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Petitioning Western Sydney Institue of TAFE

STOP budget cuts to Outdoor Recreation Course at Blue Mountains TAFE


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To Whom It May Concern,

I write to you today with a significant concern about the funding for the Outdoor Recreation sector at the Blue Mountains (Wentworth Falls) campus of the Western Sydney Institute (WSI) of TAFE. I would like to stress the value of the Outdoor Recreation course for the outdoor education and nature based recreation tourism sector in the Blue Mountains and indeed throughout NSW. It has recently been reported that given the current funding arrangement the WSI TAFE Outdoor Recreation Department will effectively be closed at the end of 2012. I am aware that no decision may have been made yet regarding this issue yet, however I remain greatly concerned about any potential change.

WSI TAFE has been a great supporter of tourism in the Blue Mountains region for a long time and a huge proportion of the guides who work in outdoor recreation in the Blue Mountains are trained through this institute (Over 90% of staff who conduct abseiling, canyoning and rockclimbing tours in the Blue Mountains were trained at the institute). The nature based recreation experiences that these guides provide are flagship experiences for the greater Blue Mountains region and if the Certificate IV and Diploma of Outdoor Recreation courses were lost it would have a significant adverse impact on tourism in this region. This course needs to remain open for the local tour operators who rely on the graduates. Without new graduates from the course at WSI TAFE, local tour operators will be unable to run their tours. There are simply no other RTO's who are able to provide the quality or quantity of staff that are required to meet industry demand in the specific skill areas available at WSI TAFE - specifically at the Certificate IV and Diploma level for technically based skills.

Outdoor Recreation is, without a doubt, an expensive course. The ratios of teachers to students are typically small, the course content is huge and the hours required to teach it are significant, furthermore the equipment required is not insignificant in cost. However, I am 100% of the opinion that the return on investment for outdoor recreation activities is worth twice as much (for all the reasons stated above, and) because it is so important for the health of our nation to have people recreating in the outdoors and doing that safely. I believe in the greater benefit of recreating in the outdoors, and I know that large numbers of the Blue Mountains community hold to the same values – hence why they choose to live here. Furthermore, outdoor recreation is a large employer of youth across Australia and anything that helps our young people to get jobs is a good outcome.

Finally, I would like to stress the quality of the graduates at WSI TAFE from the Outdoor Recreation Department. This is due to the quality of the teaching staff, their ethos, their investment in the students, the investment in the wider community and most importantly their commitment to delivering courses that the industry needs.

The loss of this course would be devastating for local adventure tour providers, but would also have a huge impact on the local community, various hard won and successful partnerships, and other outdoor recreation and education experience providers elsewhere around the state.

If you could make sure that my concerns are forwarded to the appropriate people it would be very much appreciated.

Also, if someone could let me know as soon as possible what the outcomes of the internal TAFE review will be for 2013 that would be great.

I thank you very much for your time in considering this issue.



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