Anderson: confusion in the bush on school staffing


(Updated, see below.)
Member for Namatjira Alison Anderson says her office is being inundated with enquiries about what is happening to the staffing of bush schools.
After constituents in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) told her that they would be losing two contract teaching positions, two Aboriginal support workers, and that two teachers would not be replaced when they left, she made enquiries with Minister for Education Peter Chandler’s office. She said she was assured that the school would only be losing 1.3 teachers.
“But that is not what they are telling me on the ground,” says Ms Anderson. “I’m not satisfied with the contradictory messages I’m getting from the ground and the Minister’s office. We’re a government about transparency and honesty. Why can’t Hermannsburg know what’s going on?
“Hermannsburg is just starting to get its numbers back up. There are nine senior kids coming back to school. That may not sound like much but it’s important.
“Aboriginal support workers are incredibly important. They sit with the kids in the playground, they listen to them talking, they’re able to tell the teachers what is going on for those kids.”
And the support workers’ jobs are important in remote communities, says Ms Anderson. “It is a job for the whole household. You look at those workers, all their kids go to school. If they lose their jobs, they’ll be forced to go back on Centrelink. If they don’t get up in the morning to go to work, then their kids won’t be getting up either.”
Ms Anderson says she was at a funeral in Wallace Rockhole yesterday. Otherwise she would have been at the teachers’ rally in Alice Springs, part of widespread industrial action, with reportedly 2000 teachers on strike across the Territory.
Left: The Nyirrpi petition has been signed by 48 residents of the tiny community.
“People are worried. I’ve got a petition on my desk from Nyirrpi. They are not in my electorate but we are here to represent all people across the Territory. I’ll be happy to take that petition to the next parliament and table it.
“Education is the key to anybody’s future. We want to make sure we’ve got the highest standard in the Territory.
“Penalising the most disadvantaged isn’t the way to go.”
UPDATE, 2.33pm:
Shadow Minister for Education Natasha Fyles has made the following release in response to Ms Anderson’s statements:
“The CLP is lurching from crisis to crisis and their attack on our kids’ education is the latest disaster.
“Namatjira MLA Alison Anderson has come out today and slammed her colleagues over the confusion and misinformation the cuts are causing in schools.
“It seems the CLP isn’t even being honest with their own, with Ms Anderson saying the messages she gets from the Education Minister’s office contradict what schools in her electorate are telling her.
“And her schools are saying they are losing local jobs and it’s the kids and families who will suffer.”
Ms Fyles called on other CLP MLAs to stand up for their schools and expose the truth about the cuts to education.
“The Member for Blain is a former principal – I’m sure he knows this Government has the wrong priorities when it cuts education.
“Terry Mills must be asking the questions about the impact on schools in Palmerston.
“And what about Stuart MLA Bess Price? She’s had plenty to say about education in the past but it seems she won’t even support Nyirripi School in her own electorate who have asked Alison Anderson to present their petition.
“I understand the CLP has called a crisis Cabinet meeting this afternoon over the education cuts.
“I call on the CLP MLAs to be open, honest and accountable to their schools and find out exactly how many teachers and support positions are being pulled out of their schools and let families in their electorates know what impact this is going to have on their kids’ education.”
UPDATE, 8.08pm:
Education Minister Peter Chandler provided the following comment:
“Alison Anderson is a very hard working Member of Parliament and what she has been hearing from her concerned constituents is evidence of the Union and Labor’s relentless campaign to spread fear and misinformation just to scare teachers and parents.
“I have spoken with Alison today and assured her that all positions at the Ntaria School will be there next year, in fact they received an increase in their allocation.
“I’m asking Labor and the Unions to respect teachers and be truthful when debating government policy, spreading lies does not help anyone.”
However, the Alice Springs News Online has sighted what appears to be a departmental document, showing the Teaching Staff Allocation Model for 2014.
It takes the figures for all Territory schools back to 2010. It shows that in that year Ntaria had 10.45 teachers allocated. In the following year this dropped to 9.44, a difference of -1.01%.
In 2012 there was a slight gain on 2011, of 0.35%. In 2013, this was reversed. Ntaria was down to 8.53 teachers, a loss of -1.26%.
The document foreshadows a further slight loss next year when Ntaria will have 8.40 teachers, down by 0.13%.


  1. You go Alison. As you say education is the key and your government is just not being open and honest about the impact the cuts are having out bush or in town.
    Its heartening to see a local Member standing up for their mob, even if it means speaking out against your government.
    Stand up to the bully boys.

  2. The word ‘disadvantaged’ has become a buzz word in recent times. Now, with the ineptitude of the NT Govt, we will be seeing a whole generation of NT students who are unable to follow an appropriate academic pathway. How will our brightest kids win university places if a full range of subjects is not offered at our only public Senior Secondary School? How will this Govt. explain to parents why their kids have to be in large classes for major compulsory subjects like Maths and English? Centralian Senior College will lose 8 teachers.They have been asked to cut down from 31 to 22. Some teachers have already gone. The Govt. doesn’t care what they teach – they just won’t be replaced. So, these teachers might be specialists in Higher Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Philosophy or Legal Studies.
    The Govt just wants to save money. If Mr Gilesand his team truly believe that education is too expensive, he needs to try ignorance. It may seem like bliss but it costs the earth!
    Penny Whiley
    AEU rep.
    Centralian Senior College

  3. The travesty of the NT government’s cuts to education aside one can only draw a deep breath at the Member for Namatjira’s quote re the cuts : ‘We’re a government about transparency and honesty’. Well, isn’t that statement just a hoot. If the CLP government is so transparent and honest Alison why won’t they release the four reports they obtained with regard to speed limits in the NT?

  4. And on a major snub for the Bush voters who elected the current government, I understand Japanese is being trialed in Bush schools and Indigenious Language Dept of Education staff will be cut.
    What a snub to the Aboriginal people of the NT. Speak up if you value Indigenious Language and Culture in your schools! Does the NT Government now have a Department of Education, or a Department of Eradication?

  5. We actually do not know what goes on with the cabinet of the NT Government. There are politicians and there is the power of the party (CLP).
    Seems to me that Education is being cut whilst other areas will need funds such as the local government reforms. Education will be worse off.
    However the Education Department itself is bloated and wastes money rather than funding the basics.
    When you have a Department that likes to take teachers to Court and lose wasting thousands in the process then something is wrong.
    Back to basics, fund teachers not litigation, give a cardfightback.

  6. Yes I Should Be Sacked Haze, you make an interesting point about the new found litigiousness of the Education Dept.
    They seem to thrive on ignoring due process and natural justice and rushing to legals against teachers only to find their cases collapse.
    Not only is this a waste of time and resources but it does nothing to inspire the teaching workforce, many of whom will leave the NT for good at the end of the year.

  7. While the Opposition leader can afford to play it long on Europe, a short-fuse crisis burns. Anyone doubting that welfare could lose the election for Labour should read the Joseph Rowntree study showing that skepticism about benefits is rising faster among Labour than Tory voters. Nearly half of the former favour cuts, compared with 16 per cent in 1987.


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