TAFE's limbo is an utter disgrace

Weeds and decay are already starting to show at the deserted Tewantin TAFE site.
Weeds and decay are already starting to show at the deserted Tewantin TAFE site.

NEXT month is 12 months since the previous LNP government closed Tewantin TAFE.

Today, the multi-million dollar building, located in a forest of towering white scribbly gums on Noosa-Cooroy Rd, lies abandoned with an unclear future.

The TAFE, built in 2006 with an arts-based focus, is a showcase of green values, from the sort of materials used, to the recycling of water from the roof to the tanks and climate control features.

At the time, environmental care extended to a Noosa conservation group raking away the top soil and replacing it once construction was completed to ensure the seeds of original native plants would not be lost.

At its inception, 714 students walked up the long tree-flanked drive into the architect-designed setting of three modern, pavilion- style structures, for classes that included courses in visual arts, ceramics and music.

By 2013, numbers had dropped to 265 students.

Some people, including Noosa MLA Glen Elmes, blame the decline on the arts-based curriculum.

Mr Elmes believes courses need to be more employment- orientated, with a community focus. But at the moment, the syllabus style is not up for debate.

In their election campaign, the Labor Government promised a turnaround in the skill training section.

Last month they introduced a bill to parliament that would return the ownership of all state training facilities back to the government.

Minister for Training and Skills, Yvette D'Ath said the bill would be the first step in bringing back the TAFE to the community.

However, Mr Elmes said he was looking forward to seeing how TAFEs such as Tewantin, which have been closed, will fare.

He said he had been well on the way to selling the Tewantin TAFE to Noosa Council for $1.8 million, but the process stalled due to the election.

He said the footprint of the TAFE building could not be changed because of environmental concerns - which meant it could not realistically be sold to anyone other than council.

He said he would like to see the TAFE reopen with meaningful courses.

"I would like a job creation centre," he said. "We need to identify the jobs we want in Noosa community."



DO YOU think that having a multi-million dollar facility that was once a state-of- the-art training and educational facility left lying to rot in our backyard is really smart use of ratepayers' money?

Noosa Council believes, for a prudent investment, it can transform this ecologically significant site into a landmark learning centre once again, generating jobs and preparing locals, especially young high school leavers, into highly qualified members of the workforce.

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