Community Alliance commits to fixing broken VET sector
The Queensland Community Alliance formally launched in Brisbane on Wednesday night, making a broad sweep of commitments to address issues related to community education, employment and care – including a pledge to fix the broken Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.
The Alliance – a mix of community, faith and union groups – is a non-partisan organisation aiming to collect individual and community stories about shared issues and address them by lobbying for change collectively.
More than 1,400 people gathered at Wednesday’s Founding Assembly at Brisbane City Hall to see the Alliance launch. The night was also an opportunity for Alliance members to share their stories.
The Founding Assembly saw the Alliance create an agenda for change and seek commitments from the state government and opposition. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attended the Assembly to listen to the Alliance’s concerns.
VET members’ concerns front at centre at Assembly
Due to the Federal Government ending funding for 150 VET providers and employers’ failure to take action, the sector has been plunged into intense uncertainty as many VET providers cut jobs or closed their doors entirely, leaving staff and students in limbo.
Our union’s VET members played a central role at the Assembly with IEUA-QNT member and VET trainer Garry Innes sharing the story of a broken system that was letting down employees and students.
“The current system is causing mental, emotional and physical distress for trainers, some of whom are overworked and harassed. And that’s a position nobody should be put in,” Gary said.
“I want the federal government to tailor their [VET] funding to the right people, to not put students at risk with $25,000 loans that, when an RTO falls over, they’re still burdened with. The pressure on trainers within the industry has to change; trainers are the only reason why the VET industry is still maintaining its quality, but it’s not sustainable.”
Gary said the Alliance has an important role to play in helping to create change in the sector by amplifying the voices of those affected – including IEUA-QNT members who have long-campaigned for improved stability and professional conditions in the sector.
“I think governments respond to large amounts of political persuasion. So if the Alliance can start the process of recognition [among government] that change is needed, I think we’ll achieve a greater response,” he said.
IEUA-QNT VET sector organiser Cherie Wills said both the Federal Government and VET employers need to show genuine professional respect to those working in the sector by consulting with employees on the changes to funding and what that means at an operational level for colleges.
“Employees and students are yet to receive anything of substance from either the government or VET providers,” Ms Wills said.
“There is no mention of future plans describing how they are planning to rebuild and stabilise the VET sector. Employees are now questioning how the VET sector is meant to survive and contribute to our economy when it is constantly being changed without credible consultation and communication.
“VET employers now more than ever need to be ensuring integrity in their operations in light of the publicised misconduct by some and, in doing so, must respect the important role educators and administration staff play in providing quality education and continuity to students through these changes.”
The Queensland Community Alliance was founded in 2013 with hubs in the Brisbane, Logan and Ipswich areas, achieving a number of wins for members of these communities before formally launching at its Founding Assembly held in Brisbane on 30 August 2017.
Our union is a foundation partner member of the Alliance.
To read more about the Queensland Community Alliance, visit http://www.qldcommunityalliance.org/