In May Australia’s first co-built educational and aged care facility was opened. Southern Montessori Middle School is built on the grounds of Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care.
The school consists of three classrooms for approximately 60 students.
“The students needed more space to learn, our residents saw the opportunity could add a vibrancy to their home, and the local council worked with us to make it happen,” Noel Browne, Principal at Southern Montessori School, said.
“Society is facing increasing age segregation which we believe can be influenced by learning programs and intergenerational care opportunities which encourage meaningful understanding and connection between the two generations. This can only lead to a more balanced and well functioning society.
“Research shows everyone benefits when the young and older generations come together and children develop empathy and respect for older people.”
IEU SA applauds this ‘out of the box’ thinking on schooling and caring for the important ageing sector of our community – it fits with our principles of: Better Jobs, Better Schools, Better Society.
Question mark over camps and excursions
A recent Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) decision has placed a serious question mark over the extent of Queensland members’ participation in excursions, camps, trips and outdoor education.
The Commission has held that an injury sustained by a teacher participating in a particular activity whilst on a school excursion did not arise out of, or in the course of, the teacher’s employment.
Consequently, the teacher was not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
In this case, due to unforeseen weather conditions, the teacher was participating in a specific activity on a school excursion overseas which had not been approved by the employer beforehand.
However, the Commission’s decision has important ramifications for a broad range of activities which are not limited to excursions.
The teacher was injured in the ‘unauthorised’ activity and WorkCover was declined because the employer had not specifically authorised this emergent activity.
This QIRC decision means QLD members may not be covered by workers’ compensation if they are injured whilst undertaking activities not specifically identified in documents such as position descriptions, school policies, risk assessments or Activity Intention Sheets.
If participation in an activity is not the result of a clear requirement or direction from the employer that it is part of the employee’s role, then members are vulnerable.
IEUA-QNT is appealing the Commission’s decision in the Industrial Court of Queensland but until – and unless – the decision is overturned, members must exercise caution in whether or how they decide to participate in activities.
Without clear, written directions from employers on participation in activities, QLD school employees are vulnerable.
If members are in doubt about any aspect of an excursion, camp, trip or outdoor education, contact our Union today.
Gender equality framework a first for the Northern Territory
The Northern Territory (NT) Government is taking meaningful action on gender inequality, announcing the development of the Territory’s first Gender Equality Framework.
The Office of Gender Equity and Diversity undertook consultations earlier this year, across four key focus areas: safety, health and wellbeing, economic security, and leadership and participation.
The consultations played an important role as a primary research tool around how gender inequalities manifest in the community and the ways to address them from both local and government levels.
In Australia, working women are more likely to be in insecure work, still suffer from a gender pay gap and will retire with 47% less super than men.
The Framework will play an essential role in rectifying some of these sobering statistics, creating a culture that values and upholds equity in all its forms and ensures all people feel safe and respected as equals.
It will also aim to address the gender inequalities occurring in the NT which include the highest rates of domestic, family and sexual violence in Australia; high levels of ill health and chronic disease and the second highest gender pay gap in Australia.
The Northern Territory Gender Equality Framework will focus on long-term strategies to challenge systemic gender inequalities, build evidence-based approaches, share responsibility and strengthen community partnerships.
The consultations, which included input from individuals as well as community and advisory groups and interested organisations in urban, rural and remote parts of the NT, will help shape the framework.
To read the consultation paper, visit https://territoryfamilies.nt.gov.au/
Teachers' wages deadlock broken
Members in Catholic schools, whose wages have parity with the government sector, have not had a pay rise since March 2018. However, with the recent settlement in the government sector there is some relief in sight. A circuit breaker one year wages deal was offered by the state government to the Australian Education Union (AEU) and a ballot of members returned an 84% endorsement. Staff in Catholic schools will also be backpaid to the same date.
The new government sector deal comprises back payment to 1 March of 2.1%, additional 0.25% pay increase on date of registration of the agreement with the Industrial Commission. It also includes a one-off payment (on agreement registration) of 0.15% for employees earning less than the equivalent full time salary of $80,000 or $120 for employees over this threshold. There are no changes to conditions. The offer contains a commitment for the parties to commence immediate negotiations for a two year agreement and, if agreement on wages is not reached by 29 November 2019, the matter will be arbitrated by the Commission.
A silver milestone
This year IEU Victoria Tasmania celebrates 25 years since the merger of the three sector specific Victorian non government education unions and the formation of the Victorian Independent Education Union (VIEU).
