12 September 2023

 I stand here as a proud former teacher, a proud member of the Minns Labor Government and a proud member of the Teachers Federation still. I thank the other contributors so far. Since the member for Albury has left, I note for today's record that 1,138 teachers in Albury will be getting a pay rise, and 285 teachers in that electorate have taken up permanency. I have an electorate with one of the highest numbers of trained teachers in the State. For the benefit of those at home in the Blue Mountains, it is with great joy that I again reiterate one of the points in this motion. The New South Wales Government has secured an historic pay rise for teachers. Ninety-five thousand teachers in New South Wales have landed a deal that will tackle the teacher shortage crisis and see educators go from being amongst the worst paid to being the highest paid in this country. That is an absolute joy for many of my constituents and teachers across the State to hear.

In May 2018, and on many other occasions, I stood in this place and talked about teachers. I was asked to by many of my former colleagues. They wanted it on the record, for the benefit of those who often talked down the work or did not understand the work that teachers undertake. This is from the boots on the ground. Teachers are at work before most parents have left the house. That means they have to get their kids ready and out the door early. Most teachers work through recess and their lunch break, and every teacher must do hours upon hours of unpaid lesson planning, marking, excursions and after-school activities. On top of that, a teacher must be an expert in their subject matter, act as an accidental counsellor of distressed students—and often their parents—who bring with them to school the baggage of their home lives. Teachers work as unofficial bureaucrats on behalf of the Department of Education, doing, usually, unpaid work and administrivia that falls well outside their remit as educators.

In 2018 a University of Sydney study of 18,000 public school teachers and principals across the State found that 97.3 per cent reported an increase in administrative duties and felt that they were enslaved to a bureaucracy that prioritised everything other than their students' learning, and they felt that they were paid peanuts. One teacher wrote, "I've been teaching for 34 years, and I have never thought of resigning until now. The workload, stress and hours I am doing is taking a huge toll on my health and my relationship with my family." Last year, just after the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into teacher shortages was announced, I pulled together a submission, which I talked about in this place. Again, teachers—the boots on the ground—provided me with some anecdotes of their day-to-day struggles. One teacher referred to:

… changes to our profession that saw an unsurmountable increase in the demands placed on our roles. Greater accountability, greater responsibility, punishing workloads, the casualisation of the workforce, an escalation in administrative requirements, all amounting to the decline of the reason we got into this job in the first place - to focus on our students and teach.

The same teacher said:

It is not just low salaries but atrocious conditions, lack of resources to support students and inadequate staffing that saw large numbers of teachers striking …

And they are paid peanuts. I heard that a million times over. The teacher said:

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of an education crisis and the choice we have now is recovery or death.

It gives me great pleasure to be part of a government that is focusing on that recovery and valuing teachers. The Minns Labor Government has secured an historic pay rise. Teachers are valued now and will see not only renumeration but also ways to address their workload and encourage improved student outcomes. This Government values the work of teachers. I acknowledge Minister Prue Car for her exceptional work and the mighty Teachers Federation, particularly my teaching colleagues. It is a great day.