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Schools SASS and General Assistants Awards can be found here together with links to DEC and TAFE Awards.


NSW Greens to introduce a “Save TAFE Bill” to Parliament
To a packed room, on 12 November, the NSW Greens launched their bill to protect TAFE from budget cuts, rising fees and charges, job losses, workforce deskilling and casualisation and being abandoned into a biased and aggressive competitive market.

Greens NSW MP and Education spokesperson John Kaye said: "TAFE has been driven to the brink of collapse. Public provision of vocational education and training is already facing budget cuts of $800 million, soaring fees, cancelled course and hundreds of TAFE workers sacked. In early 2015 the new Smart and Skilled market will force TAFE to compete for students and funding with low quality, low cost private providers."

Read the NSW Greens proposed legislation, "TAFE changes moratorium (Secure future for public provision) Bill"

Read the Australian report on the proposed legislation, 14 November 2013 "TAFE ‘meltdown’ risk for O’Farrell: Greens"

Queensland TAFE facilities up for grabs
"The Queensland government has begun the search for commercial tenants of the state’s TAFE infrastructure, with survey of the state’s private registered training oranisations (RTOs) to gauge their interest in using TAFE infrastructure, and under what terms. Thirty-eight TAFE sites have been identified for potential private use.
An email to staff from the education department’s TAFE Reform team indicated that the intention is to determine if and how private RTOs would use TAFE infrastructure that is not required by TAFE. It stressed that only land and buildings are on offer and that equipment, in general, will remain the property of TAFE Queensland.
The email said the government intends to give TAFEs priority access to their facilities “for up to two years”. TAFE Reform directors are evaluating what TAFEs’ ongoing infrastructure requirements would be."

Read the Scan report, 4 November 2013 "Pricing Queensland TAFE facilities up for grabs"

Fee hikes for TAFE - IPART report
"IPART has been asked by the NSW Government to conduct a review of price and fee arrangements for government-funded vocational education and training under Smart and Skilled. Smart and Skilled is the NSW Government’s reform of the NSW vocational education and training system. Under Smart and Skilled, from 2014, eligible people will be able to choose government subsidised training for select foundation courses and qualifications up to and including Certificate III from TAFE NSW or an approved private or community training organisation.”
Media reports indicate that IPART Chairman Peter Boxall, "Expected stakeholders would be concerned by the recommendations but warned that without the proposed increases, IPART believed the NSW Government would slash VET places by about 61,000.
"Prices and fees need to take account of the different costs in providing certain qualifications, whether a student is undertaking their first post-school qualification, is an apprentice or trainee, or is entitled to a concession or exemption," Mr Boxall said
"Our approach is to set base rices according to efficient costs of providing a qualification that meets the required quality standards."

Leesa Weelahan, a VET researcher with the LH Martin Institute, University of Melbourne, submitted to the IPART Inquiry:
“This submission makes two key points. First, the structure of markets in VET in Australia will inexorably undermine TAFE. Second, TAFE plays a key role in articulating, developing and institutionalising notions of the social good and the knowledge and skills that are needed to support innovation and Australia’s future prosperity. TAFE’s future is at stake.”

Read the IPART draft report, 30 July 2013 "Pricing VET under Smart and Skilled"

Read the Sydney Morning Herald report 30 July 2013 "TAFE fees to rise by up to $750 for students"

From L H Martin Institute submission to IPART July 2013 "The race to the bottom in the VET market & why TAFE cannot win"

Qld TAFE to be stripped of facilities - NSW next?
"Queensland's training reforms will turn TAFEs into "itinerant providers".
"The plan will establish an open training market much like those in Victoria and South Australia. But it goes further, with TAFEs' facilities to be transferred to a "specialist management entity" which will allocate them for use by both public and private colleges."

It was reported in the Campus Review, ("Blowing the whistle on dodgy providers" by John Mitchell 03/06/2013)
“In the 21 months of ASQA’s operation, from July 1 2011 to March 30 2013, of the 1,150 RTOs applying for re-registration, we completed [processing] 64 per cent of them by the March 31 this year. 736 of those applications have been completed, and of those 81 or 11 per cent were refused registration. That gives you an idea of the numbers that we have found serious enough non-compliance with, to not accept their application for renewal.”,

Read more, The Australian 12 June 2013 "Queensland reform plan gives TAFEs a handicap"

From The Australian 12 June 2013 "Queensland reform plan gives TAFEs a handicap"

Submissions to TAFE Inquiry
"Over much of the past two decades, there has been a fundamental neglect of TAFE by successive state and federal Governments, despite the crucial role it plays in developing Australian industry, addressing skills shortages, building communities and social cohesion, and in providing innovative responses to the future needs of the Australian economy. This has seen recurrent funding per student contact hour decline by 25% since 1997.
A competitive training market model has been pursued for some years now and has proved to not only have an adverse impact on TAFE but on the quality and reputation of VET in this country. Despite this, it has yet to be subject to serious scrutiny and questioning. In fact, the push to increase ‘contestability’ continues apace combined now with the impact of entitlement funding models."

Read more, ACTU Submission, April 2013 ACTU Submission to the "Inquiry into the role of the TAFE System and its operation"

Update: LH Martin Institute submission:
"a little after a year since its execution, the [National Partnership Agreement] has apparently broken down in key respects, principally to do with overall VET funding and around maintaining the capacity of TAFE, as evidenced by the impasse between the Commonwealth and several States over incentive funding.
Over the past year, the long run decline in relative VET funding identified by AWPA has been exacerbated by funding cuts in most jurisdictions, which have particularly impacted TAFE. As put by the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, VET funding has become an increasingly a discretionary budget item - a source of budget savings."
Read more, "L.H. Martin Institute submission", May 2013 "House of Representatives Inquiry into TAFE"

Background:"The Centre for Policy Development’s Christopher Stone, contends that if we don’t want services to run down, we need to consider results as well as resources when measuring success. Politicians most often address this issue with promises of sweeping cuts, but what do they actually mean when they say ‘efficiency’?".
Read more, "False economies", 2 April 2013 "Part 1: Decoding efficiency"

TAFE asked to help pay for Gonski school reforms
"The NSW-federal agreement on school funding falls short of providing the amount of cash per student recommended by the Gonski report as the benchmark required for a high-quality education.
Like the federal government, NSW will also raid another level of education to give to schools; the TAFE sector faces increased fees and funding cuts. The sector was already facing $800m in cuts from last year's budget."

Read more, The Australian, 24 April 2013 "Funding deal falls short of standard"


Read more about 'contestability' and the privatisation of TAFE funding: "Cuts Won't Make Us Smart And Skilled" By Antoinette Abboud

Review of price and fees for government funded VET
NSW Government's "Smart and Skilled" review

"IPART (Independent Regulatory and Pricing Tribunal) has been asked by the NSW Government to conduct a review of price and fee arrangements for government-funded vocational education and training under Smart and Skilled. Smart and Skilled is the NSW Government’s reform of the NSW vocational education and training system. Under Smart and Skilled, from 2014, eligible people will be able to choose government subsidised training for select foundation courses and qualifications up to and including Certificate III from TAFE NSW or an approved private or community training organisation."
IPART is to present a draft report to the Minister for Education by 30 June 2013 and its final report to the Minister by 31 August 2013.

It is also understood that the NSW Government's State Training Services is developing a "Skills List" of priority industry areas to receive government training subsidies. Consultations on the draft Framework will be held with peak provider bodies, industry and community organisations from 26 February to 22 March 2013.

Read more about the terms of reference of the IPART review: "Review of price and fee arrangements for government-funded vocational education under Smart and Skilled"

Read more about the Smart and Skilled review: "Review of price and fee arrangements for government-funded vocational education under Smart and Skilled"

Leave a comment on the Government's "Have your Say" page: "Have your Say" page

Valuing Skills – Why vocational training matters
New paper by Centre for Policy Development

"In the wake of sweeping changes to Vocational Education and Training (VET) provision in Victoria, and dramatic proposed cuts in Queensland, this new CPD paper studies the sector’s social and economic significance and asks what lessons can be gleaned for NSW. The paper will be released at the launch event for the NSW Public Service Association’s ‘Save Our TAFE‘ campaign in NSW Parliament House."

