Protection from ‘persons posing risk of harm’
At press time, a new Bill enabling schools to issue a School Community Safety Order was introduced into the Victorian Parliament. If passed, it would probably come into effect in August.
It would enable principals, or other authorised persons, to issue an immediate order and, if necessary, follow it with an ongoing order for up to 12 months. This can prohibit or regulate certain conduct on school premises to protect members of the school community from harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour, including via communications.
An order can also be made where the authorised person reasonably believes a person poses an unacceptable and imminent risk of causing significant disruption to the school or its activities or poses an unacceptable and imminent risk of interfering with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of students.
The Act will provide for civil penalties for the enforcement of those orders. An order cannot be made in respect to a person under 18 years of age, a staff member at the relevant school nor a student at the relevant school. The person who receives the order is able to seek an internal review of the order and appeal the order at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Secondary curriculum changes – extension
Following a review of Years 9 to 12 schooling, which examined barriers to student retention and attainment, the Tasmanian Government adopted several strategies, including a review of the Years 9 to 12 curriculum and developing a Years 9 to 12 Curriculum Framework. The Tasmanian Department of Education is undertaking the work.
The department consulted with the IEU VicTas and the Australian Education Union (Tasmanian Branch) over the past year and, following union feedback highlighting concerns over the implementation timeline and associated workload, the department extended the timeline for new courses accredited by the Office of Tasmanian Assessment Standards and Certification (TASC).
Most courses will now be implemented in 2023, providing time to work collaboratively with practitioners to ensure a more considered approach to the new courses. A smaller number of new courses may be available in 2022, subject to TASC accreditation.
Girls’ uniform equity campaign success
The IEU Chapter at the Essington School in Darwin is celebrating the success of a multi-year campaign to change the girls’ uniforms.
Girls now have the option to wear dresses, skirts or the better fitted skorts that allow them to play freely.
Chapter Representative and IEU-QNT Branch Executive member Louise Lenzo said girls had only been able to wear dresses or loosely fitted skorts that did not provide adequate coverage when they were engaged in physical activities – they were uncomfortable and/or impractical.
Lenzo said the IEU Chapter believed it was reasonable to offer different uniforms, enabling students to play more comfortably, particularly in the Darwin climate.
To raise awareness of their campaign, staff wore pants/trousers for a full week. Establishment of the Girls’ Uniform Agenda (girlsuniformagenda.org) helped the Chapter gain more support among staff, and found its resources a helpful way to approach their employers and their school community.
Louise said perceptions shifted within school leadership through feedback from students, parents and families that overwhelmingly supported a change.
Women members: Be BOLD for Change
The IEU-QNT Be BOLD for Change 2021 conference will be held on 19 August. The aim is to connect women from throughout the non-government education sector in Queensland and the Northern Territory to talk, learn and reflect on the workplace issues that matter most to them.
The free, online conference will include an exciting line-up of guest speakers, including workplace wellness expert Thea O’Connor’s session, Women’s health at work: What needs to change.
The conference will include workshops on empowering women at work – including leadership development, contemporary reproductive and mental health support, building safe and respectful workplaces and achieving change through action.
The Be BOLD for Change conference will be hosted on an interactive platform. We encourage early RSVPs as spaces are limited: reserve your place and download the program at: ieuqnt.org.au/bold
IEU-QNT members in schools with union development leave can access this leave to attend the conference. If you are unsure whether you have this leave, please contact us for help via email@example.com or freecall 1800 177 938 (Qld) or 1800 351 996 (NT).
Art Award winners announced
The IEU(SA) is proud to sponsor an art award encouraging Year 12 Visual Arts students in non-government schools to pursue their artistic skills and create an artwork reflecting their views and expressivity.
With so many strong entries, the judges chose joint winners. Congratulations go to Carmen Marino of Loreto College, Marryatville, for her multimedia response to the recent bushfires. In “What was unprecedented is now our future” she incorporated dirt, sticks and wire from the affected landscape to convey the devastation and communicate the need to heed climate change warnings.
Sophie Arundell of Scotch College Adelaide produced “Solitudo” which reflects the pain, desperation and isolation felt when in a dark place. The hidden face reflects the hiding of problems while the shower setting symbolises everything crashing down when one is alone.
Carmen and Sophie received their $250 cash prize, funded by the IEU(SA), from Assistant Secretary Louise Firrell and the CEO of the South Australian Certificate of Education Board, Professor Martin Westwell.
IEU opposes Parental Rights Bill
The IEU represents members’ interests on many fronts but of key concern is One Nation’s Education Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill.
Under the umbrella of “parental primacy”, the Bill requires the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to identify those parts of any syllabus developed or endorsed by NESA that relate to parental primacy. It also demands NESA prepare resources for parents, setting out areas of the syllabus that relate to parental primacy, and provide these resources to schools, including non-government schools.
Given the broad definition of “parental primacy”, any syllabus that touches on ethical and moral standards, political and social values and personal wellbeing, could be affected. This includes discussion of gender diversity, First Nations matters, and curriculum that looks at environment issues or climate change.
To express serious concerns about the Bill, the IEU made a written submission to, and appeared at, a NSW Legislative Council inquiry. We have also written to all Diocesan Directors (except the Diocese of Parramatta which originally opposed the Bill), to indicate that the proposed legislation would make schools the “plaything of politicians” and that amendments to the NSW Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 would expose teachers to investigations and possible loss of accreditation.
The union joins with many other organisations, including the NSW Parents Council, the Uniting Network, the NSW Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People and the Law Society of NSW, to oppose the Bill.
In the words of one member: “It is an attack on teachers’ professional judgement and our capacity to support young people in schools as they seek to navigate the challenges of their own identity and the complexities of the world around them.”
People at Work survey 2021
In February this year, IEU NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam and organisers from the IEU’s ACT office attended a briefing by Jacqueline Argus, ACT Work Health and Safety Commissioner. Argus sought the union’s support in promoting Australia’s only validated psychosocial risk assessment survey, People at Work.
Funded by Australia’s work health and safety regulators, and developed in collaboration with leading researchers, People at Work helps identify key psychosocial hazards in businesses across Australia. It also provides guidance on practical ways to manage them.
The risk-assessment tool furnishes a five-year tenure and is free to every employer with more than 20 employees. It is a five-step process that businesses can use to identify, assess and control risks to psychosocial health at work. Approaches to psychosocial health so far have been narrow, focusing on harassment and bullying.
The tool encompasses assessment of risk factors such as fatigue, workload and stress. Engaging in the survey provides the employer with an opportunity to tailor questions to their particular industry. The ensuing report gives de-identified information and assessment, so employers can take action based on the results.
Participating workplaces will also receive a report comparing their results against a benchmark of similar companies.