Teacher shortages, the NSW Government’s lack of a plan to address these shortages, and the threat to sell-off local TAFE campuses are issues looming large in the State Electorates of Bega and Monaro.
NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos met with members in Bega on Monday 7 February and in Queanbeyan the following day, as part of a whistle-stop regional road trip ahead of the State by-elections on 12 February.
“The by-election on February 12 is an important opportunity for voters in Bega and Monaro to send a powerful message to the Perrottet Government. And that message is: ‘You do not deserve our vote’,” he said.
“Federation members in Bega and Queanbeyan are not impressed. They spoke of how State government policies had successively failed to reduce teacher vacancies in their schools and, in most cases, added to their already unsustainable workloads.
“Last year, hundreds of pages of secret Departmental briefings and reports to the Government were exposed that talked about teacher shortages and the causes of the shortages. These reports predicted that by 2025, the shortages will be in the order of 2425 vacancies.
“And we know that when there are vacancies, they impact first and most acutely in regional, rural, and remote NSW. The Department of Education’s own figures show that there were a staggering 76 vacant permanent teaching positions in the electorates of Bega and Monaro last October,” he added.
The trip also revealed the community’s deep concerns about the future of TAFE in the electorate.
“Unfortunately, the Government’s fire sale of TAFE campuses continues unchecked. To date, they have run rampant, flogging off all, or part of, 20 campuses across NSW, with another 17 earmarked for sale.”
Mr Gavrielatos said a recent uComms poll* gave the clearest indication yet that voters in these electorates are unimpressed with the Government’s performance when it comes to education.
The uComms poll found:
In the Electorate of Bega:
- 85.7% of people surveyed said they considered the future funding of local public schools and TAFE to be important/very important.
- 86% of people maintained it was important/very important that there was a comprehensive plan to address the teacher shortage and its causes.
- 84% of those polled said they were somewhat/very concerned about TAFE campuses being sold off, including Bega campus.
In the Electorate of Monaro:
- 72.9% of people surveyed said they considered the future funding of local public schools and TAFE to be important/very important.
- 76.3% of people maintained it was important/very important that there was a comprehensive plan to address the teacher shortage and its causes.
- 77.5% of those polled said they were somewhat/very concerned about TAFE campuses being sold off, including Queanbeyan campus.
“As you know the Federation never directs its members on how to vote or who to vote for, but we will certainly advise members who not to vote for and quite frankly we need to send a very clear message to the Perrottet government that their education policy is a big F – fail,” he said.
*Market research company uComms conducted a survey of 618 residents in the State Electorate of Bega and 684 residents in the State Electorate of Monaro, on behalf of NSW Teachers Federation, between 26-31 January 2022.