The paper presents definitive evidence that:

  • Substantial benefits from VET accrue to individuals, the economy and society;
  • Individual benefits include are financial benefits (such as over $324k increase in lifetime earnings), and personal development (94% of those in VET for this reason reported positive benefits);
  • By providing skills to the economy VET has been estimated to provide a strong return on investment.

    Read the Centre for Policy Development report, November 2012: "Valuing Skills – Why vocational training matters"

    NSW TAFE funds to be privatised
    "NSW government funding for the TAFE system will no longer be guaranteed.
    Institutes will have to compete with private colleges for students because government funding will go to the college in which students enrol, whether it is public or private. Under the present system, TAFE colleges receive block funding from the state government."

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 23 October 2012: "TAFE shake-up could spell an end to non-vocational courses"

    REVEALED: Another 1600 job to go from Education through LMBR
    "Ken Dixon, a former general manager of finance and administration, said the government's decision to cut 400 administration jobs from the department was ''drastic''. He said a software program had been introduced to manage human resources, finance and payroll systems - to take the place of 1600 jobs. 'The 400 jobs are just the tip of the iceberg,'' he said. ''There were 1600 jobs factored into the business case."

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 14 September 2012: "Tip of the iceberg: warning 1600 more education jobs to go"

    Education budget slashed: 1800 job to go
    The NSW Premier and Education Minister have announced cuts of $1.7 billion over 4 years to the Department of Education and Communities:
    1800 job cuts across the board including:

  • 800 job cuts in TAFE and
  • 600 staff in state and regional offices
  • 400 from schools administration according to the Daily Telegraph or from the introduction or new management systems according to the SMH.
  • the Government will also increase TAFE fees by 9.5%. Whether these cuts come on top of those announced in the state budget remaims unclear at this stage.

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 11 September 2012: "NSW to slash $1.7b from education funding"

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 12 September 2012: "O'Farrell takes axe to education"

    The ABC report and video, 11 September 2012: "NSW slashes education funding"

    O'Farrell response to state audit: cut workers conditions and privatise
    “More outsourcing of government services, an investigation of teacher sick leave and a crackdown on subsidies and concessions are expected following a landmark audit of the NSW public sector.”
    "It [Schott Report] makes 132 reform recommendations to the government across agencies, including health, education, transport and water and power utilities."

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 10 August 2012: "Audit calls for cuts to public sector blowout"

    Government response to Schott Report "The thrust of the [TAFE] reforms is to move Government funding for the NSW training system to a more market-based footing and create a demand driven rather than supply-led system. As part of these reforms, NSW has committed to introducing a broad-based entitlement for training, increased availability of income-contingent loans, greater contestability of Government training funding and support for TAFE as the public provider of vocational education and training."

    This will include consideration of proposals contained in the Commission of Audit Report including:

  • greater autonomy for individual TAFE institutes;
  • budget reforms which allow TAFE to plan over a three or four year period and retained earnings be carried forward;
  • changes to TAFE employment structures. Which could mean more face to face hours for TAFE teachers and more flexible employment arrangements for all;
  • a review of the service relationship between TAFE NSW and the Department of Education and Communities. Which could mean the cost of corporate and shared services be identified and borne by the Institute; and
  • Commercial “fee for service” courses be increased.

    Greens MP John Kaye commented: "It is clear that Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has been overruled by Treasury officials and Premier's Department head Chris Eccles.
    Despite the Minister's assurances, the government's response to the Schott commission makes it clear that TAFE is about to be abandoned into a race to the bottom with profit-driven low-quality private providers. In the long run, it is the economy of NSW that will suffer as the quality of trades skills inevitably declines."

    Read the government response to the Schott Audit report, August 2012: "NSW Government response to the Final Report of the Commission of Audit"

    Read Schott Audit final report, 4 May 2012: "Commission of Audit final report"

    Union and community action can 'Save TAFE': "Vocational training faces fleecing and cuts"
    “Trade schools around Australia are having the prospect of funding cuts exacerbated by claims that unscrupulous companies are misusing training incentives.”
    NSW Minister Mr Adrian Piccoli has said his primary concern was students and the quality of their training, with TAFE sustainability a secondary concern. It will be up to union and community action to ensure that TAFE funding is not privatised.

    ABC 7:30 report, 7 August 2012, video and transcript: "Vocational training faces fleecing and cuts"

    Followup: ABC 7:30 report, 8 August 2012, video and transcript: "Vocational education regulators face more testing times"

    TAFE NSW must be preserved
    “Once you make decisions around this stuff it is almost impossible to unwind what you unleash.
    “We’re certainly not going to replicate the mistakes that were made in Victoria. We are looking at that and analysing the impact it’s had on training and on the budget.
    “We want to [be] 100 per cent sure that what we do is in the best interests of students, that TAFE as a public provider is protected, and that taxpayers are protected.”.
    Mr Piccoli said his primary concern was students and the quality of their training, with TAFE sustainability a secondary concern.
    “We want to make sure that regional TAFEs are protected, because in Victoria regional TAFEs have really battled. Thirdly, and very importantly, we don’t [want] unintended consequences on our budget.”

    Newspaper report, 27 July, The Australian: "Looking south, NSW delays VET decision"

    Victoria By-Election: lessons for NSW TAFE
    “Like Labor, the Greens have committed to reversing the May TAFE funding cuts. But they plan to go further, abolishing the open training market established by the Brumby government in 2009.
    [Greens candidate for Melbourne,] Dr Oke accused Labor of initiating TAFEs’ problems. “Ted Baillieu is finishing the job that Labor started,” she said. “It was the state Labor government who started the attack. The Greens fought these changes from the start, and we want to see them reversed.”
    Federal Greens education spokeswoman Lee Rhiannon said Premier Ballieu had only been able to cut TAFE funding “on the back of reforms introduced and pushed by Labor”.

    NSW Labor is yet to guarantee to reverse many of the attacks by the O'Farrell government on public sector wages, conditions and jobs. Federal Labor has yet to punish the Victorian Coalition government for it's attacks on TAFE. Newspaper report, 21 July, The Australian: "Labor, Greens trade blows on TAFE"

    Defend disability support in schools, defend SLSO permanency
    "From the start of term 3, 272 schools in NSW will face cuts to critical funding that supports kids with disabilities. This will restrict support for kids already facing big challenges getting through primary and high school."

    Come to a Rally
    Sunday July 15
    11am
    the Graham Green
    (The park next to Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design, enter via Fairfowl St, off Marrickville Rd)
    Dulwich Hill, Sydney

    The turnout and media coverage was good considering the short notice. As it was school holidays only a few SLSOs found out in time to attend. Some PSA members received a PSA email on Friday 13 July, less than 2 days ahead of the rally, and a text message on the Sunday morning of the rally. The PSA could have achieved a better turnout with more notice and liaison with delegates. Even so the rally achieved good media coverage and the signs of a solid ongoing campaign. Nine News reported: "The director-general of the NSW Department of Education, Michele Bruniges, denied that money was being cut from disability services in the state's schools. However, some schools would lose resources if their enrolments or learning needs changed, Dr Bruniges said." This response does not answer the question of why make the cut of $4m as reported and why support for some students will decrease because of a funding formula. Will the government guarantee no student with a disability will miss out of the level of support from an SLSO that he or she got last term.

    Go to the web site for more information and a list of affected schools, "Support our kids"

    Reports on the rally: Over 100 supporters attend rally, good media coverage

    Minister, Adrian Piccoli, claims 'bureaucrats' must go
    The Minister states that NSW wants to avoid the disaster of Victorian TAFE where some colleges are being shut down due to budget cuts. On top of this a recommendation on placing TAFE funding on the open market is before Cabinet. The onus is on Mr Piccoli to stand up to Coalition plans to slash the public TAFE sector. This interview does not give TAFE staff much hope that he is able or willing to overcome the ideological conservatism of the Coalition government. “[The Minister] says there will be cuts in the TAFE bureaucracy but he's working to protect teachers despite those teaching positions not being immune from cuts."

