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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5582

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (09:45): I rise today to acknowledge the importance of Australia's TAFE system and the value in young Australians attaining a technical skill. In my electorate of Holt, in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, we have watched a growing TAFE sector and skill base which was developed since the TAFE sector was created under the Whitlam government back in 1974.

In my electorate, the Chisholm Institute's campus in Cranbourne, in particular, is leading the way in providing a whole generation of young people with essential skills for the 21st century. According to Maria Peters, the Chisholm Institute chief executive officer, since 1998 Chisholm has served one of Australia's fastest growing regions, offering industry respected courses in spacious modern locations, online and in workplaces. They have campuses in Dandenong, Cranbourne, Frankston and Berwick, which is in the electorate of my colleague Laura Smyth. They are worthwhile institutions—institutions worth protecting.

What I am very proud of, particularly with the federal government's investment in trade training centres and its continual investment in TAFEs like the Chisholm Institute of TAFE, is that it is validating a pathway that people take. There is a lot of pressure on our kids to go and do VCE and there is an implication that if you do not do VCE you are less valid or you are less worthwhile. That is a load of rubbish. There has been almost systemic discrimination against people who choose an alternative pathway which is just as valid as university, and one of those pathways is through the Chisholm Institute and TAFEs.

The fact is that trade training centres, which also provide a pathway to TAFE, are providing the tools, the resources and the facilities that our young people need to make this pathway choice. In Cranbourne, in particular, they have an amazing water centre. It has 440 square metres of undercover training space and a permanent 36-by-six metre sandpit. This centre can accommodate heavy machinery, allowing staff and students to receive hands-on experience with earthmoving plant equipment as well training in civil construction skills, such as pipe laying, trenching and shoring. It is an amazing multipurpose facility, and industry is actually getting involved. So there is interaction between young people and not-so-young people undertaking the course and industry right at the coalface. It is actually being looked at by people coming from overseas as a world-leading course—and it is a world-leading facility, proudly funded by this federal government.

I will finish off on this point: I get to sick to death of hearing this almost inverse snobbery about VCE. It is an important choice and it is a great choice—but it should not be at the expense of young people who choose TAFE as a pathway. I will always stand up and defend those people and recognise the contribution they make to our community. (Time expired)