Teachers in Northern Territory, Australia are taking strike action against cuts which are having a devastating effect, particularly on rural schools. They are gaining support from local communities who are also involved in the campaign.

Just at the time when the government has instituted a truancy drive in remote schools, with the result that attendance has increased by 17%, the same amount has been cut from school budgets, resulting in the loss of teachers and teaching assistants. In a statement the Australian Edcucation Union asks: 'How are teachers expected to help kids with exceptional learning and behavioural problems with less resources and staff? This is appalling!'

The Northern Territory state government attempted to use legal means to prevent the strikes from happening, however the Fair Work Commission found in the union's favour. 'We know this government is doing everything it can to prevent teachers exercising their rights', said union president Matthew Cranitch, 'It is a pity they won't actually use their resources to sit down and bargain in good faith with the union to end the dispute.'

The AEU nationally is engaged in a campaign to fund education properly across the country with its 'I give a Gonski' campaign. The new right wing administration of Tony Abbott is reneging on promises to increase funding for schools. Meanwhile in the Northern Territory, 81% of teachers voted to strike to reverse the cuts. The cuts are particularly affecting children with learning difficulties, special needs and behavioural problems, who are often being taught in over-large classes and with little support. To make matters worse, teachers who now have a greatly increased workload, have been offered a below inflation wage settlement, and the government is refusing to improve housing for teachers, working in remote areas in often badly maintained and sub-standard conditions.

The government's failure to fund education properly comes despite a report which it commissioned, which stressed that schooling for indigenous communities in Northern Territory was in need of an urgent overhaul. As the teachers taking action against the cuts declare: 'The cuts to school funding and teacher numbers continue to make our attempts to improve outcomes for our students almost impossible. They must be halted and reversed!'