Education Minister promises more teacher housing

While NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell, brought some good news to our city this week as she announced additional housing funding to try and encourage more public school teachers to make the move to the bush, teachers and MP Roy Butler said finding teachers was the bigger issue.

Minister Mitchell said an additional $23.5 million housing investment has been provided on top of the $174 million key worker housing investment already announced as part of the 2022-23 Budget.

Some $8.4m of the additional investment will be spent on new housing in towns including Broken Hill, Bellata, Coolah, Gilgandra and Ivanhoe.

“While we have generous financial incentives for teachers to go to a country school, many teachers considering a regional move have told us that housing is just as important a factor in their decision-making, if not more so,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Ensuring teachers have quality housing options available to them will attract and retain quality teachers to some of our more remote schools.”

In Broken Hill, two new units for teachers are being built on Lane Lane, plus upgrading of existing houses.

“When I was out here last, and we had a round table meeting with a lot of the [school] Principals and we were talking about staffing and one of the challenges of coming and living and working out in Broken Hill is having good quality teacher housing,” said the Minister.

“We own the land on Lane Lane, but now we need to go through the planning process, construction phase and all of that.

“We will do this as quickly as we can, but obviously we have to be aware of some of the challenges around work force and labour markets.

“Another thing we are looking at to increase housing supply is by taking out head leases, with the properties to be occupied by country teachers.

“Head leases are where we go to the private rental market, look at what we can lease and then sub lease that out to teachers at a cheaper rate.”
Broken Hill has 70 teachers’ houses.

But Maureen Clarke from the Barrier Teachers Association said that while the cheque for teachers housing was much appreciated her members would like to know, “where we are going to get the teachers to fill those teacher houses”.

And Barwon MP Roy Butler said he agreed with Ms Clarke.

“While this is some good news, it is nowhere near enough to address the teacher shortage in the communities of Barwon,” said the MP.

“I will continue to advocate for the teachers in my electorate, to address the workload issues that so many have raised with me during my visits.

“It was disappointing as the sitting member that I wasn’t invited to be part of the Minister’s visit to my electorate,” Mr Butler said.

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