As the daughter of a public school teacher I know how hard our teachers work. I know the critical role they play in our schools and our TAFE campuses across the State. COVID-19 has showed many parents how heroic the teachers in our schools and TAFEs are. With the odds stacked against them, teachers responded to the pandemic as they do every day. They do not complain and they are not hampered by a lack of online training, support or resourcing. They made sure that our kids were supported and could continue to learn.
When students were no longer able to attend class, teachers developed learning packs which they posted and emailed to students. When students were stressed by the severe limitations being placed on their ability to learn, teachers provided support. When students could not access the technology required to study, teachers went above and beyond to ensure students had that technology and were able to connect. When parents were struggling to facilitate learning at home, teachers called them and reached out to help. This is true of school, university and TAFE teachers and educators who have gone above and beyond during COVID-19. They have worked tirelessly to support their students through the crisis every single day. They have got their students' backs.
Unfortunately, the Government does not have teachers' backs. We know that the Liberal Government has spent years undermining TAFE and turned a blind eye while private colleges fleeced young people to line the pockets of dodgy operators. The Government has cut hundreds of millions of dollars of TAFE funding, closed campuses, cut courses and is gutting resources that should be available to TAFE students. How does the Government justify the closure of those campuses? It claims that the funds will go to better resourcing other campuses. It has failed entirely to deliver on its promise to better resource TAFE campuses.
Recently I spoke to a number of TAFE teachers who discussed with me the complete lack of resources available to TAFE students. There is a clear disconnect that exists between TAFE management and the day‑to‑day reality of the learning environment. One TAFE teacher detailed how they were given a directive by management that all students should use dual computer monitors. Meanwhile, the teacher was outside the back of their home attempting to get reception so that they could teach a student who was standing in the rain trying to learn the course that they had paid money for. This teacher is one of many working across our State who are really struggling to do the very best for their students because this Government has not delivered the resources that they need, particularly at campuses like Ultimo TAFE.
Sadly, this is only the beginning of the Government's attack on TAFE. Earlier this year the Government reneged on its commitment to TAFE teachers to put to a ballot an agreed enterprise bargaining agreement that would allow for pay increases to commence in term 2. Despite the undeniable increase in workload and pressure since then, the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education and the management of TAFE NSW have refused to bring the postponed enterprise agreement to a ballot. While the Minister and management of TAFE sit comfortably on their very nice six figure salaries, our TAFE teachers are on the front line of this global pandemic trying their very best to support students. They deserve to have their pay commitments honoured.
We all know that COVID-19 has caused more than just significant health impacts. It has also lead to a financial recession, the likes of which we have not experienced in generations. TAFE has a critical role to play in futureproofing and helping our economy rebound. It provides opportunities for young people who want to learn a trade and get the skills that they need for employment. It also provides a critical second chance for many students. While the Liberals denigrate TAFE as an educational service solely for those wanting to learn how to basket weave, it could not be further from the truth. There are so many proud members of our community who learned their first skills at TAFE. Just a couple of them are: Adam Goodes, Donna Hay, founder of Clean Up Australia Ian Kiernan, Matt Moran and Wendy Harmer. Charles Kingsford‑Smith studied at TAFE, as did Paul Keating who completed his HSC at TAFE after leaving school at the age of 15. These are stories of our great TAFE graduates. Our TAFE teachers should be supported.