Page 4156 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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programs have only just been reviewed and there is a range of changes underway in terms of subsidies and funding models.

I also note that the continued enhancement of the VET sector hinges on matters of quality and funding. We must maintain the appropriate level of oversight to all training providers, both CIT and private RTOs, to ensure either prevention or a quick response to unethical or unprofessional behaviour. We have seen recent concerns raised in this regard, in particular amongst a small number of international training providers. I was encouraged to hear the minister acknowledge in a recent statement that this is an issue.

On the issue of funding and money, I am talking about both federal funding chicanery and the cost for students to access quality programs and certificate qualifications. I appreciate that there is a fine balance in encouraging RTOs to engage with subsidy programs while also allowing them greater freedom to determine fees. The ACT Greens are keen to see the ongoing role of government bodies and oversight services in getting that balance right.

I would also like to wish all the best to the ACT trainees, apprentices and RTOs who are finalists at the Australian Training Awards: Hana Chapman-Speering, Hanna Darmody, Rachel Hounsell-Carey, Samantha Marks-Galea and others. I am sure that they will do the ACT proud, as other ACT finalists have previously done. As somebody said earlier in the debate, we certainly do punch above our weight in these areas. I believe that is a real and tangible result of our strong VET sector and our education system. I am pleased to support Ms Fitzharris’s motion today.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (3.59): I would like to thank Ms Fitzharris for moving her motion and I start by adding, as I think everyone here does too, our best wishes for the trainees, apprentices, employers and trainers representing the ACT at the Australian Training Awards tomorrow night in Hobart. I will have the absolute pleasure of attending those awards in advance of the ministerial council meeting to be held the following day, Friday, in Hobart. I look forward to congratulating them in person for their achievements and I will pass on the Assembly’s warm regards to them.

The ACT government has long recognised the important contribution of VET to our long-term economic prosperity and has been undertaking a number of reforms in the VET space. These reforms will make the system more responsive to the needs of students and employers and will help to ensure that the workforce meets the needs of the future with the skills for our economy.

In 2012 the government signed the national partnership agreement on skills reform with the Australian government. In signing this agreement, we committed to a high-quality transparent system built on access and equity which operates efficiently and effectively. The national partnership agreement underlines the importance of each jurisdiction in being able to undertake reforms that are best suited to its needs and economic priorities. While our commitments under the NP continue until the conclusion in 2017, I would like to take this opportunity to mention some of the milestones that we have recently achieved.

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