Teacher claims she lives in Land of the Rising Slum
THE sister city relationship between Toowoomba and Takatsuki City has been rocked by allegations from an English teacher in Japan.
A Toowoomba teacher claims that she and her colleagues have been harassed, overcharged and forced to live in dilapidated apartments.
Monique Janse van Rensburg has worked as an English teacher in Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture, since April last year.
"Eight of us came here in good faith to work as Friendship Ambassadors and teachers representing the Toowoomba region," she said.
"Yet, shockingly we have in return received no support whatsoever.
"On the contrary, we have been harassed, (overcharged) for rent for dilapidated apartments, denied all our legal rights and health benefits as working teachers, threatened and (misled) by both (Toowoomba Regional Council) and Takatsuki City."
She said her supervisor had been fired over the issue.
Ms van Rensburg said her problems centred on the teachers' decision to move out of the "unliveable housing they were forced to overpay for".
She also claims her landlord is connected to the Takatsuki Board of Education.
The teachers pay ¥60,000 a month for the apartments or about $A642.
She said Takatsuki and Toowoomba Regional Council had decided to "suddenly dismantle" the educational and international programs that they had "bragged about for two decades".
She said council was heavily involved and had ignored pleas for help.
"They have attempted to force us to pay for unneeded apartments, ignored repeated calls for help and support, and they have used public monies to 'fix' issues, paying directly to the private landlord here.
"We and our predecessors have repeatedly informed them of the issues and they have come to Takatsuki and observed the housing, but they have flat out refused to include us, their own ambassadors, in any discussions for improving the program."
Ms van Rensburg said last year the teachers sent "a lot" of information to Toowoomba Regional Council, including the CEO and all councillors.
"To date, we have received no indication that our concerns have been taken seriously, been acted on, or in any way caused council to look further into these issues."