Association spotlight

Members: 563
Meets: 4pm, on the Wednesday after Council at the Everglades Country Club.
President: Brad Spillane
Secretary: Chris Wright

How would you describe the area covered by your association?
It is a relatively small association covering primary schools and the two campuses of Brisbane Water Secondary College. While the area is physically beautiful, the demographics of the Woy Woy Peninsula are quite diverse with small pockets of privilege interspersed among areas of working class and socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Only five per cent of high school students have a parent who went to university and youth unemployment is very high. The area is predominantly monocultural with significant groups with Aboriginal and Pacific Islander backgrounds. Many people commute to Sydney for employment.

What are the demographics of the teachers? 
The teaching workforce tends to be generally experienced with only a few newer graduates with the exception of the junior secondary campus at Umina which does have a higher proportion of younger teachers.

What is the best thing your association has done in the past five years? 
Despite the relatively small size of the association, we have had two significant recommendations vigorously debated in motions from associations at Annual Conference, one about the increased age for compulsory schooling and the other about the accreditation of new scheme teachers.

What are your association meetings like? 
Attendance has been modest but most schools are represented at each meeting. Because of the size of the meetings, they can be fairly informal and not intimidating for new attendees. Much of the meeting is devoted to school reports, providing an opportunity to raise local issues in each of the schools, and Deb Westacott’s Organiser’s report.

What is being discussed at meetings? 
Some of the issues that have come up recently have been staffing, promotions and transfers, workload and employment opportunities for new graduates and teacher involvement in school decision-making.

What issues and challenges does your association face?
One of our difficulties in attracting members to meetings has been that many members are older, have family commitments, don’t live in the local area and have to travel to work. This year we have moved our meetings the Everglades Country Club. While we have had some involvement from new graduates in the past few years, we are interested in engaging more new graduates in Federation activities, particularly those who are temporary or casual teachers. There are quite a few casual teachers and new graduates, particularly from Newcastle University, in the area but there are limited opportunities for casual work and fewer prospects for permanent employment in the area.