The AEU has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of an extra 180,000 fee-free TAFE places, made during his opening address at the Jobs and Skills Summit on 1 September. The $1.1 billion investment will be shared by the states, territories and the Commonwealth. These new places come on top of the 465,000 fee-free TAFE places announced prior to the federal election.
The summit at Parliament House in Canberra was a welcome opportunity for unions, employers, and state and the federal governments to plan for vocational education, job opportunities, and economic growth. The AEU’s focus was on the central role of TAFE in supporting the summit’s goals. As the public provider, TAFE is best placed to meet national skills shortages through accessible, high-quality education for communities throughout Australia. TAFE has a vital role to play in skilling up workers for new industries, including the renewables sector.
In opening with this announcement, the Prime Minister has acknowledged the critical role TAFE plays in Australia’s VET system and placed it at the heart of the national jobs and skills agenda. We will continue campaigning to ensure TAFE is funded to meet the full cost of delivery, allowing adequate teaching hours and planning time for staff, and sustaining the support services that enable thousands of students to complete their qualifications.
Though Swinburne’s actions are clearly intended to intimidate, at the time of writing, members have decided to continue their partial work bans.
National TAFE Day, held on 6 September, was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our public TAFE system – and our members working in the VET sector. TAFE could not exist without the high-level skills and dedication of its workforce. For years, TAFE has provided students with the employment opportunities and skills that make our society vibrant and successful.
In the lead up to the state election, the AEU will continue to campaign strongly on public education and TAFE’s role in rebuilding the economy. To meet this challenge, state and federal governments need to boost their investment in the public sector and provide a minimum 70% of total VET funding to TAFE.
In an extraordinary move by Swinburne University of Technology, in mid-August management stood down, without pay, all staff engaging in industrial action. Management sent a hostile email to AEU and NTEU members who were taking industrial action after two years of campaigning for a decent pay rise (see more on page 16).
Though Swinburne’s actions are clearly intended to intimidate, at the time of writing, members have decided to continue their partial work bans, which include not recording student attendance, not attending meetings, not using online systems, and not doing extra duties on top of those set out in their position description. Despite a follow-up staff email from Swinburne management denouncing the ongoing industrial action, AEU and NTEU members have been drawing support from the wider Swinburne and TAFE communities.