TAFE cuts criticised

LATROBE City Council had described the State Government’s budget slash on the TAFE sector as a move “in the opposite direction”.

The severity of the funding cuts to Gippsland was raised by Latrobe City Council, which fears it will create a shortfall in diversity of skills in the region.

According to Latrobe City councillor Graeme Middlemiss, the government’s recent actions contradict its support of the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee discussion paper, which identifies extra skilling of the Valley as a key strategic direction.

Cr Middlemiss’ views were shared by Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen who said the recent funding cuts proved to be “particularly hurtful here”.

“Education without a doubt is a state responsibility,” Cr Vermeulen said.

“It is not our responsibility and we don’t have the funds to supply, but we can certainly say that this is not doing the right thing by our community.

“Latrobe City Council is not willing to sit by and let that happen without trying to influence the situation.”

He added council would endeavour to speak to Skills Minister Peter Hall about “exempting” the region from the budget’s TAFE cuts.

In the aftermath of the release of the budget, education unions across the state have also continued to criticise the Department of Education’s “controversial” move, with the Australian Education Union stating “Victorian students will remain as the lowest funded state per student”.

These comments along with statements made by the Victorian TAFE association against the cuts were, however, refuted by Mr Hall.

“We are committed to removing the barriers that stop young people going to TAFEs,” Mr Hall said.

“It is outrageous that the TAFE Association should seek to frighten students away from training.”

He said the government’s reforms to refocus the vocational education and training sector would continue to support the training of vulnerable Victorians in public and private provider settings.