Dear Victorians – we’ve seen what the Baillieu government have done to nurses, midwives, teachers in the primary and secondary sectors, TAFE teachers, TAFE funding and infrastructure, forestry workers, SES employees, CFA and MFB fire fighters… and coming up next month, ambulance officers, who are unlikely to get easier treatment than the rest of us.
Last year over 500 nursing graduates weren’t given funded placements to consolidate their training, the equivalent of a medical intern year. Without it the majority of these nurses are unemployable, despite completing a three-year degree and acquiring HECS debt. This although the average Victorian nurse is 42, and every authority forecasts significant global nursing shortages within the next decade – and current strategies of relying on overseas-trained nurses is both ethically and globally unsustainable.
In Victoria almost 1 in 5 of all teachers are on fixed-term contracts, including 47% of teachers five years or less post-graduation, and 44% of support staff are on fixed-term contracts – this not only restrictis teachers’ career development but their ability to future plan, apply for loans, and their capacity to make collegiate relationships – the cornerstone of collaborative teaching. It means innovative programs have no future, and that surely contributes to professional burn out – if I were Michael Stuchbery I’d find it hard to summon enthusiasm to re-pilot ideas over and over again, knowing doing so doesn’t guarantee ongoing employment, let alone career advancement (see here for an explanation of why Victoria’s teachers are taking action)
Without education our children have no future; without commitment to education, good teachers leave – this government cut $2.2 million dollars from public education in its first budget alone, and has slashed almost $300 million from TAFE.
Without quality healthcare we’re all in danger. In both these sectors a penny cut costs a pound to correct – compare preventative medicine with treatment, or TAFE programs with long-term unemployment, higher crime rates and a perpetuating cycle of poverty.
In two years, two months and two days (or 793 days) we go to the polls. We need to remember, and we need to remind the public – this can be, must be, Ted’s one and only term.