Page 4152 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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As the minister said yesterday in this place, we depend on apprentices and trainees in all aspects of our daily lives. It is interesting that elsewhere in her speech she talked about better industry engagement and the importance of closer stakeholder relationships. I would support those sentiments strongly. A reputable VET sector in which the community and industry can put their faith and trust is vital for a territory the size of ours. There need to be trust and transparency in the system for those receiving the training and delivering the training, and the general public also must have that trust, confidence and assurance.

When we plug in a toaster or turn on a tap, we want to know that the wiring has been installed safely and correctly; we want to be certain that the tap will turn off and on, and water will be delivered from a safe source. We take all of these things for granted in modern society, and we can afford to have that attitude because we know that there are qualified people responsible for delivering these services.

There are 100 RTOs in Canberra currently, all delivering certified training in one form or another and in one field or industry or another. I believe we have been fortunate—and I will stand corrected if it is not the case—that we have avoided the scams and scandals that have been attached to educational courses in other cities. Hospitality courses and trade courses have damaged Australia’s reputation as a training provider in some overseas countries and have caused many students to lose money and valuable time in gaining a qualification. As important as better industry engagement is, of equal significance is better service delivery and open and honest communication with apprentices and students undertaking training.

In Canberra we have one large publicly funded RTO, and that is CIT. I have been known to question quite strongly some of their practices and policies, their fee structure and their staff management. I have challenged them to explain why some courses are abandoned while others continue. But above all of that probing, I also believe it is vitally important that Canberra’s own Institute of Technology be the best it can be to deliver quality education and training, and it is incumbent on all of us in this place to ensure that it is and to help it get there and stay there.

Some years ago I fought to prevent CIT merging with the University of Canberra. The government at the time seemed very keen on such a merger. I said at the time that it would be disastrous for both institutions, and I am still of that view today. I am pleased that the merger did not proceed and I believe CIT is the better for it.

Ms Fitzharris’s motion mentions the new governance arrangements at CIT. The new board chair was appointed in July and I understand there are still a couple of vacancies to be filled. I also note the new board and governance arrangements for CIT Solutions. I recall at the time querying how the two would work together but I understand there is now a clearly defined responsibility pathway. I welcome the new arrangements and I wish the new board every success.

I trust and would urge the new board of CIT to satisfy themselves, as I am sure they will, that their students are happy in their training, and that they believe they are receiving quality education and are being well supported. I hope that CIT’s failings in not being as open and as communicative as they might or should be with their staff

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