Put Yallourn to good use: ex-TAFE leaders

Bill Carmichael and Ian Caines are disappointed that Federation Training may close its Yallourn campus. photograph bryce eishold

Bill Carmichael and Ian Caines are disappointed that Federation Training may close its Yallourn campus. photograph bryce eishold

A former deputy director of the Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE has called on Federation Training to retain or repurpose its Yallourn campus following reports it could close within two years.

Ian Caines worked at the Newborough-based campus between 1972 and 1998 and oversaw the institution's operations during that time.

He said he was extremely disappointed to hear the former Yallourn Technical College may no longer be used as a TAFE facility in years to come.

His colleague – Bill Carmichael – also worked at the institution and retired as a department head said he was "gobsmacked" to learn of the campus' possible closure.

"Having worked there for so many years and having worked with so many wonderful people, it is very disappointing if it's no longer going to be used as a TAFE facility," Mr Caines said.

"In its day it did have excellent facilities in the engineering, building, electrical, applied science, art, childcare and business study sectors so to hear it might close is so disappointing.

"The actual buildings themselves can still deliver all of the main trades that are delivered here in Victoria and in particular here in the Latrobe Valley."

News of the possible closure was revealed last week after Federation Training interim chief executive Grant Radford said the long-term future of the Yallourn campus was yet to be decided.

Mr Radford made the comments during an announcement the institution's Morwell campus would receive a $35 million upgrade.

"The Yallourn campus will continue to operate as it is until the new facilities [at Morwell] will be built," Mr Radford said last week.

"The facilities [at Yallourn] are not fit for purpose. It's changed in the way we operate and the way we deliver training since those facilities were built."

But Mr Caines refuted Mr Radford's claims and said it would "be a waste of money" to do away with the facilities at Newborough.

"The large workshops are located only in the Newborough campus so that's why I would like to see the retention of it because if not, it all needs very significant capital expenditure to build new workshops for the heavy trades," he said.

"It would need a refurbishment of the buildings and an upgrade in equipment but it still has the capacity to deliver quality education."

Bill Carmichael headed electrical studies and educational services at different times at the Yallourn campus between 1966 and 1996 and described the possible closure as "just plain crazy".

"We have a facility there that did all the trades and the whole TAFE system now has gone crazy. We had the best staff that you could ever ask for – really dedicated, quality people," Mr Carmichael said.

"The buildings themselves are substantial and should be re-purposed. If you gutted them you would have these huge cells that could be used for anything.

"I can't see how those buildings that are just concrete walls, how they can be dilapidated, they weren't even painted so I can't understand why they can't be utilised instead of building a new [campus]."

A Federation Training spokesman said the facilities at the Yallourn campus were no longer fit for purpose, costly to maintain and the delivery of training would be better served in a new facility centrally located in the Latrobe Valley.

"Training will continue from our Yallourn campus until new facilities are ready and the future use of these sites will be determined in consultations with community, industry and government stakeholders," the spokesman said.

"We'll be looking at what are the courses and the delivery we need to maintain in the Yallourn/ Moe region going into the future and that will be part of the consultation process."

"The need for better facilities, central access and a better student experience were clear messages from our community engagement forums in 2017."

In a statement, an education department spokesman said "both government and the TAFE are committed to ensuring the people of Gippsland have access to high quality, industry relevant training where they live that leads to employment outcomes".

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