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Pay us what we’re worth AEU secretary Brian Henderson has told a Fair Work Australia hearing that disability workers deserve better. Kerry Maher disability services organiser


any workers in disability services perform work comparable to that of teachers in special schools while being paid much less, AEU branch secretary Brian Henderson has told a Fair Work Australia tribunal. Mr Henderson gave evidence on behalf of AEU members in disability services as part of the joint unions’ case to Fair Work Australia for pay equity for social, community and disability workers. The evidence came as the final stages of the hearing approach. Unions are looking to the precedent set by the 2009 Queensland Equal Pay case, which determined that there should be “equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value” and led to pay increases of 18–37%. Unions argue that the work had been s­ystematically undervalued over time as a result of the largely feminised nature of the industry. During cross-examination, Mr Henderson said that the vast majority of AEU members working in the disability sector possess at least a Certificate 4

qualification and some also have a degree and/or teaching qualification. Many of the duties disability educators perform are similar to those performed by teachers in special development schools or teachers of Certificate 1 and 2 disability students at TAFEs and this should be taken into account when valuing their work. The AEU’s claim was not that these workers should be paid the same as teachers, but rather that they should be paid in accordance with the value of their work, he said. Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge has promised that the new Coalition State Government will “be making financial commitments in our policies in relation to supporting that claim and if it’s more than that, then we will be funding and supporting it”(The Age, 2 February 2011). The case is now in the final processes of hearing evidence. It is due to conclude in mid-April with a full bench hearing for any final oral submissions. ◆

Introducing Greg Barclay Our new acting deputy vice president

Mary Bluett branch president


ARLIER this month, the AEU TAFE and Adult Provision Council unanimously endorsed the appointment of Greg Barclay as acting deputy vice president for the TAP sector, following the resignation of Mark Hyde for health and family reasons. Greg will hold the position until an election can be called. Some of you will know of Greg from the recent Federal Court case, reported in the latest AEU News. The case arose after his employers at Bendigo Regional Insititute of TAFE

sought to suspend Mr Barclay and initiate disciplinary action against him for an email he sent to AEU members at the institute in his capacity as subbranch president. The court found that BRIT director Louise Harvey had taken “adverse action” against Mr Barclay in contravention of the Fair Work Act (FWA) by suspending him over the email. This was a case of huge importance not only for Greg and the AEU but for all union members anywhere. As the court said: “If an employer has a basis for complaint or a legal claim arising out of such conduct [by

a rep], the complaint or claim is to be addressed to the union. … If employers were able to punish those of its employees who are union members or officers for the conduct of their union, the protection to those persons afforded by s364 [of the FWA] would be entirely illusory and the purpose of the provision defeated.” Greg has been president of the Bendigo TAFE AEU sub-branch for six years. In that time he has overseen significant growth in membership, bringing union density to a very healthy 75%. He has also represented many

members on a range of issues and worked with management very successfully to resolve some complex situations. Greg brings an enormous wealth of experience to this role. He has previously been TAP deputy vice president. His unanimous endorsement by TAP Council is an indication of the regard in which his peers hold him. ◆

A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : u v i c . a s n . a u

Meet our organisers M

ANY of you will already have met Kerry Maher and Meaghan Flack. For those who haven’t, Kerry and Meaghan are our dedicated (in every sense) disability services organisers. They work with our elected officers supporting members out in the field or at the end of a telephone — or of course via email. But those outside of the metropolitan Melbourne area can also turn

Kerry Maher

to our regional organisers for help and support. They work closely with Kerry and Meaghan and our elected leadership. Don’t forget, you can also contact our Membership Services Unit on (03) 9417 2822 or 1800 013379 or If they can’t answer your query, they’ll know someone who can. ◆


Kerry is available on (03) 9417 2822

Meaghan is available on (03) 9417 2822

Disability services conference


EMBERS were treated to an inspiring presentation about the importance of our pay equity case and an insight into crucial health and safety issues at our disability services conference. Over 50 members attended the event in December. Lisa Darmanin from the ASU spoke about the case before Fair Work Australia, while our guest speaker from WorkSafe was inspector Jaison McIntyre. The variety of professional and personal development workshops covered dementia and the aging population, autism awareness, staying sun smart, safe workplaces, financial planning — and a Zumba class for wellbeing and personal fitness. Participants were also treated to an uplifting performance by the Christie Centre Choir from Mildura, and an opportunity to hear from their colleagues in a panel presentation. Many thanks to our sponsor Teachers Health who provided our morning tea and to Union Shopper for the raffle prizes on the day. Certainly the feedback we received was very positive and members took the opportunity to network and renew old acquaintances. ◆  — Kerry Maher

Disability training in 2011

A BALLARAT Erich Sinkis

benalla John Oakley

Erich is available on (03) 5331 1155

John is available on (03) 5762 2714

bendigo Michael Claven Michael is available on (03) 5442 2666

s our disability conference is a biennial event, there will be no conference in 2011. Instead, the AEU will be running a series of half-day workshops and a full day training day for our members. Each day will take a different topic. Our half-day events will run from 1.30pm to 4.30pm and coincide with our AEU disability committee meetings to make it easier for you to attend. Disability committee meetings are open to any member working in the sector. Some ideas we’ve already received for the workshops include training for AEU and OHS representatives, dealing with in-home programs and maintaining personal safety, and autism awareness. All suggestions are welcome. ◆

Training workshops – Half-day unless noted March 15

September 16 (full day)

Gippsland Jeff Gray

Geelong Rosemary Crowe

June 14

November 29

Jeff is available on (03) 5134 8844

Rosemary is available on (03) 5222 6633

August 30

fee-free banking - we have it covered Whatever your banking needs, we have it covered. The majority of our customers bank entirely fee-free while having the freedom to access their funds wherever they are. Open an account online. Visit or call 1300 654 822. This information does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore you should firstly consider the appropriateness of this information and refer to the Terms and Conditions or the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before acquiring a product. These documents are available at our branches or by contacting us on 1300 654 822.


Disability Services newsletter | february 2011

Disability Sector Newsletter, Term 1, 2011  
Disability Sector Newsletter, Term 1, 2011  

AEU disability sector newsletter, term 1, 2011.