Save the date

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch annual early childhood conference ‘We are all in this together: Support, Resilience, Recognition’, will take place on Saturday 7 August at Aerial UTS Centre, Level 7, Building 10, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, Sydney. It’s back to a face-to-face event this year after last year’s virtual sessions. Keep an eye on the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch website www.ieu.asn.au and publications as further details are revealed.

Educator who refused flu shot sacked

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has upheld Goodstart Early Learning’s dismissal of an educator for refusing to take a free flu shot.

Rejecting the lead educator’s argument that Goodstart Early Learning’s mandatory vaccination policy represented an unlawful assault, the Commission said that her inability to back up claims of a “sensitive immune system” and a prior adverse reaction vindicated the employer’s decision to dismiss her in August last year.

FWC Deputy President Lake said, “In the absence of that evidence, it is unclear how I, or Goodstart, could be satisfied that there was valid ground for a medical exemption”.

Ms Bou-Jamie Barber v Goodstart Early Learning [2021] FWC 2156 (20 April 2021)

Maintenance of accreditation

Experienced early childhood teachers in NSW who were deemed Proficient in 2016 are due to finalise their maintenance of accreditation in 2021 if they are employed full time or in 2023 if they are employed part time (unless they have taken a leave of absence during their maintenance cycle). IEUA NSW/ACT Branch has advised on accreditation requirements, see https://bit.ly/3emAFxM

Recognising bullying

A recent study by Dr Lesley-Anne Ey, of the University of South Australia and Professor Marilyn Campbell of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), examines whether early childhood teachers’ understanding of bullying behaviours are similar or different to teachers of primary and secondary school students.

Dr Ey said, “There is limited research on teachers’ understanding of bullying and even less on teachers’ understanding of this behaviour in children under eightyears old”.

Professor Campbell said, “Recognising bullying and non-bullying behaviours is especially difficult in early childhood because of children’s complex social and emotional developmental processes. The difficulty of correctly identifying bullying behaviours, in early childhood, strengthens the argument for delivering professional training and support in this area to early childhood teachers.”

Dr Ey said, “There is a clear need to increase teacher’s knowledge of bullying to support the prevention and intervention of bullying. Results from the study suggest formal training about bullying should be implemented for early childhood teachers to enable them to have a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics that constitute bullying.

“Teachers’ ability to recognise and respond to bullying is essential to support children’s wellbeing, especially in preschool and early primary school where students often look to their teachers for guidance about their behaviour.”

Old people’s home for 4 year olds

You may have seen the heart-warming ABC Television program Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds recently. In this documentary miniseries, a group of scientists and gerontologists try a revolutionary experiment by bringing elderly people into a classroom of preschoolers.

In an Australian first, scientists have begun a pilot trial to assess the mutual health benefits of intergenerational activity, such as reducing frailty and depression.

The Intergenerational Integration Initiative will see older adults and young children engage in a structured series of investigative, artistic and educational activities together.

Evidence suggests these planned intergenerational activities might reduce frailty and improve mood and thinking skills in the older adults, and improve empathy and language development and reduce age stereotypes in the younger participants.

This study has been funded by the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute, with in-kind support from St Nicolas’ Church and Preschool and Anglicare. Results from the pilot trial are likely to be available in July.

Early childhood education bargaining updateCollective bargaining continues for IEU-QNT members employed at various individual community kindergartens across Queensland.

Negotiations with Creche and Kindergarten (C&K) Branch centres are commencing for a replacement agreement, with key employee claims including:

  • additional release time and allowance for the nominated supervisor/director
  • converting senior teacher allowance to a substantive salary
  • experienced Teacher classification (similar to the state sector at the first pay-point)
  • access to long service leave after seven years of continuous service (including on termination)
  • paid domestic violence leave
  • paid emergency and natural disaster leave
  • paid pandemic leave, and
  • recognising senior assistants/educators with an allowance.

IEU-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said the inclusion of additional salary steps was important to ensure early childhood education teachers received wages and benefits comparable with teachers in other sectors.

“Over the last decade, teachers in state schools and the non-government school sector have gained increased remuneration through the inclusion of additional incremental salary steps above the scale, otherwise applicable,” Spriggs said.

“In early childhood education, these additional salary steps are yet to become common.

“Without the addition of these additional steps, the comparability of early childhood education teachers’ wages with teachers in other sectors will become diluted and eventually lost,” he said.

Heal Country, heal our nation

NAIDOC Week 2021 is set for Sunday 4 July – Sunday 11 July. This year’s theme Heal Country! calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect and maintain all aspects of First Nations culture and heritage.

This includes greater protections for First Nations lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction.

It also encompasses the fight for substantiative institutional, structural and collaborative reform – something that First Nations Elders have been advocating and marching for, for generations.

IEU members are encouraged to mark NAIDOC Week in their workplaces to celebrate the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of First Nations people as the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.

Learning resources and teaching guides are available for use on the official NAIDOC website (www.naidoc.org.au)

Other actions members can take include: