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victorian branch

AEU NEWS v o l u m e 17 I i s s u e 1 I f e b r u a r y 2 011


Have you made your submission?

Landmark TAFE court victory | Meet the new minister | 2011— The year ahead AEU

t:03 9417 2822 f:1300 658 078 w : w w w. a e u v i c . a s n . a u

Contents cover story


Have you made yours?

Branch president: Mary Bluett Branch secretary: Brian Henderson

AEU VIC head office address 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford, 3067 postal address PO Box 363, Abbotsford, 3067 tel (03) 9417 2822, 1800 013 379 fax 1300 658 078 web email

country offices B allarat (03) 5331 1155 | Benalla (03) 5762 2714 Bendigo (03) 5442 2666 | Gippsland (03) 5134 8844 Geelong (03) 5222 6633 AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION VICTORIAN BRANCH


Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 Nominations are called for the following offices:

DELEGATES TO BRANCH CONFERENCE To be elected by and from members of the Early Childhood sector, Primary sector, Secondary sector, TAFE and Adult Provision sector — A full list of offices to be filled may be obtained from your Sub-Branch Secretary, the Branch office of the Union or from my office.




NOMINATIONS, which must be in writing and comply with the Rules of the Union, may be made anytime from 14 February 2011. They must reach my office or postal address not later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday, 15 March 2011. Nominations cannot be withdrawn after this time.

NOMINATION FORMS are available, on request, from me or the Branch office of the Union.

ELECTORAL MATERIAL supplied by candidates for distribution with ballot papers shall be restricted to a maximum of 200 words per candidate and may include a passport size photograph. The material may include an indication of preference provided all candidates are shown in the order they appear on the ballot paper and there is a preference allocated to each candidate. Electoral Material may be emailed to but must reach my office or postal address not later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday, 22 March 2011.

ADDRESS FOR LODGING NOMINATIONS By Post: Australian Electoral Commission, GPO Box 4382, Melbourne VIC 3001 By Hand: Australian Electoral Commission, Level 8, 2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 By Fax: (03) 9285 7149

BALLOT: The ballot, if required, will open on 15 April 2011 and close at 9:00am on Tuesday, 3 May 2011.

Changed Address? Advise the Union now. NOTE: A copy of the AEC’s election report can be obtained from the organisation or from me after the completion of the election. Phoebe Chamberlain Returning Officer 


aeu news | february 2011

14 February 2011 Tel: (03) 9285 7138

Peter Hall promises to champion public education and push for better funding. But has the minister been undermined by Coalition plans for cuts?

2011 — On your marks...

14 18

ELECTION OF WOMEN TO BRANCH CONFERENCE The rules of the Branch provide that the minimum number of women to be elected shall be 50 per cent of the number of persons to be elected from each region. If the number of persons to be elected is an odd number, the minimum number of women to be elected shall be determined by reducing the total number of persons to be elected by one and taking 50 per cent of that number. If the number of women candidates is less than the number of women to be elected, the remaining position or positions in question will be filled by a male candidate or candidates.

A meeting with the Minister


A federal funding campaign, new state government, pay negotiations and a welter of reforms coming down from Canberra — get ready for a busy year.

Myths quoted

A new paper suggests the federal funding review panel is on board over equity concerns — but trots out some hoary old myths from the private sector.

Lessons to be learned

Peter Garrett became the first minister in aeons to attend an AEU federal conference but he was eclipsed by an academic beamed in from the US.


3 president’s report 4 letters 22 women’s focus 24 AEU training 25 on the phones

27 safety matters 28 classifieds 29 christina adams 30 culture 31 giveaways


editorial enquiries Nic Barnard tel (03) 9418 4841 fax (03) 9415 8975 email

advertising enquiries Lyn Baird tel (03) 9418 4879 fax (03) 9415 8975 email

AEU News is produced by the AEU Publications Unit: editor Nic Barnard | designers Lyn Baird, Peter Lambropoulos, Kim Fleming journalists Rachel Power, Anna Kelsey-Sugg | editorial assistant Helen Prytherch PrintPost Approved: 349181/00616 ISSN: 1442—1321. Printed in Australia by Total Print on Re Art Matt 100% Recycled Paper. Free to AEU members. Subscription rate: $60 per annum. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the AEU News are those of the authors/members and are not necessarily the official policy of the AEU (Victorian Branch). Contents © AEU Victorian Branch. Contributed articles, photographs and illustrations are © their respective authors. No reproduction without permission.

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AEU Victorian Branch

March 31 is the deadline for submissions to the federal funding review. Is your school’s submission in yet?

president’s report

Rocky start for the Coalition

Victoria’s new government is out of step with the rest of Australia in seeking to cut public education.


continue lobbying for this to apply to New ministers Council finalised the log of claims and HIS is already shaping up to be a The AEU met three of our new it was served on the department and busy, interesting and challenging all disadvantaged students. ministers over the break — Minister Minister Hall before Christmas. It can year for AEU members. Before the election, the Coalition for Skills/Minister for the Teaching be found on the Agreements 2011 The first full week of school gave a firm commitment that it would Profession Peter Hall, Minister for page of the AEU website. began with the revelation of plans deliver on Labor’s policy of modernEducation Martin Dixon and Minister The log for ES members will be by the new Coalition Government to ising or rebuilding every government for Early Childhood Wendy Lovell. We considered by council on February 25 cut $338 million from the education school by 2016, including regeneraexpect to meet Minister for Community tion/merger projects. We reminded and served on the department. budget over the next four years. Services Mary Wooldridge soon. TAFE, AMES and early childhood Victorian funding for government Minister Dixon of this. At this stage, There have been some welcome members will have input into their primary and secondary students is he will not commit. We may need to announcements from Minister Hall, already more than $1,200 less per campaign around this: school commu- logs of claims later in the year. The the coordinating minister. Equal Pay Case covering our disability student than the national average. nities need certainty. He is firm in his public statements members continues to be heard by We have one of the leanest Minister Lovell has indicated on the Coalition’s long-standing policy that the coming budget will address Fair Work Australia. bureaucracies in the nation. that a Baillieu government would Government claims that schools electionPREFERRED commitments only. ThisPROVIDERS AEU make Victorian teachers the highest Federal School Funding Review will not be affected cannot be is disappointing given the urgent paid in the nation. Unfortunately, the The Federal Government’s review sustained. preschool needs around infrastrucPremier was equivocal when asked into the funding of schools continues This government is at odds with ture and teacher shortages. the same question. We will know more this year, with the expert panel calling every other state and territory in Minister Wooldridge has come out when negotiations begin. for public submissions by March 31. the country; they all acknowledge strongly in the media in commitMinister Hall is also on the record Don’t miss your chance to influence the positive social and economic ting the government to funding the as saying contract employment in this once in a lifetime review! impacts of a strong public education outcome of the Equal Pay Case A busy year indeed! ◆ system by increasing public education schools is too high. At our meeting — good news for disability members. he also acknowledged the high level funding. Cooper, Geoff Allen & Staff of casualisation in TAFE. We have We Alan had hoped the Baillieu Negotiations and logs Level 3/432 StbeKilda Road,from Melbournewelcomed 3004 his reintroduction of Government would different Negotiations for our teacher and Retirement Victoria is theTAFE AEU’s preferred provider ofmembers financial andare retirement disadvantaged its damaging predecessor — concessions for principal set toplanning services to members. Visit usKennett at Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Lts AFSL 244252 AEU Vic branch president diploma students under 25, but will we now have to question that. commence in March. December


APPOINTMENTS (03) 9820 8088


Retirement Victoria will hold the following seminars at the RV office — Level 3/432 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne on the following dates:

Saturday 19 March 2011 at 10 am

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Tuesday 12 April 2011 at 10am (holidays)

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Don’t forget that your first appointment with an RV adviser is complimentary.

The next step is the development and presentation of a comprehensive financial and lifestyle strategy. Our plans are not ‘production line’ computer generated documents. They are personalised and easy to understand. The cost is $550.

Alan Cooper, Geoff Allen & Staff Level 3/432 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004

APPOINTMENTS (03) 9820 8088

Visit us at Retirement Victoria is the AEU’s preferred provider of financial and retirement planning services to members. Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Ltd AFSL 244252.


letters Letters from members are welcome. Send to: aeu news, po box 363, Abbotsford, 3067, fax (03) 9415 8975 or email Letters should be no more than 250 words and must supply name, workplace and contact details of the writer. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Next deadline: 16 March, 2011

FairWear: Your support brings results I

t’s not often I get to spread good news about the domestic clothing industry. I’m writing to update you on the outcome of FairWear’s direct action against BuxWear last August (Students demand ethical uniforms, AEU News September 2010). Although we struggled to get much in the way of direct general media exposure, the article which AEU News ran appears to have had the greatest effect upon BuxWear’s change of approach and their apparent move to clean up their IR practices for homeworkers who make their uniforms. FairWear believes that when AEU teachers/unionists read about their school uniform manufacturer, this directly led to some of them

contacting BuxWear and expressing their dismay and concerns. This appears to have led to the company managers finally admitting that they were still in breach of IR laws (after having been prosecuted for breaching similar laws in 2005). The other new campaign tool at FairWear’s disposal was the online direct action tool, where supporters could send a message to BuxWear expressing their concerns. We’ve had a very positive response by our supporters with this direct lobbying tool. Suffice to say, we at FairWear are delighted that the AEU’s support for our work has produced some positive results. We hope that in the

not too distant future more kids will be wearing uniforms that have been made ethically and where the workers



Expressions of interest are invited from financial members interested in being an AEU delegate to the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) or Regional Labour Councils. The following vacancies have to be filled: VTHC 19 Bendigo 4 Ballarat 4 Geelong 7 Gippsland 4 Goulburn Valley 4 North East & Border 4 South West 4 Mallee Murray 4 Expressions of interest in writing or via email should be submitted by 4pm, Wednesday 16 March 2011 to: John Cassidy, AEU Victorian Branch, 112 Trenerry Crescent, PO Box 363, Abbotsford, 3067. Fax (03) 9417 6198. Email:

“Preventing bullying is everyone’s responsibility.” “While bullying is a societal problem not confined to any one place, we believe schools and children’s social environments are a good start. We were delighted when NAB approached us with the idea of National Buddy Week. The initiative highlights the need to prevent bullying in Australian schools and cyberspace by providing an opportunity to celebrate friendships and discuss bullying. If you would like to learn more about how to prevent bullying and cyberbullying, and find out about our eSmart system and Better Buddies Framework, please register for one of our complimentary Bullying Solutions Seminars.”

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aeu news | february 2011

making them have been paid fairly. ◆ Mark Riley, AEU member FairWear campaign & ed officer


Funding deadline looms

A fair deal for public education will only happen if those in the system press the case to the federal funding review. Nic Barnard AEU News


EMBERS have just five weeks left to put the case for higher funding for public schools. March 31 is the deadline for submissions to the Federal Schools Funding Review. The AEU is urging every government school in the nation to make a submission, saying exactly what they could do with fairer funding. The union is running 16 half-day workshops across the state to help members draft submissions. The AEU will pay for CRT cover. Full details are at The Catholic and independent sectors — which together receive over 70% of federal funding — have been quick off the blocks, lobbying to maintain their share to preserve the principle of choice and arguing that private schools save taxpayers money. But over half of all private schools get more than they should under the existing SES funding formula, which also automatically passes on a share of any increased funding for public schools. The AEU will press hard for the link between funding for public and private schools — via the so-called average government student recurrent costs (AGSRC) — to be broken. The review — the biggest since 1973 — was the major topic at the AEU’s federal conference last month, with presentations from review chair David Gonski and Education Minister Peter Garrett. Mr Gonski told delegates that equity was a key goal of the review. “Equity should ensure that differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions. “The current PM put it nicely when she said that

demography should not equal destiny.” But it will now be up to government schools to argue that disadvantage can only be addressed through a well-funded, high-quality public system. Federal president Angelo Gavrielatos told conference: “The only way … to ensure that demography is not destiny is through a new funding system that delivers better resourcing for our public schools.” Public opinion is on side. An AEU poll of 2,500 Australians found that almost 70% believe the Federal Government gives too much money to private schools; two-thirds said that most or all of any new federal funding should go to public schools.

