Sub branch reports

Sub Branch meetings are an opportunity for Chapter Reps and IEU members from each region to receive updates from union organisers. They’re also a way for Reps and members to provide feedback to the union about what is happening on the ground in workplaces.

There are 19 geographical sub branches across NSW and the ACT, plus our Principals’ Sub Branch. Sub branches meet four times a year, usually in the first three or four weeks of each term. Each sub branch sends four or five delegates to quarterly union Council meetings.

Council is the union’s decision-making body, bringing together more than 100 members from throughout NSW and the ACT.

All Chapter Reps, and any IEU members who’d like to increase their union activism are warmly invited to attend their sub branch meeting. Contact your Rep or your organiser if you’d like more information.


The Cumberland Sub Branch includes schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Parramatta, Mt Druitt, Castle Hill, Marsden Park, Blacktown and nearby suburbs.

The third Cumberland Sub Branch meeting, as expected, was dominated by the issues of workloads and staff shortages.

The eclectic mix of representatives in attendance showed that irrespective of sector, staff shortages (many unrelated to COVID or other illnesses) are felt acutely.

Reps outlined the ways in which staff collaborated within their schools to manage what are clearly unsustainable and, at times, unsafe workplaces.

The knock-on effects of the shortages are affecting schools in many ways: increased workloads for teachers as they cover classes for absent teachers; and covering other work-related tasks such as marking, reporting and ensuring programs are delivered.

Early career teachers are also suffering. They too are picking up the extra workload associated with the shortages, and they are missing out on crucial mentoring and guidance essential for their career. Many are not receiving time and support to meet accreditation requirements by the end of their first two years.

Unsafe practices are also emerging as classes are combined or several classes have only one teacher and one member of support staff to supervise them.

Support staff are struggling with increased demands on their tasks and are often being asked to undertake supervision activities outside of their areas of work.

The Sub Branch discussed ways in which unsafe practices should be raised with the principal in the first instance and escalated with union assistance if and when required.

The key takeaway was to collectivise to address these workload intensification issues as they arise and to collaborate on ways they can be mitigated.

Lubna Haddad

North West

The North West Sub Branch includes schools, colleges and early childhood centres in the New England region, including Tamworth, Armidale, Gunnedah, Tenterfield, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri.

Knowing that the teacher shortage crisis will not be solved any time soon, delegates put their heads together to consider what might be done to address workload intensification and teacher burnout in the short term.

Members suggested the IEU lobby the NSW Government for a more realistic timeline for the new national curriculum to be implemented. The two-year timeline will impact workloads and student learning. Professor Geoff Masters, head of the Australian Council for Educational Research, initially recommended a 10-to-15-year timeline. Members want a quality curriculum rather than a rushed one.

Other suggestions included a moratorium on professional development. Systems are scheduling in pupil-free days for PD, but this does not help with planning, preparation, marking or reporting. Anecdotally, it seems that members are completing far more than the 100 hours of PD required for the maintenance of accreditation.

Despite the highly publicised campaign to address workloads it seems some systemic consultants are insisting teachers go above and beyond NESA’s documentation requirements. The IEU is happy to follow this up with the employer with specific details.

Sub Branch passed the following motion:

Sub Branch requests that the union demand clarity from NESA as to what is compliance in relation to school curriculum documentation requirements. Catholic Schools Office personnel are adding layers to NESA documentation requirements which are dramatically increasing teacher workload. CSOs are adding to workload stress through routine school sector audits over and above NESA requirements. Sub Branch asks the union to address these workload issues.

David Towson

Mid North Coast

The Mid North Coast Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Bellingen, Nambucca Heads and surrounds.

The dominant topic of member inquiries recently has been around long service leave (LSL). Members have raised questions about how pupil vacation periods are dealt with for LSL being taken for a full term. The NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement 2020, clause 38.6 (f) says: “Long Service Leave will be exclusive of pupil vacation periods adjacent to or within the period of leave.”

A similar provision applies for teachers in independent schools for full term blocks. It may not be the same for short blocks of LSL that go across school holiday periods.

Other questions have been about the notice period (usually two terms to be assured of approval) and LSL on half pay (this is not usually an entitlement but is at the discretion of the employer, so early application is helpful).

Members in Catholic systemic schools who are changing employment to another diocese should be aware that strict and short timelines apply for the transfer of LSL. When leaving a diocese you should be given documents for application to transfer, and the timelines you need to meet.

It is always advisable that members contact the union to find out what applies in their circumstances, especially if working in early childhood, ELICOS or in other workplaces.

Sarah White


The Riverina Sub Branch includes Wagga Wagga, Griffith, West Wyalong, Leeton, Hay, Thurgoona and Albury.

As with all sub branches, the last few months have been very busy. The first stop-work action on 27 May saw many schools in the Wagga Wagga Diocese cease normal operations with about 80 members attending a rally and march in Wagga Wagga.

