Specialist equity staff from TAFE Illawarra Institute getting early Christmas present of unemployment

UNCERTAIN: Dapto's TAFE campus has been earmarked for the government's sell-off list. Glenn Kolomeitz and Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson. Picture: Andy Zakeli

UNCERTAIN: Dapto's TAFE campus has been earmarked for the government's sell-off list. Glenn Kolomeitz and Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson. Picture: Andy Zakeli

There's more bad news to round out a disastrous year for the TAFE Illawarra Institute, with specialist teaching jobs on the chopping block just before Christmas.

At least 16 positions will be axed including teacher consultants for students with a disability, the Institute’s Multicultural co-coordinator, Aboriginal coordinators, careers and counselling services staff, and library staff.

A statement issued from the Institute read the tertiary provider confirmed the above, but said management were reviewing their services to improve business and learning outcomes.

“Support for students, including those experiencing disadvantage, remains a priority for TAFE Illawarra. The proposed changes are currently in the consultation phase and are subject to amendment following consideration of feedback from staff and other stakeholders,” read the statement.

NSW Teachers' Federation TAFE organiser Rob Long met with TAFE careers counsellors, equity and library staff on Monday, and said this was not ideal as equity staff were people that deal with some of the most disadvantaged students.

He said currently TAFE had teacher consultants for someone who was visually impaired, had a hearing disability, a physical disability, a neurological disability, an intellectual disability or a psychiatric disability.

“There’s a specific person with specific skills to deal with those specific disabilities, so it’s very centred on the student,” he said.

“They’re getting rid of those positions and they’re coming up with what they’re calling ‘Program Coordinator, Disabilities’, which we understand would be a generic position.”

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said the move to get the State Government to sign off on the cuts by December was “nothing short of disgraceful” and called on Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward to publicly fight against it.

"These proposed cuts ... are just mean, greedy, penny-pinching from the State Government,” she said.

It comes amid a parliamentary inquiry into TAFE NSW, which saw several key Illawarra figures in the witness stand in October. While it was also revealed the Dapto campus was earmarked for the government’s “sell off hit-list” after failing to gain enough student enrollments, following a year marred by dramas across the board.

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