TAFE Outreach Program not closing or is it?

TAFE NSW has responded to Wyong Regional Chronicle’s article about the end of the Outreach Program at its Wyong Campus, by stating that it included comments that were misleading.

“I can unequivocally confirm that TAFE NSW is not cutting Outreach programs,” said Mr Andrew Blow, TAFE’s Head of Corporate Affairs.

“These critical programs will continue into the future, simply under a different name and structure. “It’s disappointing that some might suggest otherwise,” Mr Blow said. “At TAFE NSW, we’re committed to providing equal access to training for all students across the State, no matter their location, background or circumstances,” he said. “We are currently transitioning to a one TAFE model, which will allow us to better leverage our unrivalled reach and resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged students across the State. “Part of this transition will see some changes to staffing structures and consistent naming conventions being introduced across TAFE NSW.

“This is about strengthening our commitment to all students and responding to the needs of young people and disadvantaged groups. Most TAFE NSW Regions have ceased using the term Outreach as a program label because the Outreach programs of old were not sufficiently flexible. “Under the new One TAFE model, specialist teachers will provide support to those with barriers to learning, including the unemployed, young people at risk, students in rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and learners with a disability, to help them get the skills they need to secure a job. “TAFE NSW will continue to reach out to engage unemployed people in training, via flexible, needs-based and teacher-led programs, aligned to the community and industry needs.”

However, the Federal Member for Dobell, Ms Emma McBride and Central Coast Councillor, Ms Lisa Matthews have responded to Mr Blow with a written statement. “No matter how anyone tries to dress it up, savage cuts have been made to TAFE, and the Wyong Outreach program has been axed,” the statement from Ms McBride and Clr Matthews said. “Its co-ordinator has been made redundant. “If it was business as usual, TAFE would have looked back at who Outreach had partnered with previously and let community organisations know what is happening. “They have not done that. “They are expecting people from the most disadvantaged groups in our community to make contact with various faculties and sign up for courses that they don’t know even exist. “There is no ‘outreach’, no one to advocate for them, no one to help them, and that is a huge barrier. “Potential students will just not find their way through the maze. “The Turnbull/Abbott government has cut nearly $3 billion from TAFE and vocational education and training Australia-wide and, clearly, NSW TAFE has had to rationalise. “This is appalling and our community will suffer.”

Source: Media statement, Mar 22 Andrew Blow, TAFE NSW Media statement, Apr 16 Emma McBride and Lisa Matthews