House debates

Tuesday, 21 March 2023



7:45 pm

Photo of Cassandra FernandoCassandra Fernando (Holt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

One of the most important things in life is education. My mother always used to tell my brother and me that education is priceless and will serve you for the rest of your life. I couldn't agree more with mum, and I always took her message to heart. Education is also a core focus of the Labor Party and this government. We know that empowering everyday Australians with the priceless gift of education is what helps to break intergenerational poverty, increases employment prospects, increases Australian innovation, and maintains our status as an education nation. This is why I'm so proud of the Albanese Labor government's investment in fee-free TAFE and VET courses for all Australians across the country.

In my state of Victoria, there are more than 55,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places on offer in 2023. This comes after a crucial agreement between the federal and state Labor governments to address current skills shortages. This investment of more than $250 million will deliver a substantial boost to our skills and training sector. This investment will help support around 26,900 placements in the care sector over the next 12 months and address roughly 3,800 early childhood education and care places. It will also greatly assist my state in reaching its target of 64,700 new workers in the education, health and community service sectors by 2025. These investments alone are crucial to my constituents, as my electorate of Holt is one of the youngest in Australia. In particular, the demand for early childhood education and care is through the roof.

This agreement also directly increases the opportunities and participation of several priority groups including young people aged 17 to 24, those currently out of work or receiving some form of income support, unpaid carers, people with disability, some categories of visa holders, and women studying in non-traditional fields. There are many certificate III and IV courses available, such as the Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, which I completed back in the day. Look where it has led me! Another fantastic course I completed was a cert III in school based education support, which directly led me to volunteer at AMES Australia, an experience I will always cherish. Other great opportunities include courses in agriculture, community services, disability, mental health, youth work, cybersecurity, ageing support, allied health assistance and many more. As we know, this investment is targeted to provide tailored support and empowerment to various sectors of our community that require extra support to get them into the programs they desire. We are making this investment because this Labor government always puts people first and invests in them. We know it is the people who make this country great.

It is also important to realise that this investment does not happen in a vacuum. Everything is connected. These education paths will flow on to create positive effects on our economy.

Not only are those who obtain skills likely to find jobs with higher incomes and greater job security, thus helping to break up the gig economy, but it means there are more disposable incomes to spend in the wider economy, spending more in hospitality, in small businesses and in the community. When this investment is paired with the Albanese government's signature policies like the National Reconstruction Fund and the Housing Australia Fund, we start to see the wider picture. Education opportunities opened up by this investment directly complement other investments by providing skilled workers to kickstart our domestic manufacturing, again through the NRF, or by constructing more social housing every year through the housing fund. We are getting on with job for all Australians, so families like yours and mine are not left behind.