TAFE build finally confirmed

THE gates to Sale’s abandoned netball courts were symbolically flung open on Thursday afternoon, as the Minister for Training and Skills paid a visit to Sale’s future TAFE site.

Gayle Tierney, assisted by Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing, beamed as she officially announced the state budget allocation of $25 million in funding for a new state-of-the-art Federation Training facility, to be built at Sale’s southern entrance.

The funding was secured by the government through the sale of Federation Training’s Chadstone campus.

The minister also announced 30 priority TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeship courses in growth industries will be made free for students to enrol in.

“With the amount of money that’s been allocated to it, I think we will be able to build an exceptionally advanced piece of architecture, that will provide the house for a lot of things that are actually needed in this community,” she said.

“There needs to be a renewed commitment and a renewed sense of values placed on trades, because there are good jobs out there, good paying jobs, that will lead to a lot more choices in people’s  lives,” she said.

Ms Tierney recalled touring Federation Training’s Gippsland facilities a year ago.

“Of course, I got to see Fulham, and I don’t need to say anything else, because if anyone has seen Fulham they know exactly what that look means,” she said.

“It was a forced amalgamation between GippsTafe and Advance TAFE, and with that came all these sort of different facilities, different staff, different courses and different cultures, so it really needed a whole wholesome look . . . at what needed to happen.

“We’ve got the money now, and we’ve certainly already got the land, so nothing should get in our way.

“We really do respect how hard you’ve fought for this, and it has been a fight for, particularly, young people in our community.”

Ms Shing described the proposed building as a solution for the community, driven by the community.

“It’s a moment of intense pride that we’ve managed as Gippslanders to pull together so cohesively to get a result like this one,” she said.

She detailed how the proposed facility would be “a hub” that creates a sense of momentum and purpose for young people and mature aged learners, making students relevant in high-industry growth areas.

“I can’t wait to see the benefit flow from this really important investment, that’s about so much more than bricks and mortar, and about so much more than figures in a budget,” she added.

On behalf of Wellington Shire Council, councillor Darren McCubbin thanked Ms Tierney for “bringing home the bacon”.

“This is a minister who took a personal interest in it,” he said.

“She came and listened to us, and then sent people to regularly liaise with us, and I knew that any time that we had problems — and there were problems along the way — we could ring the minister’s office and we would be in contact with someone who really, genuinely cared,” he said.

Cr McCubbin also credited Ms Shing, as “our defacto (state) member for Gippsland”.

“We all know three years ago, TAFE was a write-off, it was a basket-case, and, in fact, Harriet has come in today and guaranteed that we are going to have a new campus here, onsite, educating our young people into the future,” he said.

“It means that our young people have a future within our town, it means that our businesses can develop using the skills this will provide them, and it gives us a reason for young people to look at Sale in the long term as being their home,” he said.

“I’m very pleased with what the minister said today, and Grant, it’s happening in the new year, so I’m putting in my calendar, 12.01 on New Year’s, to give you a ring and say how’s it going mate,” he laughed.

“We remain committed and looking forward to that wonderful day when it is truly open.”

Federation Training interim chief executive officer Grant Radford said further consultation and refinement was needed before specific campus details could be released, such as whether the Sale campus would have more courses than the current Fulham campus.

“I hope that there will be more courses, and that’ll be as a result of the communication with industry and with the community about what they need,” he said.

Mr Radford said the campus’ business case to government talked at a macro level regarding particular courses and industry, and did not necessarily outline specific campus facilities.

“We’re not locked into saying, ‘well, it has to be this because that’s what we said’, we want to make sure we consult with everyone and what goes in there is what’s really needed,” he said.

According to an Education Department spokesperson, construction is expected to begin early 2019, with completion later that year or early 2020.