The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 14:37 :49 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing to the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills questions on the topic of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music at the Elder Conservatorium.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I have recently been made aware of a memorandum that has been sent from Professor Jennie Shaw, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, to all academic staff at the Elder Conservatorium of Music and cc'd too many others, dated 6 May, which states in part:
As stated in my email dated 20 April 2015 titled Notice to Staff of a Draft Change Proposal I outlined the catalysts for proposed organisational change to the Elder Conservatorium of Music as it has:
‘….Not been able to meet its allocated budget in recent years. There is now added pressure with the State Government's removal of VET funding effective from the commencement of 2015 which has resulted in the cessation of the VET program , as well as the diploma courses no longer being viable in terms of both costs , resourcing and insufficient student numbers …'
It goes on to say:
It is no longer feasible for the university to offer the current stand alone Diploma Programs from 2016. The programs not being offered in 2016 are the Diploma in Aboriginal Studies in Music, Diploma in Instrumental Music, Advanced Diploma in Aboriginal Studies and Music, and the Foundation Year Program. Current students will be given the opportunity to complete their studies within candidature times.
The VET funded positions will be disestablished from approximately 1 July 2015 as the VET program within the Conservatorium is no longer available due to State Government funding ceasing from 31 December 2014.
The centre's three stand-alone programs will no longer be offered from 2016.
It summarises that:
There will be job losses as a result of the proposed changes to the removal of VET funding and the cessation of diploma programs.
It also states that:
There will be a reduction in the number of staff within CASM due to the cessation of the three programs.
It goes on to say that indeed this will definitely see the loss of staff. My questions to the minister are:
1. What communications or representations have been made to or by the minister with the university with regard to these changes?
2. Did these communications, if any, include consideration of restoring the VET funding that was withdrawn from the end of 2014 and, if so, why was that course of action not taken?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:40 :21 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, I think in this place some time ago there were questions around the Elder Conservatorium and funding in relation to that. I do not have the details in front of me but if I recall they received some base VET funding, and they had for some time received additional interim funding. My understanding, if I recall correctly, was that it was to enable them to design and develop a business case for the ongoing future of that particular course. My understanding is that they were unable to do that and the interim funding came to an end.
However, to the best of my knowledge, they are still receiving that core VET funding. That is the only information that I can recall at this point in time. I am happy to look further into the matter and bring back what information I can. Basically, training and education providers determine the level of demand for a particular course and curriculum, and they develop a business case for that and determine whether it is viable or not for them to continue, and it sounds as if this is what has occurred. As I said, I do not have any details in front of me but I am happy to take that away and bring back whatever information I can.