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E R SPAt for us gh


a thou







A letter from Mary Bluett remier Baillieu,


The following stories are from a number of Victorian TAFE teachers who have lost their jobs as a result of your Government’s $300 million in cuts to TAFE in 2012. Their stories need to be told and I hope that by reading them you will have a better understanding of the enormous personal and professional impact these cuts are having on people’s lives. These are people who are dedicated and passionate about their work and the future of their students. They are real people, many supporting a family and many with a mortgage that relies on secure employment. The AEU and our members are deeply concerned about the number of teachers losing their jobs as a consequence of the cuts. As the Premier, you must take responsibility for the job losses, course cancellations, campus closures and fee increases for students in TAFE. The strength of the Victorian economy is reliant on the skills of its workers. These cuts are not in the interests of our future generation of workers, the community, TAFE institutes and the economy. I strongly urge your Government to reverse these policies and commit to a well-resourced, high-quality TAFE sector.

Mary Bluett, on behalf of Victorian TAFE teachers

I’m not sure what the future holds for me

he final act, and I’m directed to the meeting room opposite. Waiting there is a bright and helpful woman to assist me in my “new, exciting quests”. I recall that the stages of mortal grief include anger. This has not been a death, but 72% of my working life has involved GippsTAFE — contract, sessional, full time and part time. I have worked in many fields, including Adult Literacy, General Education, Sustainability, Youth and Workplace Basic Education. … The bright and helpful woman has a lot of work on in regional TAFEs. Her company has sent her all over Victoria since the Government’s funding cuts. She’s a redundancy support expert. The State Government is trying to push shut the window of Victorian TAFE. If it succeeds there will be many losers. People will be stuck in unemployment or in dying industries. But there will be a few winners — the bright and helpful woman showed me this.

was half way through my teaching degree in 2005 when I began my career at TAFE as a sessional teacher in the Hospitality Department. Over the subsequent three years, I fell in love with teaching in the VET sector. I worked long, arduous hours, night after night, often staying late and taking work home, but I loved every minute of it! … In May, after the budget was announced, we were told by our CEO that Front of House Hospitality would not be offered in 2013. … In my last four weeks at TAFE, I will continue to come to TAFE each day and work hard because I have a passion for sharing knowledge and ideas and hopefully changing people’s lives. I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Financially, it will be difficult over the Christmas break as I face the uncertainty of work in the New Year. … I hope that one day soon, the politicians who have made these massive funding cuts will see the practical implications of their decisions at work. Perhaps when they are eating out at restaurants and experience very poor customer service, they will realise how essential it is to have quality skills training and that TAFE is a leader in this field — so why change it?

Neil Hauxwell, GippsTAFE

Gabrielle Durand, GippsTAFE

I recall that the stages of mortal grief include anger



I have given 15 years plus of my life to the TAFE sector started my career many years ago and have worked at many TAFEs around Melbourne, all trying to assist students — some the most needy in society — get a leg up to a better future. … I have given 15 years plus of my professional life to the TAFE sector and many more years to higher education. Losing my job has forced me to be very reflective as to my professional skills. Using my voice, as one of my friends stated, is my best asset. Personally, what is my identity now that I no longer have a TAFE teacher identity? … TAFE assists and gives a second chance to battlers who go on to better lives. Will private RTOs care? Not in a dollar and cents world! The minister has won the first round of stupidity, but all these teachers vote. Much intellectual capital will be lost, but to the Government of the day, the Efficiency God is the only one to be praised.


