MORE pain is on the horizon for South West TAFE which has already had $10 million cut from its budget forcing the axing of 48 jobs and dozens of courses.
Now there is the potential for up to 70 more job cuts early next year and TAFE’s local governance is under a cloud, according to Warrnambool City mayor Jacinta Ermacora who raised community concerns with Higher Education Minister Peter Hall in Melbourne this week.
“Unfortunately there appears to be no movement on the state government’s position,” she told The Standard.
“I was with chief executives from Wodonga and Geelong who raised similar concerns and also felt the same response that the government wasn’t going to budge.”
The government has cut $300m from TAFE and skills training sector funding to streamline the system which it claims was being abused.
About 2000 jobs have already been axed across the state.
However, TAFE leaders and unions say rorting is not in TAFE, but in private-enterprise training courses.
“The department just let Treasury flick the switch instead of tailoring cuts to specific regions,” Cr Ermacora said.
“We didn’t have the shonky courses here.
“It’s almost like a sledgehammer approach.”
Cr Ermacora said she told Mr Hall how the south-west community had been hit hard particularly by the losses of entry-level retailing, hospitality and business courses.
“This disadvantages people returning to study and has a direct impact on our economy,” she said.
“There have been 48 staff retrenched and there is potential for another 40 to 70 in January.
“He said Mr Hall suggested if courses didn’t run in Warrnambool then maybe Gordon Institute in Geelong may be able to deliver them into Warrnambool.
“But he didn’t elaborate on that.
“I also asked if he could assure us we wouldn’t lose our local governance for TAFE, but he didn’t answer.”
Cr Ermacora said a new efficiency plan demanded by the government had been prepared by the local TAFE board to be lodged this month. “This plan may resolve some of the issues and fears,” she said.
The meeting in Spring Street was part of a series of deputations organised by Regional Cities Victoria (RCV).
Cr Ermacora and Warrnambool City chief executive Bruce Anson also met senior government and Treasury officials and opposition members.
The delegates pushed a proposal generated by Mr Anson for a government rolling fund to help regional councils finance infrastructure needed for growth areas.
On Tuesday the government announced $300,000 for RCV to prepare a model showing key factors needed for new infrastructure to cope with regional growth in the next 25 years.