The new Victorian Government has pledged an immediate increase in its funding to private schools to 25% of government school spending per student — or $45 million in the first six months. Media reports over the summer break have also highlighted that private school fees have outstripped inflation despite the rapid increase in federal funding. Submissions can be made through the AEU’s campaign website, ◆ Federal conference coverage: page 20–21 Emerging issues paper analysis: page 18

Coalition takes axe to education T he AEU has slammed a Coalition move to cut almost $350 million from Victorian public education funding — already the leanest education bureaucracy in the country. Education department officials have been ordered to find cuts of $338m over the next four-and-a-half years, including $36m by June 30 — taking the axe to spending commitments already made. “That represents retrospective cuts to education — it’s almost unheard of,” AEU branch president Mary Bluett said. The cuts are education’s share of $1.6 billion savings ordered across government. The target appears to have been set without first investigating the impact. “Victorian public secondary and primary school

students already receive more than $1,200 less than the national average and less than students in ever other state and territory. I cannot see where the cuts could possibly be made,” Ms Bluett said. Senior minister Peter Hall defended the cuts as part of an efficiency drive announced pre-election. He said front-line services would be protected. “Coalition savings will be made through the reduction in expenditure on media, marketing, advertising and political opinion polling, cuts to the use of external consultants and legal advisers, cuts to the size of ministerial offices and reining in of travel expenses,” he told AEU News. Nevertheless, the news threatens to undermine relations between the new government and the union, which had got off to a good start. continued on page 6 ➠

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Budget test set for Baillieu Time to invest in equity, the AEU tells the new government in its budget submission. Rachel Power AEU News


he AEU is calling on the Victorian Government to address the ­fundamental issue of equity in education in its 2011–2012 state budget submission. “A government can be judged by its investment in public education,” is the document’s lead-in statement. The Productivity Commission’s most recent report on government services has again confirmed that Victoria spends less per student in every category of non-tertiary education than any other state or territory of Australia. The submission calls for investment to cut school class sizes; increase participation in preschool education; and ensure high-quality teaching, supported by quality ­professional development. As around 15% of Victoria’s public school students now found to have ­additional needs, the AEU’s submission highlights the needs of those with behavioural and emotional issues. It also reaffirms the need to support all students in meeting

benchmark literacy and numeracy standards from P–12; and the ­particular importance of keeping students engaged in the middle years. The AEU makes a special case for secondary education — the years when students run the greatest risk of becoming disengaged; where public confidence in our government schools is at its lowest; and where the pressure to provide a broad and engaging curriculum is greatest. The union calls on the Government to increase per capita student investment in this sector to at least the national average by 2012 and to further significantly increase funding over the next four years. Victoria must meet the needs of every Year 11 and 12 student by urgently increasing the range and quality of offerings; expanding student welfare and pastoral support; and expanding the VET in schools program. The AEU supports the continued rebuilding of school and preschool infrastructure, arguing for the acceleration of building and grounds programs in secondary schools. The urgent need to address the skills shortage, and the importance

Coalition takes axe to education ➠ continued from page 5

The AEU was the first body invited to meet the new ministers, and had welcomed Minister Hall’s new TAFE concessions (see page 9). Both sides had also worked together over flood relief. But many teachers will now fear the cuts presage a return to the dark days of Kennett. The AEU met Minister Hall and Education Minister Martin Dixon on January 27 and at no stage did they indicate that cuts were on the agenda. “To imply that cuts of this magnitude could occur without serious impact on our schools and public education system is simply a nonsense,” Ms Bluett said.◆ — Anna Kelsey-Sugg AEU News


aeu news | february 2011

of lifelong learning and training, are another focus of the document. The AEU remains vehemently opposed to key aspects of the Skills Reform. It welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to review the TAFE fee structure “with a view to reducing all fees where possible and prudent”.

In terms of Indigenous education, the AEU applauds the restructure of the Koorie support workforce, but highlights the need for further initiatives, including the introduction of home–school liaison officers. ◆

Irreplaceable Colley goes M

EMBERS and colleagues have long said AEU industrial officer David Colley is irreplaceable. Now the Vic branch will find out if it’s true — after 20 years, Colley is decamping to South Melbourne and the AEU federal office. The legal expert has helped draft a towering pile of logs and agreements since joining the then FTUV in 1991. He has also commented on rafts of state and federal legislation, from the early work value and award restructuring cases to the new modern awards. But he says it has been the work advising and representing members in workcover cases, disciplinary hearings, complaints and other matters that has been the most rewarding. “It’s been immensely challenging — we’ve had a constantly changing political and legislative environment. There have been three or four fundamental rewrites of Australian industrial law in that time, and this move is a chance to be involved in policy development at a national level,” he said. “But the most personally

satisfying work for me has been saving members’ jobs when they’ve either been made redundant or unfairly dismissed.” Branch president Mary Bluett said: “David is amazing. It’s a major loss for us and a major gain for the federal office. He’ll be sorely missed, especially for the wealth of expertise he takes with him, both broadly and particularly in relation to our TAFE sector. “Whoever takes his place will have big shoes to fill.” ◆


AEU rep in

landmark court win Court vindicates Bendigo TAFE rep Greg Barclay over email to members — then councillors select him as deputy VP.


N A landmark case for trade unionism, the Federal Court has ruled that AEU sub-branch rep Greg Barclay was wrongly stood down by his employer, Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE, for performing union activities. In a momentous week for Barclay, two days later he was selected unanimously by TAFE and Adult Provision council under AEU rules to fill the role of deputy vice president until an election is held following the resignation of Mark Hyde.

AEU Victorian Branch President Mary Bluett welcomed the court outcome, saying: “It sends a powerful message to employers that union representatives going about their legitimate business should be free to do so without threats to their employment.” The court found that BRIT director Louise Harvey had taken “adverse action” against Barclay, in contravention of the Fair Work Act, by suspending him over an email he sent

to AEU members at the institute. Barclay had emailed sub-branch members after several raised concerns about being asked to sign off on material allegedly containing false information during preparation for a course accreditation audit. He reminded members of their responsibility not to create fraudulent documentation and to contact the union for advice and support if they felt pressured to participate in such activity.

Farewell to Mark Hyde

role in the last enterprise bargaining campaign. Who will forget his speech at the Athenaeum on that historic first stop work for 13 years? And of course he was the face of TAFE in our TV advertisements as part of our ongoing campaign against the skills reforms.” Hyde is a former AEU sub-branch president at Gordon TAFE and was active in Geelong Trades Hall

before being elected unopposed as deputy VP in October 2009 . He told AEU News: “I’m sorry not to finish something that I’ve started. It’s a challenging time with the change of government and the change of direction for TAFEs and TAFE governance, with TAFE’s focus going from education to business.” ◆


ark Hyde has stepped down as TAFE and adult provision deputy vice president for ill health and family reasons. AEU branch president Mary Bluett placed on record her appreciation for Hyde’s service. “He played a pivotal

As a result, BRIT suspended him from duties and threatened disciplinary action for serious misconduct. In a majority decision, the judges confirmed that the role of a union officer includes “advising members on workplace issues … and communicating with members about issues of interest or concern to them”. “If employers were able to punish those of its employees … for the conduct of their union, the protection to those persons afforded by (the Fair Work Act) would be entirely illusory,” the judges said. A further hearing will be held to determine the penalties to be imposed on BRIT. As for the disciplinary action, the judges said: “It is to be assumed that BRIT will abandon those proceedings forthwith.” ◆ For the full story, see profile, page 19.

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What goes around... A disability service run by AEU members is helping keep cast-offs out of landfill in Victoria’s north west.


Mildura recycling business employing people with disabilities has celebrated its 10th birthday. A joint venture between disability support service The Christie Centre and Mildura Rural City Council, Around Again diverts reusable items from landfill and resells them to the community, while providing external supported employment for adults with a disability. Since the recovery centre was established in 2000, next to the Mildura tip, more than 7000 tonnes of domestic and light commercial waste have been recycled or recovered and resold by its workers. “There’s no other business like it in Mildura,” says AEU member Glenda Hiskins, executive officer of the Christie Centre. “It’s a huge operation, seven days a week. Around 19 of our supported employees work there, along with several supervisors and volunteers.”

Know your rights


he ACTU Worksite for Schools website has four new videos tackling some of the tricky workplace issues facing teenagers — including sex discrimination, occupational health and safety, unpaid job trials and unions. The short videos have ­corresponding classroom activities that encourage students to ask questions and get to know their rights at work. There are also many tips for dealing with work experience and your first job. Currently, the ACTU Worksite for Schools is running a Work Experience Diary competition. Students can win a new iPod Nano simply by sharing their diary. Also on site are up-to-date fact sheets on work laws, employee rights, unions and more. The Work Scene Investigations section encourages an in-depth look at current workplace issues. The ACTU Worksite for Schools is at ◆


aeu news | february 2011

Working with the Mildura Landfill Transfer Station, Around Again provides a stop-off where residents can separate and recycle the waste they deliver to landfill. Those that can be recycled or reused, such as household items, furniture, electrical goods, tools and building materials, are sorted by the supported workers and then transferred to a recycling depot or sold on site. The business has grown to include services like rod bending for harvesters, paper shredding and metals recycling. “The Good Room” displays the more valuable items that turn up, including antique and retro mark infurniture, your clothing, movie posters and books. Income from sales covers

employment costs and business development at the centre. It has also enabled the Christie Centre to expand its employment projects — the latest being the Mildura Chocolate Company, which uses equipment sourced at the recovery centre. The venture was set up with just $65,000 in funding. Support came from the city council, Mildura Regional Waste Management Group and EcoRecycle. Nick Cavallo, councillor for the environment at the city council, says Around Again is one of the true success stories of the Mildura community: “The diary to benefits are so far reaching.” He says it proves that local

CLOSETHEGAP National Close The Gap Day

ClosetheGap DayMarch 24, Human Thursday, 2011 rights resources ARCH Aboriginal and Torres


Strait Islander people 24 is xfamyears still die 10-17 younger than other National Close has Australians. But by the Gap Day, working together created a we can Close the Gap. the day held range of to mark the resources campaign to for schools, close the gap exploring your interest to hold your own National Close the Gap Day event. in IndigenousRegister health inequality. international It’s easy, email us at with the subject line: This year will feature a focus NCTGD 2011on – keep me posted human rights issues. young Australians, kit to generate “WeThe had a great day and will “Thanks to the with resourcesa schools “It was fantastic resources focus on workers’ be making it a bigger and provided by Oxfam this was a discussion about the better event next year.” very students easy to run event.”and issues.” – Mark to encourage teachers rights, particularly across the – Kit-e Johnson – Melissa to stage events and make their own footwear and garment sector in Asia. to closing the gap. Oxfam, in partnership with Since 2005, more than 140,000 FairWear, also promotes the rights of people have joined the campaign, Australian-based garment workers. which calls for national action to For free copies of DVDs, fact close the 10–17 year life e­ xpectancy cards and research publications, gap between Indigenous and contact non-Indigenous Australians within a au. For more resources, go to generation. More information, resources and workers-rights and click on ideas can be found on the Close Resources For Students. ◆ the Gap website at au/11e3. ◆


Photo: Lara McKinley/OxfamAUS.


Rachel Power AEU News


TOP: Glenda Hiskins with workers Joe and Mark dismantling circuit boards. BOTTOM: Fred at the shredder. photographS: Sarah simmons

residents are willing to go that extra mile to separate their rubbish for the benefit of the environment, extending the life of the tip by around 10 years. Hiskins says Around Again provides a great business model, and its workers are happy. “They love to work and be busy and needed.” ◆

Green website launched


roydon Conservation Society has established a website with links and resources for Maroondah teachers about their local environment. Liz Sanzaro, AEU member and president of the society, says the site is a useful repository of information on local and some broader environmental issues that can be used in class. The site’s “youth depot” has up-to-date information on green actions and events in the area. “It would be a child-friendly site for in-class learning or for reference of things that affect a community in terms of conservation,” Liz says. The website can be found at www.croydonconservation.◆


AEU reaches all-time high T

he AEU starts 2011 with a record 45,223 members — exceeding the combined pre-Kennett membership of our predecessor unions and making us one of the fastest growing unions in Australia. This has been achieved through our traditional recruitment of new members by sub-branch

r­ epresentatives and organisers and our new join online facility. It also results from our highly successful recruiting program which sees recruiting teams go into workplaces to talk with non members one-to-one about the benefits of AEU membership. As always we will be relying on our

sub-branch representatives to assist our recruiters to identify new teachers and education support staff and nonmembers for recruitment. This will be a big year for the union, with negotiations beginning over logs of claims for both teachers and ES staff. Nationally, our For Our Future campaign should see the Federal

Government introduce legislation for a fairer funding system following the outcome of its review. The AEU will continue to focus on recruitment; the more members we have, the greater our impact on governments and in turn on outcomes for public education. ◆ ­— Brian Henderson

TAFE concessions welcomed

Anna Kelsey-Sugg AEU News


HE AEU has welcomed the return of TAFE concession places for 15-to-24-year-old healthcare cardholders after the new State Government fast-tracked its election promise. Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall said the Coalition would provide $56 million to return the concession fee for diplomas and advanced diploma courses for students under the age of 25. “It’s good news for those 5000-plus students who will now have access to the concession fee for TAFE study,” said AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett. Minister Hall undertook at his first meeting with the AEU in December to bring forward the original date of July 1 for the return of concession rates. “The Minister has managed to do that, and he’s managed to get it through cabinet, ahead of the May


he raddest AEU rep ever!” is how business manager Kate Mee describes her colleague Caitlin Kembrey (aka Kembo), union rep at Bundarra Primary School in Portland. “I really want you to know how hard Kembo works with us and in supporting the AEU,” Kate told AEU News. “She constantly keeps us informed of all the current issues and events going on within

Nominate your REP!

state budget,” Ms Bluett said. From this term, healthcare cardholders will pay just $100 to enrol in a TAFE diploma or advanced diploma course, instead of $2000 for a government-supported place. Minister Hall says the under-25s group was chosen as having the highest numbers not in employment

or full-time education or training but he hoped that, closer to the state budget, the Government would commit to extending concessions to all age groups. The AEU continues to push for access to be broadened — in particular to groups such as women returning to work after time out of the

“A promising start” F

or two years the AEU has campaigned against the Brumby Government’s Skills Reforms. Our concerns that TAFE was becoming unaffordable through the abolition of concessions, tripling of diploma fees and the introduction of debt funding were ignored by successive ministers. We took our TAFE4ALL campaign to campuses in all parts of the state, meeting local MPs, speaking to local media — and feeding snags to thousands of students as we talked to them about what was proposed.

the union.” Caitlin, who took on the role in her second year of teaching, says she is passionate about union membership. “I like being able to help people and find ways to help staff support each other,” she says. Caitlin works hard to overcome the isolation members can feel working in Victoria’s far-flung west by hosting AEU morning teas and “recruitment drive drinks”.

