24 September 2020

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (15:44:56): I stand here today on behalf of TAFE teachers across New South Wales, and in particular those from my electorate of Blue Mountains, to plead with the Premier, the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, and the Government on their behalf. This Government is ideologically obsessed with privatisation and does not care about workers. Every group of workers in TAFE NSW has had their enterprise agreement settled, even managers. The Government skulked away from the good-faith agreement while teachers were turning themselves inside out. The negotiated enterprise agreement must be immediately put to a ballot of TAFE teachers and related employers. The Government must stop pattern bargaining. I am a very proud NSW Teachers Federation member and I am disappointed that the Minister and TAFE management have rejected the federation's request to bring the proposed enterprise agreement to a ballot that would enable a swift and just conclusion.

It is absolutely critical that there be acknowledgement of some facts. I note them here for the record. At present, more than 70 per cent of TAFE teachers are insecurely employed. The creation of extra permanent TAFE teaching positions is urgently required to attract the best from industry to teach the next generation of students and to assist in upskilling people post-COVID. Permanent positions in TAFE will attract and retain teachers in metropolitan, regional and rural communities. Increased job security and salary increases will help the New South Wales economy rebound from the COVID-19 downturn. TAFE teachers, communities and future generations have already suffered through the devastating impact of a fine public education institution being gutted by this Government.

Long-term temporary and casual employees have not been honoured or appreciated by this Government. The last time teachers had a pay rise was in November 2018. TAFE management gave themselves a salary increase, but those who struggle with ever-increasing workloads and crazy assessment loads, those on the front line, have not been looked after. We are losing good people as it is too difficult to work for TAFE under these conditions. What does it look like from the student's perspective? TAFE is losing an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience with demoralised and departing teachers. Many people feel that small colleges, in particular, are being set up to fail, with cumbersome processes and barriers being put in place to reduce the number of students across courses and units. If we consider youth unemployment in a future post-COVID world, I query the level of support and investment provided to technical and vocational education and training, and schools.

TAFE teachers are vital to lead a skills recovery out of COVID-19. TAFE needs to be funded adequately and it needs to be at the forefront of the economic recovery post-COVID-19. Section 3 of the Productivity Commission's Green Paper notes this. I urge all members to read the document. TAFE teachers should be valued by this Government as the professionals they are. I again ask the Premier and the Minister to honour the negotiated agreement bargained in good faith, improve job security and employ extra permanent teachers. Whilst they are at it, they should get rid of the contested funding model and return TAFE to its trusted recurrent and increased funding model leading the world in vocational public education.

I thank the organisers and teachers in the TAFE system; they are the champions of TAFE. They remind us each day that TAFE is too good to lose. Those I work closely with include Annette Bennett, Rob Long, Phil Chadwick and Maxine Sharkey. I appreciate all the teachers and students I have spoken to in recent times, particularly those from the Wentworth Falls and Katoomba campuses in the Blue Mountains. They are all worthy of recognition. They deserve to be cared for. Stand strong and stand together, and I stand with you.