12 December 2022
State Government urged to provide better living conditions for regional school leaders
For immediate release
The peak body representing public school leaders across the state has called on the McGowan Government to urgently provide well-maintained housing to attract and retain staff in regional and remote Western Australia.
Principals Federation of WA President (PFWA), Bevan Ripp, said what public school leaders are expected to live in cannot be considered decent or fair as they move to a regional community.
“In light of the State Government’s recent announcements about attraction and retention initiatives to address staffing shortages, particularly in regional schools, this has to be a central focus of 2023.” Mr. Ripp said.
“Overall, what we are really seeking is a drastic improvement in the way the State Government supports the mental health of important community leaders, so they feel valued enough to stay in the profession.
“Our regional school leaders in particular are forced to pay exorbitant rents which is unfairly calculated at the Perth median rate regardless of where they are across the state.
“We regularly get feedback from our regional members that a lack of maintenance and basic amenity in their accommodation is having a detrimental impact on their quality of life.
“That’s if they can find a rental house to begin with. In many of our regional centres and larger towns, there’s simply no available accommodation, so they are put up in dongas or caravan parks.” Mr. Ripp said.
School leaders in Western Australia continue to deal with the worst cost-of-living pressures in the country while also being among the lowest paid in Australia. Recent announcements to supposedly address attraction and retention of staff in regional WA do not go far enough and are essentially band-aid measures that create more problems than they solve.
“As a result of these “initiatives”, we now see in a number of regional towns teachers being paid more than school leaders, causing school leaders to question their value to the system and why they should aspire to leadership roles.” Mr. Ripp said.
“With a depleted school system which is losing teachers and taking on more social responsibilities than ever before, the State Government must meet what we believe are reasonable requests when it comes to health and wellbeing of our members.
“We have principals who have consistently worked through weekends and holiday periods to ensure their schools are prepared, are grappling with staff placement processes and relief teacher shortages, while taking on the added responsibility placed on them by the State Government’s Health Department in relation to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19.
“Then we have maintenance issues, housing in regional and remote schools, localised vandalism issues and the health and wellbeing of vulnerable and sick staff members.
“I urge the Premier and the Minister for Education to ensure that in 2023 there is a renewed effort to ensure the living conditions of our principals and deputy principals is a top priority.” Mr. Ripp said.
PH: 0406 681 432
*Photos taken are from government housing provided to a new principal in regional WA – their identity has been removed to protect the individual who came forward with the information*