Canterbury-Bankstown TA

Members: 2156
President: John Morris
Secretary: Pat Donohoe

Our community: Ours is a vibrant, multicultural community. We have a large number of people from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds in the area; there are also high SES pockets. Canterbury-Bankstown is a landing ground for the most recent of arrivals, from Vietnamese people to Arabic people to Islanders facing global warming and war refugees from sub-Sahara.

Over time, these communities develop and prosper. Our teachers have been a foundation of this social advancement.

Part of our Association is in the targeted Gonski campaign electorate of Banks (David Coleman, Liberal). Other federal electorates, Blaxland (Jason Clare, ALP) and Watson (Tony Burke, ALP) also cover parts of our Association. Our state electorates are Bankstown (Tania Mihailuk, ALP), East Hills (Glenn Brookes, Liberal) and Lakemba (Jihad Dib, ALP).

The challenges we face: Both the federal seat of Banks and state seat of East Hills have swung from safe Labor seats to marginal Liberal electorates. This reflects growing wealth as well as electorate redistribution in the southern, Georges River foreshore suburbs.

This means our activism matters more than ever, from Gonski to joint leafletting at train stations with other unionists over Medicare and power privatisation.

Teacher demographics: Canterbury-Bankstown has been a very active Association over the years. We had core activist base of teachers who had been around for a very long time. Over the last five years or so, many have retired. We did struggle to achieve quorum at meetings for a short time; recently, however, we have seen very healthy attendance at Association meetings (averaging around 18 people), with many younger and beginning teachers becoming regular attendees. Some of these newer people have also stepped up to become part of the Association executive.

Our current focus: Getting our Gonski stories out there! There was a joint Gonski dinner held with the St George Association in October last year which was a great evening and helped spread the word about the good things the Gonski funding is being used to achieve.

We have also had a lot of discussion of the new Performance and Development Framework, of course, and of ways to support teachers through the new PDP (Performance and Development Plan) process.

We are also currently looking at possibly wrapping a bus in Gonski Green or getting a billboard on the M5 to promote needs-based funding in the lead-up to the election. On March 20 we took part in the annual Gonski Doorknock, with teams out in Banks.

Our meetings: We meet at Bankstown Girls High School at 4pm on the Wednesday two weeks before Council.

The meetings are well attended again and are usually very lively and active. We have a history of moving quite a few motions to Council.

The Association has discussed and put forward critical responses to the global education reform movement, including the workload impact of increased programming documentation, registration and access to professional development.

We did try using a phone tree with the executive contacting Fed Reps and Women’s Contacts in schools that were not sending people to Association a while back, and have recently decided to give that another go.

We always get a good turnout at our annual dinner so we’ve decided to try a social “meet and greet” for early next term.

Trying something new: As well as phoning schools and the “meet and greet” next term we have recently also decided to revamp the Association meeting notification sent to schools.

We felt the old design might have given the impression that our meetings are a little boring as it listed the regular agenda items/order of business at our meetings. We felt this could have given the impression that our meetings were rather boring and bureaucratic. They are anything but that! We do follow correct meeting procedure but our meetings are quite lively.

To try and reflect that (and to attempt to attract more people) we decided to get rid of the bureaucratic listing of items in favour of upcoming content at meetings – what we will be talking about and dealing with rather than the manner in which we deal with them. We’ll see how this goes in getting more people along!