The recent inquiry into the Federal VET Student Loans Bill 2016 had strong submissions from the performing arts sector and peak agencies arguing for consultative, evidence-based selection of vocational courses that would still have student loans attached to them and citing the ‘valuable contribution to society – and the economy – that is made by the creative and performing arts sector’ (Mark Matthews, Sydney Theatre School submission).
It appears that a number of the diplomas may be reinstated because of this case by case lobbying action by training and industry organisations. Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, has met with a range of arts representative in the last month, but is yet to confirm if he will make exceptions or changes to the current course eligibility list.
In a late night decision at the last parliamentary sitting for the year, the following amendment to the VET Student Loans Bill 2016 was endorsed by the House and passed. The second reading amendment was moved by Senator Hanson‑Young on behalf of the Australian Greens and added at the end of the motion was:
“but the Senate calls on the Government to recognise the importance of the Australian arts industry and community by giving greater representation to artistic and creative courses on the VET student loans eligible course list.”
‘Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens arts spokesperson has confirmed the party’s commitment will continue when parliament resumes in 2017’, wrote the National Association for Visual Artists (NAVA) in its media release last week.
The finalised regulations are expected to be released by the end of this year which doesn’t provide the sector with any confirmation prior to Christmas. ‘A review of the regulations is expected to be launched by the Minister in February with those findings likely to lead to further changes mid 2017’ writes AMPAG. We will watch that space with interest.
This has, again (and despite sector-wide exhaustion and disappointment), been a truly all-of-arts effort to educate government and the broader community about how we work, the integrated environment in which we work, and the value of what we do for our society. Keep up the good work everyone!