    Listen to the ABC podcast, 9 July 2012 "Education Minister Adrian Piccoli on TAFE jobs"

    "TAFE Illawarra staff feels budget axe"
    “TAFE teachers say large staff budget cuts at Wollongong campuses could lead to welding, mining, manufacturing and arts classes being cancelled due to safety concerns.
    Support staff at TAFE Illawarra were told this week that their working hours had been slashed dramatically while others were told they no longer had a job, according to the NSW Public Service Association.”

    Read the Illawarra mercury report, 6 July 2012 "TAFE Illawarra staff feels budget axe"

    Leaked Treasury memo:"No limit to state jobs cleanout"
    The O’Farrell government is clearly on a mission to dismantle large swaths of the public sector and hand services over to the private sector. So far the response from most public sector unions appears to be to mobilise members and the community for the purpose of supporting the re-election of an ALP government.
    There have been discussions around building a ‘mass mobilisation’ in the lead up to the next state election. But it is now when government decisions are being made that action is needed to defeat the Coalition plans. To date the strategy of 'wait and hope' has not gained guarantees from the ALP Opposition of rolling back O’Farrell’s attacks.

    "An internal email from a NSW Treasury official dated June 12, obtained by the Herald, says ''there is no floor or cap on redundancies'' and government departments should look to privatising more services."
    "The Treasurer announced an annual 1.2 per cent ''labour expense cap'' over four years on every government department in the budget last month."

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 4 July 2012 "Education set for 2400 job cuts over four years "

    Lessons from Victorian TAFE can be learned
    According to a TAFE Directors Australia, 25 June: "More students than ever are studying at tertiary level, according to the latest tertiary education and training figures. TAFE retained market share leadership, with a combined 79% of full time VET students."
    Many observers question whether the "TAFE market share leadership" can survive the onslaught of contestable funding. The Victorian Baillieu conservative government chases a free market ideological agenda so far unhindered by the ALP federal government. See below, reports from 'fully contestable" Victoria where TAFE facilities are closing and staff redundancies proliferate. Read the NCVER latest research paper reporting for 2010, released 18 June 2012 "Tertiary education and training in Australia 2010."

    Read the Conversation report on Victorian TAFE cuts, 19 June 2012 "Cuts will ‘privatise TAFE and close campuses’ in Victoria."

    Lessons from Victorian TAFE: "Beware the rise of worthless training.”
    “.....as the [Victorian] state's money poured into the plethora of small, sometimes opportunistic for-profit providers, it drained out of TAFE colleges at a calamitous rate. Victoria is considered something of a horror story, a warning to those who believe the public needs a viable public provider of vocational training and second-chance education; once destroyed such an institution is hard to rebuild.”
    Read the Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, 16 June 2012, "Beware the rise of worthless training."

    TAFE to cop brunt of NSW Budget job losses
    "NSW opposition MPs say TAFE colleges will incur a disproportionate share of up to 10,000 public sector job cuts, as the state government winds down training over the next year.
    While TAFEs were spared a Victorian-style slash and burn in yesterday's state budget, they received $16 million less than last year, with training delivery projected to decline by almost 250,000 contact hours. The budget also allocated $13m less to TAFE infrastructure and $25m less to support the training system."

    "This is the first time I have ever seen vocational training funding go backwards in dollar terms," opposition education spokeswoman Carmel Tebbutt said.

    "When you've cut so deeply for so long, you've squeezed every possible avenue of efficiency out of the organisation," Mr Kaye, Greens MP said. "This will push TAFE to the edge. He said the latest funding cut would cost more than 600 TAFE jobs or more than 4 per cent of the full time-equivalent workforce."
    The Australian, 13 June, 2012 “TAFEs to cop brunt of public sector job cuts: opposition "

    Schools: Local Decisions: central job losses and increased local workloads.”
    "The department is implementing reforms intended to push decision-making back to schools. Under the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms, principals will be able to choose at least 50 per cent of new staff and control 70 per cent of their budget."
    Staff in schools fear they will be burdened with vastly increased workloads if schools control 70% of their budget and central support for schools is cut.
    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 2 June 2012, "Education head office staff cuts done in 'secrecy' - teachers."

    It was reported that the Department's Director General signalled in an Update to Staff, December 2011, that there would be "about 180 further offers of voluntary redundancy this financial year to public service staff in corporate areas and staff in TAFE NSW.” PSA delegates have asked management at several meetings about these job cuts and were told that no further information was available.
    Members now feel betrayed by both management and the government. It is also unclear whether the 200 job cuts revealed on 31 May are in addition to the 180 announced in December.

    Victoria: “Critics say the government has gone too far in pruning vocational courses.”
    Is NSW next?
    "Now TAFE executives, the Victorian TAFE Association and education experts believe estimates of 2000 job losses in the sector are just the beginning of a massive change in vocational education. They are concerned that once courses are closed, particularly in regional Victoria, they will be gone forever."
    "Under the cuts, public TAFEs will lose ''full service provider'' payments, which they spend on student services and libraries. But TAFE executives and teachers fear students may have no alternative to the niche courses that public TAFEs offer, cutting access to a crucial pathway for students preparing for work or higher study."

    Read the Age newspaper report, 29 May 2012, "Fear in the ranks as TAFE cuts start to bite."

    Unions to rally over Vic TAFE cuts
    The 2012 Victorian budget has slashed funding for up to 80 per cent of courses and cut extra funding to cover TAFE's obligations as a public provider. This places Victorian TAFE on the same commercial footing as private competitors but facing higher running costs. PSA members in NSW are demanding to know whether TAFE NSW faces a similar fate.

    "Victorian unions will stage a public rally next week in protest at savage cuts to TAFE funding handed down in the state budget.
    Australian Education Union (AEU) state president Mary Bluett, joined by representatives of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said in Melbourne the unions would fight back."
    Read the Herald Sun report, 3 May 2012, "Unions to rally over Vic TAFE cuts."

    "The State Opposition says revelations the Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall broke ranks over TAFE funding cuts proves there are deep divisions within the Baillieu Government."
    Read the ABC News report, 3 May 2012, "TAFE minister breaks ranks over funding cuts."

    COAG VET skills agreement
    The Prime Minister announced a $9bn five-year national package that included $1.75bn in "additional" incentive funds on 19 March 2012.
    More millions for skills training but with many strings attached with much of the funds slated to be privatised.

    "States and territories sign up to the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development."
    APRIL UPDATES:
    Read the Education Review report, 19 April 2012, "Industry, TAFE back COAG skills agreement."
    The Australian, 20 April, 2012 “Vic TAFEs slide $100m"

    To read the full National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, click here.

    Gonski: wealthy schools to Garrett "more please"
    “The Association of Independent Schools has raised concerns about the proposed new schools funding formula, with preliminary estimates suggesting some schools could lose as much as $3.9 million in annual funding.”
    ''Despite the increases in public funding, fees for the most exclusive private schools have increased dramatically since 2001 … by almost three times the rate of inflation.'' Greens leader John Kaye, MP
    “The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has voiced strong support for the Gonski review of schools funding, warning against the ''perils'' of ignoring its recommendations.”

    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 17 April 2012, "O'Farrell backs Gonski as fears rise over funding cuts."

    Federal government again announces $9bn for VET funding
    The Prime Minister announced a $9bn five-year national package that included $1.75bn in "additional" incentive funds on 19 March 2012.
    The Australian newspaper reported that:
    "The income-contingent loans, national entitlement and My Skills website were all announced in the May 2010 budget and reannounced last October. The $1.75bn incentive funding was announced in last year's budget, while COAG agreed in principle to a unique student identifier in December 2009."

    "University of Melbourne tertiary education expert Leesa Wheelahan described the proposals as "repackaging with strings attached". "The strings are tied to the national entitlement, which will not be hard because states mostly do this anyway, and income-contingent loans, which the states won't oppose because they want the opportunity to cost-shift to students," she said.

