A letter to the Premier

A post from A cat among the pigeons    31  August  2012

Dear Premier,

I am a mature aged student, 45 years of age with two children, and no formal qualification. I currently study at Chisholm TAFE in Frankston, and I am writing to express my concerns regarding the human cost of these economic cuts to our education system.

I have been a student at TAFE on four separate occasions during the last 25 years. In 1986, I completed two short courses and in 1988 I partially completed a Certificate of Business Studies. Although I did not complete the certificate, my new skill-set gained me initial employment as an office clerk with further progression to a Credit Management position. And now, as my children are growing up, I have returned to TAFE to complete a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing.  Once again, TAFE is expanding my skills and increasing my self-esteem, and enabling me to make a greater contribution to society.

TAFE is an institution that gives everyone a pathway to learn. By reducing TAFE funding you are cutting our society’s opportunity to contribute to the world in which we live; you are ripping the choices not just from our youth, but from our communities. This is the true statement of how the TAFE budget cuts will affect Victoria.

The Essential Services Commission Final Report Volume II Technical Analysis, dated 11 October 2011, discusses how TAFE may accommodate the ‘thin markets’, which are defined as follows ‘There will inevitably be significant areas of the VET system where there will never be sufficient competition to support competitive market prices. These are sometimes referred to as ‘thin markets’, and might exist by geographic area or by type of course.’  The recommendation by the Commission in the above report is to exclude these ‘thin markets’ to outside the VET system. Is the Professional Writing and Editing Diploma I am studying a ‘thin market’? And if it is, how will the Government maintain this course outside the VET system, or will it simply cease to exist?

The message from this Government that budget cuts are necessary has been loud and clear. What I question is where the cuts have been made, and the basis for the decision.  The funding cuts to VCAL and TAFE, combined with the 950 staff cuts in the Education Department itself, show a strong disregard for the Victorian constituency and for improving or even maintaining educational standards in Victoria.

Next week the school teachers strike because of a broken election pledge to make them the best paid in the country and for the conditions in which this Government requests they work; with more responsibility and fewer resources to assist them.

Premier Baillieu, why is education the main target for all these cuts?

This letter has been copied to other Ministers for Education as the proposed changes will impact their sectors. The Ministers for Education must also support our youth in their journeys to higher learning. TAFE is one of those pathways and there is a responsibility by our Government to ensure that every opportunity remains open for our children.

The TAFE4ALL website alone lists eighteen representative organisations in support of this campaign. This should make it clear that the State of Victoria does not want these cuts to education.

The Victorian TAFE Directors Association says no. The Unions say no. Minister Hall has also said no. And it is pretty clear that the students and parents are also saying no.

Premier Baillieu, is there anyone in this state or country that actually says otherwise?

Attached you will find a cover letter sent to Chisholm TAFE CEO Ms M Peters which was accompanied by a petition that has been signed by students, teachers, families and friends; all of whom would like us to continue and succeed in our studies, and all of whom support this wonderful institution we attend.

The requests of my community are attached, and my further requests are reiterated as follows;

  1. The Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing course not be cancelled at Chisholm
  2. The decision regarding these drastic cuts to TAFE and education funding be reversed
  3. Information be released immediately about what courses will be moved outside of the VET sector
  4. A Parliamentary enquiry into what socio-economic impact the proposed budget cuts will have on our youth, the parents wishing to re-skill and return to the workforce, and our mature aged job seekers.

TAFE is more than a teaching environment. It supports our community. Please reconsider the long term economic growth of our communities instead of the short term gain.

 

Yours Faithfully

 

 

Louise Zedda-Sampson

Chisholm TAFE Professional Writing and Editing Student

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