The head of TAFE NSW will contact 10,000 Illawarra students on Monday as the organisation moves to reaffirm its commitment to the region and respond to claims of inadequate facilities at its new Dapto offering.
In an email aimed at easing uncertainty, TAFE NSW managing director Jon Black will tell students the closure of the Dapto campus hasn’t limited access to vocational education and training.
He’ll also confirm toilets at the new Dapto TAFE “Access Point” – previously for staff-only use – will be made available for students.
The provision of toilets at the Princes Highway facility follows revelations students had been told to use amenities at the nearby railway station or shopping mall.
“I write to provide clarification around some recent commentary about TAFE NSW in the Illawarra,” Mr Black said in his email.
“The Fowlers Road campus in Dapto had for some time been the corporate headquarters for the now-defunct Illawarra Institute, delivering back of house functions including Human Resources, Information Technology and Finance.
“Limited courses were available at this campus until the end of 2015 as TAFE NSW consolidated its investment in the Illawarra at the Shellharbour, Wollongong, Wollongong West and Yallah campuses.”
Mr Black said those campuses were within 25 kilometres of the new Dapto access point and each provided students with “a diverse range of courses, specialist practical learning spaces, equipment and resources”.
Since March 1, as part of the One TAFE modernisation process, there was no longer an Illawarra Institute, Mr Black said.
“The Dapto premises did not meet the criteria for what is understood as part of the One TAFE model to be a Connected Learning Centre,” he said.
“TAFE NSW has taken a position that where there has been a TAFE presence, there will continue to be a TAFE presence. To keep faith with this commitment, TAFE NSW will retain its presence in Dapto by way of the Access Point.”
Mr Black and Assistant NSW Skills Minister Adam Marshall came under fire during budget estimates in the Parliament last week, when Greens TAFE spokeswoman, Dawn Walker, asked them to confirm “there are no on-site toilets for students at the Dapto shopfront”.
In his email, Mr Black said: “Given the comparatively lower volume of throughput at the Access Point against the four nearby campuses, amenities onsite had previously been used only by staff.
“Nevertheless, I have instructed the Regional General Manager to make those onsite amenities available to students too.”
The Mercury understands Labor’s spokeswoman for skills Prue Car will be in Wollongong on Monday to meet with NSW Teachers Federation staff.