    Read the Australian newspaper report, 20 March 2012, "Threats fly as reheated skills plan leaves west cold."

    Australian newspaper report on troubles in fully contestable Victorian TAFE, 21 March 2012, "TAFE pressured as private colleges soar."

    Read also the ABC report, 19 March 2012, "PM reveals HECS plan for TAFE students."

    Local Schools: Local Decisions
    "The department will cut hundreds of head office jobs as it shifts responsibility to schools." The impact on school based jobs is unclear. Many PSA members fear increased pressure to work outside their job description. School autonomy will test the union leadership's resolve to protect the wages and conditions of school based staff.
    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 12 March 2012, "Principals want more power but no strings."

    "It’s hard to argue with the idea of giving school principals more choice in whom they hire and more autonomy in how they spend their money. Federal and state government education agendas are built on such theories. But when put to the test, they have been found lacking."
    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 12 March 2012, "Will budget autonomy for principals pass the test? ."

    "Increased autonomy is popular among those who see public schools as hamstrung by bureaucracy and/or union rules. Some would like to see the schools operate entirely independently; others would merely like more power given to principals and administrators to manage their schools to meet the wishes of their community."
    Read the Sydney Morning Herald report, 5 February 2012, "Schools of thought clash on principals' autonomy."

    Read the 7News report, 11 March 2012, "Teachers scathing of public education overhaul."

    Read the ABC News report, 12 March 2012, "Teachers scathing of public education overhaul."

    Federal government insists VET contestability not essential for funding
    "The Australian Education Union says there are increasing differences on training policy between the federal and state governments.
    While the federal government has said repeatedly that it won't force states to open up their training systems to private competition, several states say they are pursing contestable funding for training "in the name of the federal government".

    It is expected that the NSW Coalition government will receive recommendations this month from the "Smart and Skilled" review into contestability for TAFE funding and the possibility of shifting more of the cost onto students through a loans system for fees.

    The Australian, 7 March, 2012 “Competition takes edge of TAFE funding"

    Update: Read the Australian newspaper report, 15 March 2012, "Canberra threatens to withhold $9BN from states over training reforms."

    Victorian private VET company is deregistered
    " A private training company at the centre of ‘rip-off’ allegations involving kickbacks to sporting clubs has been deregistered by the Victorian government.”
    According to this report nine other private providers are being investigated over “reports of misuse and abuse”. Payments to all nine have been suspended.
    As well, “100 providers had had their applications to deliver government-funded training knocked back – including 56 which had been on last year’s approved list”.

    So it goes in the fully contestable Victorian vocational education and training (VET) system. Many are asking is this part of the future ‘fully contestable’ NSW VET system which is being considered by the Coalition government. The risk is that get rich quick schemes could proliferate to the detriment of the training needs of society and the jobs, wages and conditions of TAFE workers.

    The Australian, 10 February, 2012 “Rip-off” college deregistered

    Disability classroom support staff to be cut from schools?
    "The state government will overhaul the way it funds school students with disabilities and principals and parents are fearing vital teachers' aides will be lost, classes disrupted and students left to fall through the cracks."
    "The chairwoman of the Public Schools Principals Forum, Cheryl McBride, said ''we are waiting for the axe to fall''.
    "Ms McBride expects separate funding packages for disability support will be rolled into a single pool to be used to provide more teachers and some online training - but at the cost of teachers' aides."

    Read theSydney Morning Herald report, 3 February 2012, "Schools worried overhaul will cut disability funds."

    Julia Gillard wants HECS-style loans for TAFE students
    Under a smokescreen of removing upfront fees of up to $2,500 for TAFE students the Gillard government plans to impose a loans scheme for fees of up to $7,800. The scheme involves HECS-style loans for higher level courses and guaranteed government-funded training up to Certificate III level. It is widely expected that over time, as with the university loans scheme, there may be no upper limit to how far the fees/loans will extend.
    Some commentators see this "support for students" as an assault on free public education. Strangely it comes after Victoria adopted a similar loans system called "student entitlement" and disastrously opened up public funding to private providers.

    "The Australian Education Union’s NSW branch, which is campaigning against the adoption of similar reforms, has made the same argument.
    “Everybody in NSW already has an entitlement to access a government funded place in a TAFE college … with low fees,” said AEU assistant general secretary Peter de Graaff."
    Read these media reports:
    The AEU's comments in the Australian, 6 Feb 2012: "COAG must act over VET changes"

    News.com, 1 February 2012, "Julia Gillard wants HECS-style loans for TAFE students."

    The AEU's comments in the Australian, 26 Jan 2012: "HECS for VET a smokescreen: AEU"

    The Australian, 2 February 2012, "Experts say loan plan for vocational diplomas will increase students' payments."

    Victoria: TAFE budget cut
    A recommendation is due to Cabinet within the next couple of months coming out of the NSW governmant's VET review, 'Smart and Skilled: Making NSW Number One'. Union activists are asking once again is Victoria, unfortunately, leading the way by negative example?

    "An Essential Services Commission review recommended the [Victorian] government pay private institutions and TAFEs at the same rate for each hour a student is taught. TAFEs currently receive a slightly higher differential funding rate than private businesses."

    The Victorian TAFE Association says: "TAFEs have more costs because they provide higher-cost trades training, more quality services - such as libraries and support officers that are often not provided by private organisations - and because they must comply with public service employee conditions."

    Read the Victorian media report, 1 February 2012, "Tafe funding cuts a worry."

    DEC and TAFE overuse of Agency staff
    A PSA submission to the ACTU sponsored 'Independent inquiry into insecure work' revealed that DEC/TAFE spent over $65 million on casual labour hire staff in 2009-2010. That was outdone only by the RTA (now Roads and Maritime Services) on $72 million.
    This trend is almost inevitable as managers respond to budget cuts and a recruitment freeze in order to continue providng essential services. At the same time they have a 'reserve army' of easily disposable workers when times get tough. While the current government blames the previous ALP administration they do nothing to relieve the situation.

    Read the PS News report, 25 January 2012, "Submission to the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia".

    Read the SMH report, 23 January 2012 Casual army beats Labor's freeze and Liberal cuts.

    College options threaten TAFE health
    While overall Vocational Education and Training (VET) in degregulated Victoria has grown the TAFE sector is smaller by proportion with some TAFE Institutes in financial trouble. There are also questions about the quality of some training in the deregulated VET sector.

    "Universities are offering more places, boosted by a federal move to deregulation. There's also been an explosion in the number of private colleges over the past decade, but will the increased options for further studies lead to the demise of TAFEs?"

    Read the ABC 7:30 transcript, 20 January 2012, "With a growing number of options in tertiary education, is the future of TAFE threatened?".

    Also read the Australian article, 24 January 2012, "Vocational training loans are open to rorting, HECS creator warns".

    Will NSW resist pressure to adopt TAFE funding model?
    In September 2011 The O'Farrell government released a discussion paper 'Smart and Skilled: Making NSW Number One'. It's aim was to promote the national VET 'contestability agenda' which advantages private providers against TAFE. The committee charged with formulating proposals, partly based on public submissions to the 'Smart and Skilled' discussions, is expected to report to Cabinet in March.
    Acording to a Sydney Morning Herald article, 12 January 2012, the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, is having second thoughts about full contestability.

    “Mr Piccoli said he is seeking further advice on student entitlement funding because its introduction in Victoria had achieved mixed results.
    ''My problem with full contestability … is that it can encourage dodgy operators who take advantage of taxpayers' money,'' he said."

    Supporters of public education, including PSA activists, are working hard to promote the advantages of fully government funded vocational education and training. See other related articles below.
    Also, read the SMH, 12 January, article "NSW resists pressure to adopt TAFE funds model".

    $1bn drop in TAFE funding
    "Skills funding policies blew a $1 billion hole in TAFE's budget across five years, according to an analysis by Monash University's Centre for the Economics of Education and Training.”