Students from Chisholm even took their protest to the steps of state parliament. Even when the impact of these reforms started to be realised, the Brumby Government would not admit its mistake. You do not increase enrolments and deepen the skills base of the workforce by making training more expensive, especially to the less well off that are attracted to TAFE courses. In the end it was the Coalition that went to the state election with

“Sometimes we feel we’re at the end of the earth here in Portland. There are PD sessions the AEU runs that we’d love to take part in, but the distance means it’s just impossible. “Even to get to the monthly regional meeting in Warnambool is an hour-and-a-half drive.” Kate says Caitlin has managed to sign up almost all the school’s staff including long-standing holdouts. ◆

workforce due to parenting. The move marks a victory for the TAFE 4 All campaign which has fought for the return of concessions and the need to make TAFE affordable for all Victorians. ◆ a policy to make significant changes to all this. Since being elected three months ago, to their credit they have honoured their promise. With these moves, they have made a very good start. The AEU estimates that around 5000 enrolments will have occurred, creating over 200 TAFE jobs, by this decision alone. There is still much to be done to support TAFE and its role as the key provider of training, but the new government is to be commended for its actions so far. ◆  — Greg Barclay

Caitlin Kembrey

Bundarra Primary School

Does your school or workplace AEU Rep deserve special recognition? Email telling us who you’re nominating and why. The Rep of the Month receives a limited edition AEU leather briefcase.



Australia fails the test The latest round of international student testing reveals the flaw at the heart of the Australian schooling system. John Graham research officer


ESULTS from the OECD’s latest international PISA tests demonstrate the enormous influence social disadvantage has on student performance, and the decline in equity in the schooling outcomes of Australia’s 15-year-olds. Australian results in the 2003 and 2006 rounds of the triennial tests of literacy and maths and science literacy were categorised as “high quality/high equity”. In 2009 the overall results were still “high quality” but equity fell to just “average”. The high correlation between a student’s socio-economic (SES) background and test performance was evident in all three curriculum areas. In reading, the average score of Australian students in the top 25% by SES was 91 points higher than those in the lowest quartile — the most disadvantaged 25% of students. The gap has been estimated as the equivalent of almost three full years of schooling. For the first time PISA includes a school sector comparison. On raw results alone, students in government

schools performed at a lower level than those in Catholic and independent schools (with independents the highest performing). These differences disappear after taking SES into account. The results simply reflect the social background of the student population. Whereas government schools have 35% of the lowest SES students and 16% of the highest, Catholic schools have 16% and 30% respectively and independent schools 10% and 50%. Australian students overall continue to perform well above the OECD average, despite media concern about Australia slipping down the rankings. The number of countries participating has doubled since 2000, and two of the “countries” which had better results than Australia in 2009 — Shanghai-China and Singapore — were participating for the first time. All of the countries which sit above Australia have a greater proportion of their students in public education. The marketisation and privatisation of our school system over the past decade has not improved student performance. The evidence points the other way, with an overall fall in maths and

reading and equity has widened. Victorian students were below the Australian average in each curriculum area but “statistically similar” to

New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. The ACT and Western Australia came top. ◆

Women’s centenary


ARCH marks the 100th anniversary of the first International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911. For 100 years IWD has celebrated the political, economic, cultural and social achievement of women around the world — and served as reminder of the continuing struggle for equality that so many women face. The day is commemorated at the United Nations and designated a national holiday in many countries. Its origins lie in a march by 15‚000 women through New York on March 8, 1908 for shorter working hours‚ better pay‚ voting rights and an end to child labour. The event went international three years later. The AEU will again be celebrating on the day with our annual IWD dinner at the AEU office. Our guest speaker is sports reporter Samantha Lane, talking about life as a feisty woman in a male-dominated profession. Find out more and book your place at There you will also find links to IWD activities for students. Let us know if you have other ideas. ◆

Get booking 2011 HE AEU has produced CALENDAR its first events calender — a directory of the hundreds of training courses, conferences, forums and other events that the union holds each year. It’s an easy-to-use guide which lists events by sector and interest. Copies have been mailed to workplace reps and PD coordinators, and you can download your own copy at You’re bound to find a program for you. ◆






aeu news | february 2011

Cartoon © Pope/The Canberra Times

2/02/11 9:53 AM


Schools’ stormy start New South Wales TAFE teachers are calling on MPs and candidates to pledge their support for the Teachers Federation’s TAFE 5 Point Plan for a Better State campaign in the lead-up to the NSW state election. Radio ads across metro and regional stations are also asking the community to lobby their local MPs and candidates to invest in TAFE. Federation president Bob Lipscombe said the people of NSW want a state where everyone has affordable access to a TAFE education, where TAFE jobs and courses are not contracted, and where government investment ensures a skilled workforce. Research shows that every dollar invested in TAFE returns $6 to the economy of NSW, he said. South Australia The SA Government has announced plans for a teacher renewal scheme, prompting the AEUSA to defend the scheme against media reports charging the program with targeting “tired, disengaged” teachers. The union is concerned that teachers will be put off from applying, and says the d­ epartment will need to handle the matter carefully so as not to cause further damage to the image of public education in South Australia. It hopes the scheme might provide opportunities for new educators, and start addressing the systemic issue of casual employment. Western Australia For the first time, the State School Teachers’ Union of WA is to make a submission in the State Government’s annual budget process. The union will push for resources to support students at educational risk and will draw on its position paper, A Future for Every Child. The union has also launched a campaign website: www. ◆

Members urged to dig deep to help flood victims. Rachel Power AEU News


looding made for a chaotic start to the year for schools throughout Victoria, with flood damage forcing nine schools to remain closed at the start of Term 1. In all, some 170 government schools were affected by the storms. At Wyndham Park Primary School, the school community banded together to mop up after 16 classrooms on two levels were flooded. Hundreds of books were destroyed, along with a significant amount of the school’s computers. It was a difficult start to Daniel Vella’s first year as principal of the new school, created from the merger of two local primary schools. “I would’ve hoped for a more positive start for the year after the whole merger process and all the work that’s been leading up to this day,” he said. On the upside: “It’s been wonderful to see people take ownership of the school and show how much they care about the kids here,” he said. “Messy!” is how principal Bernie Altmann described the scene at Rochester Secondary College, which was inundated by floodwaters in January, along with more than 80% of the historic town in Victoria’s north.

“I’m standing in the office on sodden carpet,” Bernie told AEU News. “It’s rank. “I figure it’ll take Wyndham Primary School council president Kim Owen weeks for the timber with her children Katie and James. Meredith O’Shea/Fairfaxphotos architraves and cement to dry out, But the guys are doing their best.” then to put new carpets down and He organised a working bee at get everything in place.” the school, but most teachers were At co-located Rochester Primary dealing with damage to their own School, five buildings were damaged, houses or those of family and friends, including the new $2 million multihe said. purpose building constructed with “People up here are in shock. federal government stimulus funds. They thought they could get back “There’s been quite a few in time for sand-bagging [following teachers in, but this is really in the warnings], but within one-and-a-half hands of the (education) department,” Bernie said. “It’s taking longer hours the town was inundated.” ◆ than I would like.

How you can help and get help


ictorian members affected by the floods can apply to the AEU for up to $1000 in emergency support; those who lost teaching materials in flood-affected schools can also apply to the union’s disaster fund for up to $500 in replacement costs. Email, attention Brian Henderson, or call (03) 9417 2822. Members are urged to take part in relief efforts through State Schools Relief, the charity founded by teachers to support disadvantaged children. Schools can even set up their own fundraising webpage — go to for more information. The AEU in Victoria has donated $30,000 to members hit by the devastating floods in Queensland, while helping this state’s own flood victims. AEU branches across Australia were asked to contribute to the Queensland Teachers Union fund. Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said it was time to pay back the support given by other branches after the Black Saturday bushfires.

Long-serving member awarded OA


FTER a teaching career spanning more than 40 years, Order of Australia recipient Rodger O’Hara has retired, it seems, on paper only. An AEU member for 30 years, Rodger was awarded the OA in the Australia Day honours for his service to youth, extending beyond his classroom years to include more recent roles with the Victorian branch of Scouts Australia and work setting up a Sudanese scouting group. The OA is an honour Roger says

left him more than a little surprised: “I was absolutely gobsmacked,” he said. “It’s really nice to think that people nominated me.” The AEU has congratulated Rodger, who joined the union in teachers’ college after recognising early on the value of union support and a professional community. “As a new teacher it was important to have the backing of the union, and later, working as a principal, I thought I couldn’t just belong to the

principals union. It was very divisive in those days and I felt to have a foot in both camps [the teachers and the principals unions] demonstrated the importance of working together.” It’s a principle that has remained with him to this day. In 2011 the cultural diversity of Shepparton, where Rodger lives, will be the focus of his attentions; he plans to conduct further work with the Sudanese, Congolese and Karen young people in the area. ◆



Meet the Minister

Senior education minister Peter Hall promises to champion public education and push for higher funding. But has he been undermined by Coalition plans for cuts? Nic Barnard meets the new minister.


aeu news | february 2011



NE thing I want to say very clearly is that there is going to be no great education revolution.” So says Peter Hall, senior education minister in the newly minted Baillieu State Government. “From the workforce point of view, there will be no major changes. There will be policy directions and they will be clearly articulated. But it’s not going to be a massive change in terms of direction.” Hall is speaking to AEU News a week before the start of term — and a week before the news breaks that the Coalition is planning almost $350 million of education cuts (of which more later). It’s two months since the election that delivered a surprise victory to the Liberal/Nationals Coalition. Clearly the Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession hopes to signal that this will be no return to the Kennett Government. In that time, he’s had two meetings with AEU leadership and is now sitting down with AEU News — without mentioning the planned cuts, although he later issues a “clarification”. Hall’s first couple of weeks in the job were spent in briefings. Since then it’s been meetings with a diverse range of partners and stakeholders. The first people invited in for a chat before Christmas were the AEU’s Mary Bluett and Brian Henderson. In January, Hall, wearing his Skills Minister hat, rolled out the return of concession rates for — some — TAFE students, fulfilling a keen election promise. Then the floods struck, ensuring a rough start to the year for many schools. School buildings are of course part of Education Minister Martin Dixon’s portfolio. But Hall is the senior minister, occupying the office previously taken by Bronwyn Pike and, longer ago, by Henry Bolte. So what is the Coalition’s agenda? The mantra uttered by ministers across Government has been that the first budget (in May) will be about delivering on election promises. Hall is no different. But whatever emerges, he says, “we are determined to take people with us”. Hence the meetings with the AEU. Hall says — perhaps surprisingly for an incoming minister — that he believes public education in Victoria is in pretty good shape. “The system is something we should be proud of. When people say we need to fix it, I don’t think it’s a matter of fixing it,” he says. He’s a self-described “strong advocate of public education” and sees his job at least in part as being cheerleader-in-chief for teachers and all those working in the public system — where he taught himself for almost 15 years. He takes a swipe at “some sections of the media” for picking on teachers as a soft target. “It’s been easy for them to blame teachers.” That’s not to say improvements cannot be made; and he recognises the long-standing drift to Catholic and independent schools. Hall talks of harnessing best practice, developing technology, improving facilities and working with parents to build on

