No place to call home for local teachers

LOCAL teachers are refusing to back down in their fight against the state government's decision to sell Griffith houses reserved for new teachers.

The Office of Finance and Services is selling 17 of the 25 local houses they once rented to teachers at market rate to ease the burden of relocating.

Griffith representatives of the NSW Teachers Federation have been locking horns with bureaucrats about the availability of suitable properties to rent, arguing the market was too competitive to warrant the sales.

Temporary science and maths teacher at Griffith High School, Kathleen Platts, said she needed to start teaching local kids within two weeks of accepting the position and if she wasn't offered one of the remaining eight teacher housing properties she would have been forced to decline the job.

Due to a staff restructure, Griffith High needed a science teacher at short notice and Mrs Platts is a mature-age teaching student graduate who wanted the experience, but said it would have been too costly and time consuming to find an apartment on her own.

"I am from a town called Bombala, eight hours away, where there is only a small school with just 25 teachers, so I needed to take a position like this one in Griffith to get classroom experience," Mrs Platts said.

"I am in a two-bedroom unit and without the availability of this I would not have been able to move to Griffith.

"I had to get on my feet quickly and start lessons, which I could do because I didn't have to travel to Griffith to inspect properties and I didn't have to organise furniture.

"I knew there would be an apartment in good condition, partly furnished, that would be ready for me to move in and focus on the job."

NSW Teachers Federation teacher housing representative, Richard Wiseman, lobbied for Griffith at the bi-annual teachers housing conference in Dubbo last week.

Mr Wiseman said the government had mistakenly relied on data about the proportion of Griffith properties which are rentals, rather than examining the vacancy rate.

"All the houses are definitely going but we're hoping to get a stay of execution on some of the units," Mr Wiseman said.

"The principals of both Griffith's high schools have said the accommodation is certainly in demand as reflected by the number of temporary teachers we've got here.

"The government is arguing there's a healthy rental market, but there aren't properties available for teachers coming here for a short period of time, and once they're gone they're not coming back."

It has been estimated the government will raise roughly $6 million from Griffith real estate sales, which will be redistributed to other parts of the state.

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