NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • MAY 2012
Budget cuts HURT TAFE has borne the greatest pain in a new round of Coalition cuts but schools and their students are suffering too. Mary Bluett branch president
HE state budget handed down on May 1 was a cruel one for government schools and TAFE. It continued the Baillieu Government’s abandonment of our most vulnerable students. The 2011 budget had already seen public education cut by $481 million while private schools funding was increased by $240m. We knew we could expect further significant cuts this year. That was why we decided to remind Victorians of Premier Ted Baillieu’s promises before his election. The AEU launched radio and ads in Term 1 featuring Premier Ted Baillieu promising to “invest in schools”. While we were spared the massive cuts suffered by TAFE and other departments, we saw cuts further hurting vulnerable students. Schools’ education maintenance allowance funding has been slashed. But the biggest pain has been inflicted on TAFE. Institutes have already announced that 2000 teacher jobs will go, hundreds of courses will not be offered and campuses will be closed. The viability of some regional TAFEs is in doubt. So many of our students depend on TAFE for employment pathways — again our more vulnerable will be affected. Many of you, or your children, will also have much to thank TAFE for. It’s the place where so many Victorians have made a start to their working lives or found a new career after children or retrenchment. Add your voice to oppose these cuts — visit tafe4all.com.au, join the campaign and send messages to Baillieu, Minister Peter Hall and your local MP. It’s easy to do. June 7 Stopwork Next week marks the start of the AEU teachers and principals’ campaign for a new agreement as they stop work for 24 hours on June 7 to protest the
Government’s 2.5% pay offer, insulting performance pay proposals and failure to address the high level of contract employment. AEU principals and teachers will send the government a strong message by turning out in their thousands on the day.
Meanwhile ES negotiations continue. We will be reviewing their progress at our council meeting on June 22. If talks stall, we may see historic joint principal, teacher and ES stopwork action in Term 3. ◆
Show your colours on June 7 ES members cannot strike next week — but you can still show support for your colleagues.
S MEMBERS of the AEU are covered by a different agreement to teachers and principals. This means you are not covered by the protected action ballot they have just completed in their campaign for a new deal. Employees can only take protected industrial action in support of their own enterprise agreement. But you can still play your part. Their fight is your fight — it’s important that AEU members support each other through industrial campaigns. Experience shows that the gains your teacher colleagues make in their campaign will flow through to your agreement. Your support can involve non-industrial actions, such as wearing campaign badges and clothing and offering solidarity in the workplace. Show your backing with a red AEU shirt next Thursday (and if you get your own sea of red in the staffroom, send us a picture). Some of you may be asked to fill in for your striking colleagues on June 7. Remember, it is unreasonable for ES staff to be asked to take on
work left by AEU teacher members, especially if it involves student supervision. Under the current ES Agreement, “supervision of students cannot be required except where it is an integral part of the employee’s position or involves supervision individually or in small groups, in controlled circumstances, where the responsibility for students remains clearly with a teacher.” If teachers are absent, then responsibility no longer “remains clearly” with them. If your normal work does not involve supervising students as an integral part of your duties, that will remain the case on June 7 and on any other day of action. If you believe you are being asked to take on the work of teachers who are taking industrial action, please contact the AEU for advice — call us on (03) 9417 2822 or email melbourne@ aeuvic.asn.au. And remember: as ES members you are not covered by the teachers industrial agreement and are not protected to take action as part of this campaign. ◆
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 : www.ae u v i c . a s n . a u
EDUCATION SUPPORT: The clue is It’s the law: ES staff are here to support students, not supervise them. Kathryn Lewis ES organiser
UR schools run some fantastic programs for their students — programs that rely heavily on the support of dedicated and experienced ES staff. Typically, they build on student learning in specific areas such as literacy, numeracy or life skills. They can run in the library, in classrooms, or withdrawal rooms and take place before school, after school, during lunch breaks and even in class. Such programs are of undeniable benefit to the students and the school. But they need to be managed carefully to ensure that everyone involved is aware of their responsibilities as outlined in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and the ES Agreement, to avoid any breaches. The wider question of the school’s duty of care also needs to be considered to circumvent mishaps. The development of support programs should be done through consultation with ES, teachers and leadership. The best forum for this is the schools’ consultation committee. The committee is set up for just this purpose, and can ensure the effectiveness of the program and see that the appropriate safeguards are in place.
