From Reconciliation Week to NAIDOC Week – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

From Reconciliation Week to NAIDOC Week – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Today is Reconciliation Day Australia. National Reconciliation Week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This year the theme is ‘Be a Voice for Generations’. In various States and Territories TDA members will be part of National Reconciliation Week events.

Colleagues in many industry settings are developing Reconciliation Action Plans to incorporate the insights of First Nations peoples. John Atkins, Chair of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) launched AICD’s Innovate Reconciliation Plan recently. In the May 2023 AICD magazine, Company Director, John stated “We will be far stronger as a society when we achieve reconciliation with our First Nations people”.

This Wednesday TDA is hosting our first online conference. Our opening session is about learning from the generations of TAFE Indigenous students and staff. “Indigenous Perspectives on TAFE: Creating inclusive and equitable learning opportunities” is the keynote session for TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity.

We are delighted to welcome Leanne Bell, a very proud Gangalidda, Birri Gubba Bindal woman and TAFE Queensland’s Faculty Manager and Reconciliation Action Plan Chair, and Peter Radoll, Anaiwan man from Northern NSW, Professor of Information Technology and Deputy Vice Chancellor People and Organisation, Victoria University as our keynote speakers. The lived experiences of both these TDA member leaders will help develop our understanding of the part TAFEs can play in learning from past and future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

During Wednesday’s keynote session, TDA will also launch a series of stories profiling First Nations people’s leadership in twelve individual TAFEs. Over the next six weeks two of these stories will be profiled in the TDA newsletter each week as we lead up to NAIDOC Week.

Only two days to go to TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity.  Engage with these important discussions about the economic and social benefits for a future Australia of improved access and equity.

The other nine sessions will dig deep into a range of topics including:

  1. Mental ill health in the student population and the impacts for educators
  2. Women, money and work
  3. Designing inclusive teaching and learning
  4. Foundations: A gateway for all
  5. Access and equity should underpin all decision making, including procurement
  6. Beyond problem thinking, to new approaches to strategy and action for inclusion
  7. Unlocking regional student potential through retention strategies and technology
  8. Getting the most out of your Disability Action Plan
  9. A panel to explore trades: breaking through stereotypes.

Wednesday afternoon (31 May) is a great opportunity to learn from others – take some time to think, reflect and engage with colleagues. Register here!

Equalising opportunity for more women to obtain support loans

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Loans Bill, introduced into Parliament this week, amends the Trade Support Loans Act 2014 to expand access to income contingent loans to more apprentices and trainees working in high-priority occupations.

The priority list will be updated each year on advice from Jobs and Skills Australia. If the bill passes this will see those who are trainees, in for example, aged care, disability care, and early childhood education eligible to apply for an Australian Apprenticeship Support Loan.

Trade support loans are interest-free, income contingent government loans that currently support apprentices in priority trade occupations with cost of living while they are completing their training.

Minister O’Connor said “The new Australian Apprenticeships Priority List will be responsive to new and emerging skills shortages, and will significantly expand the list of occupations that have access to the program. Importantly, the bill will extend eligibility to non-trade occupations for the first time – critically including those in the care sector.”

In the light of TDA’s focus this week on access and equity in our first online conference, TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity, this is good policy. In particular, good for women as these loans are now available in many female dominated industries.

As Minister O’Connor said: “By extending eligibility, the bill will assist many women, as women predominantly take up non-trade apprenticeships and traineeships. According to the latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research in September 2022, 76.8 per cent of women in apprenticeships and traineeships – that is, 95,335 women – are in non-trade occupations.”

Stories celebrate First Nations students and communities

TDA has curated a story collection, ‘First Nations Focus’, to recognise and celebrate the vital work that members nationwide do with First Nations students and communities to help them achieve their goals.

Australia’s First Nations people are renowned as story tellers. The power of story has been used for over 65,000 years to share culture and the challenges and triumphs experienced.

TDA members in every state and territory contributed to the First Nations Focus story collection. All the stories are owned by TAFEs and republished by TDA with their permission.

They’ll be launched at this week’s TAFE Opens Doors online event to coincide with Reconciliation Week. We’ll be highlighting two stories each week from now until NAIDOC week in early July.

First up are the stories of two First Nations achievers, Djuker Willis-Hart and Jennah Halley. Both are an inspiration for young First Nations people who follow in their footsteps.

