TAFE Centres of Excellence; a good mechanism to foster partnerships – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

TAFE Centres of Excellence; a good mechanism to foster partnerships – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

As part of the National Skills Agreement negotiations, Minister O’Connor has signalled the establishment of TAFE Centres of Excellence. TAFE Centres of Excellence will focus on meeting key economic challenges in national priority areas of sovereign capability and Australia’s move to net zero emissions.

These Centres of Excellence will be partnerships between TAFE, universities, and government (that is, State and Territory governments as well as the Commonwealth). These sorts of models have been effective overseas. However, if they are to be successful in Australia then we will need to even the playing field between TAFE and universities for them to blossom and benefit industry and students.

Centres of Excellence are consistent with several of TDA’s TEN big ideas submitted to the Universities Accord consultation process. TDA recommended providing innovation funding in place-based compacts between universities and TAFEs, and funding compacts that must contain TAFE partnerships with a focus on industry.

Both recommendations recognise the importance of local responsiveness AND industry partnerships. These sorts of partnerships will be indispensable to successful Centres of Excellence.

Therefore, TAFE Centres of Excellence can foster linkages between higher and vocational education for students and industry partners. However, it continues to be essential for TAFE to have more agility if it is to lead solutions for industry with universities. And, therefore, the ability to self-accredit courses, like our university partners, is essential (TDA Big Idea number 9 to the Universities Accord).

There is significant progress occurring through the Universities Accord Steering Committee. There is a genuineness to engage with key stakeholders to tease out ideas. At the last meeting of the Steering Committee on Friday 26 May, Steering Committee members participated in various workshops, with small groups developing perspectives on a range of themes including equity, research, skills, regional, teaching and learning, governance, and sustainable systems. The Accord panel and Minister Clare were actively engaged throughout the workshop.

While there are a lot of moving parts in the tertiary education arena currently, the focus of many people on creating structures that will enable better partnerships between TAFE, universities and industry is a very positive one.

Next Monday I am delighted that my CEO piece will be penned by one of TAFE’s great leaders, Mary Campbell from TAFE Queensland. Mary will retire on the 30 June after a 36-year plus career in Queensland in public education. Mary is well known to many of you as the CEO of TAFE Queensland, the General Manager of SkillsTech, and also a TDA Board member. Mary will reflect on the highs and lows of her career in TAFE.

Thank you to Mary for sharing your insights next week. From the whole TAFE community and readers of this newsletter, we wish you well on your retirement!

Former school teacher and principal to head NSW education department

Secretary of the NSW Department of Education Murat Dizdar with NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, Prue Car.


Former high school teacher and principal, Murat Dizdar, has been named as the new Secretary of the NSW Department of Education.

Mr Dizdar began as a social sciences teacher at Ashcroft High School and was also principal at Belmore and Punchbowl high schools.

He arrived in Australia aged one month from Turkey with his sister and parents, none of whom spoke English. He became dux of Fort Street High with a near-perfect HSC mark and commenced a law degree at Sydney University, before switching to a teaching degree.

In her first decision as Minister for Education in April, Prue Car appointed Mr Dizdar as Acting Secretary, replacing Georgina Harrisson.

“With his commitment to equity and outcomes for all learners, his strategic direction and drive, and his home-grown knowledge of the Department and the challenges facing teachers, he was the natural choice,” Ms Car said.

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.

We have looked at the first four stories over the last two weeks and will continue to highlight two stories each week until NAIDOC week in early July.

This week we are looking at two stories that showcase the transformative power of education and training in empowering First Nations individuals and communities: TAFE NSW’s literacy program for Kinchela Boys and TAFE SA’s targeted training program for Aboriginal women in the mining sector.

