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THE Victorian government has invested in a training vessel at TAFE Gippsland. The boat will be used to train the next generation of local marine experts.

Minister for ports and freight Melissa Horne today unveiled the catamaran bar-ba-ka – the Boon Wurrung word for porpoise – funded by the government’s $877,000 investment.

The 12-metre-long bar-ba-ka was built in Australia in 2015 and has since been upgraded with new water quality and navigation equipment to ensure TAFE students have access to the latest technology during their training.

It will be based at the Seamac Campus and used by students in maritime courses as well as training in laboratory skills, STEM and conservation – providing a pipeline of skilled workers in emergency services, conservation, commercial and recreational fishing, and for regional employers and government agencies such as the EPA.

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The bar-ba-ka replaces TAFE Gippsland’s existing vessel the Murray MV, which was built in 1946.

The state government made the investment through its Regional and Specialist Training Fund, supporting TAFEs and training providers in addressing gaps and meeting skills demands in regional areas.

Ms Horne said: “This is great news for TAFE Gippsland, maritime students and the Victorian industry – ensuring a pipeline of workers who have the skills needed to hit the ground running in a range of industries across the state.

“We have made a record investment in TAFE and training – and this project goes to show we’ll keep backing the sector to make sure Victorians have the best training and career opportunities.”

TAFE Gippsland CEO Grant Radford said: “We are the sole provider of maritime training in Eastern Victoria and the bar-ba-ka will be an important asset well into the future, providing an enhanced training experience for our students.”

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