A BALLARAT job training organisation is facing tough questions after the shock closure of its Geelong training facility, threats of legal action and the resignation of two board members.
The turmoil for BEST CD and BRACE comes six months after the amalgamation of the two groups, after the departure of long-time BRACE chief executive officer Christopher Carroll in November.
Students and staff at BRACE’s Geelong arts campus have criticised the Ballarat-based management over the shock closure of their site.
They said the closure was attributed to financial losses and the expiry of the lease on the building.
The Courier can also confirm that former BEST chief executive Ron Stone and former director Wayne Strong have both resigned from the board in the past few weeks and chief financial officer Andrew Henwood resigned about six weeks ago.
A group of Geelong trainers said BRACE was still taking enrolments just weeks before it announced the closure of the Geelong site, which would wind up operations in December.
As a result some students had been forced to withdraw from courses they would not be able to complete by the time the facility closed. Others had withdrawn because they were “disgusted” and some students had discussed taking legal action against the training provider.
The trainers, who wished to remain anonymous, said BRACE had put out a letter as to what refunds people were entitled, but amounts were being disputed.
Meanwhile, they said the roles of the 12 trainers and three administration staff who worked at the site had been left uncertain.
The trainers said there had no been consultation from the head office in Ballarat before it announced plans to close the campus and “zero” contact after.
BEST CD and BRACE announced a merger in March to avoid a “contraction in offerings” and to protect the array of services on offer and the jobs of the people who delivered them.
Acting chief executive Sue Cattermole, who is also the chief executive of a Melbourne-based training company Skillsplus – a competitor of BEST CD and BRACE – said the amalgamation had been going well and continued to offer opportunities for the community, but it was an ongoing process.
“During the amalgamation, BEST CD and BRACE have sought to streamline business inefficiencies focused on enhancing the quality of service we provide to the local community,” she said.
“During this process, a small number of roles within the organisation have been impacted and re-deployment has been offered where possible.”
Ms Cattermole the organisation’s current focus was creating efficiencies and working with stakeholders on outstanding matters.