Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert has admitted to massive funding cuts to student training under questioning from Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee.
More than $175 million in funding meant for student training was cut from the Victorian Training Guarantee, including $125 million that was returned to consolidated revenue.
A further $50 million of money earmarked for student training was instead handed out as general grants to “bolster” TAFEs – with no outcomes or deliverables attached.
The admission shows Labor has broken its pre-election promise to grow enrolments and restore TAFE.
The number of students in government-subsidised training has plummeted by 15 per cent under Labor but Mr Herbert today claimed “they’re not real numbers”.
Yet just last week he told Parliament: “The training system should not just be about shovelling bucketloads full of cash to providers so that they can get rich. It should be measured on the outcomes it provides for students, industry, jobs, productivity and economic growth”.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan:
“Steve Herbert and Daniel Andrews have completely backed away from their TAFE promises, abandoning young people trying to get the training they need to find a job.
“All we have seen since the Andrews Government came to office is cuts to training funding and plummeting student enrolments.
“Steve Herbert and Daniel Andrews have broken their promises to Victorian students and job-seekers.”
More young people are without a job under the Andrews Labor Government.
ABS data released today show there are 9,453 fewer young people in full time work than when Daniel Andrews came to office 12 months ago.
Statewide, there are 74,959 young people without a job.
Victoria’s youth unemployment rate is at 14.6 per cent, despite Daniel Andrews’ promise to create 100,000 new full-time jobs as part of the Back to Work scheme.
Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
“Daniel Andrews’ Back to Work scheme continues to fail young people in Victoria.
“Daniel Andrews used to say that every job is worth fighting for but now Victoria's young people are getting nothing but excuses.
“The Andrews Labor Government doesn’t have an economic and jobs plan for Victoria’s youth. Daniel Andrews has a media plan, but he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”
Under pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition, the Andrews Labor Government has been shamed into reinstating funding for Workplace Learning Coordinators.
Comments attributed to Steph Ryan:
“Young people will be relieved by Labor’s last minute backflip on funding for Victoria’s workplace learning coordinators.
“It is disappointing that Daniel Andrews had to be shamed into reinstating funding for these positions.
“Labor’s belated funding announcement is too little too late for some coordinators who were forced to quit their jobs to find more secure work.
“It is imperative that the government immediately engages the remaining coordinators to ensure the program is in place for next year.”
Member for Morwell Russell Northe is encouraging Latrobe City Council and community organisations in the Morwell electorate to consider applying for funding through The Community Sports Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Northe said the program aimed to provide high-quality, accessible community sport and recreation facilities across Victoria.
“A range of grants is on offer including funding for planning, building new, and improving existing facilities where communities conduct, organise and participate in sport and recreation.
“Sport plays such an important role in regional communities and I encourage local councils and community organisations to consider making an application,” Mr Northe said.
Grants available include:
- Better Pools - Grants of up to $3 million to build new or upgrade existing aquatic centres;
- Major Facilities - Grants of up to $650,000 to develop or upgrade major sport and recreation facilities;
- Small Aquatic Project - Grants of up to $200,000 to upgrade pools and aquatic leisure facilities;
- Minor Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade local sport and recreation facilities;
- Female Friendly Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to build new or upgrade existing change rooms to prioritise female participation;
- Cricket Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade cricket facilities;
- Planning - Grants of up to $30,000 to fund initiatives that assess the future sport and recreation needs of local communities, and up to $50,000 for regional planning initiatives.
For more information and eligibility criteria you can visit: http://www.sport.vic.gov.au/community-sports-infrastructure-fund
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath recently visited health service providers in East Gippsland and listened to concerns about attracting and retaining medical professionals in country areas.
Ms Bath met with health professionals at Omeo District Health, Orbost Regional Health and Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre to learn more about the health providers and listen to any concerns they may have.
“It was really a pleasure to meet these wonderful hard-working professionals and hear how they manage to cater for the needs of country people with what can often be limited resources,” Ms Bath said.
“There was a common theme that our rural areas are still struggling to entice and retain doctors and medical specialists and this is an area that deserves attention from the Victorian State Government.”
Ms Bath said federally the Coalition had recently introduced new payments to help rural, regional and remote towns across Australia.
As of July 1st the highest incentive paid to a doctor to work in remote Australia jumped from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year and the maximum incentive to work in a town less than 5,000 increased from $12,000 to $23,000.
“While this is fantastic news I believe the State Government can also do more to assist small country towns, such as those in East Gippsland, to attract and retain health professionals,” Ms Bath said.
She believes increased job security would assist in achieving this goal.
“I am of the understanding that many of the allied health professionals who move to these areas are contracted on a yearly basis and I was told that if these contracts were offered for longer periods there would be more incentive for these people to work in our country hospitals and health centres,” Ms Bath said.
The Nationals MP said East Gippsland health providers were also working hard to service an increasing ageing population.
“Orbost Regional Health is desperately seeking funding to upgrade its high care nursing home section,” Ms Bath said.
“As Orbost has an ageing population there is more demand for this type of care and the facilities and infrastructure need to be updated to cater for this demand.”
Ms Bath said an upgrade was also needed for the hospital to improve its care for dialysis patients.
“I really have to commend the people at Orbost Regional Health and Omeo District Health for their wonderful passion and care for the people they look after.
“I hope we can work together to ensure that the facilities at these centres can match the high quality of the people working there.”
Ms Bath also enjoyed meeting the staff at Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
“This is a wonderful one-stop health centre used by the community for a variety of health reasons including for maternal child and health,” Ms Bath said.
“It was fantastic to see the board and staff at Swifts Creek working together to provide the best service possible for local residents.
