Page 2279 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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having a body looking after the interests of the visually impaired. They play a number of sports, including cricket. It was very impressive to see some of the performances and the due rewards that came at that first presentation evening. Good luck to all the athletes going to Melbourne. On my own behalf and on behalf of Mr Smyth, who also attended, I say that we greatly appreciated being involved in the fundraiser.

Tuggeranong flexible learning centre

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.49): Tonight I would like to talk about a very special learning support service in the Tuggeranong Valley, the CIT flexible learning centre, Tuggeranong campus. The Canberra Institute of Technology opened this learning centre as a small shopfront in the heart of the Tuggeranong shopping precinct in 1995. This humble shopfront became the face of CIT’s new student-oriented approach to learning.

The main focus of this facility is learning by doing. The shopfront, the Tuggeranong flexible learning centre, allowed students to work at their own pace, with flexible hours that suited their needs. With the high demand for this new educational facility, the flexible learning centre had to relocate to nearby Tuggeranong Arts Centre. The move to the Tuggeranong Arts Centre created a far more spacious facility that allowed for additional students to access the subjects on offer. As the demand for education becomes greater, the need for easier access is something the CIT is appealing to. This is reflected in the 900 students that are catered for every year and who enrol in the self-paced, flexible training offered.

Last Saturday, 18 June, I and my Assembly colleague Karin MacDonald had the pleasure of attending the centre’s 10th anniversary celebrations and the unveiling of the anniversary plaque by the chief executive of CIT, Dr Peter Veenker, on behalf of Minister Gallagher. As previously stated, the Tuggeranong flexible learning centre has been in operation for 10 years and we note that, although the building may have changed, the philosophy of delivering quality, flexible education has not. The key to this having not changed is the ease of access to the centre. Providing the Tuggeranong community with 10 years of quality vocational education and training is cause in itself to celebrate. Another need for additional celebration is the centre’s ongoing commitment to providing education to those who may have otherwise missed out.

Some of the highest numbers of people to have accessed this amazing educational facility are those in full-time work, whose working hours are not always flexible enough to attend more structured forms of educational facilities. Others include casual workers with increasingly flexible working arrangements, allowing them to study when it is easier for them, and parents with families to care for. This year alone, 900 students will, at some time or another, use the facilities of the Tuggeranong flexible learning centre to increase their skills and education, adding to the total of over 7,000 students who have chosen the centre as their place of learning.

These students, and the commitment of the Tuggeranong flexible learning centre, go some way to addressing the national skills shortages; so, too, the recent announcement by Ms Gallagher, Minister for Education and Training, of the additional $14.1 million in funding over three years. The ACT government funding to address skills shortages in the ACT now stands at $80 million per annum. In May this year the ACT government called

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