We are well into the first term of the Mark McGowan WA State Labor Government and an active scope of legislative reform is underway.
The focus on improving workers’ rights includes review of the Industrial Relations Act and Regulations, the Teachers Registration Act, the Workplace Safety and Health Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
All indications are that Western Australia intends to maintain a state industrial relations system. IEUA WA will continue to be active in both the federal and state jurisdictions.
Member surveys have consistently indicated that WA members want to have more influence on educational issues at state and federal level. On that basis the WA executive made the decision to affiliate with the ALP from 1 January 2019. The affiliation will be reviewed in two years to access the level of effectiveness. Early indications suggest we have enhanced access to decision makers. At a federal level, the Branch has liaised with WA senators and Labor MHRs to provide evidence of discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation and religious belief in schools. We have put forward the case for legislation to prevent these unfair practices.
New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory
Online PD for Union members a success
Since 2016 IEUA NSW/ACT Branch has been offering online professional development to its members. The program has grown significantly through the following years, with 2018’s entire program booking out and 2019’s Term 1 program filling within weeks.
The many advantages to members offered by online PD include:
- geographically isolated members can access the same quality PD as metropolitan members. Hearing the same message at the same time is crucially important for all members
- members with caring duties can access PD from home, Online PD eliminates travel time and allows families to be under the same roof in the evenings
- access to the expert. Due to chat window functionality, members can ask questions directly to the expert. This means they can get clarification, feedback and advice in real time, and
- feeling part of a community. Being able to interact and learn with fellow union members means that members who might feel isolated by an issue, area of work or geography can be together online with others in the same situation.
NSW/ACT Branch has worked in collaboration with the Teachers Learning Network (TLN) to create its program.
New Queensland College of Teachers Director
The Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) has announced the appointment of a new Director, Deanne Fishburn.
Fishburn, who will commence in the role from 7 May 2019, is a Queensland registered teacher and led the implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in Queensland.
Currently the QCT Executive Manager (Professional Standards), Fishburn also led the implementation of the national standards and procedures for the accreditation of initial teacher education programs across the state.
Current QCT Director John Ryan first announced he would be stepping down from the role last year, after more than a decade of service.
Teacher Registration Act amended
The first amendment to the Teacher Registration (Northern Territory) Act in more than a decade was introduced into parliament in mid February.
Key amendments include:
- streamlining the administrative processes and operations of the Teacher Registration Board (TRB)
- strengthening the Board’s powers for disciplinary proceedings and decision making
- increasing openness and transparency, and availability of information, regarding the Board’s operations and decision making
- clarifying information the Board must be notified of by individuals, employers and other government agencies, and when information can be shared by the Board
- confirming the Board’s responsibility to support and recognise quality teaching and educational leadership
- providing efficient and cost effective recourse for decisions made by the Board
- enabling flexibility in dealing with evolving issues affecting teacher registration, and
- bringing consistency with the Care and Protection of Children Act, by ensuring that the regimes for teacher registration and working with children clearances are aligned.
Our Union provided submissions on the proposed amendments and participated in stakeholder consultation sessions alongside the Australian Education Union (AEU) in the consultation before the amendments were tabled in parliament. Both unions will continue to advocate in the best interest of members.
Changes to teacher registration
This year will see further changes to requirements for teacher registration. From 1 September teachers must, in addition to maintaining their teacher registration, notify the Working With Children Check Unit about any child related paid or volunteer work done outside of school or early childhood services.
IEUA VicTas is advocating for a simple and seamless process by which registered teachers are able to give the WWCC Unit the required notifications, facilitated by the Victorian Institute of Teaching.
Provisional registration issues
The movement of Provisionally Registered Teachers (PRTs) to full registration has been contentious for some years. A number of experienced teachers have not applied for full status and the Teacher Registration Board (TRB) has been encouraging them to do so. A stumbling block has been the relevance of a process designed for early career teachers being applied to experienced teachers. The workload involved has been of concern to IEUA VicTas.
Recent incentives built into the new industrial agreements in Catholic and government schools have increased the number of applicants for full registration. Full registration is also now a requirement for some positions, such as deputy principal. Last year a raft of complaints was received from rejected applicants and panel members who raised concerns about the quality of feedback received from the TRB.
TRB sent out an update in February this year advising teachers of a number of changes, including a required Expression of Interest to be forwarded to TRB by 5 April. The IEUA and AEU have raised concerns about this issue and others with the TRB. Members who have experienced difficulties with the application process, or as workplace panel members, are encouraged to contact IEUA VicTas on firstname.lastname@example.org
Challenges to IEUA position on religious exemption
As the debate on religious schools’ discrimination exemption winds out, a handful of Christian schools in SA are making formal and informal challenges to the IEUA position that both staff and students should be protected from discrimination. They wish to retain the ability to discriminate against staff.
Our answer is that the IEUA is a values based organisation and its purposes are threefold: industrial, professional and social.
All values based organisations will attract some controversy when standing for their values/faith/principles and often are subject to unreasonable social or legal restrictions. Unions are subject to attack from various quarters. Religions are too, but all persevere in suboptimal environments.
The Union works to better members’ working lives and the society in which members live. We have no remit to advocate for any particular faith or dogma. We have our own articles of faith. We do advocate for the rights of non government schools to exist and be funded as a part of the provision of public education, because it is in the best interests of members.
Members will have a whole range of religious viewpoints. Our duty is not to protect any person or group’s religious sensibilities, but rather to protect our members in their employment and broader lives.
We will take that stand should the issue arise even if the issue was not one of our raising. We have no particular experience of students being discriminated against on the basis of gender/sexuality, but where members need protection we will advocate for that protection even if thatdoes not accord with a particular employer’s world view.