Save Seaforth T.A.F.E.
A spirited rally took place in front of the Department of Education on Friday, February 11, to protest against the closure of the Seaforth TAFE, on the northern shores of Sydney. A crowd of about 100 people listened to passionate speeches in defence of public education, in general, and to save Seaforth TAFE in particular. It was pointed out that Seaforth TAFE is a "second chance perhaps the only chance" for young people to get an education in an area with a very high suicide rate. The closure of Seaforth TAFE was announced on August 19, 1999, with the Minister's approval. NSW Teachers' Federation members, students, staff, community members and the local member for Manly, Mr David Barr joined forces to form the "Save Seaforth" committee. The committee was successful in lobbying politicians — an Upper House inquiry reported in December 1999 recommending, among other things, that "the decision to close Seaforth TAFE in December 1999 not be implemented"; and that "during 2000 the Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE review its decision to close Seaforth TAFE, in light of the findings of this report, and that the review include extensive community consultation". Despite these recommendations, Seaforth TAFE college was closed on December 17, 1999. Since that time a 24-hour picket and peaceful assembly has been put in place outside the Seaforth college. A successful family picnic and BBQ was organised on January 10 with over 100 people attending. A rally on January 14, 2000, outside the Minister's office to present a petition opposing the closure of Seaforth TAFE was held. Well over 2,000 signatures had been collected — now, a month later, the figure is over 5,000. The NSW Labour Council promised assistance saying that "nothing will go in and nothing will go out" of the college. The Seaforth TAFE students and courses have been transferred to Brookvale TAFE — but according to teachers Brookvale cannot provide adequate facilities and courses for the Seaforth students. As Ms Jennifer Leete, Deputy President of NSWTF points out, "While well resourced science laboratories and computer rooms remain unused at Seaforth, TAFE students are being asked to walk 2km from Brookvale TAFE to Freshwater High School to use classrooms, laboratories and equipment there". Disabled students who were fully catered for at Seaforth have no special access provision at Brookvale TAFE. Three fully resourced computer rooms stand vacant at Seaforth TAFE while there are waiting lists of students for information technology courses at Brookvale TAFE. While developers are circling around a lucrative piece of public property - - Seaforth TAFE, teachers, students and the community are firmly committed to defending public education.
* * *See the Save Seaforth TAFE website: http://www.save-seaforth.org