Djuker Willis-Hart is a proud First Nations man who is using his experience and expertise as a walking guide to help his peers in his community build their own careers.

Djuker began working as a walking guide six years ago with wukalina walk in palawa Country/Bay of Fires. To continue building his career, he needed to complete a Certificate III in Tour Guiding with Tasmania’s public training provider, TasTAFE, but always had motivations larger than a qualification.

Over six years with wukalina walk, he has trained most of his colleagues and is now supporting them to begin their own Certificate III studies with TasTAFE. Djuker says it means a lot to him to see and guide others down the same path. Read more about Djuker’s story.

Refrigeration technician Jennah Halley is making her mark in a male-dominated industry. Jennah, a proud Aboriginal woman, accidentally fell in love with her trade. What began by helping her brother turned into a fulfilling career.

Jennah said forging a career in a male-dominated industry allowed her to provide for her family in more ways than one.

“My children are my biggest cheerleaders. I have three daughters and one son. Every year for mother’s day, I get a card and it says ‘My mum knows how to use tools’, ‘My mum fixes everything’, ‘My mum fixes people’s air-cons’. It’s about teaching my kids they can do anything and they know that mum’s doing what dads do, so that’s a big thing to my kids.”

Jennah went on to be crowned the Apprentice of the Year at the 2022 Australian Training Awards. Read Jennah’s full story.

Last chance to register for TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity – free online event this Wednesday

TDA is excited to be hosting a free online event this week – TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity – on Wednesday 31 May from 12-5pm AEST.  Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to the pursuit of access and equity. See the full program and register here

In addition to sessions on women, money and work and getting the most out of your disability action plans, we would like to draw your attention to the three sessions outlined below.

STREAM 2B – How to buy digital products and services that embed human rights by design,
Wednesday 31 May 2.45 – 3.45pm AEST

Andrew Normand, the Web Accessibility Lead at the University of Melbourne and Brigitta (Bri) Norton, Accessibility Lead for OZeWAI will run an interactive workshop on accessible ICT procurement. Some 18% of Australians have a disability. Like wheelchair ramps outside buildings, accessible ICT procurement ensures that IT services and products are fit for purpose and represent value for money.

Over recent years, awareness has increased regarding the importance of embedding accessibility within the ICT procurement process. The challenge now is to identify meaningful procurement practices which help ensure accessible ICT, without over complicating the process.

Learn how accessible ICT procurement can benefit everyone! If you intend to join this session, please complete the pre-event survey here

STREAM 2C – Beyond Problem Thinking: New approaches to strategy and action for inclusion and equity, Wednesday 31 May 2.45 – 3.45pm AEST

In this session, Lara Rafferty, Associate Director, Equity and Inclusion and Shelley Hewson-Munro, Manager,  Prevention, Masculinities and Learning from RMIT University will discuss their new Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Framework, which encompasses institution-wide aspirations and actions, and is responsive to compliance requirements, diverse issues and identities.

Discover how RMIT leverage evidence-based approaches and emphasise the importance of small-scale, location-based initiatives for building understanding and fostering a more equal and inclusive TAFE. This presentation aims to inspire, spark ideas, and call for collective action. By shifting from problem thinking to a solution-focused mindset, RMIT aims to create a more inclusive and equitable future.

STREAM 3C – Mental illness in the student population and the impacts for educators, Wednesday 31 May 4.00 – 5.00pm AEST

In this session, Brandon Taylor, Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Manager at TAFE Queensland will ask: Are more students disclosing and displaying mental health problems? How can we support and refer students who are experiencing mental ill health? Why and how can we maintain our boundaries? What are some simple proactive self-care measures that protect and maintain our own wellbeing?

Brandon will review the trends and data from Mission Australia Youth Surveys and reflect on some key elements of the latest report from The Black Dog Institute – Turning the tide on depression. The session will then be an opportunity to reflect on what this means for educators and practitioners and their personal values and purpose. Practical takeaways and considerations will be provided.

These sessions, along with a wide range of other thought-provoking discussions at TAFE Opens Doors: A focused discussion on access and equity, will provide attendees with valuable insights and practical solutions to address critical issues in education and beyond. TDA looks forward to seeing you there.

See the full program and register here.

TAFE spared from Victorian budget cuts

TAFE emerged relatively untouched in last week’s Victorian state budget that saw savings across portfolios and new spending largely confined to delivering election commitments.

