“We’ve got much bigger geographic areas to contend with and our families and students haven’t got transport systems which were (sic) adequate to make those connections well.
“Certainly from the TAFE’s perspective we’ll be going forward… looking at all the sensible partnerships we can put in place to offer a more seamless entry to higher education and to ensure that more families, more students can access it in an affordable way.
“In that journey I’m sure we’ll be talking with the likes of our regional university and others about what role we can all play there for mutual benefit.”
Mr Mitchell also said recent changes to the way TAFEs are run changed how GippsTAFE’s management structure works.
“Clearly there’s been reasonably significant reforms, if you like, in terms of the legislation guiding the TAFEs, and more particularly with the Education and Training Reform Act,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Obviously it is going to set the TAFE boards on a more, if you like, commercial footing, but with that goes responsibilities for the board.
“I guess my hope would be that our board will be able to clearly understand its responsibilities and obligations, undertake careful and detailed consultations with all of our various stakeholders including students and other, and actually improve the educational outcomes for our students.”
But Mr Mitchell said refocusing will not be easy.
“There’s no doubt that to enable all our potential students within Gippsland, wherever they’re located, we’re going to have to try to devise ways and the means for them to a actually enter that higher education area in an easier way and in a more affordable way,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Having said that, I’m not silly enough to think there’s a simple solution there, it’s going to require a lot of thought and a lot of effort but I am confident that by engaging extensively with all our stakeholders… we will be able to come up with some sensible mechanisms to improve that outcome.
Mr Mitchell is also president of the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund, chairman of the Gippsland Regional Executive Forum and a member of the Victorian Government’s Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Land Management Board.
He has also previously been managing director of Gippsland Water and chief executive of Latrobe City and Traralgon City Councils.