Association spotlight: Newcastle Teachers Association

Number of members 1343
President Sean Brown
Secretary Natalia Egas
Treasurer Rosemary Campbell

Our meetings We meet each Wednesday after Federation Council at The Beach Hotel in the suburb of Merewether. Every second meeting is a dinner meeting, with a guest speaker. Our Executive includes a Deputy President and a Vice President who are supported by our many contact positions, including a Publicity Officer, Women’s Contact, Casual Teacher Contact, Special Education Contact, Aboriginal Education Contact, Peace Contact, New Activist and LGBTIQ Contacts. This makes for a very strong team.

Newcastle is one of the most popular destinations for teachers in the state and our members are diverse in age, circumstance, experience and workplace environments.

All members from all schools are encouraged to attend meetings. School reports are an effective opportunity within a supportive forum, for members to share positive information and/or issues within their workplace.

Every year the Association runs a Welcome Bowls BBQ, seminars and Trade Union Training opportunities, a Public Education dinner, and an end of year celebration. If it is an election cycle, a “Meet the candidates” forum is also convened.

Members can connect to Newcastle Teachers Association via Facebook.

Our community The Newcastle metropolitan area is the second most populated area in NSW with 322,300 citizens. Located 162km north-northeast of Sydney, at the mouth of the Hunter River, it is the predominant city within the Hunter Region. Famous for its coal, Newcastle is the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, exporting 159.9 million tonnes in 2017.

It is a harbour city with plentiful beaches that are linked by the Bathers Way, a coastal walk that stretches between Nobbys Beach and Merewether Beach. The walk provides access to Bogey Hole, a convict-built ocean bath from the colonial period. Also, on the path is the 1880s Fort Scratchley, a historic site and a viewing point for spotting migrating whales.

The Association covers 49 schools, with Newcastle East Public School, a primary school established in 1816, the oldest state school in the area. It is also the oldest continuously operating school in Australia, and celebrated its bicentenary in 2016. Newcastle High School, which was formed by the merger of three schools, traces its lineage to a secondary school section initially founded on the grounds of Newcastle East Public School. There are two selective state schools in the area: Hunter School of the Performing Arts is a fully selective K-12 school and only takes students by audition; Merewether High School is a fully selective high school in the suburb of Broadmeadow.

Newcastle and the lower Hunter Region were traditionally occupied by the Awabakal and Worimi peoples, who called the area Malubimba.

Local issues The lack of resourcing of schools, including the maintenance backlog and air conditioning, is a big issue in the area. As is permanency, casual teacher working conditions, workload and the dismantling of our great TAFEs.

Environmental issues in our fast-developing city are also a concern. In particular, the effect of coal dust on surrounding school communities. The Association is very active with school and social justice issues and recent motions have related to refugees, special religious education, solidarity with our union colleagues, casual teacher working conditions and, students and teachers with disabilities.

Our focus Newcastle has a long and proud union history and the Newcastle Association has been a big part of this strong unionism. We are an affiliate of Newcastle Trades Hall Council, now Hunter Workers and we have been very active with the Change the Rules campaign and recent rallies in Newcastle.

After a brief flirt with the Liberals for the first time, the region has reverted to being Conservative-free again and the Association works hard to make sure that Labor is held to account.

Recruitment, federal and state election campaigns and, in particular, Fair Funding Now! are a big focus.

As is the promotion of our greatest asset; public education, which we celebrate through our annual Beginning Teacher Conference and Public Education Dinner, hosted with Lake Macquarie Teachers Association. Growth in attendance has increased each year with the 2018 Centenary Dinner being a special occasion.