TAFE did, and could still, make great things happen

QTU employee Tracy-Lee Rogers (pictured) knows from personal experience the huge impact TAFE can have on people's lives. Here she tells her story.

I am writing this because I strongly believe that everyone, whether disadvantaged, disabled, mature aged or an immigrant, is entitled to public education.

I myself am a former student of Bremer TAFE, a second chance learner. Over 30 years ago, I finished high school after only going to year 10 level. I was told to be like everyone else’s wife and “get a real job”, in the meat works or picking lettuce.

Then, in 2008, I enrolled in a Diploma of Justice Administration at Bremer TAFE. Thanks to the support and encouragement of the teachers at Bremer, I continued with my studies, and in 2013 I graduated from QUT with a distinction with a Bachelor of Justice.

I now have a great job that has allowed me to own my own property, thanks to TAFE. 
I have seen the campaigns and media showing the cuts to TAFE, including staff redundancies, loss of programs, costs to students, closure of facilities and the removal of assets from TAFE Queensland control and into the hands of QTAMA, forcing TAFE to withdraw services from communities and subsequently pay exorbitant rental to retain access.

Until recently I didn’t fully understand what the costs to students would mean to someone like myself wanting to get back into the workforce, or a school leaver not wanting to go to university.

When I graduated from Bremer TAFE, I had completed the 21 units at a cost of about $1,200 after the Commonwealth subsidy. The TAFE website advertises the 2015 Diploma of Justice as “full fee”, costing $10,000.

The former Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek claimed that students can access VET FEE-HELP to assist with the cost. But when I read further down the web page, it specified that the Certificate IV component is not eligible for VET FEE-HELP and required an upfront fee of $2,500 (the 2015 Justice Diploma only consists of 16 units, of which 10 units are Cert IV).

I ask you, how can TAFE survive if it cannot get enough enrolments to sustain programs because private providers such as CLET are advertising the same course for $3,995?
I’m not into politics, but the new Labor government's policies towards TAFE do give me hope. While they don’t reverse all the cuts, it is the first positive policy position on TAFE for a number of years.

I want TAFE to survive! I want TAFE to give other people the opportunity that it gave me! With a supportive government, TAFE can and will make great things happen!

Tracy-Lee Rogers
Administration Officer - Research/Services

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 2, 13 March 2015, p14