Victoria’s success and boost public confidence. It also means talking up the profession, to attract the next generation of teachers. “We need to promote the value of teaching and in part that’s why we have a minister responsible for the teaching profession,” he says. “The VIT no longer has the function to promote teaching so that third party endorsement will come from me.” Hall says there’s “no magic bullet (for boosting confidence in public schools) or someone would have fired it”; but there’s the rub. Many would argue that there is a magic bullet — investment. So will the Coalition put in the dollars so badly needed by schools in Australia’s lowest funded state? Don’t hold your breath. “I’m certainly aware of the difference (in funding between Victoria and other states),” Hall says. “I’m also aware of some of the arguments of why that is the case. “But I think the important thing is outcomes. That’s what we should be measuring and in that regard Victoria performs pretty well compared to other Australian states — and that reflects the contribution made by teachers in this state. “Have we got a commitment to increasing funding for education? Yes, I will do everything I can to try and increase funding.” Note that “I”. Is there the same commitment from the new Premier and Treasurer? “I think there is, but when we go to budget bids each year, there is no doubt the budget will be very competitive. And while we will strenuously argue for programs to assist in schools … we’re not always going to get what we argue for.” Two weeks later, as AEU News goes to press, Hall responded to questions about the now-public instruction to officials to find savings. In a statement, he said the cuts are part of an efficiency drive which was in fact announced before the election. “The Coalition Government’s savings are targeting areas such as cutting ministerial staff numbers, cutting Labor’s army of spin doctors, cutting political advertising, and cutting senior public service travel.” Education has not been singled out, he says. Savings will be made across all departments and “will enable increased funding to flow to core frontline services including schools”. Still, back in the interview, caveats also apply over the future of the Brumby Government’s vaunted 10-year school modernisation program — only halfway through when the ALP lost power. The Coalition is “not about to abandon” the reorganisations and mergers already on the books, Hall says; but “there might be some reprioritisation” to meet other election commitments. “There will be a continuation of school rebuilding and replacement works as required,” he says. “We haven’t done a detailed assessment as to what that will mean, that every school in Victoria will be completed in the next five years. … But there will be no lesser effort made in terms of capital works.” The other major funding issue is of course

the federal review. It now falls to the Coalition to oversee the Victorian Government’s submission. It’s a work in progress — the minister talks of the need for “flexibility” and getting a fair deal for Victoria. But his response when talking about funding to meet student needs, when so many students with special needs use the state system, will make many nervous. Hall — speaking personally — proposes a form of vouchers. “A parent who has a child with a disability will invariably get (more) additional funding in the public system than in the private system. And therefore we’re finding a greater number of students with disabilities in public schools. Now I don’t think that should be the case, and the way it can be resolved is if you have a model of funding that actually follows the student with a disability.” On the overuse of contracts for teachers, he says that “19% is a high figure”, and has made it clear to officials that it’s high on his agenda; but the first step is getting hard data on the issue. Hall’s other portfolio is higher education and skills. Here the return of concessions for the under-25s will be followed by a review of current fee structures. He recognises that many institutes are struggling under the Brumby skills reforms. “That is exactly the reason the concessions system I’ve announced is for TAFE only,” he says. “That will be a significant boost and I will cop some criticism because it doesn’t extend to private providers, but I will wear that criticism because I believe it is the private providers that have benefited to a greater extent from these reforms.” He goes on: “I don’t want to see any of our more popular, profitable courses cherry-picked to the detriment of local providers, whether they be TAFE or community education providers … leaving them with an unviable training load. While it is an uncapped, demand-driven system, I won’t be afraid to intervene if it’s in the best interests of the student, young or old.” As senior minister, Hall will also ovesee with Early Childhood Minister Wendy Lovell the response to the challenges facing preschools in the move towards universal access to 15 hours’ preschool for 4-year-olds by 2013 — although he’s a little hazy on the detail. He says the Coalition supports the goal of universal access, and recognises the need to invest in facilities — and to recruit “massively” in short order to deliver the promised hours. Which brings us back to the beginning. Several of the Coalition’s policies will require heavy recruitment to deliver. But this is one promise Hall can make. “You need to champion the profession and I don’t think enough of that has taken place,” he says. “We have a minister responsible for the teaching profession, that’s how important we regard it as. “I’ve got to take every opportunity — and I will do so without reluctance — of going out and selling the importance of the profession and the quality of the profession and talking to young people and making sure it’s attractive to them.” ◆



On your marks… W

ith the federal and state elections of 2010 out of the way, there is no shortage of big issues to keep the AEU and its members occupied in 2011. From our continuing campaign for increased Federal Government funding for public schools, to ensuring Victorians have fair and equitable access to vocational education and training through the TAFE4ALL campaign, and gearing up for negotiations for the new principal, teacher and ES agreements, this year will provide plenty of activist opportunities for AEU members. The AEU will be actively tracking the development of the National Curriculum, the ramblings of My School 2.0 (now due for launch on March 4), the Federal Government’s performance pay and school autonomy agendas and the ill-advised Teach for Australia and Teach Next programs. We will continue to campaign to improve the wages and c­ onditions of members in the disability sector through the Wake Up Pay Up campaign and keep a close eye on the codes and regulations being developed from last year’s ­harmonisation of OHS laws. Also on the federal horizon is the need to address global warming and climate change through the introduction of a price on carbon. The AEU will be a keen participant in this debate through the ACTU and Victorian Trades Hall Council. The national


aeu news | february 2011

taxation summit will also be important to the future of public education — a sustainable, well-resourced tax base is essential for a well-resourced, highquality public education system. Federal funding review — get active, get involved Nationally, the AEU is beefing up its campaign around funding, while developing a relationship with the still new Federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett. The current funding formula, disowned yet extended by Labor to 2013, delivers 70% of funding to the 30% of students attending nongovernment schools. If extended for a further four years, it’s predicted that the split will become even greater, with nongovernment schools receiving 75% or around $9 billion per year. These arrangements fund nongovernment schools on the basis of average cost to educate a student in a government school — $11,393 last year, according to federal government figures. Under the funding formula, non-government schools serving the poorest communities receive up to 70% of the average cost, whole those serving the wealthiest communities are meant to receive only 13.7%. However, some of Victoria’s “top” schools, where Year 12 fees can top $29,000, will receive $4,638 per student this year, rather than the $1,600 the formula provides.

Indeed, each year about half of all non-government schools collect more than the formula says they are entitled to receive. The formula is also blind to the fact that it costs more to meet the educational needs of some students — for example students with disabilities or those from low socio-economic backgrounds. Given that Victorian g­ overnment schools educate over 88% of Indigenous students, 78% of students with a disability, 58% of those with a language background other than English and, nationally, 78% of students deemed “at risk”, a funding system that delivers money to nongovernment schools based on the government school average effectively provides funding for the type of students they don’t educate. A new government … a new campaign? The impact of the election of the Bailleau Coalition Government remains to be seen, with two ministers now responsible for public schools — Peter Hall, Minister for the Teaching Profession, and Martin Dixon, Minister of Education. Hall, an ex-teacher and AEU (VSTA) member, is the senior of the two. It is clear that the new government will focus on its election promises, subject to analysing the state of Victoria’s finances — and beyond the promise of making Victorian teachers the best paid in the country,

that means slim pickings for public education. Of the $411.8 million additional recurrent funding announced by the Coalition, less than 42% will be spent on government schools, the rest going to Catholic and independent schools. All but one policy announcement is aimed at primary school education. The Coalition has announced $257.7m in additional capital funding — a far cry from the $1.7bn promised by Labor. The AEU has refocused its Education For Everyone’s Needs campaign to ensure the new government lives up to its rhetoric about supporting the rebuilding and moderisation of all public schools by 2016. (For more on our education priorities under the Coalition, see our 2011/12 state budget submission at Interestingly, the new government has established six taskforces in the areas of early childhood development, infrastructure and resourcing, curriculum, student engagement and wellbeing, school improvement and governance, and skills. Unlike the Kennett Government before it, it has invited the AEU to participate in each of these committees. Negotiations for a new principals and teachers agreement are scheduled to begin next month, with ES to follow later in the year. Highest paid teachers in Australia, here we come! ◆


National curriculum

Warning: draft curriculum on trial


n December, education ministers approved the national curriculum for English, maths, science and history for trial in 2011. It’s hard to have confidence in the quality and authenticity of the consultation and the rushed timeline of implementation. With the next tranche of subjects now being developed, we have issues with the arts curriculum and the languages draft paper, including the hours allocated to new languages and the choice of languages, with AUSLAN and classical languages seemingly omitted. We also await further comment from the new Victorian Government on the curriculum. Victorian schools can take part in the trial — expected in Terms 2 and 3 — to help develop and refine the curriculum. The pilot will focus on the instructional time required to effectively deliver the curriculum and the validation of the achievement standards based on student work. At the same time, curriculum leaders will be offered PD to help plan the move to the Australian Curriculum. The new AusVELS web portal will be developed by the end of Term 2, giving access to a revised VELS that includes the Australian Curriculum for the first four subjects, and links to curriculum resources. It continues to place a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and personal and social education. The AEU supports the notion of a single Australian curriculum, but genuine consultation with the profession must be paramount. ◆

— Erin Aulich deputy vice president, secondary

Teacher shortages

Teach for Australia is not the answer


et’s face it, Victoria and Australia face a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in secondary and particularly in maths and science and in rural and remote locations. But what are we going to do about it? The Federal Government’s approach has been to establish two teacher training programs: Teach for Australia, which sees “high-performing” graduates given six weeks training and sent to work with some of our students with the greatest needs; and now Teach Next for “motivated professionals”. The AEU continues to have concerns about both programs and the impact on students of having unqualified teachers in front of their classrooms. In the US, there is little evidence that such programs make any difference and in fact in some cases student outcomes declined. We also have concerns about the expense. Last year, with 45 TFA associates, the program cost around $22 million — close to $500,000 per teacher. This year there are fewer than 40 associates. We do not need gimmicks or fads; we simply need a significant boost to the tertiary education sector responsible for teacher training, and salaries and conditions that will encourage teachers to stay in the profession. The Federal Government’s approach to teacher training is merely a diversion from its responsibility to properly fund teacher education.

— James Rankin deputy vice president, primary

TAFE Teachers bear the cost of march to market


S 2011 begins, TAFE teachers battle the relentless march of the five Cs — contestability, competition, commercialisation, consumerism and casualisation in the training sector. The consequences of these permeate every aspect of the job as a TAFE teacher. From parking fees at VU to hours being cut when applying for job security at Chisholm, the need to raise revenue now totally dominates decision making. TAFE is no longer run by educationalists but is totally in the hands of the money people. No program or job is safe from their gaze. If you are not productive, you are not sustainable and your course is in peril. Change is constant and the role of the fully qualified, full-time teacher is constantly eroded. The largest cost to TAFEs is teachers’ salaries. Means to lessen the wages bill are constantly being explored. In a society that is trying to improve the skills of its workforce, the undermining of curriculum, ­fragmentation of the workforce and failure to regulate the competition is both counterproductive and irresponsible. The last government’s euphemistically named Skills Reform increased costs, led to enrolment decline and job losses. Our TAFE4All campaign will continue to see that the negative consequences of this are eradicated. The quality of VET offers another challenge. For too long governments have failed to promote the superior quality of its TAFE providers, or rigorously audit or regulate private RTOs. Meanwhile TAFE students have been short-changed by the shaving of hours, undermining course quality and adding to teacher workload. Job security is under threat with ever-increasing casualisation and management refusing to meet their commitment to convert teachers to ongoing employment. It is too easy for management to restrict information on which such decisions are made, negating the effectiveness of institute consultative committees. A lack of administrative support means teachers have less time to prepare quality programs. At the same time, they are under pressure to get out and market their courses, while management misuse the excess hours clause to timetable more than 21 teaching hours per week. Teachers are often left aggrieved by the amateurish and frequently unfair procedures used to judge student complaints. The customer is not always right — an overhaul of procedures is needed. The work of teachers is the key to successful outcomes. We are ­professional people who must be treated as such. For the AEU, we need to continue to find and support new members who are prepared to operate on campuses as branch reps, to improve the understanding of the MBA and to monitor its implementation. This year will also see the development of our next log of claims to be negotiated during 2012. Members will be consulted throughout the process and many of the above issues will be included. ◆

— Andrew Ferguson TAFE organiser



Early childhood Networks needed to manage change


rogressive implementation of the new National Quality Framework through to January 2016 continues to set our agenda. The advent of a new state government will be reflected in much of this. From January 2012, all services will be assessed against the National Quality Standard and the resultant rating posted on the My Child website. A critical challenge this year will be to get to grips with the system and its associated national regulations. At the same time we will continue to endeavour to mitigate the potential problems we have identified. The minimum qualification requirements for teachers in long day care and preschool services from January 2014 sharpen the focus on attraction and retention, including support for staff to study or upgrade qualifications. Employers and government must provide realistic opportunities for staff while ensuring that the integrity of qualifications is maintained. The focus on teacher registration and accreditation of staff will continue. Coupled with improved staff-to-child ratios from 2016 and the timeline of 15 hours’ universal access by January 2013, workforce issues continue to be a dominating factor. While trials and pilots continue, everyone is on a daily basis ­endeavouring to accommodate the gradual impacts of change. We are being challenged to find solutions to the staffing, timetabling and infrastructure issues that come with increased program delivery. We will need to be vigilant to ensure easy answers don’t replace legitimate solutions which respect the rights, entitlements and responsibilities of staff, employers and governments; and the needs of children and families. For many, the feeling of constant flux is uncomfortable, with positive feelings about the rationale underpinning the change lost in the day-to-day demands of managing it. The need for members to connect with one another to discuss options and solutions, to gain information and see how the pieces fit will mean a greater AEU focus this year on building networks (such as for teachers in long day care, clusters or early intervention). Educational leadership, collegiality and connectedness continue to be critical to achieving the desirable objectives of the reform agenda. ◆


— Shayne Quinn vice president, early childhood

aeu news | february 2011

Education support Recruitment is the key to a better deal


ast year we saw the biggest increase in ES membership in the history of the AEU and as a result we have better representation at all levels of the union. In 2011, the AEU is in its best position ever to advance the rights of ES staff. Despite this, union density remains the single biggest impediment for ES members. It restricts the full implementing of our agreement — significant improvements were made in the current agreement, but some sub-branches are still working to access them in full. Many non-members remain completely oblivious to the entitlements we won and that holds back everyone. Low density will also have an impact on the upcoming negotiations for the next agreement. Our preparations have been extensive and the AEU is seeking some groundbreaking improvements for ES members. If we are to achieve our claims we will need to demonstrate that the majority of ES staff support them. Holiday pay Many members have sought our advice over a variety of salary concerns. The lack of training and support provided to schools for the implementation of the new eduPay system appears to be the main cause of most of these. The AEU will continue to raise your concerns with the DEECD and endeavour to resolve the long list of eduPay problems. If you have any questions or require assistance, please call the MSU. ◆

— Kathryn Lewis ES organiser

Climate change Australia must play its part


HE mood at last year’s climate forum in Mexico was sombre given the disappointment of Copenhagen. But the results in Cancun were very positive, even if no international treaty looks likely in the short term. Over 80 countries made commitments to pollution targets, including China and America. A green climate fund was established to

help developing countries adapt to climate change and develop cleaner economies. And there was a commitment to discuss deforestation, which accounts for about 18% of global emissions. Now Australia must decide to play its part in this international movement — we need to put a price on pollution. Prime Minister Gillard has already


Graduate teachers

Disability Services

Getting the best start


very year presents challenges for new teachers. It’s important to know about learning opportunities that come up as well as your entitlements as a new teacher. First-year teachers, make sure you: • Get your 5% reduction in responsibilities • Have a mentor assigned to you, and • Attend a VIT provisionally registered teacher meeting. The VIT meetings are designed to support you in completing the VIT requirements of a first-year teacher. This will be a big year in campaigning for improved working conditions, with key issues for graduate teachers that need to be addressed. Campaigning will take place around: • Reduced class sizes • Cutting contract positions and creating more ongoing jobs • Higher salaries for all teachers. Two important dates to remember: May 6 sees our Primary Graduate Teacher Conference, with the Secondary Conference on May 20. More details follow later this term. ◆

— Andrew Cassidy graduates organiser

flagged legislation in the latter part of the year, althought it is unclear whether it will propose a carbon tax or another version of the emissions trading scheme previously proposed. New minister Greg Combet has put in place a multi-party climate change committee, and business and NGO round tables which are already meeting. The ACTU is represented on the NGO round table. There is no doubt that there will be significant debate; Tony Abbott openly opposes what he calls a “great big tax”. There are clearly strong economic reasons for putting a price on

carbon, or more accurately on pollution. The union movement must ensure that workers are supported in any transition to a greener economy and that those who have less capacity to pay increased costs of living are given financial support. This is a very complex issue and the ACTU is working with all affiliates, including the AEU, to develop a campaign and policy to ensure the voice of our members is properly heard in the coming debate. ◆


It’s a waiting game until FWA delivers


ATE last year, the AEU and HACSU met VHIA CEO Alec Djoneff to discuss a second memorandum of understanding. The parties agreed this should cover July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012, to cover the current round of funding while awaiting the decision of Fair Work Australia over the pay equity case. It was hoped that the MOU would be arranged by Christmas, as it was drafted in December. As employers have already received funding for the July 2010 increase, there is no impediment to the back pay and pay rise being paid immediately. However some employers request a further MOU to formalise this process. Both the AEU and HACSU have contacted VHIA to ask when the MOU will be forwarded to employers. If your organisation is not represented by VHIA, it can still enter into an interim agreement with the AEU while we await the pay equity case outcome. We can provide employers with correct wage rates. Quite a few organisations have already done this, and we urge your sub-branch to talk to your CEO about when the increase will be paid to members. The AEU and other unions have given evidence in the pay equity case about the work of their members. In addition, the joint unions have called expert witnesses to accurately outline the work done in the social, community and disability sectors. Further oral submissions will conclude the hearing in April. The importance of this case cannot be overestimated. Regardless, it is still necessary for the Federal and Victorian Governments to commit fully to funding the outcome. We will keep members advised of any further rallies and actions in our campaign. Disability training in 2011 The AEU will be running a half-day workshop each term and a full training day in September for disability members. Suggested topics include training for AEU and OHS reps, dealing with in-home programs, and maintaining personal safety. We welcome any further ideas. The first workshop is on March 15. ◆

— Kerry Maher disability services organiser

— Meredith Peace deputy president



Myths quoted

A new paper by the Federal Funding Review offers some encouragement for supporters of public education — but trots out some old arguments from the private school lobby. Justin Bowd takes them to task.


HE emerging issues paper released by the Federal Funding Review panel in December is a synopsis of the perspectives and opinions provided by 70 organisations in the panel’s listening tour last year. On the face of it these organisations represented a diverse range of views from all states and sectors, although it is worth noting that 31 of them represented exclusively the interests of the nongovernment sector. This proportion (44%) is considerably larger than the 34% of students at non-government schools (according to the most recent ABS figures). Much has been made of how the views and biographies of the panel members themselves may affect the findings of the review. Unlike the private sector interest groups however, the attitudes of the panel members cannot be predicted with a high degree of certainty — a fact that reinforces the importance of AEU members and supporters of public education providing submissions to the review by the March 31 deadline. Despite the slightly lop-sided make up of the contributors, there is much in the paper to hearten those who value public education. The following has been fairly widely quoted: The panel believes that a commitment to equity means that differences in educational outcomes should not be the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions. The panel also noted: … discussion about the enrolment shift towards non-government schools … and the resulting capacity of the government education system in Australia to provide a quality education for all students if the number of students in ­government schools declined.

This second quote was a perspective that was merely noted and not endorsed by the panel, as was most of the paper’s content. However, panel chair David Gonski, addressing the AEU federal conference last month, stated a “need to continue to build a strong public education system”. Unfortunately he went on to say that the “causes and effects” of the drift to non-government schools merely needed to be investigated rather than halted or reversed. Space is also provided for the perspectives of the non-government sector. For instance, it was suggested to the panel: … that the current funding arrangements have increased the affordability of non-government schooling by allowing low-fee paying schools to operate, and thereby offering some families greater choice regarding their child’s school education. The non-government sector is well aware the review may spell the end for its favourite cash cow, the Commonwealth SES (socio-economic status) funding system. They will run hard with such arguments to preserve their large share of federal funding — so it is worth debunking them once again. Private school fees have risen faster than costs across the whole sector — by over 60% between 2001 and 2008, compared to between 40% and 50% for state schools. So much for downward pressure on fees. It is low-fee schools, often in the Catholic system, that usually attract more sympathy with the choice argument. It is worth noting that Catholic fees grew by nearly 69% over the period. And for essentially the same funding (from all sources) as government schools, the Catholic sector produces the same results with students from a

more favourable demographic, having been able to exclude and cherry-pick students. (For more on this, read Trevor Cobbold’s dissection at au/11as.) The other claim often made is that fees spent by parents represent a saving for governments. Whether or not this is true depends entirely on the elasticity of demand for non-government education. If fees rose to compensate for lost subsidies, what would be the scale of the exodus to the government sector? We don’t know, but the extra financial costs could be small. Certainly non-government schools function in countries without government subsidies; in the latest OECD report only Belgium spent more public money on private education (Chile also usually spends more but did not provide data that year). The OECD data also show that countries with larger public subsidies to non-government schools have slightly more segregated education systems (as measured by between-school differences in achievement attributable to social background). A final point about the effectiveness of the nongovernment school lobby: that such a small group could pack so much political clout is often described as a crude version of the Tragedy of the Commons — the public is apathetic about public education because it is free. I think this argument tends to underestimate how well-resourced and well-connected the non-government sector lobby is. However, we have a chance to do something about it now by participating in the review process. ◆ Justin Bowd is an AEU research officer. Download the emerging issues paper at (PDF).

Don’t forget to make your submission at 18

aeu news | february 2011


Tough case TAFE rep Greg Barclay put his job on the line standing up for his members — and his case could have national repercussions for unions. Rachel Power meets him.


n February 2010 Greg Barclay, AEU rep and senior teacher at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE (BRIT), was summoned to the HR department and told that he had been stood down until further notice. He was given 10 minutes to collect his personal belongings before being escorted off the premises. In what became a landmark case, Barclay v the Board of Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE was the first to examine “adverse action” laws — laws which protect workplace rights and freedom of association — under the new Fair Work Act 2009. Federal Court judges found that Barclay was wrongly stood down for performing union activities, and that the actions of BRIT CEO Dr Louise Harvey were in ­contravention of the Act. It all began when Barclay sent an email to sub-branch members following reports from several that they had been asked, or had witnessed requests to others, to produce fraudulent documents for the upcoming audit of BRIT’s accreditation process. “Enough members had come to me that I felt I better alert people,” Greg says. “The intention was just to tell members they shouldn’t be involved in anything they feel uncomfortable with.” His concerns weren’t new: “For about three years we had been pushing the need for a fraud and corruption policy, and an education program on these issues.” But Dr Harvey claimed Barclay’s message had the potential to damage the institute’s r­ eputation, stood him down and began a disciplinary process against him for “serious misconduct”. She did not want Barclay on the premises making “loose ­allegations” while the auditor was there, she argued. “As she saw it, my loyalty should have been with the organisation, over honouring the rights of my members,” says Barclay. “I think if the message had only reached a small number of employees, it wouldn’t have been a concern to management. But because the subbranch consists of around 75–80% of the institute

— about 150 staff members — they panicked.” During his suspension, sub-branch meetings had an added agenda item: “They would tell me what time to turn up and 50 or 60 members would come out and give me a cheer on the footpath.” “And the support that I’ve had from the AEU centrally has been fabulous. It was very stressful in the early days.” Barclay’s chief response was to exercise. He works as a personal trainer in the evenings, as well as doing long-distance bike-rides for charity. Last year included a 12-hour-a-day cycle from Narromine


The most important thing I take into TAFE every day is … My sense of humour and the knowledge that we will eventually get back to creating futures for students and not just dollars for CEOs. The best trick for coping with staff meetings is … To be prepared and to speak up. My advice to a beginning teacher is … To look out for the sparkle in your students’ eyes that confirms you have made a difference. The most important thing the AEU does for its members is … Help teachers support each other and advocate for ways to make the teaching profession better. In my other life I am … A personal trainer. The book that changed my life was … The Barefoot Economist by Manfred Max-Neef. I’m not sure that it changed my life but it did have a huge impact on most things I have done since I read it. If I had a private meeting with Skills Minister Peter Hall, I’d tell him … Current policies are turning education into a commodity for sale rather than a right in a civil society. ◆

to Dubbo, raising $60,000 for cancer research. This year he has his sights set on a ride in Laos. Won on appeal, the case has been a long and arduous process for Barclay. He says he is greatly relieved that his actions have been vindicated by the Court decision. “The prospect of disciplinary action being taken against me ... has been hanging over my head for nearly a year and it is a great feeling to have my actions vindicated.” He believes the finding has significant implications, strengthening the position of union officials carrying out legitimate union activities. A history of left-wing politics in the family, and a Jesuit primary school education, meant Barclay was aware of social justice and human rights issues from an early age. There was a petition for a new toilet block during secondary school. Even before that, in Grade 3, Barclay recalls rubbing his name off the altar boy list after witnessing a fellow classmate being strapped by the nuns. Growing up in Colac and Shepparton, Barclay first worked as a builders’ labourer before training in social work at Monash University. Following his studies, he leapt straight in at the deep end, working in child protection in Bendigo before heading up the community development team in Macedon after the Ash Wednesday bushfires. Returning to Bendigo, Barclay managed a community youth support scheme for unemployed adolescents, before taking on his first teaching job at BRIT in late 1989. He has been sub-branch president there since the late ’90s, bar a four-year stint as the AEU’s Victorian deputy vice president for TAFE and adult provision. “Everyone appreciates the battles I’ve had with management over the years and they know that I won’t shirk from that,” he says. “It would have been a significant setback for the sub-branch if I’d given in. Part of my job is rolemodelling what it is to be an empowered member.” ◆



Lessons to be learned

The first ministerial appearance in over a decade, a masterclass from the US and a focus on funding — this year’s federal conference set the agenda for 2011. Nic Barnard reports.