This was followed with another stop-work action on 30 June when we united with public school teachers. Despite the chilly conditions, hundreds of teachers marched and attended separate rallies in Albury and Griffith. The solidarity shown by members at these events demonstrates the strength of their convictions, and the need for action to improve the salaries and working conditions of teachers and support staff.

This need for action was obvious at the most recent meeting of the Riverina Sub Branch. Representatives from both the Catholic and independent school systems across the Riverina region reported, among other things, that unreasonable demands are being placed on staff to conduct duties outside of regular work hours, as well as teachers having to purchase class supplies out of their own pockets. All this in an economic environment in which the real salaries of teachers are declining.

Members at Trinity Anglican College Thurgoona are in the midst of negotiations for a new single enterprise agreement for teachers and general employees (see page 7). Bargaining has been arduous, beginning in July 2021 with an agreement being put to the vote on August 8. The proposed agreement contains significant diminution of conditions and a vague framework for salaries and salary progression. Members have voted 'no' and the IEU will return to the bargaining table on their behalf.

Many Riverina early childhood enterprise agreements are currently being renegotiated, with the intention of maintaining pay parity with government sector teachers. These include Corowa Preschool, Kapooka Preschool, West Albury Preschool, Ross Circuit Preschool and Thurgoona Preschool. Members have constructed and presented their log of claims to the various committees and bargaining continues.

And congratulations to the following members who were elected as IEU Council Delegates for the Riverina Sub Branch:

Mercedes Goss, St Patrick’s Primary

Vanessa Geddes (Creece), Xavier Catholic College

Esther Dumbleton, Marian Catholic College

Sharon Jennings, Aspect Riverina

Narelle Ryall, Aspect Riverina

Kel Woodhouse, Kildare Catholic College

Kel Woodhouse
Branch President

Central West

The Central West Sub Branch includes Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange and Lithgow, as well as Cowra, Mudgee, Parkes, Forbes, Grenfell and Wilcannia.

The Term 3 Central West Sub Branch Meeting was held in Dubbo, with support staff and teachers from early childhood centres, Catholic systemic schools and Independent schools all represented.

Karen Andriske gave the Acknowledgement of Country; Branch President Louise Hughes welcomed everyone including IEUA NSW/ACT Branch President Chris Wilkinson, who joined via Zoom, and Deputy Secretary Carol Matthews (in person).

Congratulations were extended to the newly elected Council delegates:

Louise Hughes, St John’s College Dubbo

Cassie Barnes, St Raphael’s Central School Cowra

Nicole Downey, St Mary’s Primary School Orange

Karen Andriske, St John’s College Dubbo

Peter Nunn, St Lawrence’s Primary School Forbes

Geoff Hayward, Scots All Saints Bathurst

Reps across all sectors expressed concern about ever-increasing workloads and welcomed the union’s survey about teacher shortages and their impact.

The meeting endorsed a motion to Executive and Council in support of a “Yes” vote in the upcoming referendum for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders to have a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.

It was reported that Catholic Education Diocese of Bathurst (CEDB) had failed to adopt the amended Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) reporting requirements. Members are being asked to disregard the Fact Sheet developed by the IEU and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and continue with the onerous methods provided by CEDB consultants.

Members from Catholic systemic schools were disappointed and irritated by the lack of progress in the centralised enterprise agreement negotiations and the local negotiations for the Work Practices Agreement. The employers have stalled, having not agreed to meet with the union since mid-June; the union has provided a Draft WPA but CEDB has so far not responded.

Discussion followed on the current WPA and procedures for ensuring compliance with extras and class sizes.

A motion was endorsed for the union to negotiate with NESA for the suspension of PD requirements for 12 months, given the teacher shortages and ensuing increased workloads.

The meeting decided to encourage the wearing of campaign t-shirts on Thursdays (“T-shirt Thursday”) until the EA is finalised. It was also suggested that other sub branches might like to choose different days to ensure every day of the week was covered.

Members expressed their thanks to IEU officers and staff for their tireless efforts in the Catholic systemic campaign.

Jackie Groom

South Coast

The South Coast Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in and around the Macarthur region, the Southern Highlands, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Batemans Bay.

The Term 3 meeting was held at the Campbelltown Catholic Club with live and Zoom attendees.

It was encouraging to see seven attendees from Macarthur region schools present.

Members in Catholic systemic and other independent schools raised identical issues around the chronic teacher shortage, lack of casual staff replacements, compromised release time, extras loadings and feeling burnout.

Motions were passed unanimously calling on employers to provide teachers with clarity about their future and allow them to focus on providing quality education.

The motion also recognised and thanked IEU employees for their dedicated work in supporting Catholic systemic members during the current industrial action.

The next meeting is at 5pm, Wednesday 2 November at the City Diggers Club in Wollongong.

Valerie Jones