TAFE NSW helps Kinchela Boys reclaim their education
TAFE NSW has partnered with the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation in Redfern to create a groundbreaking literacy program, aimed at helping the survivors of the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home reclaim their education. The program focuses on building trust, personalised goals, and integrating literacy activities with cultural and family history research. Through this two-way learning experience, the Uncles from Kinchela have been able to change their perception of education, with improved literacy skills and increased confidence. The program’s success has been recognised with the Community Partnership Award at the TAFE NSW Gili Awards. Read more

Targeted training helps Aboriginal women develop skills for mining sector
TAFE SA’s Aboriginal Access Centre, in collaboration with a NSW-based construction group and local job providers, has developed a pre-employment training program for Indigenous women seeking employment in the mining sector. The seven-week program, delivered in partnership with Oz Minerals in South Australia, equipped the women with key skills and confidence for roles at mine sites. The training covered various topics such as operating heavy machinery, working at heights, and WHS policies and procedures. All participants successfully completed the training and gained employment at various mine sites. This initiative reflects the commitment of companies like Oz Minerals to their Reconciliation Action Plans and providing opportunities for Aboriginal people in the mining industry. Read more

TEQSA CEO departs

The CEO of TEQSA, Alistair Maclean, has resigned.

TEQSA Chief Commissioner Peter Coaldrake has acknowledged Mr Maclean’s contribution. Dr Mary Russell, Executive Director for Regulatory Operations will be Acting CEO.

Mr Maclean was appointed TEQSA CEO in September 2020. Before that, he was the inaugural CEO of Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.

He was previously Australia’s Ambassador to Laos and had diplomatic postings in Washington and Bangkok.

TAFEs benefit from $15m Victorian agriculture grants

TAFE institutes are among the recipients of the Victorian government’s $15 million Agriculture TAFE and Training Fund.

A total of 13 projects were announced by the Minister for Agriculture Gayle Tierney that will help fund new curriculum design, delivery and equipment to embrace emerging technologies and incorporate Aboriginal agricultural knowledge and practices.

Among the organisations approved for grants is South West Institute of TAFE, with $2 million towards a statewide Agriculture Tech Skills Centre.

Melbourne Polytechnic will receive $1.4 million to integrate the latest technologies in education to remediate degraded land for agriculture, horticulture and conservation.

Other recipients include Wodonga Institute of TAFE, Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, Federation University, Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, and Gordon TAFE.

See more

TAFETalks: Skills development for the clean energy economy, Wednesday 21 June 2pm AEST

TDA invites you to the next TAFETalks, which will focus on skills development for the clean energy economy.

TDA will be joined by Eleanor Newby from Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), who will provide an overview of JSA’s clean energy workforce capacity study which will support Australia’s transition to net zero as well as some early reflections from JSA’s interim report to government.

We will also hear from three TAFE speakers – all experts in their field – who will present on the vital role that TAFE is playing in partnership with industry, in skilling the clean energy workforce. Ross Digby from Holmesglen Institute, Bill Mundy from Federation University and Shawn O’Sullivan from TAFE Queensland will discuss the barriers and enablers for TAFEs in terms of skills development to support Australia’s ambition of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and perspective in this fast-evolving field.

To register, please click here.

Jobs and Skills Australia to provide update on clean energy study

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) will hold a webinar this Thursday to provide an update on the Clean Energy Capacity Study and the overall state of the labour market.

JSA Director Professor Peter Dawkins will be joined by colleagues, David Turvey, Damian Oliver, Eleanor Newby and Cliff Bingham for the webinar.

The webinar will take place Thursday 15 June at 2 – 3pm AEST.

See more

Best wishes to Clare Sharp

TDA extends its appreciation and thanks to Clare Sharp, First Assistant Secretary with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, who is leaving the department.

Clare recently acted in the role of Deputy Secretary, Skills and Training, and is now moving to a new role in the Department of Home Affairs.

The very best wishes from TDA, Clare!

Farewell to Campus Morning Mail

The tertiary education sector will lose a valued and highly-regarded news outlet when Campus Morning Mail publishes its final edition this Friday.

The daily newsletter has been a key part of the higher education and VET sectors for a decade.

Stephen Matchett’s coverage has been insightful and entertaining, and will be missed.

TDA wishes Stephen all the best with his next endeavours.

Dental assistant currency forum this week

Registrations are still open for this week’s 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!

Diary Dates

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

Victorian Training Awards
18 August 2023
More information

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

NSW Training Awards
September 2023
Sydney Town Hall
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