THE push to keep the Lilydale campus of Swinburne University and TAFE open continued at a protest rally on the site this afternoon.
About 200 concerned students and staff came together to speak against the announcement from Swinburne on July 6 that it would close the campus in mid-2013.
About 120 staff are expected to be made redundant as a result of the closure.
The rally was organised by the Australian Education Union, National Tertiary Education Union and Swinburne Student Union with attendees encouraged to sign a petition against the closure.
Click on the image below for our gallery of the rally.
Speakers at the rally included Yarra Ranges councillor Jeanette McRae, president of the Swinburne Student Union Mark Briers, AEU Victoria president Mary Bluett and state secretary for the NTEU Colin Long.
‘‘The Swinburne Student Union has a proud history of defending students and I am here to say we are not going to stand idly by, we are here to defend every student on this campus and every potential student that wants an education, that wants a leg up in life — we are not going to leave them behind,’’ Mr Briers said.
Evelyn state Liberal MP Christine Fyffe was absent but sent a statement reiterating she was upset by the closure announcement and that ‘‘the decision is Swinburne’s decision; not the government’s’’.
Liberal arts student Amie Watson of Healesville, the creator of the ‘save Swinburne Lilydale-Prahran campus’ Facebook page, addressed the crowd at today’s rally.
‘‘As soon as I started rallying I automatically knew how much this place meant to everyone. I instantly got so much support and so much help and it’s just amazing you guys have come out here to show everyone that we do care. We are students and we love coming here because of the atmosphere,’’ she said.
‘‘This place is seriously needed for the community.
‘‘Local high schools need Lilydale Swinburne. Lilydale is the perfect place to start higher education.
‘‘This is important and we do care and we are ready for people to listen to what we have to say as students because no one asked us and it is time that they heard.’’
The Facebook page now has more than 470 members.
Another rally is planned on the campus on August 8, when organisers hope to have 8000 signatures on the petition.
A rally against the state government’s cuts to TAFE funding will be held outside State Parliament on August 16.