F ONLY the minister had stayed. Shortly after Peter Garrett left the building, delegates at the AEU’s annual federal conference heard a comprehensive dismantling of almost every policy the Gillard Government and its education minister are pursuing — from someone who has seen it happen and seen it fail. Diane Ravich, research professor of education at New York University and former assistant secretary of education in the George W Bush White House, beamed in by Skype with a withering assessment of US education policies characterised by privatisation, attacks on teachers and union-bashing. The US has tried almost every trick that Garrett had celebrated in his run through the Gillard reforms, from publishing test scores to merit pay. As Ravich noted, none of them have worked. Disadvantage remained the biggest determinant of student outcomes, she said. “There are way too many children living in poverty — it’s heading to 25% — but it’s easier to talk about bad teachers and get rid of their union.” Even through the ether, Ravich was the star turn at a conference otherwise dominated by the Federal Funding Review — the last best hope for public education to win a fair deal and reverse the steady tide that has seen Australia’s become one of the most

privatised school systems in the world. Earlier, review chair David Gonski signalled that the panel had at least heard members’ concerns about the need for a strong, well-funded public system. The issue of equity is firmly at the top of the panel’s agenda. Much of what Professor Ravich said will have sounded familiar to Australian educators as she painted a portrait of a reforming government pursuing a market-driven agenda amid media and right-wing interests that are deeply hostile to teachers. “The narrative goes like this,” she said. “Professionals [teachers] have failed. Our credentials are worthless. All teachers need is a brief training course.” She went on: “(Reformers) advocate merit pay because they think teachers are essentially very lazy and need to be incentivised.” Only test data mattered, and the private sector was always superior. As for teacher unions, they were just self-interested. The result had been funding cuts for schools which fail to meet unrealistic targets, merit pay, league tables, the growth of private charter schools, and ludicrously fast-tracked training programs for graduates. “The overwhelming evidence is that (Bush’s) No Child Left Behind has been a failure, but there is no recognition of these negative side effects. Instead, the Obama administration ratchets up pressure to improve test

scores,” she said. “Arne Duncan (Obama’s education secretary) used these methods in Chicago with no success. But … time and again, ideology trumps evidence.” Under a patina of liberalism, the Obama administration was spreading the growth of charter schools which skim off students likely to succeed and keep out the most disadvantaged. “They tend to be even more racially segregated than their neighbours.” Ravich was particularly scathing about Joel Klein’s New York experiment, which so impressed Julia Gillard. Grades in New York schools went up so fast and so high that even Klein’s department had to admit a problem. Once they had been recalibrated, it was clear there had been no improvement in eight years. “None of the reforms being pursued in the US are found in the highest performing nations — Finland, Korea, Canada,” she said. “Merit pay has been tried again and again since the 1920s and has never produced good results. It’s never even produced higher test scores.” Sadly none of this was heard by Minister Garrett, although he did claim to have read Ravich’s recent book — given to him by AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos — “pretty carefully”. Perhaps the most notable thing about Garrett’s address was that he delivered it at all. He was the first

Life members HREE AEU Vic branch stalwarts were awarded life membership at the federal conference — former electeds Christine Stewart and Rob Stewart, and long-serving councillor Jenny Cassidy. Mary Bluett praised former deputy secretary Christine Stewart for her part in bringing about a united branch. Gillian Robertson described past TAFE deputy VP Rob Stewart as “a rock” and a dab hand at the sausage sizzle, while Brian Henderson recalled Jenny Cassidy’s 25 years of service. ◆


AEU lifetime members

photograph: philip martin


aeu news | february 2011

federal Education Minister to attend the conference in over 15 years — his predecessor Julia Gillard never made it. Gavrielatos said as much, telling Garrett: “We have met on a number of occasions since you became minister, and engaged in frank discussion. There was no such engagement in the first term of the Labor Government.” (He had put it even more trenchantly in his president’s address, saying that after “two years of studied insults and contempt”, teachers had abandoned Labor at the federal election, a fact that undoubtedly contributed to the hung result.) Garrett was relaxed, goodhumoured and more on the ball than some of his media interviews have suggested, and he was fulsome in his praise of the teaching profession, even giving a nod to the AEU’s new life members. But he added little of substance to the familiar roll-call of government achievements and policies, from National Partnerships and building programs to Teach for Australia, performance pay and the My School website. As expected, his attempts to sell Teach for Australia in particular went down as well as a Midnight Oil cover band at a Mozart recital. He even manufactured a fit of pique over criticisms of the market-driven reforms. “No-one can stand up and ask questions about this government’s

Kearney’s agenda quity, climate change and secure employment will be the three big issues for the union movement in 2011, ACTU president Ged Kearney told conference. With less than half of Australian workers in full-time employment, growing casualisation and short-term contracts — and even truck drivers being turned into owner-driver contractors — “all burdens are being shifted to the worker”. “As a proportion of national income, wages are at their lowest since 1964,” she said. “That means we are becoming more unequal. We need to get together and drive our agendas together.” ◆


feature Clockwise from top: Angelo Gavrielatos; Minister Peter Garrett; Lyndsay Connors; Professor Diane Ravich via Skype photographs: philip martin

commitment to education.” Garrett’s was not the only survey of the current landscape. In his opening address, Gavrielatos also ran through the state of play. It was not flattering. Talking about the recent OECD PISA results, which highlighted a widening achievement gap closely linked to student disadvantage, he noted: “The fundamental problems with the policy direction over the past decade or so have been further exposed.” On Teach for Australia, he said: “I have yet to meet any parents who want to volunteer their child to be No tax, no spend onference agreed to campaign for a fair taxation system that gives a strong revenue base to adequately fund education and other public services. Setting out the policy, Victorian deputy president Meredith Peace said: “This is about fairness and equity. … The corporations are always out there pushing for lower taxes. We need to shift that debate so it isn’t about tax cuts and corporate subsidies, it’s about provision of services for our communities.” ◆


taught by unqualified teachers.” He called the teacher bonus scheme “bad policy (that) will fracture collegiality and will do nothing to address teacher shortages.” And he called the plan to give schools greater autonomy, “the freedom to obey”. “They’ll give us the freedom to fix the plumbing but when it comes to reporting student achievement they only give us the power to use five letters — A to E.” But it was funding that underpinned the address. And as he noted, with the current system extended until 2013 — federal election year — the stakes are now higher than ever. Canary in the coalmine he Productivity Commission has joined the attack on TAFE, calling for deregulation and promoting workforce “flexibility” — or casualisation, TAFE secretary Pat Forward told conference. Teachers’ professionalism was being undermined, and quality sacrificed in favour of cheaper private providers. AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos called TAFE “the canary in the mine … we are seeing before us what may very well follow for schools and early childhood.” ◆


Not only must public education advocates convince the review panel — they must then convince the Government to act on its findings in the face of what will certainly be a well-resourced scare campaign by the private sector aimed squarely at the election. Lyndsay Connors, associate professor at the University of Sydney, also put the case for funding reform, in a speech arguing that public education is a foundation stone of Australian democracy. She pointed to the “prima facie case” that the rise in private school funding was a major cause of the

decline in public school enrolments. Adding to the problem, she said, private school authorities were free and willing to lobby loud and hard for greater funds, while public school authorities — the states — were hamstrung by having to foot at least part of the bill themselves for any increase. To applause, she concluded: “This system is of course defended by some saying that life will always be unfair. Well we know that, but what we are saying is that it’s not the role of any democratic government to invest our public money in making it more unfair.” ◆


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On the move for equality The Australian delegation to the first EI World Women’s Conference


espite the hard-won gains we have made for women and girls over the years, discrimination on the basis of gender remains a major concern of teacher unions across the world. Many of those unions were represented at Education International’s first World Women’s Conference in Bangkok last month. Ninety countries were represented and over 500 women delegates attended. The AEU was well represented and we also subsidised delegates from developing nations. We heard detail of the ­contemporary reality for the world’s women and girls and the ways in which they continue to be treated as secondclass citizens in many countries. UN reports outline that women perform 70% of the world’s work, but earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the world’s wealth. Worldwide, over 200 million children are forced to work in fields, factories and as domestics, and are abused and exploited. Girls still account for the majority of children out of school. The global differences heard at the conference were stark, with many African delegates talking about the tragedy of 11-year-olds being the head of HIV-devastated families across their countries. Women from the old Soviet bloc spoke about the problem of population flow out of their economies and the terrible effects of trafficking of women and girls. The global monitoring report for 2010 estimates that donors will have to bridge a gap of US$16 billion a year to meet the goal of universal primary education for all by 2015. In wealthier countries, the gender


aeu news | february 2011

pay gap and glass ceiling persist, inhibiting women’s capacity to access top positions in the labour market. A Swedish report detailed the educational achievements for girls but reported that these seem to have come with a mental health cost as young women report anxiety, lack of self esteem and depression. Such findings seem to mirror the Australian situation in many ways, with young women experiencing additional pressures around their appearance which undermine their sense of self and their sure footing. As one report says, “They must compensate for their educational (and other) achievements by showing that they are completely hot, sexual and desirable.” Perhaps this is our next challenge as we continue to try to improve the lives of young Australian women. Violence against women remains a major problem across the world. Honour killings, trafficking of women, stalking and prostitution are common forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence. Delegates including senior officers and women’s officers from education unions all over the world, shared their experiences and discussed the state of progress towards equality. The outcomes of the conference will inform EI’s work on gender in the years to come and provide a basis for discussion at EI’s sixth world congress, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in July. Our Victorian delegation was headed by branch president Mary Bluett and included deputy president Meredith Peace, deputy secretary Gillian Robertson, primary

vice president Carolyn Clancy and myself. The Australian delegation was headed by Susan Hopgood, global EI president (and our first woman AEU federal secretary). For more information and highlights, go to the Education International’s website at women2011. ◆

Education International’s first global women’s conference heard stark reports of the struggles and dangers facing women in developing countries. Women’s officer Barb Jennings reports.

Women’s FOCUS Targeting leadership Barbara Jennings women’s officer

Our women’s program’s professional development arm continues to grow.


his year for the first time we are offering a full-day course: Targeting Leadership for Women — Making the Decision and Preparing Yourself. Highly regarded consultant Helen Rix (a former principal class organiser at the AEU) will deliver the morning session, after which participants will give a short presentation outlining their leadership approach, and receive feedback from a group of experienced AEU women principals. This will be a real opportunity for women members to unpack the mystique of school leadership in a supportive environment. The workshop recognises the continuing under-representation of women in school leadership and the lack of department initiatives to address this. Our twilight series is also expanding, with a new Red Deb seminar on changing school cultures and having difficult conversations. Conflict is part of life and can be difficult to manage and stressful. This session will reinforce a positive mindset and offer a deepened understanding about how to deal with relationships, especially difficult ones. All our events are run in “growth corridors” to make it easier for you, our busy members, to attend. Look on the AEU website at women for details and booking procedures. ◆

ES stand UP!

Stacey Clark and Kerrie Gentner Anna Stewart Memorial Project participants


A small Victorian council is leading the way in protecting women affected by domestic violence.

AMILY violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44. We all need to understand what family violence is and its effect on society. So it was exciting to be at Trades Hall for the Anna Stewart Memorial Project when some groundbreaking reforms to a staff agreement at Surf Coast Shire were approved. According to national information service the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse, two-thirds of women who report violence by a current Created on 21/12/2010 3:09:00 PM partner are in paid employment. It makes sense that we would put processes and policy in place to support these women. The family violence clause in the Surf Coast agreement is about bringing about cultural change, by creating a workplace where people experiencing family violence feel comfortable and can access support. The workplace may be the only place where the victim can spend a significant amount of time away from the perpetrator. The clause recognises that employees sometimes face situations of violence or abuse in their personal life that may affect their attendance or performance at work.

HAT a week! All three of us were blown away by the warmth, friendliness, dedication and professionalism shown by AEU staff and everyone else we met during our week at the AEU as ES Advocates. This week was all about empowering us and showing what our union was doing to improve our conditions and workplaces. Our union organisers are not mind readers .... we have to tell them our concerns and seek advice. Don’t keep your problems or ideas to yourself, share it with your union rep, organiser or ring the Membership Services Unit (the people on the other end are an endless wealth of information). With preparations for a new agreement underway, it was interesting to note that wherever we went, the ES concerns were similar — pay, recall days, laptops, time in lieu, contracts, local agreements and consultation just to name but a few. These are all being addressed in the new log after a huge amount of work by all areas of our union. Consultation with subbranches, regional meetings, union reps and most importantly us, the union members, hasn’t stopped since the success of the current agreement. Never again will any of us question why we pay a small fee to be part of our union. We need more members to give us a bigger voice and ensure the success of future agreements. So go out there and talk to those who are not members of a union, tell them what the AEU has done for ES staff, explain that we are the union and we have a say in the future. If you are thinking about applying for the ES Advocate program — do it! You will not regret it. It doesn’t matter whether you are an active union member already or just curious about the union and its role; after this week you will have the passion to do more to help others in our union. ◆ — Denise Sheedy, Jan Kelly and Stephen Cavell

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Under the agreement, the council agrees that no adverse action will be taken against an employee if their attendance or performance at work suffers because of this. An employee experiencing family violence will have access to 20 days’ paid special leave for medical appointments, legal proceedings and other activities related to their situation. The council may require proof of family violence, which can be in the form of documentation from police, a court, doctor, district nurse or lawyer. But all personal information will be kept confidential. We feel it’s important for the AEU to support these clauses by pursuing them for our own agreements. Domestic violence is still the main reason women seek help from supported accommodation services: that is, the main reason women become homeless. In a profession that is primarily female, we as a union need to put measures in place that protect our women. We would like to thank the AEU and Trades Hall for giving us this fantastic opportunity to take part in the ASMP, to learn more about the union movement and become more involved in our own union. We had a great time, learned a lot and have become more inspired to continue the fight for women’s rights. ◆

Our latest ES Advocates participants report back.


inside the AEU

Survivors of violence need support

inside the AEU




AEU Training & PD Kim Daly and Rowena Matcott training officers

In a packed program …

Look out for the AEU Events Calendar — your guide to our busy training program, including our new one-day AEU Active courses that make it easier for you to attend.


