Hay Teachers Association

Number of members in the association: 55

Meets: Twice a term, on Fridays, at the New Crown Hotel, Hay

President: Simon Kermode

Secretary: Michael Sciffer

How would you describe your area and the community covered by your association? Our association sits approximately halfway between Sydney and Adelaide on the Murrumbidgee River. It stretches 210km from Hay in the south to Ivanhoe in the north. The Wiradjuri are the custodians of the land, which is a large saltbush plain broken up by the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Rivers. The area was made famous — or infamous — by Banjo Paterson’s poem “Hay, Hell and Booligal”, describing the droughts and rabbit plagues of the 1890s. The economy is based on farming, especially sheep and irrigated crops. Communities across the region are tight-knit and welcoming.

What are the demographics of teachers in your association? They largely reflect the broader profession with an even spread of age and experience.

What is your association focusing on at the moment? The Gonski campaign has been our major focus. The Gonski funding reforms would result in a significant increase in resources to our schools to meet the challenges we face in remote rural public schools.

What is the best thing your association has done recently? Getting our state National MP John Williams alongside our members and Organiser to highlight the benefits of the Gonski funding reforms to a meeting of parents before the federal election.

What are your association meetings like? Being held at the pub on Friday afternoons means they are fairly relaxed! There is a report of current Federation policies which provokes discussion, followed by general business for debate and to formulate our association campaigns in line with Federation’s policies. We make time for questions and discussion of individual and school concerns.

What does your executive structure look like? We have a President, Secretary, Treasurer, Teacher Housing Authority Representative and a New Activist Contact.

What sorts of issues are being discussed at meetings? Salaries, Resource Allocation Model (RAM), Great Teaching, Inspired Learning and the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint are regular topics.

How do you try to attract members to attend meetings? Through engaging members in Federation campaigns and by supporting issues of relevance to local members.

What challenges does your Association face? The challenge of communicating and campaigning Federation policies effectively in a conservative rural community. This requires us to be part of the community and to earn its trust and respect as public school teachers striving for the best for our students.