WELLINGTON Shire Council has thrown its support behind a partnership between Advance TAFE, GippsTAFE and Federation University Churchill as the appropriate model for further education in Gippsland.
Using council’s Acceptance of Late Items provisions at Tuesday night’s council meeting Councillor Carolyn Crossley proposed council support Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE in forming relationships that would optimise the provision of vocational training in the Wellington shire.
She emphasised that training needed to be locally focused, locally controlled and locally delivered.
Voting to accept Cr Crossley’s motion council asked CEO David Morcom to write to Higher Education and Skill Minister Peter Hall, MLC, stating the council supports a local partnership with Federation University Australia.
Mayor Scott Rossetti and Cr Patrick McIvor had declared conflicts of interest, Cr Rossetti as chair of Advance TAFE and Cr McIvor because of his wife’s employment by the TAFE, and had previously left the chamber.
Cr Peter Cleary was elected acting mayor and called on the public gallery to speak on the issue.
Former Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education and Monash Gippsland Churchill campus academic and U3A president Eric Thorne told council that based on his experience of the Monash control of the Churchill campus the community needed to ensure control of the TAFE was kept in the area.
“To lose it to the metropolitan area would be … a strange mix.
“I had a long time dealing with what was the old Chisholm Institute and Monash and I found that they were living in a different world to the world I was living in, and they didn’t seem to understand the sort of problems we have in these areas.
“I can only say I would be very distressed if control of our local TAFE and relationships with other TAFEs was taken away from us and sent to the metropolitan area.
Mr Thorne described the possible partnership between Federation University and the local TAFEs as a unique opportunity.
“We’ve got a chance to do things together with Ballarat (Federation University) in a way that hasn’t been tried in Australia before and to do it because we have got the right organisation and the right leadership now,” he said.
Mr Thorne suggested Gippsland’s youth needed an education suited to emerging industries, jobs that would bear little resemblance to the predominantly manufacturing industry focus of Chisholm Institute.
Cr Crossley proposed the motion, receiving unanimous support from her fellow councillors.
She stressed the issue was of great importance and decisions around the future of the TAFEs were being made at the moment.
“The decisions will be made basically by January, it is crucial for the development and the services of our community, it needs to be locally focused,” Cr Crossley said.
“There are also implications of what could be happening, not only to the courses, the focus of those courses, but also the future development of the Advance TAFE in the Port of Sale precinct.
“We certainly hope it (the TAFE development) comes to fruition, we would very likely have that put in jeopardy by shifting priorities to a metropolitan area.
“Also the fact that Federation University has stated … its main focus is to become the best regionally based university in Australia.
“By supporting that partnership we will only build on that strength and create more opportunities for our students locally, whom as we all know, have had difficulties transitioning from secondary education to higher education, so we really need to keep all the facilities focused on that in our region.”