For immediate release
Regional schools across Western Australia are struggling to attract leaders and staff as the housing availability crisis continues to worsen across the state.
The State Government has shed more 600 homes previously ear marked for police officers and teachers over four years, which has only exacerbated current housing supply issues.
President of the Principals Federation of Western Australia (PFWA), Bevan Ripp, said that regional schools across WA were struggling to secure permanent Principals due to the ongoing pressure on the housing market and the lack of suitable accommodation regionally.
“Government Regional Officer Housing (GROH) needs to be well-staffed at central and regional level with officers who know and understand the challenges of living in regional WA and who are prepared to respond quickly to identified needs,” Mr Ripp said.
“They need to be proactive rather than reactive in planning effectively for the future needs of regional educators in terms of both supply and maintenance to ensure we attract Principals and teachers to the regions and that they are encouraged to stay.
“The only way this is going to be done effectively is if the State Government re-establishes a discrete Housing Authority, in which GROH would be a significant unit,” he said.
Mr Ripp said that a close working relationship with education was essential as the Department of Education is currently the largest State Government employer.
“You only have to look at the number of acting positions currently across regional WA and you can see the depth of the problem.
“However, we have a Government which refuses to believe it needs to provide incentives to people to move to the regions, and to take their families with them, and stay and contribute to a regional community for three to four years,” Mr Ripp Said.
He went on to say that an alignment of maintenance contracts servicing schools and GROH houses occupied by school staff was needed to ensure that not only were houses available, but that they were maintained to an adequate standard and that local government needed to be brought into the conversation.
The biggest decline in regional housing availability was seen in the State’s South West, where GROH housing supply has plummeted by 23 per cent. The 242 GROH properties registered from Harvey to Pemberton in 2016, also shrank to 186 in 2020. This was followed by the Mid-West and Gascoyne with just 536 GROH houses left after a 22 per cent nosedive.
“We are frustrated with decades of inaction on this subject. Principals are faced with ever increasing expectations and demands associated with their role as school leaders and the Government believes they will continue to deliver with no obligation from their side to provide a competitive salary, adequate allowances or decent housing.
“It’s no wonder regional communities are again missing out.”
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