Hobart mum and teacher Leahanne Reid wanted to be there for her child’s first day of school this year, but instead she spent the day 800km away navigating a new lifestyle alone interstate.
A Claremont College teacher of nine years, Ms Reid’s world flipped upside down when late last year the state’s Education Department delivered her a transfer notice to a rural Tasmanian school.
Already grappling with the demands and stress of Tasmania’s education crisis, Ms Reid felt changing to a new Tasmanian school would have a negative impact on her mental health, unless significant workload solutions were implemented.
“I thought I was left with two options,” she said.
“Either I take the transfer and risk not being able to cope, and possibly be off on stress leave, or I quit to go and work in better conditions in Victoria.”
She chose the latter and hasn’t looked back despite the hardship of being away from family.
“It’s great here but I am struggling to be away from my family including my eight-year-old son who just started Grade 3 – a first day of school I wasn’t able to be there for,” she said.
“But I have no desire to go and work in Tasmania again and be treated how I was – there is no way the workload in Victoria is as big as in Tassie.
“I knew I had to try something else or I would quit teaching entirely.”
Ms Reid said the move was sweetened by the Victorian Government’s incentives offered to interstate teachers.
“After looking into everything, and applying, the first job offer I got came with a $50,000 incentive,” she said.
“The Victorian Government paid to relocate me and my family, who will be moving over at the end of Term 1.
“I was told if you rent a house, the government finds you a rental.
“Overall, I was looking at a package of $100,000 while working here four years.
“But the move was never about the money. It was about the poor conditions teaching in Tasmania and the workload there. What educators are expected to do is too much.”
Ms Reid is one of a staggering number of talented, valuable educators to have walked away from the Tasmanian teaching profession, citing burnout.
In 2022, a record 271 teachers resigned on top of the hundreds more who retired last year, up 49 per cent from the year before.
It comes as the Victorian Government this month ramped up its appeal to interstate teachers, with commercials rolled out on Tasmanian television screens targeting educators to move and teach in Victoria.
Australian Education Union Tasmania President David Genford said the Victorian Government was showing a proactive approach to teacher recruitment the Rockliff Government had failed on.
“The Rockliff Government likes to hide behind the idea that the whole country is facing a teacher crisis, yet the difference is, other states are leading the way with their recruitment and it’s our education system that’s left to dwindle,” he said.
“Our educators deserve to work in environments free of the worsening stresses they’re faced with.
“We should be doing everything we can and more to draw people to want to work in Tasmanian classrooms, but instead, by failing to address poor working conditions, the exact opposite is happening and student learning is suffering as a result.
“We cannot afford to lose any more talented teachers to better conditions elsewhere. The Rockliff Government must step up and deliver significant investment and workload solutions to attract and retain teachers, or it’s clear we’ll lose hundreds more valued educators again in 2023.”