in the last state government’s budget $10 million was taken out of the allocation for South West Institute of TAFE.
Understandably and inevitably, the community rose up and protested very strongly about what occurred.
There was a significant rally outside the offices of the member for South-West Coast in the other place, Denis Napthine, with many people complaining about the irresponsible, irrational and savage cuts to not only South West Institute of TAFE abut also all other Victorian TAFEs. We heard from a number of students and staff who queued up at the microphone to give their personal stories about how these TAFE cuts would affect their lives and their access to education and skills. Not long after that rally there was a full-page ad in the Warrnambool Standard signed by a range of prominent people from the region. It was an open letter to the minister expressing the business community’s concern over the damage and negative consequences that the cuts would result in for the local community.
South West TAFE has a number of campuses, and it caters for the major local industries in the area. It has a strong focus on the tourism industry as well as on agricultural courses and the dairy industry.
The cuts mean that not only has the TAFE had to restructure its courses but it has also had to cut courses. Services have also been cut and fees have dramatically increased. Sport and recreation courses have also been cut. At the time the cuts were announced, 54 students were enrolled in those courses, and they were all employed part time or full time in local industry. They were there to gain skills to assist the health, fitness and recreation industries in the local community. They were hardly what I would consider mickey mouse courses.
We also have a strong retail sector in Warrnambool, and these cuts have meant that all certificate II and III business courses have been completely scrapped. Certificates in hospitality and agriculture have also been in the gun, and the equine course at Glenormiston College has been scrapped as well, which will have a dramatic impact on veterinary science and a whole range of other areas that are important to the racing community in the south-west. General courses that are supported by local industry in terms of human resources have also been cut.
In recent weeks, we — —
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Ondarchie) — Order! The member’s time has expired.