ASSOCIATION SPOTLIGHT

Coffs Harbour TA
Members: 613
President: Deanne Ion
Secretary: Daniel Laing

Our meetings: We meet at Park Beach Bowling Club twice a term after Council. Numbers fluctuate, but we average about 15 members who regularly attend. Meetings are held at a local bowlo and are fairly informal. Councillors’ reports generate questions and discussion, and a quick whip around for school reports keeps everyone informed about what’s going on in the association.

Our community: Located on the mid-north coast, Coffs Harbour TA enjoys one of the most scenic locations in NSW. Sandwiched between wonderful World Heritage rainforests, beautiful beaches and magical marine parks, natural beauty abounds. Add a pleasant subtropical climate and you have the right mixture for a laid-back lifestyle enjoyed by more than 73,000 residents. This somewhat sleepy hamlet awakens regularly when we host many great annual regional, national and international sport and arts events, as well as festivals. When the school holidays come around, it is said the population more than doubles.

Situated on the traditional lands of the Gumbaynggirr people, our schools have significant numbers of Goori students. As a targeted regional resettlement area for refugees, people from Myanmar, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and several other African countries now call Coffs Harbour home and this is reflected in our increasingly diverse school populations.

The local economy once relied heavily on banana growing (back in 1964 we even made a big replica of one), but this has now been overtaken by blueberries, tourism, housing construction and a burgeoning urban culture in the catchment area of the Coffs Harbour Teachers Association.

Our challenges: The region has a long-serving federal MP, the Nationals’ Luke Hartsuyker, who holds a very safe seat. However, demographics are changing and at the last federal election there was an 8 per cent swing against the member, thanks to long-term grassroots campaigning by local teachers and other activist groups. The area has the highest unemployment rate in the state and many of our students come from low SES families.

Our focus: Schools funding.

Our special events: We hold regular schools funding rallies that gain considerable coverage in the local press.

We’ve initiated annual social events such as our “Welcome Back Barefoot Bowls BBQ” that have been very well attended. The association has maintained pressure on our federal MP through rallies and “Politics in the Pub” events.

We’ve also hosted successful seminars for beginning teachers, casual and temporary teachers, and teachers transitioning to retirement.

Our executive: Aboriginal Education Contact: Rikki Shipman. Special Education Contact: Andy Robb. Women’s Contact: Kristin Vlasto. President: Deanne Ion. Secretary: Daniel Laing. Treasurer: Kris McGrane. Vice-Presidents: Kris McGrane and Rikki Shipman.