    "Victorian and NSW TAFEs fared worst, receiving recurrent government funding of $11.96 and $12.08 an hour, respectively, following steady reductions since the middle of last decade. This equated to declines of 12 per cent in Victoria and 35 per cent in NSW since 1997."
    “The NSW Department of Education and Training said TAFE NSW had reduced net costs by almost 9 per cent since 2007 by restructuring the state and institute offices, rationalising delivery, streamlining product development, reducing administration costs and expanding sustainable work practices."

    "Skills Australia chief executive Robin Shreeve said efficiency gains were unlikely to account for the entire funding shortfall. He said vocational education and training funding rates had fallen despite increases in other sectors, but "a historic lack of transparency" made it hard to assess .”

    The Australian, 14 Dec 2011 Study says TAFE suffered $1bn drop

    More questioning of “fully contestable” Victorian VET
    John Mitchell reports in the Campus Review, 12 December 2011 “There is a growing chorus of voices questioning the wisdom of the changes made to VET funding in Victoria, led by the minister for education in NSW, Adrian Piccoli (Campus Review, October 18) and the federal minister Chris Evans (Campus Review, November 29).”

    This report refers also to Dr. Phillip Toner’s response to the Productivity Commission Report. “Toner believes the Victorian policy makers are dismantling TAFE in line with this ideological trajectory, not evidence. “This is privatisation by stealth, it’s a public sell-off, and of course the consequences are absolutely dire,” he said.
    “Show me the evidence that the problem was so profound in the delivery by TAFE that it required this phenomenal shock treatment, this complete 180 degree in public policy. Show me the evidence. There isn’t any. And this is where the ideology comes in.”

    Campus Review report, 12 Dec 2011 Political Economist Challenge to State VET System
    Read also Dr. Phillip Toner's response to the Productivity Commission Report

    Questions over student numbers in "fully contestable" Victorian TAFE
    "Statisticians have cautioned against reading too much into new figures showing that training in Victoria has slowed since government funding was opened to private competition. Experts warn that a ‘spike’ in Victorian VET student numbers reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2008 makes it difficult to measure progress since that year’s reforms were launched. The latest ABS figures, released last week, show that Victorian VET student numbers have grown much more slowly since 2008 than in the three previous years."

    "Leesa Wheelahan, of the LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, said there was “some evidence” of cost-shifting, but that better data was needed to say so definitively.
    Dr Wheelahan said the available evidence suggested contestable funding arrangements hadn’t made much difference to overall training effort.
    “The market seems to be better at cost-shifting to the public purse than increasing enrolments. Yet the government argues that the market is necessary to increase participation.”
    Read the Australian, 8 December, "Victorian 'spike' clouds ABS figures".

    Learn from Unis: TAFE fees and loans means cost burden shifts to students and families
    "Future law, accounting and economics students will have their HECS fees halved under a radical overhaul of university funding issued by the Government yesterday.
    But science students will see their HECS fees almost double if recommendations to increase student contributions to 40 per cent of their degree costs - with 60 per cent to come from Commonwealth coffers - are accepted next year.
    The Base Funding Review, by former South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, was issued yesterday after being commissioned by the Government in October last year."

    Read the Canberra Times, 9 December, "Uni fees shake-up in funds overhaul".

    Update: LMBR implementation outsourced, one roll out for all of Education
    "IBM and Accenture are locked in a two-way fight for a multimillion-dollar contract to implement the NSW Department of Education and Training's delayed $386 million SAP project."
    "To minimise disruption to staff in schools and TAFE colleges, it was decided that instead of having separate rollouts, one for the new finance system, one for the new HR system and one for the new student administration and learning management system, they would be delivered as an integrated solution,"

    Read the Australian, 8 December, "IBM, Accenture vie for NSW Education SAP Learning Management and Business Reform contract".

    NSW Auditor questions LMBR SAP project
    "$386 million finance, human resources and payroll systems project at the NSW Department of Education and Training is over budget and has failed to deliver expected benefits, according to the Auditor--General."
    "The ambitious Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program, which runs on SAP software, has already cost $176m -- almost half of the total estimated project cost.
    The audit report highlights various problems with the SAP implementation, with trained staff a glaring omission. The eight--year project was originally meant to be completed over in 2014 but the end date now seems unclear.
    The implementation of SAP Finance at state and regional office locations in March 2010 did not provide all the expected benefits to the business."

    Read the Australian, 7 December, "NSW Education's LMBR SAP project delayed, over-budget: Auditor-General".

    O'Farrell 'warning' on public sector salaries
    "Barry O'Farrell has declared his intention to see out a ''long innings'' in charge of NSW, while key Liberal Party powerbrokers are now certain he will become a ''three-term premier''.
    "He listed other priorities as bedding down public sector wage reforms, and the devolution of more responsibilities to school principals." In the year ahead these Coalition priorities can serve as warnings for PSA members generally and those working in schools in particular.
    Read the Sun Herald report, 27 November, "Barry bats for a long innings".

    Holmesglen TAFE’s ‘dysfunction’ exposed by Victorian Auditor-General’s report
    As reported in earlier articles the industrial reality of the VET sector across Australia is becoming more complex. Potentially workers wages and conditions are at risk.
    Victoria's Holmesglen TAFE faces a multitude of issues including contestable funding. We reported earlier that Holmesglen TAFE became embroiled in a scheme to buy a private provider, Carrick. Carrick is now owned not by Holmsglen but by a large US education company, Kaplan. As reported in the The Australian 16/11/2011:
    "Victoria’s Auditor-General has exposed bureaucratic dysfunction and almost comedic errors in the handling of Holmesglen TAFE’s abortive attempt this year to buy collapsing private provider Carrick that culminated in the “waste” of $3 million in public money."

    Read "Holmesglen TAFE’s ‘dysfunction’ exposed by Victorian Auditor-General’s report"

    Or read here: "Holmesglen TAFE’s ‘dysfunction’ exposed by Victorian Auditor-General’s report"

    Fair Work Australia or WorkChoices lite?
    TAFE workers who are about to come under Fair Work Australia industrial relations should take as a warning the recent events befalling both QANTAS workers and Victorian Nurses. Neither dispute is yet settled but the outcome may well tell TAFE workers something of what to expect under Fair Work Australia.
    “Victorian nurses have failed in their bid for a stay on a Fair Work Australia order to stop unprotected industrial action.
    The nurses are pushing for an 18.5 per cent pay rise over three years and guaranteed staffing levels or nurse-patient ratios. The Government has offered a 2.5 per cent pay rise per year plus productivity gains.”

    ABC News report, 22 November 2011: "Nurses suffer legal setback over industrial action".

    The industrial relations future of TAFE? Fair Work Australia

    NSW agenda: A “Smart & Skilled” TAFE or is privatisation an option?
    Another warning for NSW and more bad news from fully contestable Victorian VET. "Box Hill Institute of TAFE students will be hit with higher fees amid fears teachers and courses are facing the axe after state funding cuts. The changes are designed to curb spiralling costs that stem from students accessing public funding to courses, whether taught in a public or private institution." Whitehorse Leader, 16 November 2011. "Money or nothing for Box Hill Institute"

    FURTHER UPDATE: It comes as no surprise that a NSW Employer organisation backs "Victorian-style training reforms" which would financially benefit private providers of VET. Meanwhile more reports from Victoria highlight the drawbacks of such "reforms".
    "the Victorian TAFE Association said the Victorian reforms had been a disaster. “VET marketisation in Victoria is out of control and in its current form is detrimental to all stakeholders – students, employers, the government [and] public, private and community providers interested in quality training outcomes,” executive director David Williams told a Sydney forum last week."
    The Australian, 21 November 2011. "Employers back NSW VET market"

    The Australian, 19 November 2011. "Selling TAFEs isn’t on the Victorian Government’s agenda, but it has welcomed last week’s draft report calling on it to consider the move as a “longer-term option”.
    "University of Melbourne tertiary education researcher Leesa Wheelahan said TAFE privatisation would be “a big step backwards”.
    Dr Wheelahan said the state needed to ensure there were “robust public providers” capable of supporting the education and training of the community. To do otherwise would be “abrogating its responsibilities, based on the belief that everything that can be done through the market”.
    In an ominous sign that the private sector wants to grab even more of the public purse Claire Fields representing a section of the private VET sector, said: “Where it’s demonstrably in the public interest, capital funding for VET should not be limited just to the TAFE sector.” "'No discussions' on privatisation".

