The NSW Government was front of mind for the 3000-strong Newcastle rally as members from Catholic and government schools united in chant and song.

“Three percent’s not even halfway there; Perrottet, you’re livin’ on a prayer”

“Workloads cannot be sustained – Sarah Mitchell make a change”

Members also sang a reworked version of Solidarity Forever, with verses incorporating “Hear our voice!” from the IEU and “More than thanks!” from the NSW Teachers Federation.

IEU support staff stood strong to demand pay parity with their colleagues in government schools. The rally heard of the Catholic employers’ shameful refusal to immediately match increases paid in public schools more than three years ago.

Joel Hartcher of St Therese’s Primary School New Lambton posed a few pertinent questions at the rally: “When will they realise our goodwill is spent and we have nothing left to give? When will they realise they’ve made our profession unattractive, and they’re driving good people away? When will our students’ learning come first? When will the goal posts stop shifting and the new ideas and five-minute fads stop? When will the teacher shortages be addressed? When will we be shown professional respect?

Sarah Gardiner of St Paul’s Catholic College Booragul spoke of her weariness: “I’m tired of seeing my friends leave the profession. Tired of interns who have decided not to teach before they have started. Tired of working tirelessly but never feeling like I’m doing my job. Tired of staff shortages that mean extra lessons, combined classes and even sending students home. But most of all I am tired of hearing politicians claiming to value education then espousing downright offensive, not to mention highly problematic, solutions – such as performance pay.”

Therese Fitzgibbon