THE dust is still settling on the collapse of Taree Community College.
Administrators and Valley Industries chief executive officer, Trent Jennison are working with Forster-Tuncurry Community College, Port Macquarie Community College, Camden Haven Community College and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to try to salvage for students the remnants of partially completed, government funded courses that were run at the Macquarie Street site in Taree.
However, what is not on the discussion table is the continuation of 14 courses offered by Taree Community College that were specifically for people with a disability, and that news has angered former support worker and Valley Industries employee, Yvette Wilkinson of Taree.
"It was supposed to be a happy story that our community college had been brought by another local company and saved after being forced to close its doors. Jobs saved, courses saved but here's where it turned sour in my mouth," Yvette said.
Yvette, who worked at Valley Industries for more than five years said the goals and objectives of Valley Industries "used to be to employ people with disabilities ... help teach them life skills ... help them be integrated into the so-called 'normal' society' and help them feel like they belong."
But according to Yvette, the decision of Valley Industries to not continue the courses at the site means that people with a disability are "basically back out of 'normal' society and back in the corner".
"All the hard work we have done over the years to bridge the gap and stop the stigma attached to people with disabilities, and the so-called leader of a company made for the guys, undoes that in one statement," Yvette said.
"See what happens when it's all about the money and not the cause."
Taree Community College offered 14 courses specifically for people with a disability and according to its course book, they were designed to teach students "new skills in a safe, helpful, adult and community education environment". According to Mr Jennison, about 35 people with a disability attended Taree Community College to participate in those courses.
The courses were Basic Food Preparation, Basic Maths, Culture and Cooking, Digital Photography, Feel The Rhythm, Get Connected, InterActive White Board, Movie Maker, My Community, Relax and Feel Good - for People with Disability, Second Time Around, Tai Chi Breathing for People with Disability, Unleashing Creativity - Art and Craft and Yoga for People with Disabilities.
Mr Jennison defended the decision of Valley Industries to not continue the advertised Taree Community College disability courses at the site.
"The dust is still settling on the Taree Community College mess and in the short term we are just trying to see how we can help people to complete funded courses," Mr Jennison said.
"Valley Industries is a registered training organisation and as such, offers numerous courses through Valley Skills for Life. The goal is to train, educate and integrate people with a disability in our community. That's what Valley Vintage and The Valley Coffee Spot is all about."
"Valley Industries currently offers a Certificate I for Employability and it is run at Valley Industries but the long term aim is for the Taree Community College site is for it to be used for disability education," he added.