MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (15:03) I thank Mr Meddick for his support of TAFE and free TAFE in particular. It is great to have genuine champions of the TAFE system in the chamber, Mr Meddick. Can I say that what is being proposed here has been based on a number of activities leading up to the announcement. One of course has been the number of people that have come to me and my office and indicated that they have heard on the ground in their constituency land that nursing, particularly veterinary nursing, was needed. They were hearing that from other practitioners in the area, whether it be in metro or indeed regional Victoria. The department also then went and undertook some analysis, and what was concluded was that there was a need. It was a need that was also brought about by an increase in the number of pets that Victorians have taken on during the pandemic, and this was highlighted to me by Ms Terpstra, the TAFE ambassador, as well as Ms Shing, who we know is a fierce warrior when it comes to the protection of health and wellbeing of animals.
We were able to have a look at making sure that we could do something on this in terms of the shortages that were being experienced, so I was very pleased to announce that free TAFE will be available for those that are interested in enrolling in veterinary nursing as of 2022, Mr Meddick. I can also let you know that there are a number of TAFEs that are already rolling out this course, but of course it will mean that it will become free next year. The TAFEs that currently teach this course are Bendigo Kangan, Box Hill TAFE, TAFE Gippsland, the Gordon, GOTAFE and Melbourne Polytechnic. They are all currently offering the certificate IV in veterinary nursing.
Of course free TAFE means that people do save on having to pay tuition fees, and we know that millions of dollars have been saved by Victorians who have enrolled in free TAFE courses. This particular course is in the vicinity of just over $5000, so those that will be enrolling in that course next year will be able to save over $5000, Mr Meddick, which is fantastic. It does provide an opportunity for those that just simply could not have afforded it otherwise to be able to enrol, get the skills in the area, hopefully stay and work in their local vet and indeed have a career for life. This is really exciting for people that are interested in the wellbeing of animals, and I would encourage everyone in this chamber and anyone else that might be listening: if they know someone that is particularly fond of animals and can see that there is a possible career there for them, I would encourage them to contact their TAFE.