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If you were in the city on August 16th you may have heard the chants “Bailliue Bailliue, he’s going to fail you,”  you may have seen the flood of teachers and students streaming down towards Parliament and you may have asked yourself, what’s all this fuss about?

Students and teachers march through the city.

In the latest state budget the Baillieu government cut a brutal $300 million from the TAFE sector. Now hundreds of teachers and TAFE staff have lost their jobs. Many campuses are  facing closure, courses have been shut down and fees have been massively increased for thousands of students. And to further rub salt into the wound, the government is considering cutting another $230 million.

I asked some TAFE students and staff why they were so passionate about this issue.

Neil, Latrobe Valley

 

 

 

“Because some of my friends have already lost their job, but I’m more worried about where the students are going to go.”

 

 

 

 

Matthew, Box Hill

 

 

“Because not many places have a quality and recognised music course like Box Hill Institute, if it shuts down it will have a substantial effect on the Melbourne contemporary music scene.”

 

 

 

 

Angus, Swinburne

 

 

 

“Because Swinburne is already under funded, one of my teachers leaves an hour early to get to another class.”

 

 

 

 

A lot of protesters had travelled from the country to make their voice heard as rural and remote towns will most likely suffer worst from these cuts. If their TAFE’s are closed, students and teachers will have to commute miles and miles to work and study. Julia Gillard even hit out at Mr Bailliue claiming it will be a heavy blow for towns such as Warrnambool, Morwell and Mildura, calling TAFE part of their ‘social Fabric’.

A major concern for protesters was where will the kids who have tried and failed at normal school go?  The kids who just don’t fit in?  And the others who have unimaginable home lives and struggle to cope with school as well?

Chloe Williams is one of those students, completing a child care diploma at GoTAFE in Seymour, country Victoria. “I dropped out of school because of bullying, if TAFE didn’t take me I would be doing nothing” Chloe said. She fears her and the other people on her class have no future without TAFE.

And what about the students who use TAFE as a pathway to university? Many students HAVE to go to TAFE in order to get into their desired course.

A student stands up for Swinburne as it faces closure. Swinburne offers many university pathway courses.

Angus Cameron, a student of Engineering at Swinburne TAFE says he won’t be able to complete his university degree if his TAFE shuts down. “I’m not sure if I’ll still be able to go to uni” Angus said.

Baillieu has hit back claiming “enrolments exploded in courses that were cheap to deliver, profitable for providers but did not deliver on jobs.” This is his attempt to shift the blame to the previous Labour government, whose funding regime allowed private providers to flourish. These registered training offices don’t have the same overheads and are running diplomas in days when the skills take months to acquire and TAFE’s just can’t compete.

Despite the previous governments errors, Baillieu has still made the decision to cut TAFE’s funding in a time when they need all they could get. He however refers to it as a ‘reform’ and claims it was “designed to save the system from collapse”.

But this reform has already shut down RMIT’s Professional Writing Diploma through lack of numbers, while cuts have also led to the closure of the Engineering department at Bendigo TAFE’s Castlemaine campus.

The future is uncertain for TAFE students and teachers but one thing is for sure, they’re not going to take it any more.

If you missed the protest join the constant virtual rally on twiiter at https://twitter.com/TAFE4All

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