Peter Richardson, Swinburne


ng cu t TAFE to 80% of course s

I worry about students’ future started as a sessional teacher back in 1994, until finally getting a permanent position in 1998. I have been through the ups and downs of staff changes, curriculum changes, black books, green books, training packages… but nothing compares to the past six months. My department was informed that “we” would be closing at the end of this year — with a possibility that “my area within the department might stay”. … On Wednesday 7 November [I was] called into a meeting at HR and Senior Educator to go “through the paperwork”. On this day I was told that I would finish on 23 November and “don’t worry about the students — their classes will be covered”. By whom? The students have an external exam (industry-based) and a must pass situation if they want to be qualified to be employed in the travel industry. It was then I felt my professional workplace had fallen apart. I have always considered myself to be a professional — to put “my” students first, to not only teach but mentor, encourage and help them achieve their ambitions. The opportunity to finalise their work for the semester has been taken away and this has devastated me! … TAFE has always provided students with the “hands-on” approach to gain a qualification in their chosen career. I am proud that over the years I have/do receive emails, phone calls or Christmas cards from students telling me of their progression through the industry they have chosen. I feel that the majority of RTOs (private) cheat the system therefore cheat the student. I leave the workplace feeling very bitter towards the Institute and worry about the future of students who will ultimately suffer due these funding cuts.


Karen Burgmann, Kangan Institute

I was passionate about my work worked at a regional TAFE, teaching and designing programs for disadvantaged youth and adults, for over 10 years. These programs were about building confidence, self-esteem and the skills needed to become a contributing member of the community. Youth programs such as VCAL and Building Bridges — which were springboards for young people to reengage with the community — were designed to get young people back into education, to help them find a vocation, to inspire them and to turn their lives around, with the support of the TAFE system. I was passionate about my work, and built some wonderful relationships with students, who appreciated the effort being put into them, and responded by re-engaging with the world around them. But these programs no longer exist. They’ve been cut. Axed. Why? Because this government and current management don’t value these types of programs; they don’t see their worth to the community or to the individual. These programs are not seen as important because they supposedly don’t make money. Recently, after becoming disillusioned and having the funding cut, I took control of my own destiny and left teaching before I was pushed, so I could work in another field where my work was valued and supported. And this is what’s happening everywhere. Good teachers, experienced teachers, highly skilled teachers, are either leaving the sector or being pushed out in the name of market forces, because their programs are not financially viable. But what about the impact on the community? What about the value to the community, and the array of social issues this void is going to create? We’ll be paying far more than dollars in the end. And what’s happening to the students I would have been teaching? They’re standing in Centerlink lines, hanging around


shopping centres, feeling like they have no hope, no future, no chance of finding something positive in their lives. I know, because I’ve seen it firsthand. The negative ramifications to the community by cutting TAFE funding cannot be underestimated. … Once you take away something that is vibrant and positive and uplifting, and relies on the goodwill and professionalism of experienced people, it is nigh on impossible to get it back. Foundation programs must be funded, otherwise we’re going to be counting the costs for generations to come. This is social vandalism and it must stop.

Phillip Mayer, GippsTAFE

E jobs F A T f o ds Thousan etropolitan and ss m lost acro ictoria V l a n o i g re

It has been very rewarding helping people have hope for their future commenced work at Kangan as a casual teacher in 1994, with short courses in basic IT skills such as “Introduction to Microsoft Office”. Not long after that I gained full-time employment, teaching a combination of business and IT-related subjects in the Fashion Studies department, the Computer Studies department and the Business Administration department. At the end of 1996 I was promoted to manager of the Business Administration department, and 10 years later I was asked to manage the then very run-down IT Teaching department, where I have worked up until my retrenchment on November 16, 2012. … It has been very rewarding helping people take that step up from unemployment to having hope for their future. At Kangan in Broadmeadows, well over 90% of our student cohort are people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, with many of them being refugees from various war zones over the years. Many others are recent migrants or fee-paying “international students” from countries such as China and India. Data over the six years since I have been managing the ICT Teaching department has


shown that almost a third of our graduates take our wonderful articulation pathways into various universities, including La Trobe, Victoria and Ballarat. Most of these students would not have thought of, or perhaps even been capable of commencing their studies at university, but realised their potential and capacity through studying in the TAFE environment. Almost all of the remaining two-thirds of our graduates quickly find appropriate work in the ICT sector. Very few remain unemployed or working in non-related fields. Most of Kangan’s students will not be able to study now that fees have been raised beyond their capacity to pay. This means that many courses will not run — not due to lack of demand, but due to course fee and subsidy structure. Whilst some may take the more direct path to university, many will simply remain unemployed and unskilled. The great opportunities that have been provided by TAFE have been cut!

