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A new life beckons for teachers who want to weave rural life and classroom development in Australia

Red Bend Catholic College in New South Wales provides an attractive option for Irish teachers, and their partners, looking for opportunities to create a new life in Australia

For those seeking a move Down Under, there’s so much more to Australia than its cities and their high-rise glass towers. Deep in gold rush country in central New South Wales is the heritage town of Forbes, which is situated at a bend in the river Lachlan.

With a population of about 9,300 throughout the town and its hinterlands, the Lachlan Valley is prime farming country, something that is reflected in the curriculum of Red Bend Catholic College, a coeducational college of some 900 students that is looking for teachers, in particular in the disciplines of English literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, history and geography.

Irish qualifications are recognised in every state and territory of the country, but the town of Forbes offers ex-pats a way of expanding their horizons and improving their bank balances while retaining that slower pace of life that they may already enjoy in Ireland.

It’s also about flexing your muscles and getting an introduction to farming Australian style, where everything from the herds to the homesteads are bigger.


Set on a working farm that extends to about 100 acres, Red Bend Catholic College has a Marist ethos enlivened by lay staff.

“Our college inspires an inclusive and engaging Catholic education in the Marist tradition, nurturing Christians who are audacious, resilient and ethically informed global citizens,” explains Irish citizen principal Stephen Dwyer. “A strong family spirit invigorates our community where each member feels valued and has a sense of belonging and connection.”

The school offers many job options

In addition to about 85 teaching positions, the staff includes another 100 to administer the day and boarding schools and to run the farm. Boarders are housed in two separate residences with some boarding for the 40-week academic year while others board Monday to Friday only – returning to their own homes at weekends.

While the college’s academic achievements are outstanding, they also offer vocational pathways through hospitality, primary industries and construction. And being in the unique position to have so much land around them, the college has a thriving agricultural department where students learn on its working farm.

“We are committed to bringing Irish teachers to our school to experience everything we have to offer,” says Mr Dwyer, noting that Irish teaching qualifications are recognised in Australia.

“We have a comprehensive process to assist with sponsorship and working holiday visa options, as well as facilitating partners or spouses with employment opportunities,” he explains.

“If a person is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and under the age of 35, they can come to Australia and teach on a working holiday visa, and then while working, we can then start the process of applying for the sponsorship visa,” he adds.

The college has teachers from many different nationalities including Fiji, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, and Canada.

So what can potential emigrants expect?

Red Bend Catholic College is proud of its safe, caring and supportive work environment. It offers competitive remuneration packages. Emigrants can expect ongoing professional development and training, in state-of-the-art teaching facilities that provide a modern and technologically advanced learning environment for students.

“We are proud of our capacity to enable teachers to participate in targeted, specific professional development,” says Mr Dwyer. “Being a large regional college of over 900 students there are many opportunities to move into various positions of responsibility, if desired. We also actively support staff wellbeing through strategies that achieve a healthy work/life balance.”

While staff have access to the school’s aquatic and gym facilities, the town of Forbes boasts two gyms, along with a strong sporting culture. It has football, netball, tennis, golf, rugby league and rugby union clubs, an indoor heated pool and an outdoor 50-metre community pool, as well as a ski-dam for water sports.

“The town of Forbes is small enough to offer an incredible community, but large enough to host all the essential services,” says Mr Dwyer.

Forbes is renowned for its heritage-listed buildings and notorious bushranger history, as it was the home of the infamous Ben Hall, who was responsible for Australia’s biggest gold robbery. It also boasts a new, world-class sculpture trail that draws tourists from near and far.

Situated on the Newell Highway, Forbes is halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane, and is only a few hours’ drive from Sydney, Canberra – Australia’s capital – and the Snowy Mountains. It provides the perfect destination to explore all of the great outdoors and everything Australia’s cities has to offer, while enjoying an enriching career.

Last year Red Bend’s Mr Colin Hawthorn was named the western region’s VET agriculture trainer of the year, recognising his dedication over more than 40 years teaching and more than 10 years mentoring the next generation of educators.

Mr Hawthorn is a recognised agriculture leader across NSW, and is farm manager at the school, which has a proud track record of helping students gain valuable expertise and developing successful careers in the agricultural sector. He describes the College as, “a relaxed and friendly school where students are engaged”. Many of the students come from agricultural backgrounds and Mr Hawthorn completed his own secondary education at Red Bend.

“I think the fact that I am a practicing farmer as part of a mixed cropping and livestock enterprise gives me an advantage in keeping students up to date with current and emerging technologies and innovations in sustainable agriculture,” he says.

In terms of opportunities for staff relocating from overseas, Mr Dwyer says a move to Australia might really suit young families who could one day possibly attend the school with their parent. There are also plenty of opportunities for spouses to find employment in the area, he notes, while also enjoying all of the natural attractions of this beautiful part of Australia.

Mr Dwyer says that the college has a long history of teaching staff coming from overseas and there are robust structures in place to ensure the transition is smooth. “New staff tell us that they feel very well supported in our college due to our genuine family spirit and strong collective efficacy.”

Assistance is provided in finding appropriate accommodation, with the town of Forbes or other regional towns nearby or, if you wish, even on a rural farm property. He says the aim is to ensure all staff who join the community are connected with the College and have strong links with sporting, cultural and social activities in the local community.

“I like to say that we are aiming at something better at Red Bend Catholic College. Our ethos is to inspire the minds, hearts and spirits of our students and we’re looking forward to welcoming new additions to our teaching staff,” he concludes.

For more information on employment opportunities at Red Bend Catholic College visit redbendcc.nsw.edu.au