Professor Leesa Wheelahan


National Tafe Day 2020

On national TAFE day we should celebrate the contribution that TAFE has made and continues to make to our community. It is a public institution that supports social justice and social inclusion. It does this through providing high quality programs that contribute to economic and social renewal, and through providing opportunities for individuals to build lives that will enable them to flourish and to live a life that they value. TAFE teachers continue to do what they have always done – provide high quality education and to work with their local communities to provide opportunities for all. TAFE is the anchor of Australia’s vocational education system, and of the communities that it supports.

TAFE does all this despite the best efforts of governments over the last 12 years to cripple it through marketisation policies that force it to compete with for-profit providers where the point is to make profit by driving down the cost of delivery. This has resulted in corruption and scandal and has brought the vocational education sector into disrepute. TAFE has been gutted by these policies and brought to the brink. Some state governments are reinvesting in TAFE, but they need to do so by building strong TAFEs with well-resourced and qualified teachers who can develop qualifications that support their local communities, industries and Australia. TAFE, as the anchor of its communities, will be key to rebuilding Australia after the pandemic – Australia should treasure its national institution.

Professor Leesa Wheelahan PhD

William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership

Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

University of Toronto