    O’Farrell’s agenda: A “Smart & Skilled” TAFE or the demolition of TAFE NSW?
    It’s a dive to the bottom for publically funded Vocational Education and Training. Full contestability of VET funding in TAFE NSW would mean that wages and conditions need to be driven down in order to compete on a lowest common denominator with the private providers. Where full contestability has happened, in Victoria, the public funded TAFEs are in financial trouble as private colleges spring up like mushrooms to teach cheap and easy courses like the 1000% increase in ‘personal training’ that happened there. O’Farrell’s agenda: A “Smart & Skilled” TAFE or the demolition of TAFE NSW?

    The Gillard government agenda for TAFE is unfortunately similar to the O'Farrell agenda. The same language is used, "contestability" and "entitlement". Student loans is code for shifting the cost burden to the student and their family in a system where market forces dominate over social need: Gillard pushes loans for TAFE fees

    In an article advocating closer relationships between TAFEs and universities Leesa Wheelehan and Gavin Moodie in Campus Review, 7 November 2011 write: "Since the state governments seem intent on sacrificing their TAFE systems on the altar of the market, it behoves TAFE to develop strategies to protect itself because it won’t be protected by government." "The TAFE revolution is here"

    Commission Amendment (Staff Employment) Bill 2011
    The TAFE Commission Amendment Bill was dropped, unannounced, into Parliament late on Tuesday 11 October, 2011.

  • The TAFE Commission will be the employer of current TAFE employees and of "persons employed in the Department of Education and Communities to assist the Commission in the exercise of its functions".
  • There will be a 12 month "transition period".
  • No consultation has been undertaken with the unions involved. As a result not all the implications of this legislation are clear.
  • TAFE employees are to be trandsferred to the Federal Fair Work Australia industrial jurisdiction.
  • "Core conditions" of hours of work, salary, shift, overtime and penalty rates, allowances, and leave and wages are guaranteed only for one year.
  • New "Agreements" about wages and conditions will be negotiated under the Federal system.
  • Thousands of support staff and teachers will be affected.
  • It appears that the wages and conditions restrictions of the NSW Public Sector will continue to apply to TAFE Commission employees.

    Click here to find read the Amendment Bill in full.
    Click here to find read the Minister's speech to Parliament.
    The industrial relations future of TAFE? Fair Work Australia

    "Smart & Skilled"? Student voucher system a threat to TAFE
    Smart and Skilled or fully commercialised and in debt? Unlike Victorian TAFE this is still an open question in NSW.
    “The NSW government is likely to shake-up vocational education and training by allowing private colleges and universities to compete with TAFE providers and garner public funding for every student they attract.” SMH 29 September. Progressive PSA supporters have been warning of a threat to TAFE coming from proposed HECS style student loans and student voucher systems. Now the NSW government is considering introducing the failing Victorian system. But there is hope that commonsense will prevail with the some Commwealth Ministers and even the NSW Education Minister casting doubt about a full market based VET system.

    Six community consultations are scheduled for regional and urban locations, with three forums with key stakeholders and a call for written submissions open until November 4. Read the September 2011 Discussion Paper Smart and Skilled: making NSW number one

    For more information read these media reports. Also, scroll down for more articles:
    NSW Opposition Leader, John Robertson tells Cowra Community News, 5 October 2011,: "O’Farrell must guarantee future of TAFE colleges"
    "A financial report from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows that last year's VET revenue boost of about $420 million couldn't match a $770m hike in operating expenditure sparked by an 8 per cent increase in training." The Australian, 5 October 2011,: "Students, TAFEs feel the squeeze"

    Victorian fitness instructor courses jump 1000%, TAFEs languish. The Australian, 17 August 2011,: "Boom for private providers"
    SMH, 29 September 2011: Students face open market in plans for TAFE revamp.
    The Australian, 29 September 2011: NSW looks to move down market-based training path.
    The Australian, 21 September 2011: Victorian TAFEs in financial trouble.

    Bleak future tipped for TAFEs
    "Victorian TAFE Association chief David Williams said the public providers' share of government-funded enrolments had plunged to 52 per cent from 75 per cent in 2008."
    "Mr Williams said the number of private colleges receiving government training funds had increased from about 200 to 380": The Australian September 07, 2011.

    UPDATE: 'Pat Forward, national TAFE secretary for the Australian Education Union, described the situation as "extraordinary" and called on the state government to re-evaluate its market-oriented reform under which public and private providers compete equally for publicly funded student places. "TAFE is struggling to survive competition on price alone under Victorian reforms," Ms Forward said.'
    The Australian, 21 September. Victorian TAFEs in financial trouble.

    Federal VET reforms a threat to TAFE
    "The Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) has noted the key role TAFE plays in delivering high quality technical training, encouraging participation of disadvantaged students and providing services particularly in regional and remote areas.Despite CoAG noting this vital role TAFE plays in the Australian economy, it has failed to advocate improved funding for TAFE. Changes that have been proposed to CoAG will harm the TAFE system by:

  • forcing TAFE colleges to compete for funding against each other and private operators;
  • imposing competitive neutrality principles on the TAFE system, which will increase operating costs and reduce TAFE's capacity to deliver training;
  • introducing a HECS-style scheme for TAFE students that will increase student fees and charges."
    The NSW Teachers federation has started a campaign to support public education: TAFE is the answer.

    Corporate Services reform – getting zapped by SAP
    The NSW public service is undergoing massive structural change driven by a government strategy to centralise corporate service functions including finance, payroll and recruitment in a small number of shared service centres. The impact on thousands of PSA members is great. Job losses, work intensification and dislocation are just some of the impacts. Click on the link above for more information and comment by the Progressives.

    UPDATE: Liberal politician Catherine Cusack writing in the Sunday Telegraph, 17 July 2011, warns about the experience of Queensland and Western Australia with shared corporate services and hopes that the O'Farrell government learns the right lessons. So do PSA members in DEC corporate, schools and TAFE! Read the article here

    FURTHER UPDATE: WA Liberal government unravels shared corporate services. PSNews reports that "The Western Australian Government has scrapped its Office of Shared Services following an investigation by the State’s Economic Regulation Authority." Read the article Shared Services to share no more

    Vocational Education and Training (VET) becoming more complex
    The industrial reality of the VET sector across Australia is becoming more complex. Potentially workers wages and conditions are at risk.

    TAFE faces a multitude of issues including contestable funding, increased government support for private colleges, and increased pressure on TAFE budgets. There is also the trend towards full student fees, student loans and student vouchers undermining the idea of government funded education. Overshadowing those issues is the prospect of standalone TAFE Institutes negotiating their own industrial conditions and wages separately.

    Michael Stutchbury writing in the Australian, 21 December 2010 warned Julia Gillard that “she won't get far in health or education with a one-size-fits all industrial relations system that re-empowers the old award system, the industrial tribunal and the unions.” He went on to complain that TAFE is “smothered by statewide industrial agreements”.
    While Stutchbury admits that TAFE system trains 1.7 million students he fails to mention the high levels of student satisfaction as recorded in surveys under the same system he criticises.

    Now there is the prospect in Victoria at least that one government owned TAFE Institute is reported to be in talks to buy into a private provider, a deal worth $10m.

    “In what would be a groundbreaking deal in the ongoing shake-up of a sector hard hit by the downturn in international students, Victoria’s state-owned TAFE Holmsglen is in talks to acquire a stake in major private college operator Carrick Education Group...... The Australian understands the talks are aimed at establishing an alliance through which Holmsglen could use Carrick’s interstate campuses to jointly expand availability of its courses beyond Victoria." The Australian, 27 January 2011.