UR membership training program continues to expand every year. AEU membership is at a record high so there is a greater demand for training, and members are requesting a diverse range of options. The financial and practical commitment made by the AEU is increasingly proving a wise investment, as we see members empowered by knowledge and skills and workplaces well organised. This year members will again be offered a comprehensive training program. For the first time we are producing an AEU Events Calendar. Sub-branch reps, PD coordinators and early childhood workplaces should all have received a copy and you can also find it online. Principal class members will receive an email with a link to the document.

It outlines AEU training, conferences, p­ rofessional development and other programs in all sectors. Apart from OH&S training and some conferences, the program is for members only. All booking is now online through our website. Rhonda Webley is available to answer questions on (03) 9418 4844 but bookings must be electronic. Rhonda manages a significant part of the training program and can also direct you to contacts for programs in other areas. AEU Active — now in bite-sized chunks We will again be running our two-day AEU Active courses across the state. Members are keen to attend training but sometimes find a two-day commitment difficult. For this reason we have


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introduced a range of one-day courses covering consultation, agreement implementation, ­development of local agreements and skills for new AEU reps. These programs are all open to teacher and ES members, and the AEU will meet replacement costs. Principal class members are increasingly accessing our courses and we have scheduled four days in 2011 focusing on technical leadership. The focus for OH&S training this year is to train health and safety reps alongside AEU sub-branch reps so they can work together to create healthy and safe workplaces. The program for Term 1 is below. Details are in the 2011 Events Calendar, on the website and advertised through email or fax. We hope to see you at one of our events soon! ◆

AEU TRAINING CALENDAR TERM 1, 2011 All courses and conferences are full-day events unless indicated. Upcoming events can be found on the AEU Calendar at

AEU Active

Two-day courses Feb 23–24..................AEU Abbotsford Mar 24–25...............................Geelong Mar 24–25...........................Whittlesea AEU Active for principals (one-day) For new and aspiring principals March 9...............................Abbotsford

Full details of all AEU training programs, conferences and events can be found at training.


HSR Forums (9am–12pm) AEU Active for new reps March 21..........................Dandenong (one-day) April 1..................................Abbotsford March 29.................................Benalla Consultation and employment Nanotechnology seminar (4.30pm–6pm) (one-day) March 2...............................Abbotsford February 28......................Abbotsford March 4.....................................Echuca March 9............................Sandringham EDUCATION SUPPORT March 30................................Warragul Twilight conferences Conference 4pm­–6pm Know your agreements Dinner 6pm–8pm (one-day) February 21..........................Werribee March 11................................Gisborne March 3....................................Echuca March 16...........................Yarra Valley March 10.............................Rockbank March 17.............................Abbotsford April 7.................................Mordialloc Organising around OH&S ES Advocates placement (half-day) February 21–25...............Abbotsford March 21............................Dandenong


aeu news | february 2011



Building resilience, managing negativity (4.30pm–6pm) March 30.............................Footscray

PD in the Pub (4.30pm–6pm): Behaviour Management March 15................Caroline Springs March 16..............................Berwick March 17.............................Bendigo March 21.........................Moorabbin March 22...............................Carlton March 23.............................Croydon March 24............................Wodonga March 29.............................Preston March 30..............................Mildura March 31...........................Traralgon April 5..................................Geelong April 6..........................Warrnambool April 7..................................Ballarat

Changing workplace cultures (4.30pm–6pm) April 5...................................Oakleigh Leadership for women March 29...........................Abbotsford


To register, contact Julie on 03 9417 2822 or Introduction to Apple March 10..........................Abbotsford March 19..........................Abbotsford March 24..........................Abbotsford Creating engaging material March 30...........................Abbotsford

OTHER EVENTS Early Years Conference March 25–26...................Abbotsford Disability workshop (half-day) March 15..........................Abbotsford

Young Member Activists Program March 15–18.................Abbotsford Applying for leading teacher positions March 15..........................Abbotsford Applying for principal positions March 23..........................Abbotsford

inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

Tell us where you are David Bunn MSU officer


for both teachers and assistants. Some employers are getting those matters wrong, as well as classification levels.

Look before you leap! Early childhood members can have their letters of appointment/employment checked by the AEU before they sign. A number of issues have arisen over arrangement of hours and breaks under the VECTA agreement

Does your employer obey the law? The Fair Work Ombudsman says payslips must be issued to each employee “within one working day of pay day, even if an employee is on leave” either “in electronic form or hard copy”. Many school-based members found over the holidays that they could not access their payslips, joining thousands of their colleagues on various forms of leave who had already found they could not access eduPay details out of school. There is a dedicated email address — migration.schools.edupay@ — for requesting

ow that most members know where they are working for the year it is time to let the AEU know. The most efficient way is online at, or by email to Alternatively, tell your AEU rep to send in a notice of all the changes — exits and entrances — to the membership list in your workplace. Our only way of keeping track of you is for you to let us know, either indirectly or directly.

“We’re paying up to $1,000 towards a financial plan. I’d say that’s more than super!” Jordanna Vanderstadt, ESSSuper Member Education Consultant

pay information when access is not available. However, information can be sent only to edumail addresses, not personal email addresses. When contract employees are terminated and awaiting rehire to take effect, edumail very efficiently removes them from the system. The AEU will continue to press the employer to obey the law. One good thing about eduPay All school-based employees can now access for themselves (though only from a DEECD computer) readily understood statements of their long service leave (LSL) entitlements. Every day of leave shown to your credit is a week day. However there are cases where DEECD wrongly shows you as having no entitlement. The cases we come across relate to people who have resigned, been paid out for LSL, and returned to working

in schools within five years. In that case their previous service counts towards qualifying them for LSL — they do not have to work another seven years to take it. If you have had prior service in any state or commonwealth public service, TAFE or local government, and your break in service before starting with DEECD is less than 12 months, you can also have that service count towards qualifying for LSL. Pay in disability The ongoing equal pay case in disability day services continues to spark many calls to us about pay rates in the sector. The AEU website has good information on this at www.aeuvic. and we ensure that it is immediately updated when wage movements occur. But please don’t hesitate to call. ◆◆

If you are approaching a life changing event like retirement or resignation or just simply need some financial advice, a Financial Planner can be of great assistance. Through our partnered IFFP* financial planners, ESSSuper members receive: Fee for service, commission free financial planning advice Complete financial planning or limited advice The experience of Industry Fund Financial Planning (IFFP) Up to $1,000 rebate for superannuation advice When you obtain financial planning advice and stay with ESSSuper you may be eligible to receive a rebate of up to $1,000 (paid into an existing or “new” ESSSuper accumulation account^), to cover all or part of the cost of the super related advice. So if you’ve ever been thinking about a financial plan, now makes more sense than ever before.

For all the finer details, call our Member Contact Centre on 1300 655 476 or visit *Industry Fund Financial Planning (IFFP), is a division of Industry Fund Services Pty Ltd (ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL 232 514) ^Eligible accounts include Accumulation Plan, Beneficiary Account, Spouse Accounts and Income Streams. A new account may be set up as part of the financial planning process.


inside the AEU

New Educators NETWORK Andrew Cassidy graduate teacher organiser

New teachers start here

New teachers will find plenty of support — and PD — from the AEU to help you get the best start in your profession.


elcome back to everyone for another ­challenging year. For those of you starting your teaching career… all the best to you all, and I hope that this is the start of a long and fulfilling career in this most important of professions. For those of you starting in your second or third year, I wish you all the best also and I hope that 2011 is another successful one. This is going to be a huge year and I want to take this opportunity to tell you about some of the exciting professional development opportunities that the AEU has to offer. PD in the Pub kicks off on March 15 and will run around the state. Glen Pearsall is back on board to present his workshop on behaviour management. This one-and-a-half-hour workshop will give you some practical tips and strategies for dealing with

Find out more about the New Educators’ Network and the AEU’s support for beginning teachers at students in a calm and positive manner, all while enjoying a free drink. These sessions are free for AEU members in their first few years, so watch your email in the next few weeks for more details, or check www.aeuvic. We will also have a wonderful opportunity called

the Young Member Activist Program, which allows two new educators each term to spend a week at the AEU and gain an insight into our work. Your CRT costs will be covered for the week; you will need to seek permission from your principal. Applications for Term 1 close on Monday, February 28. Email your application to andrew.cassidy@ Finally, the AEU will be running a Primary Graduate Teacher Conference and a Secondary Graduate Teacher Conference in May. Both these days were extremely successful last year, so please consider coming along. More details will follow later this term. My job is to represent graduate teachers in their first three years. If you ever need any assistance, support or general information, please email me or call me on (03) 9417 2822. ◆

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aeu news | february 2011




It is important to recognise the signs of anxiety and depression and to act quickly. Ursula Donovan Holding Redlich


ecently, the charity beyondblue held a workshop at the AEU’s solicitors, Holding Redlich, to increase our awareness of the most common mental health problems in the workplace. These can affect any workplace — classrooms as well as legal offices. The workshop highlighted that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia. One in four people will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. A general anxiety disorder may include symptoms such as feeling very worried, finding anxiety prevents you carrying out everyday tasks (such as work), feeling restless or on edge, having difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable or having trouble sleeping. Depression was described as having a persistently low mood for a period of at least two weeks, together with a loss of interest in your usual activities. Symptoms can include feeling tired and fatigued, being unusually tearful or emotional, getting angry easily or frustrated with tasks or people, or loss of confidence and negative thought patterns. Beyondblue recommends you seek medical treatment from your GP or other health provider if you feel you are suffering any symptoms of anxiety or depression. A psychological condition can be caused by many factors. Common causes for those working in education include feeling unsupported by your employer, feeling victimised or harassed, being subjected to an excessive or unreasonable workload or being bullied by a colleague or principal and/or assistant principal. WorkSafe Victoria defines bullying as: ...repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed toward an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. If you have suffered a psychological condition or injury at work, you may be entitled to compensation, such as weekly wages, payment of medical expenses or lump sum compensation. However, the law provides that you are not entitled to compensation if your psychological injury was predominately caused by reasonable management action taken in a reasonable manner. The exclusion also applies to a reasonable decision to take or not to take management action (for example, to deny a promotion). An expectation that a reasonable management action would or would not be taken, or a reasonable decision made or not made, is also not covered by the law. When completing a claim for compensation for psychological injury, it is important to pay careful attention to the way you describe your injury and how it occurred. We recommend speaking to your union representative or our office before completing a claim form seeking such compensation. A referral to our office can be obtained through the AEU. ◆


AEU subscription rates

EU Branch Council in December determined to increase subscription rates for AEU members by 3% across the board. The new rates took effect from January 1. A full schedule of rates can be found at ◆

inside the AEU

Psychological injuries in the workplace


Janet Marshall & Bob Maguire OH&S organisers

The safety year ahead

This year promises more training and campaigning than ever to help you get on top of health and safety issues at work.


elcome back. We look forward to working with you and your sub-branch to continue to strengthen and improve OH&S outcomes in your workplaces. On a national level we can expect to see, in 2011, the adoption of a set of OH&S laws, regulations and codes of practice that apply across the states and territories. Also nationally, work will begin on a review that will lead to a strategic plan to improve asbestos awareness and management. In Victoria we will continue to work with Trades Hall, WorkSafe and employers to make workplaces safer. For the AEU there will be a particular focus on the prevention of muscular-skeletal disorders, occupational violence and stressrelated injuries. By the time you read this we will already have held a forum with employers and unions to refocus efforts on psychological injuries. We urge fresh interventions in this area as workcover claims continue to indicate an increase in injuries. We look forward to pooling our knowledge with other unions and Trades Hall and lobbying together for improvements. In particular we have much to do to make the laws on OH&S consultation in the workplace more effective and to eliminate discrimination against health and safety reps and other employees for raising OH&S concerns. Discrimination takes many subtle and not-so-subtle forms. We want to help workplaces to develop robust OH&S consultation and representative procedures. The beginning of the year is an excellent time for workplaces to ensure that they have an elected HSR, that they are trained, that all staff know how to report an injury or hazard and who to approach if they have an OH&S issue. A particular focus for us in 2011 will be early childhood centres where the level of health and safety representation is especially low. We will also focus on helping HSRs and AEU sub-branches to work closer together to ensure better OH&S outcomes. OH&S training and events As in previous years, we will be holding forums across the state for HSRs to come together and share ideas and information — last year we hosted 22 forums. Country forums will again be held in conjunction with VIEU. We will also be holding half-day AEU Active sessions wholly focused on organising around OH&S and the sub-branch. Watch out for the dates in the AEU Calendar or on the website at This year, instead of a one-day OHS conference, we will be holding four twilight forums to explore topical subjects with expert speakers. Last year we marked Asbestos Awareness Week with a very informative session featuring some of the foremost Australian experts in the area. The first forum for 2011 is on February 28 at the AEU building in Abbotsford. It will focus on nanotechnology and OHS and the environment. We are also available to come to your workplaces and talk to staff and subbranches about OHS. Just get in touch! ◆





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SOUTH OF FRANCE — LANGUEDOC Two charming newly renovated traditional stone houses with outside terraces. Sleeps 4 or 6. Market town, capital of Minervois, wine growing region, close to lake, Canal Midi, Mediterranean beaches, historic towns. From $460 per week. Visit, Web: Email: SOUTH OF FRANCE Lovely village house in the "heart of a wine growing region." Julie 0403 314 928

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VITA ITALIAN TOURS Grand Tour of Italy for Teachers 28/12/2011 – 14/1/2012 Join us on our annual personally guided tour of Italy designed especially for you to enjoy a well deserved holiday without concerns where to stay, eat or how to get around. The tour includes extended stays in Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Venice and visits to Perugia, Assisi, Urbino, Siena, Republic of San Marino and much more. Our all inclusive price allows you to relax and enjoy your experience. Call Mario or Viny for a complete itinerary on (03) 9460 7373

RETIRING SOON? Volunteers for Isolated Students’ Education recruits retired teachers to assist families with their Distance Education Program. Travel and accommodation provided in return for six weeks teaching. Register at or George Murdoch (03) 9017 5439 Ken Weeks (03) 9876 2680.

