New South Wales
New enterprise agreements covering teachers in Association of Independent Schools (AIS) schools and independent Catholic schools were due to be finalised during Term 4.
AIS schools are proposing four year agreements, with increases of 2.3%, 2.5%, 2.5% and 2.5% each year for teachers and 2.5% each year for support staff.
At time of press, not all details had been finalised for support and operational staff.
Some Catholic independents will achieve agreements modelled on what has happened with AIS schools, while others will adopt the standard pay structure applying to Catholic systemic school teachers, with pay increases still to be finalised.
For Catholic independent support and operational staff, the claim includes general pay increases, with further increases for maintenance and outdoor staff and nurses, casual loading of 25% for all classifications, the removal of the cap on the accumulation of sick leave and an overnight camp allowance.
Australian Capital Territory
Reportable conduct scheme
The ACT has updated its child protection reporting mechanisms for ‘designated agencies’ (ACT schools) through the introduction of a new reportable conduct scheme, modelled on the NSW scheme in operation since 1999.
The passing of the Reportable Conduct and Information Sharing Legislation Amendments Act 2016 in August 2016 signaled significant changes to several Acts in the ACT (Ombudsman Act 1989, Children and Young People Act 2008 and the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011) and empowered the ACT Ombudsman with child protection oversight duties.
From 1 July 2017 ‘designated agencies’ must report to the ACT Ombudsman any allegation of reportable conduct or any reportable conviction. In the case of ACT schools, the principal will be required to provide a written report to the ACT Ombudsman at the conclusion of an investigation into any reportable conduct allegation, to assist them in completing an assessment of the investigation.
The new legislation also allows for information sharing on reportable conduct investigations between the Human Rights Commission, ACT Police, Commissioner for Fair Trading and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute.
IEU in on the Act
As part of the review of the Tasmanian Education Act commenced in the latter part of 2014, the Tasmanian Government examined and made a number of legislative changes in early 2016:
• enrolment: including lowering the starting age and lifting the minimum education and training leaving requirement to the completion of Year 12 or equivalent (Certificate 111, apprenticeships) or until 18, whichever occurs first, and
• attendance and non attendance provisions, and post Year 10 options and issues.
In terms of further work, the Minister for Education and Training has recently commissioned ACER to conduct an independent review of the Years 9 to 10 education sector to identify opportunities to improve attendance, retention and attainment outcomes. They will look at:
• current curriculum provision, attainment data, and pathway information for students in Years 9 to 12 in all Tasmanian schools, including vocational education and training
• the effectiveness of current curriculum provision
• the alignment and effectiveness of assessment and moderation practices
• proposed future direction of curriculum provision and design, and
• workforce characteristics, including qualifications and specialisations, particularly in Years 11 and 12.
IEU has made extensive submissions to the review of the Act and the subsequent legislative changes; and will continue to be actively involved in the current review of Years 9 to 12 education.
Level playing field for teachers and schools in all sectors?
Recent media reports in Western Australia convey disturbingly contradictory attitudes towards key operational aspects of the non government school sector.
The West Australian recently led with a prominent article that emphasised the requirement for all schools to report critical incidents to the Department of Education Services.
This must be within 48 hours of circumstances that posed a critical risk to the health and safety of students and staff.
The State Government changed the Regulations in 2012 to bring the reporting requirements of non government schools in line with what was expected from public schools.
The minister was quoted as saying that “private schools must be as accountable as public schools, it’s got to be a level playing field”.
Just days before this another news item in The West Australian reported that the Department of Education seemingly has the discretion to decide to recognise or not recognise teaching experience at non government schools.
This came to light when a teacher who had moved from a Montessori school to a public school was denied recognition of her four years of teaching at the Montessori school. According to a department spokesperson this was because “the requirements and outcomes for Montessori teaching are not the same as traditional teaching”.
This strange decision is being challenged by the teacher in question. All teachers in WA have the same accountability requirements in regard to having appropriate teacher qualifications, being registered by the Teacher Registration Board WA and teaching the Australian Curriculum. The teacher’s experience overseas and at a WA Catholic school were recognised by the Department.
Catholic school staff escalate industrial action
Hundreds of Catholic school staff participated in a stop work on Thursday 8 September and a rally in Victoria Square, Adelaide.
At issue has been the employers’ refusal to meaningfully address workload intensification.
The SA Catholic schools enterprise agreement expired in July 2015 and after more than a year of negotiation has not been resolved. The last pay rise was in October 2014, but pay is not the sticking point. Pay rises have been long ago agreed at the 2.5% paid to government school employees.
Employers are happy to benchmark salaries against the government sector, but refuse to benchmark conditions.
Since members rallied at the Catholic Education Office in June this year, employers have made minor concessions, but a couple of student free days per year and less than two minutes per day reduction in load don’t go far enough.
IEU (SA) Secretary Glen Seidel said: “Industrial action is unusual for our members, but the employers are ignoring their calls for a fair response to their message.
“Workload expectations need to be constrained and members are disappointed and disillusioned at the lack of meaningful engagement by their employers.”
RAP acknowledges responsibility of supporting reconciliation
IEUA-QNT’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has been officially endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, acknowledging our ethical and professional responsibility to positively influence future generations by supporting the process of reconciliation within members’ school communities.
Having been endorsed in June, the Union’s RAP will operate at the Innovate level in accordance with Reconciliation Australia guidelines. An Innovate RAP is for organisations that have developed relationships with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and are ready to develop or implement programs for cultural learning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and supplier diversity.
RAP Caretaker and Branch Secretary Terry Burke said to achieve the status of operating at an Innovate level allows the Union to extend beyond symbolic gestures, with clear actions that will have a lasting, positive impact on interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
As part of the Union’s RAP launch and acknowledging Australia’s First Peoples, the Union also initiated the circulation of a message stick throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory.
For more information or for schools wishing to create their own RAP, go to www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub
Members prepare to bargain in NT Catholic schools
Northern Territory members in Catholic schools are building collective strength in preparation for the negotiation of a replacement collective agreement.
IEUA-QNT Lead Organiser Nick Holliday said consultation with members had commenced, with a survey to help inform the employee log of claims due to be sent to members in Term 3.
“Members have already identified a number of issues including measures to deal with the expanding workload of staff in Catholic schools, which need to be addressed in this round of collective bargaining,” Holliday said.
Members have also raised the need for a review of the middle leadership system and that Positions of Responsibility (POR) are not remunerated in line with other sectors nor properly recognised for the level of contribution.
He said the survey will be a keystone to the collective bargaining process, as it gives each member an opportunity to have their voice heard. Once the surveys are collected, the results will be reported back to chapters for discussion and ultimately the endorsement of a Log of Claims.
“Members are encouraged to begin conversations with their colleagues ahead of the survey about workplace issues they’d like to address or improvements they want to make to conditions.”