Key features:

  • A total of $2.4 billion in funding for training higher education and workforce development.
  • $186 million to expand subsidised training including wider eligibility for Free TAFE and removing the once per lifetime limit on Free TAFE courses for some training pathways.
  • $90.5 million for subsidised vocational training across the system and a further $90 million for TAFEs to provide priority skills, job placement support, improve student wellbeing and to maintain high-quality workforces.
  • $3.8 million to review and update curriculum and assessment resources across the TAFE network.
  • $170 million to build new TAFE campuses in Melton and Sunbury, deliver a disability and student services hub at the Gordon, and upgrade the Community Health and Learning Hub at Bendigo Kangan Institute.
  • $50 million as part of the $170m Building Better TAFE Fund to deliver new and upgraded facilities including stage two of the Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre at Federation TAFE, a Clean Energy Centre at TAFE Gippsland’s Morwell Campus, and a Building and Innovation Design Centre at South WestTAFE.
  • $4 million for a new mental health training program.
  • $1.5 million to establish and deliver the apprenticeship Taskforce.
  • $10 million for free car registration for trade apprentices who rely on their vehicle for work.

$3.2m Victorian advanced manufacturing centre opens its doors

The Victorian government has officially opened its next-generation advanced manufacturing centre at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Heidelberg campus.

The $3.2 million Advanced Manufacturing Centre of Excellence is a partnership with Apprenticeships Victoria and will promote engineering careers to secondary students and boost hand-on training to entry-level engineers across the state.

It contains industry-grade technology in robotics, 3D printing, and computer design and will support a range of industries including biomedical, defence and aerospace and food technologies.

The Minister for Training and Skills and the Minister for Higher Education, Gayle Tierney officially opened the centre last week.

Education department webinar to discuss ESOS reforms

The Commonwealth Department of Education is hosting a webinar this week on proposed reforms to the Education Services for Overseas Students legislative framework (ESOS Framework).

Following the large-scale consultation with the sector in 2022, and the previous webinars conducted in March, the department is seeking further views on potential changes to the ESOS Framework.

See the two webinar times:

See the Discussion Paper

$2.2m available to help apprentices facing hardship

Apprentices in NSW facing financial or personal hardship are able to apply for the $2.25 million Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships program which opened last week.

The program will support 150 people with $15,000 each to complete their training and further their career.

The scholarship program is named in honour of the late Bert Evans AO, a passionate advocate of vocational education for more than 30 years. A total of 751 Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships have been awarded since 2014.

The NSW Government-run program offers grants of $5,000 annually over three years to help people overcome personal barriers to finish their apprenticeships and go onto rewarding careers.

Applications close July 21.

See more

Upcoming TAFE industry currency forums


Don’t miss out on the VET Development Centre’s Industry Boost program, in partnership with TAFE Directors Australia.

Join us for the VET Electrical Industry Forum on 2 June and learn from industry experts Gideon Perrott, CEO of NECA Education & Careers, and Chris Stark, Head of Strategy & Commercialisation, about the current and future needs of electrical contractors, as well as career opportunities that can be achieved through short courses.

Mapped to the VET Practitioner Capability Framework and ASQA standards, this forum will also discuss industry currency requirements for educators and prepare you to better equip your VET students for the future of work in the electrical industry. Register now.


Registrations are open for the upcoming TAFE Dental Assistant industry currency forum.

The industry expert for the Dental Assistant forum Jill Ford, is President of the Dental Assistants Professional Association. Jill completed her TAE qualification and delivered Certificate III in Dental Assisting after developing an interest in education.

The association works to find pathways to encourage Dental Assistants to pursue their careers both in and out of the clinical dental practice with continuing professional development. Jill has been managing a dental traineeship program in TAFE for the past seven years and looks forward to discussing current industry practice and delivery of programs with TAFE educators.

The online forum will be held on Friday 16 June from 2pm to 4.30pm AEST for the registration fee $150 inc GST. Further details can be found at TAFE Industry Boost – VDC. All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance.  Register Now!

Securing a workforce for the aged care industry

The federal government has launched a solution for the shortage of workers in the aged care industry with a new visa category that must accompany a labour agreement providing a fast-tracked path to permanent residency.

Visa applicants need a certificate III vocational course or higher to be eligible,  English language requirements at 5.0 IELTS level, and in this initial labour agreement, employment with Curtin Heritage Living.

