Association Spotlight: Wagga Wagga Teachers Association

Number of members: 491
President: Michelle McKelvie
Secretary: Kristil-Rae Mobbs

Our meetings Attendance varies with workload and the pressure of work throughout the year. We generally have attendance of between five to 10 members. We run a smooth meeting, getting through the agenda in about an hour, unless schools have business they would like to discuss in more detail.

We generally hold a welcome dinner at our first Association meeting of the year and then again at the end of the year. Our meetings offer nibbles and great company. We try to recruit by word of mouth; however do not succeed very well. Our meetings are 4.15pm on Tuesdays after Council and held at NSW Teachers Federation’s Wagga Wagga regional office.

Our community Wagga Wagga is set on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River on Wiradjuri land. It is the largest inland city with an estimated population of more than 64,000 people. According to the 2016 census, Wagga’s median age is 35 with 5.6 per cent of the population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The median monthly mortgage repayment is $1517 with the weekly median rental payment being $265.

Wagga is home to a RAAF base, army base and Charles Sturt University. We have three public high schools, 19 public primary schools, three SSPs, one central school and one Environmental Education Centre. Both the state and federal electorate are traditionally very safe Coalition seats. Last year, the long-standing state Liberal Party member Daryl Maguire resigned from Parliament in 2018, amid corruption allegations. After a by-election in September, independent Joe McGirr was elected and then re-elected at the recent state election. The association is hoping that education in Wagga will now be a higher priority for local politicians.

Our challenges A new primary school is planned to be built in the suburb of Estella during the next two years. Despite efforts from the local teachers association, we have not yet been invited to be part of the planning process.

There are a lot of university graduates from Charles Sturt University, however, they move on to other teaching areas and we still have issues attracting casual teachers, especially as the good teachers get temporary work.

Our teachers The WWTA has 75 per cent female membership with the largest age demographic being 30 to 39 years of age, closely followed by the age bracket of 40-49. Males represent 25 per cent of the membership with the largest demographic being males aged between 40 and 49 followed by males aged 30 to 39.

Our focus We are trying to boost appreciation of the association in the wider teaching community, especially in relation to pro-active events to show we do not just respond to negative activities. With the federal election coming up, we are going to inform the communities of the political parties that will benefit education by supporting the Fair Funding Now! and Stop TAFE Cuts campaigns.

As we have had some movement politically, we are hoping to make education a priority for our area. We have some good media contacts at the moment, doing some great stories. We are also building a stronger executive, working together to move the association forward.

Our achievements Through our involvement in the Fair Funding Now! campaign, we utilised media contacts to land on the front page of the local newspaper. We had a lot of involvement with the “Do Your Block” element of the campaign and hope to continue to make the community more aware of how we could benefit if we choose the right politicians.