Terry McNamara, Kangan Institute

How does this help the local economy?

I have been made redundant three times

e moved to Bairnsdale two years ago. This is not an affluent area. Many people struggle to gain employment. Temporary and part-time work is the norm. … For weeks there has been uncertainty at Advance TAFE. Who will go? For the moment my wife still has a job. However, more are going in September and at the end of the year it’s end of contract time. … People like us will struggle to pay the mortgage and bills and will certainly have no spare money to spend. How does that help the local economy? On a Saturday morning recently, we met an ex-student of my wife’s. She rushed up, hugged her and blurted out how grateful she was for her training. It had led her to a new job. This was a long-term unemployed person who would not have had the luxury of training without the public TAFE system.

was a TAFE teacher. Now I am unemployed. The last two and a half years have been tough in the education industry. I have been made redundant three times — and now there is no work for me. Again! I am now 55. I am not eligible for Centrelink. I may need to sell the home or consider retiring early.


Glenn Andressen, AdvanceTAFE


Geoff, NMIT

ort, p p u s tudent d other s r o f g Fundin ng, librar y an ped lli rap counse ser vices sc t studen

TAFE punished for VET spending blow -out caused by private sector funding Three young children to support and extremely concerned y partner and I both work in the same department at Kangan Institute. I have worked there for twelve years, my partner for six. … We have three young children to support and are extremely concerned. Within our team of eight teachers, three will lose their jobs within the next two weeks, and probably more by the end of the year. If we are lucky enough to stay, what sort of environment will we be working in? Increased expectations on teaching staff, horrible vibe, less students, less time available to students… It just sounds terrible. I love Kangan, I love teaching, but these changes are not going to allow quality education for our students who need us the most.


Krissi Kirk, Kangan Institute/RMIT

It’s a sad time for Victoria am an IT teacher, as well as a student of Kangan Institute. The course I had planned to enrol in next year has been cut. In fact we will lose six courses and four staff by July in our department alone. KI’s entire Hospitality department will close. By next year I may be jobless and not able to study in my chosen field. It’s a sad time for Victoria.


Tashara Roberts, Kangan Institute

I love teaching have been a sessional teacher for 11 years, working between two TAFE institutes, and I love my job. I’ve just found out that there is no more work for sessional staff in my department at either TAFE. Very sad day. TAFE does such great work with students and I love teaching. Not sure what I will be doing next.


Chucked out the door when enrolment numbers are down

came to TAFE to further my skills as a librarian, provide assistance to students undertaking research, and give training sessions, especially to ESL students and those needing academic skills. They have difficulty with technology — due to either a disadvantaged background or language and cultural differences. These students have no other way of getting into the job market. Where do these students go now? Where do I go now?

have been teaching sessionally at various TAFEs in the last 10 years. Currently, I am teaching ESL at RMIT (five years) and AMES (seven years) as a sessional staff member. I have never been made permanent, let alone been offered a contract. … Just like other sessional teachers, I am always chucked out the door when enrolment numbers are down. At the time of writing this I will have no more work next year due to changes that are unfavourable to TAFE and the Federal and State Government favouring small, private RTOs who offer courses that are substandard. Although sub-standard, students would rather enrol in those courses because they are cheap. These recent changes make me angry because it demeans the integrity of the teaching profession and undermines the qualifications and training TAFE teachers have done.

Anonymous, Holmesglen

Alex Vista, RMIT/AMES

Anonymous, NMIT/Holmesglen

Where do I go now?









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