Next deadline 16 March, 2011

VISAS IMMIGRATION For the professional advice you need — contact Ray Brown. Phone (03) 5792 4056 or 0409 169 147. Email

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AEU Victorian Branch

Refund Policy In 2001, AEU branch council adopted the following policy regarding refunds of membership dues when members resign or retire: 1. When a member lodges a resignation or retirement from the union, it will take effect from the date the letter is received or the date specified in the letter, whichever is the later date. 2. Where a member’s resignation or retirement from the union is received but not processed at the time, no disadvantage to the member will be applied when the resignation or retirement is processed. 3. Branch executive is authorised to vary this policy in exceptional circumstances and upon written request. 4. That this policy be highlighted in the first AEU News each year. It is imperative that the union receive formal notification in writing when members resign from the union. This can be done by letter or email. All correspondence received is filed electronically so verifying claims of notification of resignation or retirement is a simple matter. The above policy also applies to other changes that affect membership dues. These include: • Change in time fraction • Expiration of contract • Leave without pay. All changes other than resignation or retirement, including changes of address or workplace, can also now be made online at


aeu news | february 2011



Talking Paddy Kendler

Rain empties wine lake


t’s early days yet and we’ll have a clearer picture after Easter when the Australian vintage is completed, but it seems that the forces of nature may have combined to reduce our wine surplus. Apart from flood damage in some regions, many grape growers in south-east Australia have been battling downy and powdery mildew due to relatively high levels of humidity in their vineyards. Those able to maintain a regular spraying program may not be seriously affected but there are plenty of growers not so well placed. The upshot is that 2011 will be a smaller vintage, wine quality will be at least “variable” and retail prices should stabilise and steadily rise over the next year or two. Meanwhile, the wine market remains biased in favour of consumers. As evidence, try these current releases: De Bortoli Premium Reserve Chardonnay two-litre cask ($10): Plenty of peachy flavour, well rounded, soft acidity and dangerously drinkable at a bargain price. Check out Dan Murphy’s. Westend Estate Richland Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($10–$12): Quite a surprising level of varietal personality for such a modestly priced wine. The Richland range from the Riverina invariably offers top value for money. Email Kingston Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($13–$14): A very impressive effort — indeed, clearly better than most of the Kiwi versions at a similar price — made from fruit grown in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Benson. SB fans simply must track this down. Email Shingleback Red Knot Shiraz 2009 ($12–$15): A very handy and versatile McLaren Vale shiraz from one of the region’s top producers; a sweetfruited style with minimal oak influence and gentle tannins. Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages 2009 ($16–$20): Super stuff, the ideal warm weather red, adaptable to a wide range of seasonal foods — try it with yum cha — and chock full of juicy cheer. Best price at Dan’s. ◆

Repeat after me W

e are back. Armed with new stationery and an air of wistful enthusiasm, we are ready to tackle whatever 2011 can throw at us — difficult students, challenging parents, prickly colleagues, issues with technology, extras on days that are already crazy enough without one, and never-ending staff meetings on sunny afternoons. Gathering in the staffroom at 8.30, the chatter is loud and excited. Haircuts are compared, holiday stories regaled and changes noted (three new fish in the staffroom fish tank, new labels on the pigeon holes, two visibly pregnant staff members). Greg the Principal, decked out in new tie and shirt, welcomes us back with an upbeat speech, complete with motivational hand gestures and amusing anecdotes. Quickly, we move on to the serious powerpoint presentation with statistical breakdowns of 2010’s VCE results. It is at this point that freshly tanned skin appears to fade slightly and attention begins to wander. The sleep-ins are over. The jaunts to cafes mid-week are over. The feeling of lightness and wellbeing are over. The thought of three full days of meetings back-to-back is daunting. It is still a full 50 minutes until the welcome back morning tea. “Pedagogy… multiple intelligences… master plan… implementation…”. The words appear to be on a repeat cycle, washing over and over us. Next to me, Sonia from IT scrolls through her holiday photos discreetly on her phone, as if clinging to the memory of the last six weeks of freedom. I examine my feet and marvel at my painted nails. Will I have time to paint them during term time? Of course I will. They only take a few minutes… but then I remember the last time I had painted toenails was January last year. “Benchmark… e5… pedagogy… pedagogy… pedagogy…”. Suddenly there is applause and we move in a daze to morning tea. With three days to prepare and plan, getting ready for the imminent arrival of the students should be a breeze. The first day back sees me

organise my desk in a highly professional manner. This order is rapidly replaced with tall piles of photocopied sheets and list after list of things that need to be achieved. I lose one list and replace it with another. A manic panic sets in on the afternoon of the third day, with riots at the photocopiers, the tense collecting of whiteboard markers, folders and photocopy cards, the frantic chasing down of class lists and timetables across the school. We have been dismissed, but the school remains full, bustling with activity and fevered preparations, spurred on by the knowledge that tonight will be a restless night, as it is before the start of every school year. I will wake every hour, sometimes repeatedly. I will stare at my alarm clock, the ceiling, the wall. Time will drag. Many glasses of water will be collected and I will go through the following day, minute by minute. But, this year, I know the perfect chant to get me off to sleep: “e5… benchmark… pedagogy… pedagogy… pedagogy…”. ◆ Melbourne comedian and teacher Christina Adams is hanging on for Easter.


Illustrator Jo Thompson speaks with a student at the Ford Street Literary Festival.

Students can quiz their favourite authors and illustrators over lunch at a new literary mini-festival for Victorian schools. Rachel Power AEU News


ver 180 primary and secondary students from eight schools met some of their favourite authors and illustrators at the inaugural Ford Street Literary Festival held late last year. The three-hour event, organised by Melbourne children’s publisher Ford Street, included short talks and workshops, a book launch, drawing demonstrations, a literary quiz and book signings. Each student also received a showbag containing a Ford Street book and other literary goodies. Publisher Paul Collins said students got a real buzz from being able to interact with published authors and illustrators. “They got to chat with us

over lunch as well as hearing each presenter talk about their work.” Among them were authors Hazel Edwards, Justin D’Ath, Meredith Costain, Phil Kettle and JE Fison. Illustrators included Jo Thompson and David Miller, who demonstrated how he makes the intricate paper ­sculptures which feature in books such as Rufus the Numbat. Presenters were swamped with questions from students, who were particularly keen to hear from authors about what shaped them as writers and where they got ideas for new material. Isabella from Hampton Park Primary School told AEU News: “I liked it best when the authors talked about what inspired them. It inspired me because they’re just

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aeu news | february 2011

like normal people who’ve made mistakes.” Jashleen liked hearing from authors about “how they grew up to be a writer”, while classmate SubhKarman said she “learnt how tough it is to write books”. Collins said there were plenty of tips for aspiring creatives. “Basically, we wanted to show students that they can write too. One way is to turn an anecdotal story into fiction. And, of course, persistence is the key.” The independent publisher encouraged

students to submit their fiction and poetry to Ozkids In Print, a magazine for new writers. He has also recently established Creative Net, facilitating free school visits from participating authors and illustrators. Collins hopes to make the literary festival a regular affair. This first event was hosted by Scotch College, but Ford Street hopes other schools — particularly public schools — will consider hosting future events. “Students and staff said they gained so much from hearing about the writing process, realising that everyone can write, and developing strategies for writing and thinking up story ideas,” he said. If your school is available to host future events, please contact Paul at ◆

THE MESSENGER Dir: Oren Moverman MA15+ 113 minutes HEN WIll (Ben Foster, a clenched, intense presence) returns injured from Iraq, he’s placed with Tony (Woody Harrelson) to serve out his final months in the casualty notification team in a suburban army town — telling “NOKs” (next of kin) their loved ones are dead. Tony has a strict code — be clear, always use the dead soldier’s name, deliver the script and leave, and never touch the next of kin. Ben finds this detachment harder to follow and becomes involved with widow Olivia (Samantha Morton). Moverman draws subtle parallels with the frontline. Informing each NOK is a mission; there is always the chance of attack by distraught relatives. And like war, the job is largely tedium, mixed with brief bursts of nervous adrenalin in short, sharp, unpredictable engagements. An intelligent, at times harrowing, but rewarding study of the forms grief and emotional damage can take.  — NB

Blue Skies Helen Hodgman Text, RRP $29.95, 154pp hen Blue Skies was published in 1976, Helen Hodgman was heralded as a unique new voice in Australian fiction. And yet she failed to become a household name. Now re-released as a lost classic, this book’s title is ironic. Its main character is a young mother who hides out in her Hobart home — avoiding the other mothers on the beach and her lawn-obsessed neighbour. Time is her enemy — to be killed by sleep or sex. She waits for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when Mother-in-law minds the baby and she escapes her stultifying suburban life. Tuesdays are spent with Jonathan, restaurateur and man about town; Thursdays with Ben, artist and hippy — and also the husband of her best friend. Darkly comic, this beguiling novel still packs a punch as a story of a woman’s struggle to assert her own desires amid societal expectations.  — RP



reviews by nic barnard and rachel power


Let’s do lunch

AEU News is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at Text Publishing, Allen & Unwin and Penguin. To enter, simply email us at by 10am Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Include your name and school or workplace. Write “Win Teaching Resources” in the subject line. Prizes will be sent directly to the winner’s school or workplace with a special inscription recognising the winner. Good luck!

The Billionaire’s Curse and The Emerald Casket by Richard Newsome These first two books from The Billionaire Trilogy are a brilliant combination of The Famous Five and an Indiana Jones adventure. In The Billionaire’s Curse, Gerald beomes the richest 13-year-old on the planet. The world’s most valuable diamond is stolen and his life is in danger. In the second book, Gerald is on a quest to beat Mason Green to the prized emerald casket. Text Publishing, RRP $19.95 each

The Glasshouse by Paul Collins, illustrated by Jo Thompson THe world in Clara’s glasshouse is perfect. Everything she needs for her pumpkins is in her own pure and flawless home. One day a stranger arrives and Clara’s world changes.The Glasshouse is an extraordinary new picture book about perception, paranoia and perfection from award-winning author Paul Collins and talented new illustrator, Jo Thompson. Text Publishing, RRP $26.95 Careful What You Wish For by Maureen McCarthy Ruth Craze thinks her life can’t get any worse. She fights with her brothers, her parents drive her mad, and no one ever listens to her. So when Rodney the Rat suggests a way out, Ruth is ready to risk everything. She has three chances to create her perfect life, and a million ways to get it wrong. A gloriously life-affirming adventure from a much-loved storyteller. Allen & Unwin, RRP $15.95 Dancing in the Dark by Robin Bavati Ditty was born to dance, but she was also born Jewish. When her strictly religious parents won’t let her take ballet lessons, Ditty starts to dance in secret. But how long can she keep her two worlds apart? And at what cost? A dramatic and moving story about a girl who follows her dream, and finds herself questioning everything she believes in. Penguin, RRP $17.95

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 8, 2010: Dance Academy set — Jane MacCubbin, Stockdale Road Primary School; 101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic ... — Kylie Bennett, Ashwood College; The Secret Life of Wombats — Mary Anagnostopoulos, Thornbury High School; Dampier’s Monkey — Anna Sanderson, Forest Hill College.

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Magazine for the AEU VB members, Issue 1, Term 1, 2011.