Students from the only remaining full-time Auslan course in Victoria have been learning to sign the words “protest rally”, and “Parliament House”, Lana Schwartz told a 250-strong rally to save the course on May 30. Auslan is the sign language used by the deaf community, and Schwartz is a student in the Auslan diploma offered by Kangan Batman TAFE in Melbourne. But the TAFE announced the course would be axed at the end of the year.
Anger and concern is spreading as people become aware of the scale of the cuts to the TAFE sector. The Baillieu government said it would slash $300 million from the TAFE sector in Victoria. At a public meeting titled “TAFE Cuts, Education and the Capitalist Crisis”, the president of the National Tertiary Education Union’s University of Ballarat branch, Jeremy Smith said 57 courses were being totally axed at Ballarat TAFE.
As part of savage budget cuts, the Victorian Coalition government has slashed $300 million over four years of funding for the provider of public technical and further education, the state’s 18 TAFE institutes that teach about 400,000 students a year. Funding per student in 80% of courses has been cut from about $8 per training hour to as low as $1.50 - to a range meant to reflect labour market priorities. Trades apprenticeships, aged care and child care received some small increases.