Developing support programs Like any educational program, support programs should be well documented. A teacher must be responsible for its development, delivery and assessment. The role of ES staff is to support students within the program. Those employed in a professional capacity — such as therapists — may develop the programs in conjunction with teachers. The program documentation should outline: • Program objectives and content • Details of teacher delivery • How ES extend student learning within the program • How the support program complements other programs • How students are selected to take part • Timetabling and location • Students’ supervision • The level of oversight by the teacher • Method of assessment • Risk management processes • Whether parental consent is required. All these should be the subject of consultation. All staff involved in the program should understand its organisation and agree to the requirements before they take part.
Working With Children Checks
It is important that classroom teachers are aware that they still have responsibility for students who are withdrawn from their timetabled class to take part in these programs. The principal must ensure that the requirements for supervision are met and that there is a clear understanding of who has responsibility for the support program and for the health and safety of
Supervision and the ES Agreement Supervision requirements for ES staff are found in Schedule 3 of the ES Agreement. It makes clear that supervision of students is clearly a teacher’s responsibility, and that ES staff are there to support teachers in this: Supervision of students cannot be undertaken except where it is an integral part of the employee’s position or involves supervision of students individually or in small groups, in controlled circumstances, where the responsibility for students remains clearly with a teacher. In practice, ES staff can supervise students only: • With individuals or small groups of students • If it is included in their role description • In controlled circumstances • If a teacher is clearly responsible for the students.
HE time approaches for most ES staff to renew their Working with Children Check (WWCC). The AEU continues to campaign for the WWCC fee to be met by the Education Department. In our last agreement we won back pay in lieu but we continue to press for the bill to go directly to the department, not you. We have written to Minister for Education Martin Dixon and await his reply. In the meantime, we urge schools to meet the bill for their ES. The check costs $79.60 plus the cost of a passport photo (about $15) and lasts for five years, so the cost to the school per year is minimal. It’s important that you raise this issue with your sub-branch and gain its support to press the case locally. Advice and sample letters to school councils can be found at www.aeuvic.asn.au/wwcc.◆
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ES newsletter | may 2012
in the name the students. If ES members are concerned about the level of supervision provided by teachers and/or the school they should put these concerns in writing to the principal. Penalties apply for ES staff who undertake unregistered teacher practice. ◆
Educational Requirements and the Act An ES position supports the educational services provided to students, but must not include duties of teaching as defined in clause 2.6.1 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) or its successor. Clause 2.6.1 says: (a)[Teacher] means a person who, in a school, undertakes duties that include the delivery of an educational program or the assessment of student participation in an educational program; and (b)includes a person employed as the principal or the head of a school whether or not that person undertakes the duties of a teacher if the person has been employed as a teacher in any school prior to being employed as the principal or the head of a school; and (c)does not include a teacher’s aide, an assistant teacher or a student teacher. In practice, this means ES staff cannot be required to deliver or assess educational programs.
and the delivery of programs. At times the level of support should never lose sight of the fact that ES are there to ibility of student supervision or support programs.◆
Business and pleasure A new AEU program for business managers feeds the mind and the stomach.
AST month we held our Business Managers Dinner Conference at Waverley Golf Club. It was great to meet so many of our business manager members and gain more insight into their role and day to day concerns. The feedback reveals that business managers would like more opportunity to network and take part in AEU information and PD events. They agreed the dinner conference format suited their busy lives. With an information session and guest speaker at 4pm, followed by dinner at 6.30pm, participants didn’t lose too much valuable personal or work time. Most were heading home well fed, relaxed and better informed by 7.30pm. A detailed update on the ES negotiations generated considerable discussion. Our guest speaker was Richard Kasperczyk, managing director of conflict resolution provider ResolutionsRTK. Richard provided valuable insights into how and
why conflict arises and some useful and practical strategies for managing it when it does. This was a topic of great interest for business managers. Comments by Jody Yandle from The Patch Primary School were typical. She said the “new strategies for conflict management and the negotiations update” were the highlight and added: “The food was beautiful and whole evening was great. At only $10 per member it was incredible value for money.” Business manager membership is growing strongly and we are keen to identify your interests and needs and create a program to match. Those at Waverley Golf Club now want to meet regularly as a group and we are helping to make that happen. Our next dinner conference is at Woodlands Golf Club in Mordialloc on October 18. ◆ — Kathryn Lewis ES organiser
Cast the net wide O
UR ES networks are growing each term. Each one has its own style: some are about getting together for a chat about day-to-day issues, some want a chance to ask questions about their employment and others organise speakers or PD. Maribyrnong ES Network is really keen. It consistently draws 20-plus members — and different ES turn up each term depending on the topic on offer. At each meeting the ES members decide the topic for the next meeting. So far it has included PD on legal liabilities and duty of care. At last month’s meeting they wanted an in-depth discussion about ES entitlements. We began with an update on negotiations and then looked at the current entitlements and discussed how they are interpreted by each school.
