Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong) [5.52 p.m.]: The 2006 Illawarra Institute Awards evening was held recently at the Wollongong campus of Illawarra TAFE. I am pleased to inform the House that I was in attendance at these awards, representing the Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, Minister for Education and Training. I had the pleasure of meeting Sandra Yates, the Chair of the TAFE Board and Marie Persson, the Deputy Director General of TAFE. I also had the pleasure of the company of the Board of Adult and Community Education for the evening. TAFE fulfils many different roles for many different people. TAFE is training our next generation of child care workers and our community workers. TAFE is training apprentices that the New South Wales economy so desperately needs to keep our businesses and our local communities competitive now and in the future. Good vocational education and training relies on government, industries, training providers, employers, students, their families and communities working together. Institutes like the Illawarra TAFE provide excellent examples of how communities are able to work together to get the results that they need.
The Illawarra Institute plays a vital role in offering quality-endorsed qualifications to 40,000 students in a year. TAFE is involved with the Illawarra Business Chamber in a local Illawarra apprenticeship scheme and is constantly working with local industry and employers to find better ways to support their training needs. The evening was all about coming together to celebrate the achievements of students and staff at the Illawarra Institute. Our high-achieving students are excellent role models within industry and the community. These students give a higher profile to the Illawarra Institute, which in turn increases industry confidence—a confidence that is essential if we are to successfully attract development and business to the Illawarra region. Industries can locate in the region, knowing that high-quality training services exist to meet their needs.
To be awarded a State medal is indeed a remarkable achievement. A State medal recognises an individual's academic excellence. This standard of excellence is achieved only through commitment, hours of work and a determination to succeed. I have to say it was an honour to present a total of nine State medals. The recipients were Suzanne Shaw for financial services, Paul Thompson for hospitality management, Leanne Martin for remedial massage, Amanda Kezovski for architectural technology, Kevin Findlow for automotive, mechanical light vehicle, Jay Benjamin for automotive, mechanical heavy vehicle mobile equipment, Wayne Amour for automotive, mechanical heavy vehicle road transport, Caroline Griffiths for civil engineering, and Nathan Davison for surveying. The evening was also an opportunity to pay tribute to staff that have made an important contribution in assisting students to achieve. An incredible amount of commitment, persistence and skill is required of TAFE staff on a day-to-day basis. It is an honour to recognise many of the outstanding achievements that have been made by staff in 2005.
I also formally acknowledge the input and support of employers, community members and local businesses such as HATCH, Leisure Coast Copiers—Toshiba, the Illawarra TAFE Student Association, Bunnings Wollongong, Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Ltd, Hewlett Packard Australia, Illawarra Group Training, the Illawarra Mercury, the Illawarra Regional Development Board, Stockland Shellharbour and Wollongong City Council, who all played a vital role in the success of the students at the 2006 Illawarra Institute Awards, along with the everyday support of family, carers and friends. Working together, these groups are giving people the opportunity to develop their skills, confidence and motivation. Education is the key to our future. Through education we can empower people to achieve their goals, allow individuals to make informed choices about their future and ensure a strong economy. I congratulate all the student winners this year and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
I again acknowledge the commitment to young people of the New South Wales Iemma Government. I note, however, the Federal Government's failure to invest in the future of Australia by supporting New South Wales, particularly Wollongong, its failure to recognise a potential shortage of skills that currently exists, and its failure to invest appropriately in TAFE colleges. I condemn the Federal Government's determination to establish new colleges instead of contributing sound and solid investments in existing TAFE colleges, teaching staff and those who are involved in directing and guiding our young people. The Federal Government's performance is a shame. Nevertheless, I congratulate Illawarra TAFE, its teachers, staff and students on their wonderful achievements. The Wollongong area is all the better for their efforts.