GUNNEDAH has secured funding for new housing for teachers after a "staffing crisis" saw local educators walk off the job in protest last month.
The town has been allocated $950,000 for housing to attract teachers in the 2021/22 NSW budget, in a bid to address concerns the Department of Education has been unsuccessful in attracting new staff, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said.
More than 30 teachers walked off the job at Gunnedah High School in May, taking industrial action over unfilled teaching positions, which have seen three classes temporarily merged.
NSW Teachers Federation Country Organiser Mercurius Goldstein said it was "significant" that after teachers took action last month, the government has responded through the state budget.
"You don't get teachers coming to Gunnedah without somewhere for them to live, and being a mining town, Gunnedah's rental market is very tight, it's either unavailable or unaffordable," he said.
"That's what our members tell us, and that's part of the problem with attracting teachers to the region, which is why the government's response is to make that housing available and to expand the rural incentives package."
In 2019 the NSW government launched a Rural Teacher Incentive, including a $20,000 per annum package to attract teachers to rural and regional areas, following negotiations with the NSW Teachers Federation.
At that time it did not include Gunnedah, however this has since been expanded, which is proof "the incentive package is useful and working", Mr Goldstein said.
"The logic is clear, if you provide the housing, if you add the incentives, you get the teachers," he added.
"It's a state-wide staffing crisis and that's apparent from the dozens of schools that have taken industrial action of this kind.
"If the government can solve this crisis for Gunnedah, they can solve it for the whole of NSW."
Kevin Anderson said he is "confident that a combination of housing and an attractive remuneration package will go a long way towards bringing new teachers to Gunnedah".
"I hope to see this new housing built with a matter of urgency so that we can get teachers into classrooms in Gunnedah as soon as possible," he said.
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