(Bill Second Reading Debate, 6 November 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I speak in favour of the TAFE Changes Moratorium (Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training) Bill 2014 and strongly support the fantastic work of TAFE NSW institutions, whose accomplishments cannot be overstated. TAFE courses can dramatically improve and transform lives. TAFE is open to all regardless of age, ability, wealth or sexuality. The same cannot be said for fully private colleges that receive exemptions under the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act. When students line up for TAFE courses, we know they will receive a quality education.
TAFE is especially important for students who have been out of the job market, raising children or those seeking retraining in later life. Education can be a pathway out of poverty and can contribute to the lives of many who are disadvantaged. We must ensure that quality education is available to those who can least afford it and those who need it most.
TAFE institutions do more for disabled students than other organisations. Education and training are the most effective ways to break the cycle of discrimination and poverty that people with disabilities often face. The Government must act now to ensure the longevity of TAFE institutions as it implements its Smart and Skilled reforms. Introducing private course providers will seriously risk undermining the foundations of TAFE institutions, reducing their capacity to deliver because there will be a race to the bottom in respect of course fees. If left unprotected, TAFE class sizes will rise, the range of courses will shrink and there will be no time to help individual students, including those with special needs. The TAFE Changes Moratorium (Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training) Bill 2014 will protect TAFE funding, taking it back to the 2010-11 level, adjusted for inflation. This will guarantee TAFE courses, facilities and services. It will also assure TAFE's position as the principal provider of technical and vocational education.
Sydney Ultimo TAFE in my electorate has turned around the lives of many of my constituents. TAFE has helped mature students overcome personal and health barriers to learning new skills and securing employment through counselling services. TAFE provides top-up courses in literacy and numeracy for Aboriginal students and early school leavers, with intensive support for those with a learning disability. One student who failed at several mainstream courses attended a TAFE course that included work experience and ultimately he was offered a job. TAFE courses can inspire a thirst for learning thereby unlocking an individual's creativity and passion for a skill or trade. Many of us have come in contact with TAFE institutions at some point in our lives. It is important that we continue to support the great work of TAFE institutions. I have seen firsthand the great results achieved by students who attend the Sydney campus in my electorate.
If we care about equity and giving people a fair go then we have to care about TAFE and its services and facilities. We have to care about having sufficient resources to provide for our communities into the future. I commend the bill to the House.