Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Time for accounting and accountability. Should the Catholic Church share the cost?

in the pulpit of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney

In the wake of the announcement that a Royal Commission will be held into the abuse of children in Australia, one has to ask:
How deep are the nation's pockets?

Some years ago I was invited to a small gathering at a small private hotel just down the road from St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.  This multi-story building was home to some of the priests attached to the Cathedral. However, it was explained to me that the main purpose of the building was so that wealthy business people could be schmoozed for donations.  At the time, much restoration work was being undertaken at St Mary's which was quite expensive.  The hotel, I was led to understand, was known in the Catholic community as Clancy's folly. 

Wouldn't it be a good idea to sell this property and donate the proceeds to the Australian Government to alleviate the costs of the Royal Commission into abuse - a great deal of which took place within the responsibility of the Catholic Church.  Alternatively, the Catholic Church could be billed for its share of the Royal Commission costs and it could go about schmoozing the wealthy businessmen once again in the private hotel for the money to pay the bill.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Still saving Ballarat TAFE - with the leadership and encouragement of Athan McCaw

For the last few months, I have been privileged to be part of a valiant group of people from diverse backgrounds and politics who have worked with one purpose - to save Ballarat's TAFE from the dire effects of the cuts (read vicious wounds) inflicted on our TAFE by Ted Baillieu and his cronies.  We have not, as far as we are aware, yet  been successful in our campaign.  We have not yet even considered giving up.  However, the year is drawing to a close. Our staunch President of the Ballarat Save TAFE Campaign has written to us to-day.  I love this letter from Athan and believe it needs a wider audience.  He has graciously given his permission for the letter to be published. Thank you Athan and Brett and everyone, particularly our Princess Sam, who have worked in such a positive and unified way to keep, for the citizens of Ballarat, a diverse and vibrant TAFE.  


Dear Committee Member,

This year has seen a massive attack on TAFE not only here in Victoria but now across the country with Qld and NSW making similar cuts to that which faces us in Victoria. So far we have been proud and strong with our efforts to raise the concerns that will face the residents of the Ballarat community, we have banded together in our concerns for the community.

Our efforts have not fallen on deaf ears just upon deaf actions, our concerns at the start were well founded. This government has no real plans for a sector that props up our community other than to cut funding. As time moves forward we are seeing the on-going fallout from a government decision based not on what the community needs but on fiscal constraints. 300 million out of the public TAFE system because the previous government left it as a mess is what they tell us -  but in the same token they are spending record amounts on government advertising 500 million over 3 years, budget blow outs but they can find funding to search for "big cats".

Quite simply we must go on. We are yet to see a statement on funding from the opposition and we are yet to see the full impact on students and skills. 2013 will not be a year of opportunity for tens of thousands of Victorians. It will be a year of unemployment growth. As those in training or were looking to training will have to move to unemployment lines while they attempt to save the 10,000+ required to skill up to gain employment, the system will be dismantled to a stage where it may never recover.

The new year brings on more issues for the Ballarat community as around 1000 TAFE students make the transition to studying at Mt Helen, more pressure on Buninyong Rd,  more pressure on public transport and more pressure on the students themselves.  Our fight is far from over.

As Chair I would like to thank each member of the community that has stood with us in the fight and each member of this committee for all of their efforts to date in taking the message to the greater community about the impacts of these cuts. As committee members I ask you to put the 19th November at 5:30pm in your diary and make an effort to attend the last meeting of the year.  We will have some drinks and nibbles to celebrate our end of year.

Next year in 2013 our Committee and our work will be crucial as the cuts become evident - please remember our first meeting back will be Monday 11th February 5:30pm at Trades Hall - to arrange a strong resolution for Ballarat Councillors to table in late February, early March to coincide with the bulk of the job losses, course closures and campus sales and leases.

In closing the fight is just we just have to keep fighting -  see you on the 19th.

In Solidarity and Friendship,

Athan McCaw

Chair - Ballarat SAVE TAFE Committee

Yours in Solidarity

Athan McCaw
UB & ACU Branch Industrial Organiser

For more on the Save TAFE campaign,

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ballarat : Sustainability & Urban Wellbeing Community Forum

Sustainability & Urban Wellbeing Project  
Issues relating to biodiversity, health, water and growth. 
Challenges and creating a shared vision for the future.  

Making Sustainability Affordable  
There are tensions between economic, social and environmental interests. 
What are the limits of our current economic system and are there alternatives?  

Nature and Health Connections  
Matthew’s interest in the relationships between nature and human health 
has lead to research in regional Victoria and abroad. 
Matt will share his knowledge of the benefits of contact with nature 
for mental health and social wellbeing. 

Population, Growth & Sustainability
Does Australia still need to ‘populate or perish’? What does population growth mean for Australia and regional communities such as Ballarat? 
More importantly, will population growth lead to an increase in prosperity?

Sustainability Indicators  
Measuring and monitoring society’s economic wellbeing, community health, 
and sustainability is increasingly important.  
The Great South West Community Report Card provides information 
on 27 indicators relating to 10 key issues. 

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