TAFE & Adult Provision Big year ahead for the TAP sector

Photo: Larry Chew

The majority of members in the TAFE and disability sectors have now returned to work onsite, after two gruelling years navigating the COVID-19 crisis. There has been considerable uncertainty within these sectors during this time, affecting many workplaces. Both the state and federal elections will be important in providing a clearer path ahead.

We have completed our log of claims process for a new Victorian TAFE Teacher Staff Agreement (VTTSA), which covers all TAFE teachers and education managers in the state’s 12 standalone TAFEs. While the current agreement has strengthened conditions and provided greater job security through improved conversion and ‘mode of employment’ clauses, there is still more to be done to improve the working lives of our members.

All TAFE members have had an opportunity to contribute directly to the log of claims, which sets out our position on important issues, such as salaries and workloads. The final version was endorsed by the AEU TAFE and Adult Provision Council on 29 March.

Negotiations for the next VTTSA are due to commence this month. There are also four individual dual-sector agreements to negotiate. We plan to commence negotiations with RMIT in coming months, with Victoria University to follow soon after. Bargaining isn’t due to commence at Federation University until 2023.

Negotiations at Swinburne University of Technology for a new Pathways And Vocational Education (PAVE) Agreement have stalled. At the time of publishing, we are urging members to vote ‘no’ to Swinburne’s proposed non-union enterprise agreement, which would see its VET teachers’ salaries fall behind those of their peers at other TAFEs and universities.

If TAFE is to be the anchor for the VET sector, and central to our economic recovery, then governments must implement a funding model that meets the real cost of course delivery.

In the lead up to both state and federal elections, the AEU will be campaigning strongly on TAFE. Federally, there is a strong focus on rebuilding the economy and getting Australians safely back in work. Our ‘Rebuild With TAFE’ campaign calls for TAFE to play a central role in this.

Funding for TAFE continues to be a critical issue at both the federal and state level. We know that current funding levels do not cover the true costs of course delivery. The recent federal budget did not contain any additional money for TAFE. Instead, the Morrison government has favoured private for-profit provision at the expense of high-quality public vocational education.

If TAFE is to be the anchor for the VET sector, and central to our economic recovery, then governments must implement a funding model that meets the real cost of course delivery. 

In the disability sector, the AEU will commence negotiations with disability NGOs mid-year. We will be pushing for improved pay and conditions, and mandates on COVID vaccinations.

We were heartened to see tennis star, television presenter and passionate disability activist Dylan Alcott crowned Australian of the Year. He has already made clear his ambition to fight tirelessly for proper funding for the NDIS, and we look forward to his continued contributions to the national debate.

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