'Hands off TAFE' day held in NSW

Issue 
Students and teachers opposed to the privatisation of TAFE.

A “Hands off TAFE” day of action to stop the further privatisation of the TAFE system in NSW was held on October 12.

The day of action, called by Greens NSW and supported by teachers, students and community members, involved protest actions outside TAFE colleges and in shopping centres in Sydney and regional towns across NSW.

The actions mobilised public opposition to the state government's plans to privatise more than one-third of TAFEs, and the loss of teaching and support jobs, the reduction in contact hours, the cutting of courses and increases in course fees.

A “Hands off TAFE” day of action to stop the further privatisation of the TAFE system in NSW was held on October 12.

The day of action, called by Greens NSW and supported by teachers, students and community members, involved protest actions outside TAFE colleges and in shopping centres in Sydney and regional towns across NSW.

The actions mobilised public opposition to the state government's plans to privatise more than one-third of TAFEs, and the loss of teaching and support jobs, the reduction in contact hours, the cutting of courses and increases in course fees.

“TAFE is plunging into a crisis, entirely of the Baird government's making,” Greens NSW MP John Kaye said. “More than 2600 teaching and support staff jobs have been lost since 2011 and there have been tens of thousands fewer students. TAFE sites and buildings are being sold to pay for software upgrades. Fees have substantially increased for many students.

“Under the NSW government's Smart and Skilled market, more than $750 million has been stripped from TAFE's secure budget and put into a market where the public system has to compete against low cost, low quality, profit-driven private providers.

“TAFE has been forced to shorten courses, reduce contact hours and move to on-line delivery, even where it is not appropriate to do so. Without a total change in direction, NSW will follow the same disastrous path as Victoria, where TAFE is a minority provider and thousands of qualifications have had to be recalled because private providers were collecting subsidies and not providing meaningful training.

“The future of skills and access to jobs in NSW can only be rescued by dumping Smart and Skilled and restoring TAFE's secure budget. Fees must be cut and the money going to private providers must be limited to courses and regions where TAFE cannot provide.”

Meanwhile, the NSW Labor is conducting an online petition, “Let's Save TAFE”. The petition notes: "Mike Baird has decided to adopt the Abbott scheme of selling off our key resources. John Barilaro, Minister for Skills, has already flagged 27 TAFE campuses, including Dapto, Murwillumbah, and Belmont as being considered for sale.

“TAFE has been, and should continue to be, the primary point of delivery for skills education, particularly in regional NSW.”

The NSW Teachers Federation has started a campaign to “Stop the TAFE Cuts Now”. The campaign stresses: “The Baird government has cut funds to TAFE; huge student fees; teachers are losing their jobs; TAFE will be privatised.”

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