Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise to make a contribution in respect of the Gordon Institute of TAFE and its annual report for 2006. As many members know, the Gordon institute is based in Geelong — in fact the institute is almost synonymous with the word ‘Geelong’. However, it now has campuses outside Geelong in Colac, Werribee and, of course, in Melbourne. I must say it was not until I was in Stawell last week and spoke to a wonderful woman named Val Findlay, a member of the ALP and a retired librarian, about her memories of growing up in Geelong, memories associated with the Gordon institute, that I was prompted to try to track the genesis of the Gordon Institute of TAFE. My search came up with some dramatic results that I think will be of interest to members, particularly those of us who have always taken the Gordon a little too casually, as it has always been there for us.
The Gordon opened its doors for the first time in 1887. It was brought about by the need for tradespeople to be trained up, and it operated as a night school for many years. At first it catered mainly for tradespeople and operated at night from a single-storey hall, but it developed into a proper institution. As I said, it now covers five campuses, offers 220 nationally recognised courses and has an annual student enrolment of 23 000. It is no surprise that the Gordon institute is synonymous with Geelong, because it has been part of Geelong for a very long time. It has maintained its relevance in terms of delivering skill training to the people of Geelong and surrounding areas for a great length of time.
On a personal level I was pleasantly surprised to see that the president of the Gordon Institute Council is now Brian Williamson, who holds a very senior position in product development at Ford Geelong. I last saw him at the other side of the bargaining table.
I assure members that he is at the forefront of technological development.
Mr D. Davis — Did you win?
Ms TIERNEY — Yes, we did. With him around, we know that the Gordon is not just in good hands now but also for the future. The state government has also recognised this by contributing $9 million for the building and construction centre at the institute, which the Minister for Skills, Education Services and Employment in the other place opened just last month. It is a testament to and a great example of what government, TAFE institutes, business and local communities working together in partnership can do to meet the emerging needs of business and individuals. The Gordon Institute of TAFE has positioned itself well and will continue to be the home of and engine for producing skilled workers for Geelong and the surrounding areas. I very much look forward to being part of its ongoing development.