Lake Cargelligo TA

Members: 49
President: Pagean Huggett
Secretary: Russell Thorpe

Our community: Lake Cargelligo is a small rural town of around 1300 people lying 300km west of Orange and 130km north of Griffith. We have four schools: Lake Cargelligo Central School, Euabalong West Public School, Tullibigeal Central School and Naradhan Public School. A number of students travel to the Central School from Murrin Bridge, a small Aboriginal community about 14km from town.

The area is mainly farming land — crops as well as cattle and sheep. Other employment comes from small industry, the schools and community services. In the past, the Murrin Bridge community produced local wines from its vineyard. In summer, Lake Cargelligo is popular for water sports, with an annual anglers’ event called Fisherama. The community has contended with natural crises including years of drought, the lake drying up and the town becoming very short of water, as well as two floods that filled the lake and cut access in and out of the town.

The challenges we face: We face issues such as low socio-economic status, transient families and temporary staff. Sometimes staff are hard to come by, although this year we seem to have more staff available.

Our current focus: We want a variation of operating hours — a mid-term break. It’s a long process involving community, student, parent and staff consultation, redesigning timetables and so on and is still in the application process but has great community and school support.

Gonski funding is going into staff and resources. School learning support officers and additional teachers are being employed to give students improved learning conditions and smaller classes. Technology is a critical aspect of school here, to give students better access to information and modern equipment. Most of our senior classes are run through the Lachlan Access Program (LAP) which includes three video conference lessons every two-week cycle.

Additional funding could reduce the burden of these costs and help to employ specialist staff such as speech pathologists to cater for an increasing number of students diagnosed with difficulties.

Our teacher demographics: Staff are a mix of young and old; some have come from the coast and some are local residents who have trained and returned to the area. Some teachers move out here for their engagement period and then seek transfers back to their home area while others make their home out here.

The best thing we’ve done recently: Apart from our application to vary operating hours, we have increased membership numbers: most teachers are members. Through our area Organiser we have clarified incentive locality allowances for staff and this has resulted in staff being allocated and, in some cases, reimbursed for incentives and allowances that hadn’t been claimed.

Our meetings: Our members don’t need a great deal of persuasion to come to TA meetings. Over the past few years we’ve had a very active executive, in particular our past president. General reminders to staff generally get them to the meetings without additional attractions and we have refreshments for attendees.

Our TA meetings occur once a term, mostly at the Commercial Hotel or at school, and we also meet with our area Organiser once a term and as needed on campaigns. We encourage all members to have a say and get involved, whether it is as a Country Observer at Council or undertaking professional development. After the formal meeting there is always time to chat and this is a useful networking tool.

New staff members are given application forms and information regarding membership with Federation. We had a membership drive funded by Federation at the start of the year with an evening at the pool, where new staff were encouraged to join Federation and all staff could catch up after the Christmas break.

Our executive structure: Our new President for 2016 is Pagean Huggett. We have an Aboriginal Education Contact, Women’s Contact, Special Education Contact, New Activists Contact, Teachers Housing Association representative.