Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland was scheduled to attend two meetings on Thursday, October 6, but he was sick and senior electorate officer, Sarah Kerkham, attended the meetings on his behalf.
In Bodalla she met 10 teachers from Bermagui, Bodalla and Narooma public schools and Narooma High School.
The teachers raised their concerns about the critical shortage of teachers in the local area and the impact on children's education, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
For example, a lack of relief staff led to a program to assist children struggling with literacy and numeracy being set aside to cover day-to-day classes.
On three consecutive days there weren't enough teachers, forcing classes to be merged or go into caretaker mode.
Another issue was the time required to do their jobs, with one teacher working 60 to 65 hours per week on average but only paid to work 35 hours.
The teachers said they often ended up working while they were unwell, which was leading to burnout.
As a result, some who have only been teaching for five years have advised they will leave the profession within five years.
Bermagui resident Allan Douch said that in early January 2020, many Bermagui residents were shocked when former Bega Valley Shire mayor Kristy McBain told them the town couldn't be defended and should be evacuated.
Shortly after, the Bermagui Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism commissioned Mr Douch to develop a plan to protect the community from future bushfires.
Mr Douch worked for the Forestry Commission of NSW (Forest Corp) for 48 years and fire fighting was a major component of his job.
In July 2020 he starting developing the Bermagui Community Bushfire Protection Plan.
"It proposes widening the fire breaks that are the existing trails and roads that encompass the residential area of Bermagui and surrounds and the widening of some internal roads and trails inside the break," he said.
The plan was the result of numerous meetings with the RFS, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Forestry and other stakeholders.
They met with Andrew Constance in July 2021.
"He said it was a great idea and that the government would back it fully," said Mr Douch.
The problem lay with the RFS having to operate under state government legislation that covered things like threatened species, cultural heritage, and endangered ecological systems.
"We were getting nowhere so we thought we would go through the local member.
"That is where we are up to today and hopefully he will take this up to state government level at their next meeting.
"I would like the state government to lessen the impact of some of this other legislation to make it easier to work on bushfire community protection measures," Mr Douch said.
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