    The industrial implications of this changing environment are as yet unclear. However we know that in general private providers tend to employ largely casual staff at lower rates of pay than TAFE workers who are covered by mainstream unions such as the PSA and the teachers union.

    To become aware of these trends is the first step in formulating an industrial strategy to protect our jobs and conditions.

    Federal Productivity Commission report
    Released in November 2010, the Productivity Commission Report into VET is important and deserves our attention regarding the potential industrial implications contained for support staff. Some of these issues have been canvassed previously but this report defines a higher level of potential threat to our wages and conditions.

    As union members we should all make the effort to educate ourselves about the potential impact of:

  • Each Institute becoming its own employing authority – like the universities – where all wages and conditions are negotiated separately at each Institute.
  • “industrial relations settings in the public VET sector [to] become more flexible and transparent. In particular, there should be enterprise-level wage agreements, contemporary performance management arrangements, and flexibility of employment arrangements that best suit the needs of students, employees and the employer.” [a recommendation]
  • The implicit criticism on the “cap” on numbers of casual staff employed.
    To read the Productivity Commission report click here

    Federal election thoughts
    An interesting article in the Daily Telegraph 5 August about the Federal election and education funding. After you read it go on to click on to the Liberal Party web site and check out what the Opposition says about Training and Apprenticeships. There is scant reference to policy of any sort except attacks on the perceived inadequacies of the Government. At least with the government, poor as they may be, there exist policies to debate and discuss. One can only assume that the Opposition policy on vocational training and TAFE would follow general Opposition education policy. And as Maralyn Parker, Education writer of the Daily Telegraph, points out with the Opposition she found only a tremendous push for private schooling.
    To Read the Daily Telegraph article click here

    Pay deal update
    The 2008 PSA pay deal has already reduced some working conditions for many members. Through the DET Savings Implementation Plan more cuts to conditions and jobs are claimed. Because only 2.5% of the 4% pay rise was Treasury funded an opportunity was created for further claims by management.

    Senior PSA officials claim that: "It was agreed by both parties to negotiations through a Memorandum of Understanding that most of the 1.5% difference would be gained through reforms contained in the MOU. The Government has reneged on this agreement." (PSA SAS Staff News, 10 November, 2009) Many members question whether this is the full story.

    Progressive PSA supporters in Schools, DET and TAFE are actively supporting efforts to organise against these claims by DET. We call for united action across all members in schools, DET and TAFE not the current approach which leaves the membership divided.
    To Read more click here

    Performance Development Schemes
    When done properly Performance Feedback systems can be good for employees because they force supervisors to say how they will assist anyone who they think isn't doing well rather than focussing on punitive behaviour that does nothing to help the employee.

    In each agency the performance schemes have different names e.g. 'performance development', 'performance feedback', 'coaching and performance' etc. Many members express concern that managers may misuse Performance Management (as it is called in DET/TAFE) as a form of bullying.

    Where an employee "Exceeds most performance expectations" according to the DET Performance Management and Development Scheme there is concern that this may lead to staff being expected to work outside SODs or PDs. The statement "delivering work outcomes and results above what could normally be expected at the staff member’s classification level" reinforces this. There is the implication that agreeing to work outside the position would result in a more favourable performance rating. No individual can be expected to work beyond his or her SOD or PD. Work performance can only be measured against the duties listed in a SOD or PD. Click here to find out what you can do to turn performance feedback to your advantage.

    Schools members
    Schools GAs Must Stay

    In 2007 the DET had discussions with the union regarding General Assistants undertaking an ‘’enhanced’’ role in the school facilities maintenance contracts.
    The union was later advised by the DET that this would be negotiated with the renewal of the school maintenance contracts.
    Then, in April 09, the DET announced the preferred option was to introduce a new classification of GA/Cleaner to be taken up with the commencement of the new school maintenance / cleaning contracts in 2010-11. Should this be the case, it would be a rationalisation of the 2 positions - GA/Cleaner, effectively providing a much diminished service to schools. Delegates have commented that they do not believe the GA component would play any official role in the facilities maintenance contract, other than menial tasks. The proposed ''enhanced'' maintenance contract role, where GAs would perform major role in the implementation and overseeing of the school facilities maintenance, went overboard. Currently maintenance supervision is meant to be done by school principals. In reality many GAs undertake this role ''unofficially''.

    Now, General Assistants in schools are facing privatisation as a result of a complete back flip by DET.
    PSA GA members are mobilising and are networking on line, and advising the broader school communities of the negative impact this will have on their respective schools and the quality of public education for students. Parallels with the failure of privatising of government school cleaners gives a very clear picture what schools can expect if this proposal goes through. After cleaning was contracted out standards dropped. Many parents and schools based employees have consistently noted the huge reduction in cleaning standards, based on the significant loss of cleaning positions in schools.
    PSA announced that the ‘’GAs Must Stay’’ – Public Education - No Privatisation’’ campaign starts in earnest the week commencing 18 May 2009.

    To be successful this campaign must be won on the ground, with GAs taking a significant role and ownership by enlisting the support and solidarity from a range of different school community stakeholders.

    STOP PRESS: Collective action wins! DET has reversed its decision to privatise School General Assistants

    DET/TAFE members
    The new Managing Excess Employees Policy from the Nov 2008 Salaries MOU is being implemented in DET and TAFE.

    The Department Premier & Cabinet announced a new Managing Excess Employees Policy in late May 2008 and the PSA Executive objected in early June 2008. The PSA Executive then accepted the new policy which emphasises forced redundancy ‘as a last resort’ as part of the Memorandum of Understanding. Click here for the Premier's Memorandum on Forced Redundancies as accepted by the current PSA General Secretary.

  • Around 12 May 2009 a number of long term displaced employees have been given letters under the new policy. They had been informed of being excess to establishment in April 2008. In spite of the new policy being officially implemented only on 4 May this year their letters have in effect been backdated to April 2008. The Department has ‘granted an extra three months retention period’ till August this year when they may be given a further three months notice of being made redundant if no permanent or temporary position has been found within that time.

    They have been offered the standard voluntary redundancy offer and have till 27 May to accept it. It is unclear whether the redundancy payment is still on offer if not taken up before 27 May.

    DET/TAFE members
    Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR)

    Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program is a large scale, complex computer-based program that will bring about a staged replacement of the current personnel, finance and student administration systems in schools, TAFE NSW and across the Department.

    PSA delegates met with the Department on 14 April 2009 in the first of a series of meetings to be held over the coming months. At this early stage of consultation it is not possible to give members a clear picture of the industrial impact of this massive reform agenda. Some members working in affected areas report that "they have been told” that their jobs are at risk. But it is too early to say with any certainty just whose jobs will be impacted or exactly how.

    One of the issues soon to confront members is the effect of taking time from their normal work to test the SAP systems. Your delegates put a case for extra resourcing so that members don’t come back to a double workload. This was declined by management. The union will continue to pursue the matter.

    Schools members
    General Assistants Facilities Maintenance in Schools

    As an act of ‘goodwill’ many General Assistants work beyond their Statement of Duty in the administration of maintenance contracts. Union officials say that this issue cannot be raised until after the current maintenance contract expires in 2010.Members have not been consulted , nor formally advised about this development, and for union officials simply to remind General Assistants to work to their current SoDs is not good enough. There are regular meetings between top union officials and senior management (sometimes including the Minister) on a regular basis. If management expects GAs to do this extra work the issue of compensation must be raised sooner rather than later.

    Schools members
    General Assistants Wage Anomaly

    Permanent part time School General Assistants who work less than 38 hours per week are paid at a higher hourly rate than full time General Assistants. This wage anomaly was detected by DET in 2008. DET has yet to come up with a fair and reasonable proposal with the PSA to overcome this problem. The PSA has put forward two proposals to date, both of which have been rejected. The Chair of the PSA General Assistant’s Working Party has a proposal to solve this matter. This proposal simply involves giving full time permanent General Assistants an extra Rostered Day Off per month to be taken only in the school vacation. This proposal would be cost neutral. Unfortunately this proposal has not been able to be put to members as a solution due to PSA officials not scheduling meeting dates for the GA Working Party for 2009

    Schools members
    April 2008, How much is your work worth?

