Allan West

Plenty in the WEA
Michael Newton, from WEA (Workers Education Association) explained that the organisation began in England in 1903 and in Sydney in 1913. It is an association of students, tutors and affiliates (e.g. nurses, trade unions). The Governance Committee includes a Federation representative, Janine Kitson. The courses do not provide a qualification or examination, merely enjoyment. There are 3500 students in courses over four terms — there is a brochure for each season. Students pay as they enrol. There are 10 per cent discounts for RTA members. Michael always needs new tutors. There are some WEA clubs (e.g. Ramblers) costing $20 a year. Reading and discussion groups are arranged in rural areas and tutors can come once a term to assist.

How’s your macular?
At our August 10 meeting Terry Jones introduced Donna Hendry from the Macular Disease Foundation. She reminded us to have an eye check every year, get an Amsler Grid (the test for macular degeneration) and eat appropriately. Ron Denham thanked Donna for her interesting and informative address. Her $100 donation will go to the Macular Disease Foundation.

In a separate move, Enid Hokin moved that the NSW RTA call upon the federal government to restore the funding it has withdrawn from the Macular Disease Foundation to permit the foundation to continue its valuable work and education program.

Support Ecuador teachers
Des Moore moved that the RTA call on the AEU to protest to the Ecuadorean Embassy and to send a message of support to the Union Nacional de Ecuadores (UNE) as this teaching union is facing the threat of being shut down.

According to UNE, the Ecuadorean government is seeking to dissolve the union in retaliation for the public statements made at an International Labour Organisation conference and the UN Human Rights Committee this year explaining, in detail and with evidence, how Ecuador is systematically violating freedom of association.

Doomed to be recidivists
It was moved by Glennys Browne that the RTA reaffirm its support of teachers in Correctional Services who are to be stood down to make way for the outsourcing of most education and training sources to private specialist training organisations.

The loss of 138 university-trained teachers, demoted to clerical assistants, out of the 158 Corrective Services teacher positions will result in only 12.5 per cent, or 20, teacher positions being retained. This loss will result in prisoners and parolees reoffending. They will be destined to become recidivists without any hope of becoming literate and numerate functioning members of society.

Few essay entries
Max Prince, RTA chair, reported that there were 17 entries to assess in the Public Education Foundation (PEF) Essay Writing Competition on July 20. The winner, collecting $1000 (with the topic, "Why a good public education system matters in modern Australia"), was Lea Osmanagic of Ryde Secondary College. We will have further talks with Michelle Stanhope, PEF General Manager, about publicising the competition better next year.

ACPSRO report
Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisation (ACPSRO) National President Richard Griffith encouraged ACPSRO members to seize the opportunities offered by the federal election results. “It is to be hoped that both the Coalition and ALP will now appreciate that political arrogance and a refusal to acknowledge facts will be rejected by the public eventually,” he said.

Mr Griffith said there were many different issues that influenced the election outcome but the hatred for the 10 per cent cap issue among many vocal “defined benefit” pensioners in several states appeared to have contributed to the outcome. Tasmania, where public sector retirees were most affected and kept well-informed, saw some of the most dramatic losses of government seats.

He said the 10 per cent cap measure should continue to be opposed by all public sector retiree organisations, even by groups that were not affected by it.

Mr Grifffiths said he believed “the greatest good that ACPSRO can do will be in the areas where defined benefit pensions overlap the age pension, for which the ALP has promised a review and which affects our least well-off members.”

Teachers Mutual Bank
The Annual General Meeting of the Teachers Mutual Bank will be at 10am on November 19 at Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL, 20-26 Canterbury Road, Hurlstone Park.

History of unions
Ron Denham reported from the last Combined Retired Union Members Association (CRUMA) meeting that Unions NSW is collating a booklet on the importance of trade unions. Members were read an excerpt from The History of Trade Unions that stated: “Unless trade unionists throughout the world are always ready to sacrifice their personal interests, their safety, or, even, their lives for the amelioration of the lot of the poor, their elaborate organisation may perish overnight, either in a holocaust of terror and force, or in the slower process of legal repression.”

CRUMA has written to CFMEU President Rita Mallia and CBus on superannuation fund divestment from fossil fuel investments. CRUMA endorsed all RTA resolutions from July 8.

Skinner must go
Enid Hokin moved that the RTA call for the resignation of the NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner. Traditionally, ministers are responsible for the performance of their departments, and there has been a spate of disgraceful events in NSW Health, for example, the death of a newborn baby and brain damage to another one at Bankstown Hospital as a result of being administered dangerous gases, and patients being incorrectly advised and treated by oncologists at St Vincent’s and St George Hospitals.

Calling all Santas
Jeanine Edmonds of Mark Edmonds Productions is looking for Santas this Christmas at Sydney shopping centres. Call 0417425390.

Ethics teaching
Professor Jennie Hudson of Primary Ethics needs volunteer teachers of ethics at Meadowbank PS on Tuesdays from 9.30-10. Go here and click on “Get Involved”.

Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association, and can be contacted on (02) 9484 5693


September 27 and October 18: Luncheon at Cafe 2, City Tatts, 194-204 Pitt Street at 12 noon

October 27: Trip to and tour of Ebernezer Historic Church and School and Butterfly Farm, Wilberforce. Travel by minibus at 9.30am from Central Station (near light rail stop), arrive at 10.30am at Butterfly Farm and at the church at 11.40am. For details, call Max Prince on 0431 473 983

For more information, contact Allan West or connect to RTA blog by clicking here

Tuesday, September 20: Let’s Try Croquet at Wagga Wagga Croquet Club

For more information contact Geoff Amos (02) 6922 5108 or email


Friday, September 23: 12.15pm lunch; 1pm speaker — David Streichler on the Books in Homes Australia program; 2pm general meeting

Friday, October 14: Speaker — Betty Jacobs on “Travels with Tasmanian Devils”

Wagga Wagga
Tuesday, October 18: 10.45am at Riverina NSWTF Office, Weedon Chambers, corner of Gurwood and Trail Streets, Wagga Wagga; Speaker — John Pratt, Regional Organiser NSWTF

For more information contact Elizabeth O’Hara on 0408 670 684 or email