At the time of writing, the Victorian Government has proposed further legislative changes related to child protection to take effect next year. The raft of legislative changes over the last two years has added further layers of compliance requirements to schools and early childhood centres and created challenges as new schemes are implemented.
IE readers may recall in the last edition the outline of a new Reportable Conduct Scheme managed under the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) which followed the introduction of the Child Safe Standards incorporated into school registration requirements.
The most recent legislative amendments are proposed to align the registration of teachers under the Education and Training Reform Act with the Working With Children (WWC) Act. Unlike other states and territories, registered teachers will continue to be exempted from having to obtain a WWCC if they are engaged in the child related work that would normally require a person to have a WWCC.
However, a number of changes are required to bring the requirements of the two acts into consistency. The registration process will be amended to include a number of additional crimes under which either automatic refusal of an application for registration or renewal of registration will occur, or other vetting processes invoked. There will be financial penalties for the non provision of certain information such as change of employer, change of address and the like. Registered teachers will now be required to notify the WWC unit of their non school work with children (paid or voluntary) and financial penalty will now apply for non notification.
IEUA VicTas has been in consultation over the proposed changes. While the changes will align the two schemes, and registered teachers will continue to be able to rely on their teacher registration, there needs to be a clear support structure in place to assist registered teachers to be aware and understand the differences that will now apply, particularly in respect to changes in the obligations which have applied for more than a decade under the current registration scheme.
Employers must support staff throughout NDIS rollout
Implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced on a trial basis in North Queensland in 2016 and the complete statewide rollout is expected by 2019. Introduction of the NDIS marks a fundamental change in the way schools will receive funding to support inclusion of students with additional needs.
This has the potential to significantly alter expectations of teachers, particularly given the lack of clarity around the relationship between intervention (funded by the NDIS) and education (not funded by the NDIS).
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said our Union recognises the importance and value of inclusive schools and gives in-principle support to the inclusion of students with additional needs in Queensland schools.
“Our Union also believes that quality inclusion in an educational setting depends on provision of adequate support and resources for teachers, inclusion support staff and students,” Mr Burke said.
To assist teachers in managing inclusion of students with additional needs, employers must establish a process through which staff members can raise concerns if they believe the inclusion of special needs students in their classes:
- is not being adequately resourced, and/or
- is significantly impacting on the classroom environment.
“Over time, we will seek to modify collective agreements to incorporate explicit clauses relating to inclusion of students with additional needs,” Mr Burke said.
New South Wales
Accreditation of pre-2004 teachers
The majority of pre-2004 teachers should have received a kit from NESA, containing a certificate deeming them proficient, an accreditation map and details of how to maintain accreditation.
However NESA has had technology issues which have impacted on a small number of members, including exchange teachers and teachers moving to NSW from interstate. Members attempting to pay their $100 fee have also encountered difficulties.
It is important to note that the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch has been instrumental in refining the requirements of maintaining accreditation, which are as follows:
- The requirements to submit a Maintenance of
Accreditation Report at the end of each cycle has been
dispensed with. The TAA (a system of schools or an
individual school) will determine if a teacher’s practice
continues to meet the standards. These processes have a
multiplicity of names.
- Teachers will be required to complete at least 100 hours
of professional learning in their maintenance period (five
years for a full time teacher and seven years for casuals or
part timers). Principals will no longer have to verify teacher
identified professional learning.
- Teachers will no longer have to address all seven
standards and all standard descriptors from Standard 6.
This frees teachers to shape their own professional needs.
- Importantly – a teacher has to declare in the final three
months of their maintenance period that they have
maintained the Standards for Proficient Teachers. After
the completion of the declaration, a Teacher
Accreditation Authority must attest that the teacher
has maintained their practice against the Standards.
The activities and practices that form the basis of this
attestation will be comprised of processes that are in
place in the school/service, and will not generate
additional requirements for the teacher.
Industrial bargaining in the spotlight
Industrial bargaining is a key focus of activity for 2018 in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Catholic Education Single Employer Enterprise Agreement 2015 passed its nominal expiry date in July 2017. Following an extensive process (including surveys, member meetings and reviews by workplace reps) the IEUA Committee of Management approved a log of claims for a new agreement which was served on employers in August.
The Tasmanian Catholic Education Office (TCEO) and the IEUA VicTas Branch have hardly drawn breath since 2015. The 2015 enterprise agreement introduced major reform to working conditions for members. A number of the schools are still, two years later, fully implementing the agreement. In 2016 the Union negotiated changes to the support staff structure, including higher rates of pay and an immediate wage increase. Before that is fully resolved, the parties are back at the table for the next agreement. The employer tabled their claims on 19 December last year.
Transgender people and education
Last year IEUA SA Branch had the opportunity to contribute to a new book Transgender People and Education, by Clare Bartholomaeus and Damien Riggs of Flinders University. The book provides a comprehensive account of the educational experiences of students, parents, and educators – transgender and cisgender – in the context of current debates about the inclusion of transgender people in schools. Available online from Palgrave Macmillan.
Anti-Discrimination Act and exemptions for religious bodies
IEUA-QNT Branch has welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback regarding the Northern Territory Government’s Discussion Paper Modernisation of the Anti-Discrimination Act September 2017 – particularly noting our Union’s support of the removal of automatic religious exemptions.
Our submission argues in favour of a system where religious organisations would need to apply for an exemption on a case by case basis.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said in requiring religious organisations to formulate the case for exemption, the process would also be challenging the organisation in question to confront their true purpose in seeking an exemption. This can only serve to reduce instances of discriminatory practice.
“Faith based schools do accept enrolments from students who are not practising members of the nominated religion. Many schools also enrol children who identify as LGBTI or are children of same sex couples or annulled divorcees.
“Therefore, if current religious exemptions have any significance for schools, it is only to provide a degree of legal protection for a range of discriminatory practices.
“The same can be said of religious exemptions being used as grounds for dismissal of school staff. Some employees of religious schools may be living in circumstances that are incompatible with the strictest requirements of their faith. Employing authorities do not, in a majority of these cases, dismiss these members of staff.
“Given that religious exemptions are generally deployed only when extenuating circumstances emerge, religious exemptions, in most cases, operate as a convenient escape clause rather than a means of protecting deeply felt religious sentiments.
“Under the circumstances, requiring an employer to apply for an exemption on a case-by-case basis should prove effective in ensuring that exemptions are deployed only in the most limited circumstances,” Mr Burke said.
Australian Capital Territory
Recent practice required for registration
The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is reminding members they need to fulfill the requirements of the ACT Education Act this year.
During the 2017 registration renewal period, the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) notified teachers with full registration about the new ‘recency of practice’ requirement.
Teachers were advised that they need to complete 20 days of professional practice in the year preceding their registration renewal.
Those who cannot meet the annual requirement have the flexibility to complete 100 days over a five year period.
For details see www.tqi.act.edu.au.