    Job Evaluation systems are widespread in the Public Sector and are used as an objective measure to grade jobs. A good job evaluation system is worth money in the pocket to employees. We know that schools support staff are vastly underpaid compared to similar jobs elsewhere. That was recognised by the independent 2003/04 DET sponsored SASS Review.

    Why is the Department of Education the only big NSW government department that does not use a recognised job evaluation system? Many Schools based PSA members ask “Is the under valuing of schools work something the Department wants to cover up and prolong by not adopting a recognised system for grading jobs?”

    2004 saw the best opportunity for this matter to be rectified.
    The whole of the Department was under review, SASS, DET and TAFE. TAFE has had a Job Evaluation system (known as Cullen Egan Dell) since the 1990’s. DET does not, nor does Schools. After the 2003/04 DET/TAFE restructure those TAFE employees who were transferred to DET Corporate Services lost their job evaluation system. But a combined effort in 2003/04 involving Schools DET and TAFE could have gained a much better result all round. Why did the PSA leadership refuse to combine the campaigns?

    The independent DET sponsored SASS Review recommended much more of a salary increase for SASS than the Department was willing to offer and more than the PSA officials were willing to accept. It was said at the time by PSA President Sue Walsh that this deal was only a "part settlement only". But its been 4 years and where is the action on the second instalment? PSA members in schools have a right to be angry with the union leadership. At the Sky Channel broadcast schools PSA members were encouraged by President Sue Walsh, General Secretary John Cahill and Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner to accept a bad deal.

    Comparisons from the current Public Service Notices Clerical Officer Grade 1/2 is paid $21,154-$43,903. A Clerical Officer 1/2 in TAFE is below the generally accepted entry level for clerical work which is Clerk 1/2 ($46,320-$50,356). Even taking into account the shorter working year for schools employees: How much is your work worth?

    Read more'here'.
    Read more about what senior PSA officials promised'here'

    March 2008, Extra training places to be funded by vouchers

    In an apparent reversal of a pledge made before the federal election last year the Rudd government has kept a Coalition voucher system for “skills training places” which it pledged would be abolished.
    According to Sid Marris writing in the Australian, 6 March 2008: “… the funding is on top of existing programs, Labor is looking at using the funding infrastructure of the Howard government's Work Skills Vouchers to pay for the training. The old voucher system, much in demand by business, expires next month.”

    At the ALP campaign launch last year, Kevin Rudd announced that if Labor won the election there would be 450,000 extra training places over 4 years partly funded by replacing the Coalition’s voucher system. “Although Labor is proposing to boost the number of Coalition-funded places, the increase is to be funded in large part by scrapping the Howard Government's "Work Skill Vouchers" program.” Brad Norrington, Australian, 15 November 2007

    What is wrong with a voucher system?
    This system for funding training needs means that a training “consumer” can shop around for the cheapest, shortest course whether it comes from a TAFE facility or a private provider. Quality is therefore at risk of being downgraded. Further the TAFE Directors Association chief executive Martin Riordan, is reported to have warned that "The price signals in the vouchers took no account of the cost of our infrastructure,".

    This indicates a continuing attack on government funded education where an open market in training takes no account of the extra human and physical advantages of the TAFE system. Indeed, ultimately, TAFE is punished for being better at supporting students with ‘expensive’ services such counsellors, libraries, student associations, and direct class support in labs and workshops.

    PSA members who work in these educational support areas should be wary of this encroachment of “market forces” where labour costs must be continually driven down at the expense of quality of education

    February 2008, Performance Management and Development Scheme

    Chair of the DET/TAFE State Delegates Committee, Leon Parissi said " Management has given the union assurances that the new Performance Management and Development Scheme will not be used as a disciplinary tool. We welcome the potential for PSA members to have greater opportunity to develop their skills and performance through training. But some members are afraid that wayward managers might misuse the Policy. If this happens to you let your local delegate know."

     

    DET/TAFE STATE DELEGATES 2006-08

    Elections held May 2006

     

    PSA DET/TAFE Advisory Group EXECUTIVE

    PARISSI, Leon

    Chair

    Leon.Parissi@tafensw.edu.au

    (02) 9217 3289

    HEWITT, Russell,

    Vice Chair

    Russell.Hewitt@det.nsw.edu.au

    (02) 598 6318

    DALEY, Judith

    Secretary

    Judith.Daley@epac.det.nsw.edu.au

    (02) 926 68070

    McLOUGHLIN-FULLICK, Margaret

    Assistant Secretary

    Margaret.Mcloughlin@tafensw.edu.au

    (02) 4923-7407

    Don't look in the TAFE Gazette for TAFE public service jobs
    All TAFE public service job adverts will only to go in the PS Notices and online at 'Jobs.NSW' http://jobs.nsw.gov.au/Start.asp ; and the newspapers from now on. As of 17 March 2006 support staff are no longer employees of TAFE. We are now public servants. Teaching and Institute Manager jobs will continue to be posted in the TAFE Gazette as will policies etc. See article below for background: "Government moves to protect public sector workers impacts on TAFE".

    PSA DET/TAFE state delegate elections 2006
    Nominations closed 24 March 2006.
    Only Sydney Institute is holding a postal ballot. There are 10 candidates for 4 Sydney Institute positions on the PSA DET/TAFE Advisory Group. The Progressives are supporting a 'ticket' with Russell Hewitt, Leon Parissi, Maolcholm Bruce and Jane O'Brien. Ballot papers were posted on 3 May and voting closes 19 May. In all other DET & TAFE electorates the candidates were elected unopposed.

    Delegates finally meet Minister
    Senior delegates from the DET/TAFE PSA Advisory Group, Russell Hewitt and Leon Parissi met the Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, together with the PSA General Secretary and President and a Principle Industrial Officer. The delegation sought and received assurances that the NSW government is working to minimise the impact of the federal government’s “Skilling Australia’s Workforce Act, 2005”. This legislation seeks to move TAFE employees onto individual contracts as well as having other unpalatable industrial agendas. More details of the government's moves will become available in the near future.

    Government moves to protect public sector workers impacts on TAFE
    Below is a quote from Department’s memo explaining the new legislative changes to TAFE's employment conditions. One major improvement is that TAFE support staff will become public servants. These moves appear to complete changes the Association has been seeking for TAFE employees and which were only partially addressed in changes reported last year (see below, the Technical and Further Education Commission Amendment (Staff) Act 2005).

    The government has been spurred into action by the drastic impact of the Federal government's WorkChoices legislation and by pressure from the unions. The government’s stated intention is to maintain the status quo in relation to salaries and conditions. To be on the side of caution your delegates have requested an urgent meeting with DET/TAFE to answer some detailed questions about some possible implications.

    From the Department of Education and Training's FAQ:

    “What are the changes? The TAFE Commission will no longer be the “employer” and staff will no longer be employed under the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Commission Act 1990. All TAFE Commission employees will be employed under the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002.”

    Education Day of Action June 2005
    Education Day of Action
    TAFE and DET union members rally on 29 June 2005

    Education sector union members from the PSA and teachers unions display solidarity action against the introduction if individual contracts in universities and TAFE Congratulations to the members and organisers for their excellent work. More pictures.

    PSA Priorities in Education
    Many union members questioned the union's priorities during the 2003/04 jobs campaign. We want a union that takes job security seriously.

    TAFE Conditions of Employment Award, 2009
    Download a copy of the TAFE Conditions of Employment Award.

    Leaflet for jobs rally 2003
    Progressive PSA leaflet for jobs rally 2003

    Read, Contribute, Participate
    Would you like to share some information with other PSA members? Simply email us at DET-TAFE-Schools@progressivepsa.org

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    Contact the Progressive PSA Email: DET-TAFE [at]progressivepsa.org

    Progressive PSA brings together rank and file trade union activists in the CPSU (SPSF Branch) and the Public Service Association of New South Wales.

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