Page 1104 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (11.55): I rise to speak in support of Ms Porter’s motion on the CIT as a provider of high quality and responsive training for its students, employers and the broader ACT community. I am happy to talk up the work of the CIT and, at least on this side of the chamber, continue to have a conversation about how we can make the CIT even better.

Today is also the National Union of Students national day of action, an ideal opportunity to talk about how important public education institutions like CIT are and how well CIT supports both our local economy and, importantly, our local community. I often hear Canberra referred to as a uni town, but for someone who did not spend a lot of time at uni, I am aware that it is not always a pathway for all careers and it is not always the right choice for people to be looking to build the skills they need to get a good job. With the increasing cost of university, it is not always a choice for some people, whether that is because of commitments to work or family or because of the cost of retraining to shift careers.

I believe all Canberrans should have a chance to learn throughout their lives, and I know that public education from early childhood through to our adult lives lets all Canberrans, regardless of how much they earn or what they do for work, find new careers and imagine new experiences. A well-funded public TAFE system, of which the CIT is the ACT’s sole provider, allows more Canberrans to access skills, education and training opportunities.

Institutions like CIT play an important role in our community. They offer everyone, regardless of their academic skills, the opportunity to engage in learning. For me, they have offered the chance to imagine new options throughout my working life. When I left school without any idea of what I wanted to do, I took a course which was then known as secretarial studies. When I decided I wanted to do more than hospitality, I took computer training and management courses. When I moved to work with United Voice, I undertook vocational training to learn the skills I needed to help people organise and speak up for themselves. These courses provided me with vocational skills that have prepared me well for my current role here in the Assembly. Throughout my life I have also done what many Canberrans do—I took vocational courses for the fun of learning. Whilst I will never make out a career in photography or Spanish, the courses I took mean I can still enjoy having a very basic chat with Spanish speakers in our community.

Vocational training has played an important role in my life, and CIT will continue to play an important role in our community for years to come. It is the future of vocational education and training in the ACT, both as our public provider and as our largest registered training organisation. Countless careers are supported by CIT, including jobs in hospitality and tourism, youth work, and early childhood education, as well as traineeships and apprenticeships in a range of trades, such as carpentry, electrical, hairdressing, plumbing and many more.

To highlight the important and influential role that institutions like CIT play in our community, I will consider the example of early childhood educators. We all know early childhood educators play an important role in the development of our children.

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