Protesters speak out about TAFE cutbacks

A VOCAL protest at Bendigo TAFE yesterday rallied against budget cuts that will close courses and make 100 staff redundant.

Teachers and students from the TAFE joined members of the education union to call on the state government to reverse cuts that will strip $9 million from the TAFE’s annual funding.

Cries of “no ifs, no buts, no more budget cuts” greeted members of the state government’s upper house as they entered Bendigo TAFE for lunch, as part of the parliament’s regional sitting.

Outside, Australian Education Union’s TAFE vice-president Greg Barclay told the protest that the cuts would damage employment prospects for bendigo students.

“Skill shortages in the region is a huge issue and we don’t want to lose this training provider,” he said.

“That’s what will happen under these cuts, we will see courses close.”

TAFE teacher Christine Hooper attended the rally and said she was unsure if the English as a Second Language course she taught would still be offered next year.

“A lot of people in the department have already taken redundancies,” she said.

Fitness department teacher Helen Mosetter said the government cuts would close all fitness courses at Bendigo TAFE.

Earlier in the day, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews tabled a petition with more than 28,000 signatures calling on the government to reverse the cuts.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the cuts would severely impact residents in central Victoria getting training or re-skilling. 

“Victoria is in the midst of a jobs crisis because of the Baillieu government’s failure to invest in our state and in particular regional and rural Victoria,” she said. 

“The cuts will add more people to the unemployment queue while at the same time limiting people’s opportunities to access affordable skills and training.” 

The union said the cuts had forced the closure of the Kyneton campus and would cut almost a quarter of all courses at Bendigo TAFE.

Trades minister Peter Hall said enrolments from July 2011 to July 2012 in the Loddon Mallee region had increased by 40 per cent.

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