This is an important year to acknowledge our roots and work on a clear vision for the next quarter of a century.
The origins of the Union came from the collectivism of assistant masters and assistant mistresses, who through their associations, agitated for an increase in their salaries.
In the early 1900s, teachers were earning as little as £12-20 per year, much less than teachers in government schools, and the wages of assistant mistresses were much less than their male counterparts. It is against this backdrop that a small, yet valiant group of women set out to achieve an industrial award that regulated their wages and conditions, finally realised in 1947 with the Teachers (Girls’ Schools) Award.
Fast forward through the inclusion of other independent schools into awards, the first award in the Catholic sector, the extension of award coverage to education support staff, and the merger of the Association for Catholic Primary Principals with the Catholic Primary Staff Association.
There has been the movement from a state industrial relations system to the federal jurisdiction, the introduction of enterprise bargaining and the incremental process of improving wages and conditions.
The Victorian Independent Education Union also amalgamated over the last decade with both the Tasmanian Catholic and independent school unions – stronger together.
All the campaigns have been driven by dedicated, committed and courageous teachers, principals and support staff who know that they are stronger together.
Today’s unionists stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, and members need to continue to fight for the future and the next generation.
New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory
Professional issues prominent in claim
The NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement 2017 expires on 31 December. Work intensification is consistently identified by teachers and support staff as being both an ongoing and increasing issue in schools.
IEUA members point to increased administrative tasks, increased data collection and reporting and a raft of expectations eroding out of class time.
The consequences of work intensification lead to decreased teaching time, an increasing sense of professional disempowerment and young teachers leaving the profession prematurely.
Solutions to be pursued by the Union include:
• consultation must occur with staff before a school or diocese decides to implement a new program or approach, to establish the educational and workload impact of the proposed activity
• dioceses should provide complete mandated programs which comply with NESA and TQI, with teachers adapting, modifying and contextualising the program, and
• explicit support for the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) to ensure teaching is not compromised by the data collection.
Reconceptualising the implementation of ‘new’ additional work is critical. The Union is calling for an educational impact review which would entail consultation with the relevant staff to answer the following:
• Who requested the initiative?
• Who will perform the work?
• What funding is available?
• What is the cost/benefit?
• and importantly, what peer reviewed evidence exists to support this initiative?
Protecting teaching and learning from unnecessary intrusions, the provision of programs and tangible assistance with NCCD processes will be central to discussions with the various dioceses.
Members surveyed on key issues
On a fairly regular basis, IEUA members in Western Australia are surveyed as to the key issues that are having a significant effect on their work and workplace conditions.
This is a very effective exercise in tracking the increasing or decreasing relevance and effect of key issues such as work intensification, the effect of violence in schools and security of employment.
This information informs and to a large extent directs both bargaining priorities and organising at the workplace level.
Key points that came forward strongly in the 2019 Member Survey included:
- 22.24% of members are employed on temporary contracts; almost 8% for more than five years
- there is a high level of demand for IEUA advice and support on professional issues
- members are strongly committed to collective bargaining, including members at schools that are currently ‘award’ schools
- increasing workloads and work intensification are the two most significant workplace issues, closely followed by a lack of consultation by school management with staff, and
- members feel strongly that their Union should be represented at a peak level on decision making bodies such as ACARA and AITSL.
Teachers Registration and Standards Act
The Teachers Registration and Standards Act 2004 has not had a substantial review since it came into operation. The Act established the Teachers Registration Board to provide oversight of the profession to ensure teachers met appropriate professional competency standards as well as being fit and proper persons to fulfil the roles of caring for and educating children. Since its inception there have been a number of reviews into aspects of the profession including the quality of initial teacher education programs, the strengthening of child protection legislation and AITSL’s development of the national teacher standards.
The state government has distributed a discussion paper and held consultation meetings across the state for stakeholders prior to making recommendations to ‘enhance’ the profession. Two key consultation questions of particular interest to the IEUA related to a proposed shift in focus to the ‘interest of children being paramount in the Board’s function’ and what that might mean, and the composition of the board. Currently the SA board has the largest number of members of any of the state registration authorities. It has a total of six practicing teachers appointed by the IEUA (two) and the AEU (four). One of the considerations of the review was to reduce the number of members and include more parent representatives. It is not too much of a stretch to wonder who will be prime targets to lose places. Education unions will obviously not agree to their professional role being eroded.