The NSW Teachers Federation will pursue hearts and minds – and not necessarily use the ‘‘blunt instrument’’ of strike action – in its bid to take on the government over funding cuts to public education.
At a meeting of 130 supporters in Dapto on Wednesday night, federation president Maurie Mulheron flagged a $650,000 ad campaign and a large community event designed to mobilise parents and non-vested parties into protesting at the cuts.
‘‘This won’t be won by one action. What will win this is a very large coalition of concerned citizens – ordinary citizens of this state trying to do something,’’ Mr Mulheron said.
‘‘This is going to have to be a campaign like no other.’’
The meeting, at Dapto Leagues Club, heard from an Illawarra school principal who supported weekend and out-of-school hours campaigning because, she said, strike action put parents offside.
‘‘We are put through the mill. We are under so much stress when our school goes on strike,’’ the principal said.
Wednesday’s audience included teachers, students, parents and school support and administration staff, whose jobs are most likely to be affected by the NSW government’s decision to cut $1.7billion from the education system over four years.
The plan includes cutting 600 support positions in state and regional education offices, phasing out 400 school administration positions and cutting 800 TAFE positions.
Mr Mulheron said the cuts were tantamount to putting taxpayer dollars into private purses, because the government would use the money it saved to keep itself in power by rewarding its financial supporters.
‘‘What they intend to do is rip money out of the public system. It will go back to Treasury and Treasury then will use the money – money that’s [now] being spent on our kids – on infrastructure projects that will be announced in terms of the electoral cycles.
‘‘Huge corporations will be given that money.’’
At the meeting Kathy Southall, a parent of two students at Barrack Heights Public School, announced herself a supporter of the federation’s campaign.
Mrs Southall volunteers at the school every day and said she had ‘‘fought my guts out’’ to secure time with a teacher’s aid for daughter Teia Southall, who has Asperger’s syndrome.
‘‘With the support of teachers and the teacher’s aid, canteen ladies, office ladies, librarians, cleaners – everybody – she’s coped really, really well,’’ Mrs Southall said.
‘‘They can’t lose any staff. There’s not parents like myself who are going to go there every single day. I’d have to consider home-schooling her.’’