An industry wide appeal has succeeded in having TAFE NSW’s decision to ban the sale of two text books, Practical Optical Dispensing and Practical Optical Workshop reversed.
On 25 January 2018, TAFE NSW had advised that it “will not accept any external purchase orders for these textbooks”, reserving them for students of TAFE NSW only.
The text books, written by David Wilson, had previously been available to the wider industry for years. James Gibbins and Chedy Kalach, directors of The Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD), said they were “outraged by the sudden decision” to withdraw the books. “Withdrawing the availability of the text books without warning at the start of the academic year would have had a serious and damaging impact on the studies of hundreds of trainee dispenser students around Australia and New Zealand,” said Mr. Kalach.
Mr. Gibbins said it would have been enormously disruptive to the delivery of non TAFE NSW courses. “It would have meant that all non-TAFE NSW registered training organisations in Australia and New Zealand, which have used and promoted the text books to deliver the Optical Dispensing Qualification Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing, would have had to source new text books, then re-write curriculums and lecture materials– an impossible task within such a short period of time.”
Mr. Kalach and Mr. Gibbins, supported by industry members from Australia and New Zealand, mounted an “urgent appeal in response to the TAFE NSW announcement”, which was unsuccessful. “We then presented a letter of appeal, endorsed by industry associations, organisations and individuals, to the relevant NSW State Ministers in the hope that the action by TAFE NSW could be reversed,” said Mr. Gibbins.
“Our appeal was based on various factors including the sudden disruption to trainee optical dispensers and their courses. The text books had previously been available to the wider industry for years, many of the unpaid contributors to the text books believed they would always be available to the wider industry, and the most recent editions were funded by a private industry group.”
He said ACOD received “huge support for the appeal” from individuals as well as organisations including the International Opticians Association, the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association (VIC), the Association of Dispensing Opticians New Zealand, OptiBlocks New Zealand, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Eyeline Optical New Zealand.
Resources Available for a Limited Time
Mr. Gibbins said, “Following consultation between the Ministers’ Offices, TAFE NSW and ACOD, TAFE NSW agreed to reverse its earlier decision immediately, and offered both text books to all other Optical Dispensing colleges, book wholesalers and individuals wishing to purchase them.”
A spokesperson from TAFE NSW told mivision, “TAFE NSW has reviewed its decision and, as a result, has decided to make the text book available to non TAFE NSW students during 2018.
“This decision was driven by our consideration of the potential impact on students; i.e. the impact on students at other registered training organisations (RTOs) if those RTOs do not have sufficient resources to develop materials for their students. However, in a competitive VET market, TAFE NSW does not consider that it is appropriate or reasonable, on an ongoing basis, to provide its resources to competitors in circumstances where TAFE NSW has invested significantly in its materials.”
The spokesperson said future editions of the resources would not be made available to third parties. “TAFE NSW will be reviewing its textbooks in 2018 and is intending to update these resources for use in 2019. TAFE NSW does not intend to provide these materials to third parties.”
An email to ACOD from the Head of Government Relations TAFE NSW Deputy General Counsel confirmed that the resources will remain available until 30 June, 2018, however a time frame for delivery of the many back orders outstanding from 2017 would be two to four weeks from 9 February.