The unveiling of the Labor Party TAFE policy, which includes $10 million allocated toward re-opening the vacant Swinburne Lilydale campus has been met with approval from the Swinburne University Vice-Chancellor.
A host of other regional Melbourne and Victorian TAFE colleges will also reap substantial funding benefits, dependant on the outcome of the next state election.
Resurrecting TAFE facilities a priority
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews this week reiterated his commitment to resurrecting the Swinburne Lilydale campus and other TAFE facilities. Mr Andrews said, “We will invest $100 million in the next four years to make sure our TAFE system has the best buildings, the best facilities to make sure our next generation of workers has the very best skills.”
Swinburne University issued a statement welcoming the decision to re-open campuses and rebuild TAFE facilities, regardless of which government wins the next election. The university will begin discussions about the future use of the Lilydale site once election outcomes are known. Professor Linda Kristjanson, Vice-Chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology said, “The funding commitment by the Opposition is a first step towards the reopening of Lilydale for tertiary education. The university remains committed to creating a positive future for our former Lilydale campus.”
The TAFE rescue fund
Approximately $65 million of the TAFE package has already been allocated. Some of the beneficiaries of the funding include:
- $7.8 million Environmental and Animal Science Centre in Bendigo
- $10 million toward the Re-opening of the Greensborough TAFE.
- $8 million student hub at Holmesglen TAFE
- $25 million toward rebuilding Chisholm TAFE in Frankston
In total, Labor has pledged $320 million for its TAFE rescue fund, announced last month in Geelong.
Lilydale looking for a new owner
The Lilydale facilities, which have been vacant since last year, are presently maintained by Swinburne University in ‘standby’ mode and could be re-opened within two months of acquisition. In September, Melba Support Services, an organisation that assists people with disabilities, came to an agreement with Swinburne to utilise some of the Lilydale campus. Labor has assured Melba Support Services they will have a permanent home at the Lilydale campus.
The development of a skilled workforce
TAFE remains an integral feature of the Australian education landscape. It is the perfect avenue for many students wanting to gain trade qualifications and work-related skills. The TAFE sector has suffered a range of government budget setbacks throughout Australia in recent decades. However, the essential nature of TAFE in Australia means it will ultimately survive and flourish.
In Victoria alone, more than 400,000 students attend TAFE each year, and organisations such as Tafe4All are dedicated to ensuring quality TAFE education remains a priority for governments. Education is certain to become a battleground in upcoming elections, and with so much publicity around the sector, it’s hoped that students will be the ultimate winners.