Auswide Projects closes training programs

Auswide's Merimbula training centre.

Auswide's Merimbula training centre.

Auswide Projects has announced further redundancies as the organisation closes its training programs and attempts to find placements for the hundreds of students on its books.

Board spokesperson Libby Hepburn confirmed Auswide is making “all efforts to transfer students currently undertaking courses with Auswide to other training providers”.

Ms Hepburn said merger talks had broken down with a large training provider and Auswide was hoping to place students from the Skills Sets, Vocational Qualifications, Short Course and Traineeships programs with a range of other service providers.

Around 250 students are affected by the closure.

“Government funding models have changed and we have also had a significant contraction of business over the last 18 months due to changes in Government policies and the inability of Auswide to secure renewal of current contracts or secure new business,” Ms Hepburn said.

“Up until two weeks ago we hoping to merge all over our services with one large organisation and continue the programs but unfortunately this hasn’t happened.

“Staff will be staying on to oversee the transfer.”

Ms Hepburn would not confirm the name of the organisation Auswide had been in merger talks with.

Also affected is Auswide Childrens Services which runs after school and vacation care services for children at Merimbula Public School using Auswide staff.

“We are in talks with Bega Valley Shire Council and local schools to try and keep programs running,” she said.

However, if a new provider cannot be found the program will have to close its doors.

Auswide Projects has been in financial trouble since January 2014 when it announced it had retrenched 16 staff (BDN 31/1/14).

In July Auswide let go of its CEO Kevin Stevens, who had been with the organisation with over 20 years, in order to trim its budget (BDN 15/7/14).

Auswide Project's workforce had already been halved to under 50 staff by July.

The board is in discussions with several organisations and Commonwealth and State Governments to secure the transfer of some current contracts/services and associated staff.

“This is not want we wanted to happen and we are not alone in this situation,” Ms Hepburn said.

“Both governments, State and Commonwealth, have been consolidating training and social services funding to larger service providers and excluding smaller ones like Auswide.

“This is a tragedy for us because Auswide was about a local organisation providing services for local people, this is a difficult situation and we are trying to cope with it the best we can,” Ms Hepburn said.   

“Meetings have been held with staff directly impacted regarding the developments.

“We have been working hard to minimise the impact of these decisions.”

Auswide has been a major employer in the Far South Coast for many years and 2013 completed a purpose-built skills training centre in Merimbula.

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