Community College back from the brink

COMMUNITY College Warrnambool has clawed its way back from the brink of closure. 

Community College Warrnambool's new management team Ruth Hughan (left), Anne-Maree Maguire, Ian Carter, Debra Dumesny, Jill Carter, Bob Thomas, Lorraine de Kok and Bill Owens.

Community College Warrnambool's new management team Ruth Hughan (left), Anne-Maree Maguire, Ian Carter, Debra Dumesny, Jill Carter, Bob Thomas, Lorraine de Kok and Bill Owens.

The school has sold off assets and placed a hiring freeze in a bid to remain afloat after the previous board of management voted to close the college. 

Senior staff members are now in charge after chief executive Denis Bell and other board members resigned in April. 

Training manger Debra Dumesny told The Standard the college’s membership forced the resignations after a groundswell of anger over the closure decision. 

“We had a special general meeting. The membership weren’t too happy with how they were ... there was a motion put forward for them to vacate their positions and they chose to vacate their positions,” Mrs Dumesny said. “They felt we weren’t viable, that we didn’t have enough money to go on.”

Mrs Dumesny said the college budget had been gutted by a new round of state government TAFE cuts phased in this year. 

The state government funds courses on an hourly basis but reduced the figure for a number of previously unaffected trades courses this year. 

“On a 200-hour course we could lose half of what we were getting,” she said. “We investigated a lot of options and looked at what we had. Staff got together where we had meetings and wrote numbers up on the white board and thought ‘we can keep going’.” 

Mrs Dumesny said the college had set about to “liquidate assets” including selling excess cars and trucks. 

Two vacant positions at the college will not be filled and no courses have been cut. 

“We’ve just got to economise on what we’re doing — we’ve also picked up other outside contracts. That’s given us the cash injection for our cash flow to commence and move on.” 

The school, which has a campus on Hyland Street in Warrnambool and another in Hamilton, requires at least $2 million in funding each year. 

“I’ve been here 20 years and when I first started here everything happened here. The bridge club met here, the CB radio club met here, the chess club met here ... all those clubs met here for a small donation for the running costs,” Mrs Dumesny said. 

“It needs to go back to being the community college it should be.” 

The not-for-profit Community College — also known as Self Education and Learning Inc (SEAL) — began operating in Warrnambool in 1976. 

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