At least two men have been loitering around the Mullumbimby & District Neighbourhood Centre (MDNC) touting a dodgy online course they claim will ‘help people get a qualification and improve their standard of living,’ according to centre manager Julie Williams.
Ms Williams has contacted Echonetdaily to implore people not to take up the shonky offer.
‘It appears they have identified the MDNC as an opportunity and commenced their sales pitch on MDNC property,’ Ms Williams said.
‘These guys aim to get people signed up to a course, assuring them that the costs are covered through the commonwealth government’s VET FEE-HELP assistance scheme, and offering a free laptop computer.
‘The offer of a laptop was vehemently denied after I challenged them, however I know exactly what I heard when one of the MDNC volunteers was approached,’ Ms Williams told Echonetdaily.
‘When challenged these guys were aggressive and obnoxious, one threatened to continue to “help” people on the footpath to avoid being on Neighbourhood Centre property They were indignant that that we would not be supportive of their “helping” and endorse their presence.
‘They simply did not get it that by preying on the vulnerable on MDNC property there was an implication that we were endorsing them. They have never sought approval or permission.’
Ms Williams said that what the men were offering sounded very similar to offers currently being investigated by Fair Trading.
‘These online courses do not provide support and are often not appropriate for people who are struggling with literacy, mild disability, or simply have not had a lot of experience navigating the world of formal education. The offer of a free laptop is understandably enticing.’
Ms Williams added that there are education and training opportunities that can be accessed through a range of credible organizations for no little or no cost, that are provided in supportive environments.
‘These guys are deliberately targeting people who are vulnerable and who most likely will be left with more unaffordable expense and a growing debt,’ she said.
If any one has signed up to one of these courses, Ms Wiliams said there is a 10-day cooling-off period during which you can withdraw at no cost.
Contact Fair Trading for information on 133220 or go into the Neighbourhood Centre at 55 Dalley Street, Mullumbimby, which has offered to provide support through the process.