Blacktown TA

Number of members: 1582
President: Elizabeth Rose
Secretary: Tulay Cambaz

Our area and community: Blacktown City, which has great multicultural diversity, is home to more than 300,000 people, making it NSW’s largest city by population. The local council takes in 48 residential suburbs. The area is growing rapidly and we have seen new schools being built to accommodate all the new housing. The Association covers two federal electorates: Chifley, held by Ed Husic (ALP) and Greenway, held by Michelle Rowland (ALP) and four state electorates, Blacktown, Seven Hills, Prospect and Riverstone. It has a large shopping centre and fantastic sporting grounds built for the 2000 Olympics. Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Drive-In Theatre are some of the local attractions.

Issues and challenges we face: With 46 schools in the Association we have been heavily involved in the state and national Gonski campaign. Most of our schools are helped by the Gonski loading due to the low SES status of many of the students as well as high numbers of Indigenous and new arrival students.

Teacher demographics: The teaching force is culturally diverse, and many are early career teachers.

Current focus: We are telling our Gonski success stories with our P & C committees and through the local newspapers. It’s important for us to promote these “good news Gonski stories” because the funding is having a significant positive impact in the area.

We’re also working on the implementation of the Performance and Development Framework in our schools and members in the schools are providing feedback to the Organiser.

To support beginning teachers we are organising a seminar at our local library to help teachers to understand requirements of accreditation and the importance of being a member of the union.

The best thing we’ve done in the past five years: Because we’ve been activating teachers and local community through a range of events there has been increased engagement with members of the public who want to understand how education is funded. The federal seat of Greenway, which is within the Association, was an AEU-targeted seat at the last federal election, and this gave our TA an important insight into the importance of all political parties agreeing to the full implementation of the Gonski agreement.

One very successful event we had prior to the NSW Coalition signing the Gonski agreement was “Kick a Goal for Gonski”, which saw information presented to the community in a carnival atmosphere at a local oval. We had guest speakers including President Maurie Mulheron, our local federal MP, an NRL football player and parents. We’ve held formal events such as education forums in conjunction with neighbouring western Sydney Associations where there have been debates about funding: these events have been successful in engaging local teachers and community members and have gained significant media coverage.

Local schools have held Gonski letter-drops, morning tea with lime-green cakes and organised visits by parliamentarians; the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, visited a school in 2014.

In addition, several members travelled to Parliament House in Canberra to lobby politicians about the importance of Gonski and hold public meetings on the lawns of Parliament House. The Association has worked with parents to mount these events successfully. Parents as well as grandparents have accompanied the Association members to Canberra to participate in these vital campaign objectives.

Our meetings: We meet at Blacktown RSL the Tuesday after Council. The Blacktown office has helped by phoning Fed Reps to remind them when meetings are on. Meetings are held in places close to public transport and this assists us as well. Numbers vary depending on the time of year (HSC marking, report writing) although we have a committed core who regularly attend — a balance of new Federation Representatives and workplace committee members.

Our executive structure: We have a President, two Vice Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary. We also promote other positions such as Beginning Teacher/New Activist Contact, Women’s Contact, LGBTIQ Contact, Aboriginal Contact, Peace Contact and Special Education Contact. Sometimes people take on dual roles, but we always encourage and support people who are willing to take on roles in the Association.