Education Legislation Amendment (Victorian Institute of Teaching, TAFE and Other Matters) Bill 2018

Mr J. BULL (Sunbury) (17:40:24) — I am also pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the Education Legislation Amendment (Victorian Institute of Teaching, TAFE and Other Matters) Bill 2018. Before I begin my contribution I will say to the member for Essendon: do not stop with those incredible ideas and that enthusiasm that you bring to this place, because it certainly inspires us all. And I have no doubt that the ideas will just keep on coming.

This bill is about safety, certainty and ensuring that our schools and education providers are the very best that they can be. The Andrews Labor government is not by words but most importantly by actions creating the Education State. We need our registration bodies and government agencies to be reviewed and modernised constantly to ensure the best possible outcomes for our local communities right across the state. This government is committed to working hard constantly and consistently to bring in new bills, new laws, through this place to ensure a safer, stronger and fairer Victoria.

We know and we have heard this evening that teachers play an incredibly important role in our society. We know that students need to be supported through school and that they need to be encouraged, and of course parents, families and communities expect those in our education system to uphold the utmost integrity and professionalism in all elements, all aspects, of the work that they do.

The Education State, as we know, is being created, and we are ensuring that every child right across Victoria has the best opportunities. I listened to your contribution, Acting Speaker Graley, and I know your passion as the parliamentary secretary in this space. I certainly know how passionate you are to see every single Victorian student get the opportunity to be their very best.

The Education State is not just a slogan. It is about those new and upgraded schools; it is about access to the Campus, Sports and Excursions Fund, ensuring that no student misses out; and it is about the breakfast clubs and the free eye tests. There are a whole raft of measures that this government have implemented since our time in office to ensure that our students are supported within their school and therefore supported within their local community. We know that a student’s safety is incredibly important whilst they are at school, whilst they are anywhere in our community, and of course school plays such an important role in that.

What I am thrilled about is that since we were elected there has been a significant investment in education in my local community, with over $44 million to fund local schools, compared to just $1.76 million in the time of the former government. I would like to take this opportunity to put on record my thanks to my local schools, those hardworking principals, teachers, school council representatives and of course the broader network of parents and friends who we as local members see every day we visit our schools and who really make the school community tick. I am pleased to be part of the Andrews Labor government, which believes in our kids and is committed to making this the Education State.

The bill makes a number of important changes to our TAFE sector as well. I have heard a number of members discuss the importance of TAFE in providing opportunities to gain skills to those who want to upskill, retrain or get a new opportunity.

We know that through record investment in infrastructure delivered by this government we have in this state record growth. We are the fastest growing state in the nation, and we have a whole series of projects that are designed to keep Victoria the most livable state in the nation. We have projects such as Melbourne Metro, with those five new stations and 7000 jobs in construction. Other projects include the north-east link, connecting the ring-road to the Eastern Freeway; the 50 level crossing removals; and the West Gate tunnel.

All those massive projects create jobs, and we need to be finding the skills for people to work on these projects. This is why the TAFE announcement in the May budget is critical: it is ensuring that skills are provided. And of course we are making TAFE free. I have to say that since the announcement of free TAFE it has been an absolute pleasure to hear from local people in my electorate about the importance of having the opportunity to find a skill or to retrain. That decision is not based on how much money you have, and having a chance to gain this skill from 1 January next year is an incredibly important thing and something that as a member of this government I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

The bill, as other members have mentioned, will amend the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 to align the registration scheme for teachers and early childhood teachers with the scheme under the Working with Children Act 2005 for assessing applicants for a working with children check. It will provide for penalties for registered teachers who fail to comply with requirements to give the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) certain information. The VIT plays an important role in ensuring that our teachers meet the guidelines and qualifications requirements to be able to work in our schools. This is incredibly important for student outcomes, school outcomes and outcomes in the local community. The bill will empower the Victorian Institute of Teaching to share certain information with the secretary under the Working with Children Act 2005 regarding child-related work undertaken by applicants for registration.

I have discussed TAFE during my contribution. The bill will provide for a TAFE institute to merge with an adult education institution. The bill will also provide for the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority to handle complaints against various persons, bodies, schools and institutions. It will also require the Victorian Institute of Teaching to consider the wellbeing and safety of children, which I have mentioned, taking into account community expectations when performing its regulatory functions. In making a number of these changes there are related amendments to the Working with Children Act 2005 and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, minor amendments to the Public Administration Act 2004 and amendments to various university acts in relation to members of university councils.

Schools should be and are places of learning and places of discovery. Our teachers need to be trained and equipped to help our students to be their best and to enhance those individuals to be well-rounded, respectful citizens of our great state. The Victorian Institute of Teaching is an integral body which is charged with the registration and management of our teachers, and we need it to be a professional, modern and in-touch authority. The bill strengthens our education system and builds on and continues the great work that is being done to create the Education State.

What we know as local members, certainly as members of the Andrews Labor government, is that when you move around your community — certainly on the back of a budget that has made significant investments into local schools; investments that would not have been made if it were not for this government — it is an incredibly proud moment when you are able to confirm to your local school a funding injection. Whether it be $3.5 million for Sunbury Primary School or $10.8 million for Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School, they are really significant outcomes that actually change what a school can do in terms of capital and, most importantly, to create an environment that is well supported. That these are areas where our local kids are proud to go to and know that they are supported is something that I am incredibly proud of. That is a fundamental hallmark of course of the Andrews Labor government.

We know that we need our registration bodies to be the best they can be, we know that we need to ensure that our teachers are supported through that process, but what we also know is we need safe environments for our children to study and learn in. I want to put on record my thanks to the minister and his department for creating the Education State, and I commend the bill to the house.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Graley) — The member for Oakleigh.