16 August 2012
Thousands of TAFE supporters rock and rally in Melbourne
Thank you to the thousands of TAFE staff, students and supporters who turned out in Melbourne today as part of our biggest rally yet against the Baillieu Government's savage TAFE cuts. Click here to see the photos on facebook.
There was plenty of passion on show, along with some great placards and creative chanting! "TAFE for All, TAFE for All, the Baillieu Government's dropped the ball" rang out as we marched from the State Library to Spring Street, though no chant seems to beat "Save TAFE, sack Ted!" in the popularity stakes.
At Spring Street, a petition of thousands of names was handed to opposition leader Daniel Andrews to table in Parliament. We were entertained by comedian and TAFE teacher Tim Ferguson and rocked out to the strains of "We Are The Champions" and "We're Not Gonna Take It", care of NMIT music students Aaron Schultz and Hamish Dutton.
"It's already affected our course," Aaron said. "There are going to be price rises in course fees and possibly job cuts."
Unions were also out in force, with the AEU, NTEU, United Voice, ANF, ETU and CFMEU all represented at the rally. Speaking on behalf of Victorian unions, Trades Hall secretary Brian Boyd said Baillieu had made a "big mistake: you've taken on the whole community this time, not just piecemeal groups."
NTEU Victoria's secretary Colin Long told us that on top of the 2000 redundancies, thousands more casual and contract were staff losing work, and some 20,000-30,000 students won’t have courses because of the cuts.
“TAFEs are centres of culture and learning that belong to us, not to Mr Baillieu," Long said. "The war on quality public education that Mr Baillieu has started is far from over."
AEU branch president Mary Bluett added that the numbers were bad, but the human cost was criminal.
"In Bendigo, we had someone signing [at our rally] for four deaf students that were studying at TAFE," she said. "Her funding ran out in July and those students no longer have the support they need to continue their courses in TAFE. It's criminal stuff.
"These aren't the figures, these are the real stories of what the TAFE cuts are doing."
But the most quietly powerful speech came from a nervous young student from Mauritius, now studying community work at Victorian University TAFE. Speaking in front of Parliament House, she said: "I love my course, I love my teachers and I love my class. I'm very worried that if these cuts happen I won't be able to afford higher fees. So please, Mr Baillieu, stop the cuts."
Are you listening, Ted?!