Fiona Phillips


Residents in the Gilmore electorate should be red-hot furious at the Liberal Government’s proposed TAFE cuts at Nowra, Ulladulla and Moruya campuses which now includes the proposed axing of many local TAFE Head Teacher positions.

Why should this matter? Head Teachers are the lifeblood of our local TAFE campuses organising courses to be run locally. Head Teachers are the “glue” that holds everything together at TAFE. Without Head Teachers locally TAFE just wouldn’t be the same – but perhaps that’s the point.

The Liberal Government’s failure to guarantee the public funding of TAFE has led to a part privatisation of TAFE. Hiked TAFE fees, 2500 TAFE jobs axed across NSW, no certainty of TAFE funding, and more public funding going to private operators, has led to an 18 per cent decline in TAFE enrolments in our TAFE Southern NSW region.

The loss of any Head Teacher positions would be diabolical for our electorate of Gilmore on the NSW South Coast which has been hit hard by the Liberal Government’s TAFE privatisation agenda.

Youth unemployment in the Shoalhaven has soared to 28.1 per cent. The Workforce Participation Rate in the Shoalhaven has nose-dived over the same period to 43 per cent (the lowest in Australia) as more people have given up on training and looking for work.

In an area with no access to trains south of Bomaderry and very little access to public transport. Where the median wage is just $535/week. Under the Liberal Government’s commercialisation agenda we have already seen the axing of pre-apprenticeship courses on the NSW South Coast and the axing of outreach coordination. These and many other courses axed, were designed for and successfully creating pathways to training and employment – and creating jobs. Instead youth unemployment has skyrocketed and the Liberal Government is creating greater inequality.   

People in the Ulladulla area in particular should be asking their elected representatives why many courses are no longer available at TAFE Ulladulla Campus.

There are local solutions that could easily be implemented across TAFE campuses on the South Coast to help reduce the unemployment rate, but this requires the Government to stop for once and actively listen.  

Our regional area is not like the city. We may not have the same student numbers as in the city, but our students, young and mature aged, are just as deserving. Why should they be penalised by Liberal Government policy that’s just wrong and clearly discriminates against regional areas?

Who will listen when I say that what the Liberal Government is doing to TAFE is just plain “sick”? I challenge any elected representative including Ann Sudmalis, and any Minister, to come to the NSW South Coast and see for yourself the damage you are causing by your failure to guarantee TAFE funding.  

Contact your local elected representatives. Also contact NSW Minister’s John Barilaro MP and Adam Marshall MP, and federally Karen Andrews MP and Malcolm Turnbull MP, and tell them to Stop their cuts to TAFE and to guarantee TAFE funding.

Labor has already committed to at least two thirds of Federal and NSW vocational education funding will go to TAFE. It’s time the Liberal Government does the same.  

Fiona Phillips is a former TAFE Teacher. This Opinion Piece was first published on 12th September 2017 at: