Hawkesbury protests closure of TAFE equine courses

Members of Hawkesbury’s equine community rallied outside Richmond TAFE on 11 February to protest the proposed closure of equine courses at the campus.

Richmond TAFE students face the prospect that all equine courses will close by mid-2022, with some students already being informed by TAFE management that their enrolments have been cancelled. Twelve TAFE staff will lose their jobs if the proposal goes ahead.

Federation members, alumni and current TAFE students, local horse trainers and stakeholders in the industry present at the rally heard from federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman, NSW Shadow Minister for TAFE Tim Crakanthorp, Federation Deputy Secretary (Post Schools) Phillip Chadwick, several current and former students and a local horse trainer.

Local Federation members have expressed concern for their students and the future of the multi-million-dollar local equine industry after the announcement to close all equine courses at Richmond.

With these courses scrapped, teachers are worried the viability of the Richmond campus may be put in doubt, and lead to the closure of the college.

Federation members’ concerns stem from the Government’s ignominious record of closing and/or selling off colleges in rural and regional areas across NSW, including Scone, Bega, Dapto and Quirindi, since it came to office in 2011.

Richmond TAFE equine studies teachers and support staff provide critical theoretical and practical skills to students. These teachers are consummate professionals in their industry and the training they provide ensures that students are not only work-ready but can safely work in high-risk environments.

Historically, equine courses have had strong enrolments but in recent years, these courses have been “white anted” and progressively axed as severe funding cuts have ensued from the NSW Government’s dysfunctional vocational education policy.

TAFE NSW management decisions and roadblocks over several years have also worked to stymie initiatives that would have otherwise allowed the equine unit to flourish.

TAFE is essential to a skills-led economic and social recovery, and this cannot happen if the Government continues its attacks on the institution.

It is time the Government recognised vocational education and training as an investment not a cost, and restore guaranteed and increased funding to TAFE NSW as the trusted public provider.