Association spotlight: Eastern Suburbs Teachers Association

Number of members: 1335
President: Katherine Arrowsmith, Double Bay Public School
Secretary: Ricky Drabsch, J.J. Cahill Memorial High School
Treasurer: Julie Ross, Kogarah High School

Our meetings Historically we meet on the Monday afternoon before Council. We’ve been meeting at the Coogee Beach Club for a number of years now. Eastern Suburbs Teachers Association has members with a wealth of knowledge and experience across all sections of teaching, from the beginning teacher, special education, EALD, casuals and temps through to assistant principals, head teachers and principals. We prioritise, devote time and encourage school reports and provide practical examples of how schools can deal with issues. We discuss local issues and organise what actions we can take.

Our community Eastern Suburbs TA is home to the Cadigal, Birrabirragal and Muru-ora-dial people of the Eora Nation. The area houses 45 public education workplaces in the area of Sydney bounded by the Pacific Ocean coastline from South Head at Lady Bay to Cape Banks at Little Bay, the northern foreshore of Botany Bay to the entrance of the Cooks River, the arterial roads of O’Riordan, Bourke and Southern Cross Drive from Mascot to Darlinghurst and the Sydney Harbour foreshore from Rushcutters Bay to Watsons Bay. It is the most densely populated region in Australia. The major centres and places of interest include: Bondi Beach, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Junction, Randwick Junction, Randwick racecourse, Coogee Beach, Coogee to Bondi coastal walk, Maroubra Junction, Maroubra Beach, La Perouse and its bays, Sydney Airport, University of NSW, Centennial Parklands and Moore Park. Local governments include Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, Bayside and Sydney. State electorates include Vaucluse, Coogee and Sydney. Federal electorates include Wentworth, Kingsford-Smith and Sydney. It is home to the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league teams.

Our issues Some of the major concerns facing schools in the eastern suburbs range from accommodating an ever-increasing student population in many schools while ensuring quality and varied educational opportunities and access to green spaces and playing fields for our students. Other issues include maintaining heritage-listed and old buildings, combating the insidious poaching of our students and staff by private and Catholic schools and their associated advertising campaigns that leave our Stage 3 classes bereft and some high schools stigmatised.

Our focus We are concerned with supporting our quality new and beginning teachers and service transfer teachers to fill vacant positions and teachers who are retiring. We support teachers through the massive capital works upgrades and school rebuilds program and ensure the new buildings and pedagogy not only meet the current needs but also the future needs of our teachers and students.

Our achievements ESTA has worked hard to promote social justice issues, such as highlighting the horrific impact of holding children in detention centres through Teachers for Refugees actions, highlighting the negative impacts of the Intervention on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, recognising the plight of the Palestinian People, gaining specific ongoing health funding for students in IECs and promoting women’s rights in the We Won’t Wait campaign. ESTA has researched, discussed, debated and submitted Motions to Council to advocate and agitate for these issues with positive outcomes. ESTA has also been a strong and consistent advocate for helping to make workload and casual and temporary teacher issues of high importance for Federation.

Attracting members ESTA has a proud history of activism and regular motions and questions are discussed, debated and taken to Council. We provide an afternoon tea and lucky door prizes for attendees. We engage in campaigns and consistently have delegations of members visit MPs and also hold actions, such as leafletting and protests. We also host Trade Union Training seminars and social events.

Special events On 12 March, ESTA held a Centenary of Federation Life Members and AGM Dinner at Coogee Legion Club where 12 out of 17 current Life Members attended. At the end of 2017, ESTA and Inner City TA held their now annual end-of-year lawn bowls competition, unfortunately won by Inner City TA.