Stop the TAFE cuts

The AEU is urging activists nationwide to get involved in its campaign.

Maxine Sharkey and Joan Lemaire

Stop the TAFE cuts

National TAFE Day on June 3 will celebrate the achievements of the TAFE system, which is under attack by state governments in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Teachers and students will be urged to sign up to the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) national Stop TAFE Cuts campaign. Governments in NSW, Victoria and Queensland are increasing fees and cutting courses and teachers’ jobs.

In NSW, the Government has made cuts of $130 million from TAFE, with more to come. Over four years, 800 teaching and non- teaching jobs are to be cut. In the first round, 150 teaching positions have been identified for cuts. The second round has already commenced in some institutes. TAFE teachers have still not received a 2.5 per cent salary increase because they have rejected TAFE’s proposals to replace many teachers with less qualified and lower paid tutors and assessors. Further fee increases are likely following the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal Review.

In Victoria, $300 million has been cut from TAFE institutes resulting in hundreds of courses being cut, campuses closed and more than 2400 TAFE teachers losing their jobs.

In Queensland, the Government is threatening to close 38 of the state’s 82 TAFE campuses and cut $100 million from the TAFE budget.

The Stop TAFE Cuts campaign is calling on all communities to support the maintenance of TAFE as a world class system.

The federal inquiry into the role of TAFE has provided an opportunity to challenge the cuts and changes to TAFE. The AEU NSW Branch has already made a written submission to the inquiry and activists will attend the NSW hearing when the date has been determined. Visit to find out more about the campaign.

Maxine Sharkey is Assistant General Secretary (Post School Education) and Joan Lemaire is Senior Vice President.


TAFE Charter

AEU branches nationally have developed the TAFE Charter to identify and promote TAFE and its role in education, workforce and skills development, growing the economy and building communities. 

1.TAFE is a vital educational institution

TAFE plays a key role in workforce development and planning, is responsive to individual and industry demand, allowing governments to respond to the projected needs of the economy and society and to plan for the short, medium and longterm.TAFE works in partnership with large and small business to assist them in work force planning and development and meeting the need for innovation and technological development.

To ensure that TAFE continues to meet the growing and changing needs of industry and the economy more broadly:  

  • TAFE Institutes must receive guaranteed funding as educational institutions 
  • TAFE institutes should be funded to develop new and innovative training solutions to meet the needs of future students, changing technologies and industry innovation
  • uncapped,“demand”driven funding mechanisms will not allow government to respond to the projected needs of the economy and society. The system requires a planned model that ensures the needs of industry and community are met 
  • student support services,counselling (career and personal),and disability support,libraries et cetera should continue to be funded and well resourced.

2.TAFE plays a key role in community building

TAFE plays a key role in community building both economically and socially most obviously in regional areas, but also in metropolitan areas. TAFE promotes social cohesion and economic development.

To ensure that both economic and social community building continues, there should be: 

  • no increases to student fees and charges
  • no course closures 
  • no campus closures. 

3.TAFE plays a key role in second chance education

TAFE plays a key role in second chance education supporting individuals to enable them to access employment for the first time,to build pathways into further and higher education,to return to the workforce after raising families and to transition into other vocations when structural adjustment in the economy results in unemployment.

To ensure that TAFE continues to play a key role in second chance education, there should be: 

  • access to government subsidised qualifications over their lifetime 
  • no restriction on an individual’s capacity to access government subsidised training.

4.TAFE nurtures vocations

TAFE plays a key role in building the capacity of vocational education teachers and developing innovative pedagogy and a highs killed teaching and administrative workforce. TAFE nurtures vocations,building vocational and academic knowledge, building research capacity in a public system that allows the benefits to be accessed by all.

To ensure that TAFE continues to play a key role in the vocational and academic knowledge base,there should be: 

  • adequate funding and support for research and professional development in TAFE 
  • adequate funding and support for initial and specialist vocational teaching qualifications 
  • access to professional development in specialist industry area,and support for return to industry programs 
  • decent working conditions, including security of employment.