Curtin Heritage Living Managing Director David Cox said “This Labour Agreement is a win for Curtin Heritage Living, our valued workforce, and our entire industry.”

“As providers of care to older people, Curtin Heritage Living and our industry peers will be able to benefit from a diverse and skilled workforce, supporting us to deliver the best possible care to the people in our homes,” he said.

Any innovation has its risks. There seems to be sufficient controls in place for this to genuinely be about providing security for those working in the aged care industry.

However, the Financial Review says universities can expect an upsurge in international students dropping their courses to get onto the cheaper, quicker and more assured path to residency under changes to the 482 visa.

Whether or not that will happen is unclear. However, the government will need to keep an eye on these developments so they continue to deliver the much-needed skilled workers for the aged care industry.

Study Australia Industry Experience Program – invitation to TAFEs to join

The Study Australia Industry Experience Program (SAIEP) is a national employability program. Since July 2021, SAIEP has engaged over 3360 students from 55 tertiary providers nationally, working in small, diverse student teams. These teams comprise international and domestic students located across Australia.

The SAIEP is a Study Australia Partnership initiative, involving Austrade and all state and territory study destination agencies. With delivery partner Practera, the program offers students a virtual internship project of 25 hours, completed over a two-week period, working with one of 357 employers.

The SAIEP was awarded the 2022 IEAA Excellence in Innovation Awards and received a ‘Highly Commendable’ award at the global 2022 PIEoneer Awards. Almost 90% of participating employers plan to recommend the program to their peers, and over 90% of students intend to include the experience on their CV to improve their chances of employment.

The opportunity exists for TDA members to participate in SAIEP by accessing low-cost placements in the program for domestic and international students. To learn more, please contact Beau Lease at

VET data streamlining program: What’s happening and what does it mean for compliance?

The way vocational education providers collect and report their training data is changing.

The VET Data Streamlining program aims to both increase the speed of data reporting and create a new standard to replace AVETMISS.

The current standard has helped shape the VET industry for 29 years, but has seen a number of bespoke reporting changes for different jurisdictions and is simply not fast enough for a rapidly-changing world.

These changes, a result of a collaborative process with providers including ReadyTech, will position the industry to better respond to current and future economic and industry needs – and better position the VET sector to respond to challenges, address skill gaps and seize opportunities.

To learn more about the VDS program and what ReadyTech is doing to support industry, click here.

Webinar to discuss value of micro-credentials in the digital labour economy

New Zealand colleagues are holding a webinar on June 22 on the topic of micro-credentials and their relevance for TVET learners and gig workers who find their work via digital labour platforms.

The webinar will present findings from research commissioned by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) on behalf of the Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

See the flyer and register here.

Australia-India conference to examine education

Readers may be interested in a three-day national conference in Perth in June that will look at look at the Australia-India market to explore partnerships on higher education and VET.

The conference is organised by the Australia India Chamber of Commerce (AICC) in partnership with the government of Western Australia.

It takes place 26-28 June and will have discussions, round tables, presentations, and business opportunities across eight sectors including education.

See more

Diary Dates

VET Development Centre and TAFE Directors Australia
Industry Currency Forums – Online
May to June 2023
More information: ElectricalDental Assistant

TAFE Opens Doors: a focused discussion on access and equity
31 May 2023 Online 12 – 5pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2023 Skills Conference
14 June 2023
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

TAFETalks: Innovations in Clean Energy
21 June, 2 pm AEST
Register here

Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) Conference
13-15 July 2023
Keble College, Oxford, UK
More information

32nd National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference ‘No Frills’
19-21 July 2023
RMIT University, Melbourne
More information

Victorian TAFE Association State Conference
TAFECreates 23
26 – 28 July 2023
Mildura, Victoria
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network 2023 National Conference
‘New Skills for a New World’
15-17 August 2023
Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2023
‘From Competence to Excellence’
17-18 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information

WorldSkills Australia National Championships and Skills Show
17-19 August 2023
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria
More information

National Skills Week
‘What are you looking for?’
21-27 August 2023
More information

Australian International Education Conference
10-13 October
More information

VDC World Teachers’ Day Event
27 October 2023 – save the date

2023 National VET Conference
2-3 November 2023
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
More Information

Australian Training Awards 
17 November 2023
Hobart, Tasmania
More information