Weighing options in the wake of CCG withdrawal

RELATED: CCG to close Sale campus

COMMUNITY College Gippsland has no formal lease to operate on its Sale site.

The news comes as Wellington Shire Council pushes to develop a plan for the future use of the Raymond St property.

With Community College Gippsland to finish delivering courses in Sale on June 30, council this week decided to approach the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to allow leaseholders to continue using the Raymond St site until alternative venues could be found or a plan for ongoing use of the facility could be determined.

Council will seek the assistance of Gippsland South MLA and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan in speaking with the department.

Councillor Darren McCubbin said he was disappointed that community groups, such as the University of the Third Age, were given short notice to vacate the campus.

“These are very important, I would say vital, things for a whole lot of people in our community that regularly meet,” he said.

“It builds their social capacity and it’s quite disappointing that they’ve been left high and dry.”

Community College Gippsland was formed in 2011 when Adult and Community Education Sale (ACES) merged with the Warragul-based Education Centre Gippsland.

Its Sale campus is the former Sale High School site between Raymond St and the Port of Sale, which is owned by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

According to information sent to Wellington Shire Council from Community College Gippsland chief executive Paul Wilson, the college never had a formal lease for the property with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

This made it difficult for the organisation to make significant plans for the site, and meant it was meeting increased costs to maintain a building in which it had no formal rights.

Despite ACES assuming a valid lease existed, extensive discussions with the department identified no such agreement existed.

With Sale Specialist School moving from the neighbouring site in coming years, Cr McCubbin said now was an ideal time to develop a plan for the area.

“This is an important part of our town,” he said.

“It’s part of our education precinct; it’s part of our Port of Sale development.

“I think it is very important that we liaise with the Member for Gippsland South to ensure that is used in an appropriate community sense.”

Cr McCubbin said he was “extraordinarily disappointed” about the Community College Gippsland decision to leave Sale.

“The Community College Gippsland, and ACES, what it was previously, has certainly had a long-standing association with this town in terms of providing community education, which I think is extraordinarily important,” he said.

“Not only does it provide a serious of lifestyle courses . . . but also provides courses for those who have fallen in the holes between TAFE, high school and university.

“They did a lot of basic literacy, basic mathematics and those sorts of communication skills which really help people who are looking for jobs.

“ACES was often the go-to provider for courses for small businesses within town, building the capacity of the small business sector.

“Community colleges are more than ‘feel good’ courses, they actually build capacity, help our local communities and are a vital part of our infrastructure.

“The fact that it’s fallen over and left town, I think is extraordinarily disappointing.

“You put that with the reductions in TAFE over the last few years; this is quite extraordinary for our town.

Mr Wilson last week cited cuts in state government funding to the vocational education and training sector as a factor behind the decision to leave Sale.

Community College Gippsland fees are set at the same level as TAFE institutes, but it doesn’t have the same access to capital or funding as TAFE.

Mr Wilson said there were about 20 students enrolled in certificate programs for general education, community services and work education at Sale.

Students who need to complete their courses after June 30 can transfer to the recently-created Federation Training TAFE institute.