Refugees and newly-arrived migrants will pay the price for the Turnbull Government’s decision not to continue a longstanding English-language-teaching program through Hunter TAFE.
The Turnbull Government has decided to turn its back on decades of skills, experience and expertise at Hunter TAFE and award the Australian Migrant English Program (AMEP) contract to private provider Navitas. Navitas, in turn, is subcontracting to MAX Solutions.
Hunter TAFE’s AMEP program has been delivering exceptional English language training to refugees and newly arrived migrants in Newcastle and the Hunter region for many years.
But it is so much more than that.
Many of these students have fled war-torn countries and arrived in Australia with nothing. TAFE staff go above and beyond to give student the critical support they need to navigate, and integrate successfully into, life in Australia. Through TAFE, they also have access to a first-rate onsite childcare service, library, and counselling.
It’s difficult to overstate the difference this supportive environment makes to the social and emotional well-being of students at an unbelievably challenging time in their lives.
Hunter TAFE currently has 200 students studying the AMEP course. I have been told that some of the students were reduced to tears when they heard about the change.
I am very concerned that MAX Solutions won’t have adequate facilities or the specialised expertise to provide the training and personal support that TAFE has been delivering so successfully for decades.
While childcare is still included in the contract, I understand it will no longer be onsite. This could make study impossible for many students who have structured their lives around their TAFE training.
It’s also hard to see how it will be viable for MAX Solutions to continue delivering the smaller AMEP programs that TAFE runs in the Hunter Valley.
This Government has a shameful track record of attacking TAFE at every opportunity.
I have great concerns for the tens of dedicated, highly skilled TAFE staff whose jobs are now on the line.
I have met with many people about this in recent weeks and, to a person, they’ve all told me it is a short-sighted decision that will hurt refugees, newly arrived migrants, Hunter TAFE and our community.