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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

North coast TAFEs ‘under threat’

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Greens state MP and former Byron mayor Jan Barham is spearheading a campaign to save TAFE from state government cuts.
Greens state MP and former Byron mayor Jan Barham is spearheading a campaign to save TAFE from state government cuts.

On Tuesday February 11, Greens NSW MPs John Kaye and Jan Barham will be joining union activists, TAFE teachers, students and local community members to launch the Greens’ bill to save TAFE from ‘the disastrous competitive agenda of the O’Farrell government’.

There will be rallies held at a number of TAFE colleges across the north coast to draw attention to the new bill and to call on the O’Farrell government to listen to the community concerns about what the destruction of TAFE will mean to the entire region.

Dr Kaye, education spokesperson for the Greens NSW, said: ‘Students and teachers won’t be the only ones to suffer under the O’Farrell government’s cuts to TAFE. The economic future of the north coast is now at risk.

‘The far north coast relies on health care, agriculture, construction and tourism to generate jobs. These are sectors that require a skilled workforce or they will disappear.

‘The O’Farrell government’s so-called reforms have already cut 800 jobs, increased fees by 9.5 per cent and will force TAFE into a competitive model it was not designed for. TAFE students are being asked to pay more in order to receive less. Class sizes will rise, the ranges of courses will be reduced and time to help individual students will all but disappear.

‘O’Farrell’s cuts to fine arts courses will devastate the creative and culturally vibrant art scene on the far north coast.

‘The Greens’ bill is designed to put a hold on TAFE budget cuts, job losses, fee rises and the Smart and Skilled agenda. We want to give the O’Farrell government time to think again.

‘Without a strong public provider of vocational education and training, the north coast will face rising youth unemployment, increasing levels of inequality and disadvantage and an economy that is unable to grow.’

Jan Barham, Greens spokesperson for the arts, said: ‘To ensure the ongoing vibrancy and success of the region, training is essential, it provides the skills to assist in meeting the demands of a growing creative and economic sector’.

‘As a TAFE double-diploma fashion student, my training made the difference when it came to employment in my chosen field. Having completed my training I was able to confidently apply for employment where my skills set and experience were recognised and highly regarded.

‘As the creative success in the northern rivers demonstrates, there is a trend for creative people to move to rural and regional areas. This can revitalise regional areas and provide new opportunities for tourism growth through public art, vibrant music and handcrafted items such as fashion and jewellery.

‘The O’Farrell government’s treatment of TAFE represents a lost opportunity. Investing in TAFE would provide crucial support for regional communities, where economic and employment opportunities are desperately needed and where a lot of creative people are relocating.’

A Save TAFE Public Forum will be held at Ballina RSL in River Street on February 11 at 6pm.

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