It was fascinating to learn just how differently schools can interpret the same clause. We all left a little bit wiser and inspired to improve the working conditions for ES staff. Networks are open to any members in the area. If there’s no network near you, we will be happy to help you create one — just call Julie Lynch on (03) 9418 4865. Let’s get networked! ◆
Upcoming meetings June 21 Warragul June 29 Mordialloc July 24 Maribyrnong
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Navigating the workcover maze Stress and anxiety are workplace injuries just like a twisted back or broken leg. When they happen you are entitled to compensation — and we can help. Jeff Slingsby AEU organiser
NJURIES and illnesses associated with work happen. Sometimes they are physical and sometimes psychological. It is important to remember that whatever the illness or injury, if it occurs as a result of your employment you are entitled to be covered by workers’ compensation — or workcover as it’s still often known. Workcover provides a number of benefits over sick leave. For instance, it pays for the medical treatment to get you well again. This includes the doctors who treat you, psychologists and physiotherapists, and the cost of medication or other treatment. When the time comes, it also offers a mechanism for you to return to work at a reduced number of hours and with modified duties, depending on what your doctor thinks you can manage. In your first 12 months on workcover you will be paid your normal pre-injury salary. It sounds good, doesn’t it? In theory, it is. However, many times the condition of injured members is made worse by the heartless, unthinking treatment they receive from their employers, or from WorkSafe, the agency that administers the scheme, when they lodge a claim. Working in a school can be physically dangerous, especially if you work in a practical class or with students with special needs. The ever-growing diversity of ES roles and the pressure of increased workloads can make schools a hazardous place. Physical injuries are unfortunately more common than ever. However, when someone is physically injured at work the claim process is more straightforward. Stress-related claims can be more difficult to get accepted. If you suffer a stress-related illness, and the stress was caused by work, you are absolutely entitled to claim workcover. However, there is a catch: the notorious clause in the Act which essentially says that a claim will not be accepted if the illness is caused by the “reasonable action” of the employer.
ES newsletter | may 2012
This “reasonable action” includes the employer investigating a complaint against the member of staff — and that is where the problems can begin. ES staff are amazingly dedicated. They are absolutely committed to their students. Unfortunately,
this can mean that they become their own worst enemies. Frequently, we find they keep going to work, even when very ill, because they “don’t want to let anyone down”. That’s when things can go wrong. All too often, the first the union hears about a problem is when the member is told of complaints, or they get the “please explain” letter from the principal. We then find a long history of stress-related illness. If a claim is lodged at this stage, we find ourselves running up against the legislative barrier of the “reasonable action” of the employer. So what should we all be doing? There are some responsibilities on all of us. As individuals, we should monitor our physical and psychological health. Super-beings exist only in fiction. If you experience physical symptoms of an injury, you go to your doctor. You should do the same at the first sign of stress or anxiety. Get it on your medical record. Don’t wait for a crisis in class
one day. Employers have responsibilities too. They have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace, and this includes safety from psychological harm. But too often an employer’s reaction to a worker’s signs of psychological illness is not to offer support but to demand written explanations for alleged misdemeanours, or make intimidating calls to attend meetings to discuss performance. Finally, as fellow-workers, we too have responsibilities, to look out for each other’s welfare, and provide support when someone is struggling. Work-related illnesses and injuries can occur in any workplace. However, the damage to the individual can be made worse by harsh treatment from an unsympathetic or harried employer or by the bureaucrats who administer the compensation system very inflexibly. Remember, you are entitled to worker’s compensation if your injury is related to work. If you believe you have a claim, there are two phone numbers you need. The first is your doctor’s. The second is your union’s. Contact us early because we will help you along each step through the workcover maze. ◆
EGOTIATIONS for a new ES Agreement are continuing. The AEU is meeting fortnightly with the Education Department’s negotiating team where both parties are working through all clauses to determine where, if any, agreement can be reached. Recent meetings have discussed staffing, attendance and employment models. All members are encouraged to attend sub-branch and regional meetings for a full update on negotiations, as protocols prevent us from putting details in writing while discussions continue. ◆