National Tafe Day In Reply
In reply: The speeches we have heard have included nice words of support for TAFE, and members have shared their experiences and ideas on how TAFE makes a valuable contribution to our economic development at a time of industry restructure in this State. We all have TAFE stories, which is why TAFE is important. I employed TAFE students in my business and had work experience students from TAFE. I presented at TAFE. Sadly, under this Government, although TAFE classes are set up for 25 students they will have 30 students who do not have access to a computer, air-conditioning or basic things that will enable them to take their education seriously. However, it is inspiring to see the passion and commitment of the teachers who take those classes and who guide students while experiencing this constant attack from the Baird Liberal Government. They are making an effort. TAFE is not only about receiving a qualification; it is about attaining work experience and making the transition from education into employment and making a contribution to our society.
I wish to mention a couple of statistics. The member for Heathcote talked about the increases in funding. It is not only about the numbers. It is also about people no longer having access to their choice courses.
Since 2012, 80,000 fewer students—picture that—have entered TAFE; 4,600 teachers and support staff have been sacked; and 11,500 fewer students with disabilities are enrolled at TAFE. The most vulnerable students in our community who want to have access to a tertiary qualification are not able to do so under this Government. Worse, there has been a 22 per cent increase in total course fees. That is a disgraceful situation for the young people in our community. At times over the past 12 months the Hunter has had 21 per cent unemployment, and students are being forced to pay a 22 per cent increase in total course fees.