“I’m committed to working hard with the people of East Gippsland’s health sector to ensure that regional communities have access to quality health and medical services.”
Photo Caption: Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre office administrator Daryl Millard, nurse manager Sue Carroll, committee of management president Peter Brick and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath during her visit to Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
The need for funding to rebuild Korumburra Secondary College has been highlighted in Parliament this week with a petition tabled calling on the Melbourne Labor Government to fund the upgrade.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said the school was in a state of disrepair and urgently needed to be rebuilt.
“Neglected by previous Labor governments for many years, the former Coalition Government provided $5.6 million for the planning and first stage of works at the college,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Education Minister James Merlino needs to have the vision of the Coalition Government and provide the necessary funds to complete the job."
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath, who presented the petition to Parliament, said staff did a great job providing a quality education to students, but despite their best efforts, the current condition was not a conducive environment to learn in.
“As a teacher, I know that the environment students are learning in greatly influences their educational outcomes and these students need a facility that is much more contemporary,” Ms Bath said.
“The college services not only Korumburra, but communities such as Loch, Nyora and Poowong, where the population is growing.
These families need to be assured that their children will have access to a facility that caters for their needs now, and into the future.”
Mr O’Brien said the community would know that in addition to the $5.6 million for stage one, the Coalition Government made an election commitment of $9 million to fund the remainder of the rebuild.
“Labor now needs to come to the party and provide the funds to complete a new school,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It’s not fair that the students of Korumburra Secondary College are overlooked by Melbourne Labor just because they live in the country.”
Labor promised 100,000 full-time jobs within two years.
"The Back To Work Act – will support the creation of 100,000 full time jobs and will be introduced during the first sitting week of the new Parliament."
Source: Daniel Andrews media statement - 6 October 2014
"The plan will help create up to 100,000 new jobs in Victoria over the next two years."
Source: Back to Work - Victorian Labor's Plan for 100,000 Jobs
Jobs data source: ABS Labour Force figures - employed full-time persons, seasonally adjusted series (download table 5 and refer to Column S in Data1 tab)
Comments from the Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
"Today's announcement is a stark reminder that Daniel Andrews is failing to deliver on his promise to deliver 100,000 full-time jobs in Victoria within two years of coming to office.
"The real issue here is that since Daniel Andrews came to office there are 6,000 fewer full-time jobs in Victoria.
"Daniel Andrews' announcement doesn't address the needs of the most vulnerable young people - given it relies on participants having completed their secondary school education."
On 9 February, Daniel Andrews’ Minister for Training and Skills promised he would release a VET Funding Review interim report within 100 days.
It’s been 121 days since then and there is still no sign of the report.
After spending years calling for more certainty in the sector, Daniel Andrews has left training providers in a state of limbo.
Despite all their promises Daniel Andrews is not investing one additional dollar into skills training in Victoria. His Minister for Training and Skills has even admitted that Labor’s training budget is exactly the same as the former Coalition Government’s budget.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the Andrews Labor Government was all talk and no action on skills training.
“Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said he will honour ‘each and every one’ of his promises, yet here is another one broken.
“Here we go again - saying one thing before the election, doing another thing after it.
“Labor has not invested one extra dollar in skills training courses and now it has failed to meet its own time-frames for the vocational education and training review.
“Training providers deserve to know the government’s intentions, given the Minister plans to introduce these reforms before the start of the 2016 training year.
“Labor needs to end the talk-fest and start delivering for Victorian students.”
Despite all his claims to “save” TAFEs and reopen campuses, Daniel Andrews doesn’t plan to attract a single additional student next year.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said the 2015/16 State Budget estimated 443,687 students would be enrolled in government subsidised training next year (Budget Paper 3 p187) – the same number of students recorded in 2014.
Two months ago when releasing the 2014 Victorian Training Report, Minister Steve Herbert claimed that figure represented ‘a failure of our training system at exactly the time when our economy and people needed it the most’.
But yesterday in Question Time, he claimed ‘while numbers are one thing, training and quality are another’.
The Budget also reveals that Labor intends to cut almost 80,000 government subsidised places for young people – from 40 per cent last year down to 22.5 per cent in 2015/16 (BP3 p187).
Comments from Steph Ryan:
“Labor cares more about a political headline than delivering real outcomes for Victorian students,” Ms Ryan said.
“The former Labor government opened up the training market and forced TAFEs to compete with private providers, providing them no assistance to manage the transition.
“The Andrews Labor Government says it will spend $320 million ‘saving’ TAFEs but the government is not planning to enrol a single extra student next year.
“It is absolutely clear from its first State Budget that this government is about politics, not people.”
TAFE annual reports released this week demonstrate the legacy of failure of Labor’s training sector reforms.
Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said that in 2008, Labor introduced an uncontrolled, fully contestable market which forced TAFEs to compete with private providers for students and funding.
“It is Labor’s training sector reforms dating from when Daniel Andrews was sitting around the cabinet table that are the number one cause of our TAFEs’ current financial situation,” Ms Ryan said.
“Labor failed to support TAFEs to ensure they could adapt to the new competitive environment it imposed upon them.
"It took a Coalition Government to deliver almost $250 million to help TAFEs with the transition.
"Andrews needs to support skills training - both public and private. Both have a right of place in the delivery of training courses.
"Coalition support helped thousands more people to secure skills training than under the last year of the previous Labor Government."
Ms Ryan said as well as the TAFE reforms, Labor introduced a botched ICT system in 2008 that had cost TAFEs $44.4 million in write-downs.
“Almost half of the operating deficit of TAFEs this year was the result of another bungled Labor ICT project,” Ms Ryan said.
“It's time Daniel Andrew stopped playing politics with TAFEs and focused on ensuring skills training that builds job opportunities for Victorians.”