Southern Highlands TA

Number of members: 333

President: Paul Williams

Vice President: Chris Hayden

Treasurer: Patricia Lee

Secretary: Michele Williams

Our meetings: Meetings are held on Thursdays after Federation Council, commencing at 4pm. Several schools are always represented, but given the size of our area and the demands on our members’ time, attendance can be variable. To attract members to our meetings, the secretary, when time allows, contacts every school in our association. We are also very capably supported by our Local Organiser, John Black, and the Wollongong office.

Our community: The Southern Highlands possesses a unique identity. The region offers a rural lifestyle in one of the most picturesque locations in Australia, while offering its residents access to Sydney and the coast. Its cool climate provides for a growing wine industry as well as annual cultural events from Tulip Time in Bowral, one of Australia’s oldest floral festivals, to Bundanoon’s Brigadoon, traditional Scottish Highland Games.

Despite the assumptions of politicians and the broader community, the Southern Highlands is a demographically and socially diverse community. Sitting on the fringes of Sydney, it is home to the privileged and the needy.

Our challenges: Our Association faces the same challenges that our colleagues in public schools face across the state and nation — the defence of our working conditions, a needs-based funding model for schools and the maintenance of a strong, representative union.

Our teachers: While the Southern Highlands teaching population has been diverse for decades, a generational shift is under way across our profession and we have welcomed a growing number of younger teachers in recent years.

Our focus: Several attempts via mail and phone have been made to request delegate meetings with our local federal MPs, to no avail. We will be bringing these non-responses to the attention of local media and perhaps unannounced meetings outside the offices of these MPs might be the next step in bringing them the message of schools funding reform.

The best things we’ve done in the past five years: We held an information evening for teacher retirees, and a training event to assist casual and temporary teachers to manage the implementation of the Professional Development Framework.

Across 2016, we continued our fight for full Gonski funding. Our Southern Highlands Fed Reps and members carried the Gonski messages to their schools and communities.

On several occasions our president represented the association in the lead-up to the federal election in the seat of Gilmore, as we demonstrated outside the sitting member’s office in Nowra and walked the streets calling for the implementation of full funding as it was promised.

In 2017, our TA formulated a motion regarding the rushed implementation of new Stage 6 syllabuses. SHTA councillors, Patricia Lee and Michele Williams, gained the support of the Federation Council in calling for much greater support in their implementation with the possibility of a delay of 12 months if certain conditions are not met.

Our executive structure: The SHTA has a very capable executive team drawn from a range of schools. It includes: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Minutes Secretary, two Councillors and a variety of Contacts, including Women’s, Casual/unemployed, Special Education, Aboriginal Education, New Activist, and LGBTIQ. Thank you to our executive, contacts and attendees for all their hard work and willingness to sacrifice time in attending meetings on behalf of their colleagues, schools and profession.