In the lead up to the next federal election, the IEU will lobby targeted parliamentarians from the various parties and seek commitment to the following issues:
1 Quality education funding
The current school funding model introduced by the previous Federal Government and agreed to by most state governments and all non government employers was based on a commitment to introduce improved funding to meet 95% of the Student Resource Standard (SRS). Any other ‘indexation’ arrangements, eg CPI, would undermine the commitments made in 2013 and are rejected.
Commitment must be given to fully fund the school funding model for 2018-19 and provide appropriate indexation.
The Review of Funding for Schooling (2011) clearly established major discrepancies in the commitments to school education funding by the different states and territories. There has been no requirement under the current National Education Agreements to have states and territories meet an appropriate minimum benchmark for the co-commitment to school funding and consequently increases in federal contributions are at the risk of being ‘discounted’ at the state/territory level.
Commitment must be given to require a minimum co-commitment by states and territories to appropriately address the deficiencies identified in the Review into Funding for Schooling (2011).
2 Funding for quality early childhood education and care
If Australia is serious about providing quality early education, then more is needed. The sector has been operating under a cloud of uncertainty due to its limited funding and endless inquiries.
Commitment must be given for stability and certainty of funding for early childhood education and care. There must be commitment for the continuation of universal access; for the continuation of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and a commitment of additional funding for professional salaries.
3 Quality higher education
Our members’ families and students must have access to high quality and affordable continuing education.
Commitment must be given to increase government funding to higher education to at least 1% of GDP, consistent with the average public commitment of other OECD countries.
As well, there must be a commitment to stop fee deregulation and prevent the redirection of public funds to for-profit providers.
Commitment must also be given to provide appropriate levels of regulation and oversight of continuing education courses.
4 Quality education for students with disabilities
The Students with Disability (SWD) loading introduced under the current funding model was clearly understood to be an interim arrangement. Work has been underway for a number of years to both establish agreed definitions for the purpose of SWD funding and to ascertain the resources needed to meet the learning adjustment required.
Commitment must be given to fully fund, through the loading, the actual cost of learning adjustments for all SWD as revealed from the current data collection activity.
5 Representing the profession
Recent Federal Government decisions to restructure the AITSL board and to further politicise the company have seen all education union representation removed from the organisation. Consequently, AITSL is not only unrepresentative but does not have the confidence of the teaching profession.
Commitment must be given to ensuring that both the IEU and AEU are represented on the board and on all relevant committees.
6 Guarantees for Federal Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme
The Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme was never considered as a replacement for employer paid parental leave but rather a basic scheme for parents that would be complemented by employer paid parental leave schemes. In fact, the Federal Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 states its purpose as “the financial support of this Act is intended to complement and supplement existing entitlements to paid or unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child".
The Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme is a vital safety net for IEU members. The Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme supplements the negotiated employer paid leave arrangements and allows women to access the extra time necessary for proper bonding and breastfeeding as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Commitment must be given to continue to fund 18 weeks of parental leave at the minimum wage per week to primary care givers who meet the work test; and commitment must be given for improvements to the Federal Paid Parental Scheme, such as superannuation payments.
7 Fairer industrial legislation for bargaining
The current industrial legislation is weighed against workers and their unions by only allowing for employers to seek multi enterprise bargaining arrangements. This is particularly disadvantageous to the IEU given the nature, structure and indeed funding of the school education sector.
Commitment must be given to support amendment of legislation to ensure that unions are able to apply for and be granted multi employer declarations.
8 Fairer access to flexible work arrangements
Research has shown that 70% of women returning from parental leave seek part time work. Yet many women are unable to access such flexible work arrangements. In the IEU submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission report, IEU members reported that they were denied access to part time and job share arrangements, in some cases being forced to resign from their position. Other members were unlikely to regain their formal earning capacity as they were denied access to leadership positions.
Employees must have access to redress through the Fair Work Commission to any adverse or unreasonable refusal by an employer for the worker to return to work on a part time basis following parental leave. Commitment must be given to change legislation to ensure that an employer refusal of s65 requests for flexible working arrangements would constitute a breach of the Act and be subject to a penalty.
9 Standing up against domestic and family violence
Domestic violence is a workplace issue, with research indicating more than 65% of people who experience domestic violence are in the workforce. Domestic violence impacts on workplaces through increased absenteeism due to injury, sickness, stress, court attendance and other factors. It can limit an employee’s ability to perform effectively, resulting in performance management, terminations and resignations.
Commitment must be given to unequivocally support a statutory entitlement as a workplace right to allow for a minimum of 10 days paid leave for victims (and victim’s families) of domestic/family violence.
10 Safety for asylum seekers
These violations of human rights are more than personal tragedies. They are alarm bells that warn of a much bigger crisis. The IEU has consistently opposed the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers by successive Australian governments, including treatment that incarcerates children in offshore detention centres.
Commitment must be given to onshore processing of asylum seekers, community release pending asylum refugee claim decisions following appropriate health/security checks, closure of off-shore facilities, recommitment to regional strategies and further increases in immigration numbers.