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victorian branch

AEU NEWS v o l u m e 17 I i s s u e 2 I a p r i l 2 011



New teaching standards | Our friendship with Japan | The shocking state of TAFE 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


Baillieu’s backflip

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 23 March 2011. They must reach my office or postal address not later than 12:00 noon on Wednesday, 27 April 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 Nominations cannot be withdrawn after this time.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 Wednesday, 4 May 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 Monday 23 May 2011 and close at 9:00am on Tuesday, 14 June 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 |april 2011

23 March 2011 Tel: (03) 9285 7138

A new deal for CRTs

Casual teachers do it tough, with low pay, no security and little PD. A new agreement could help put that right.

Fighting for the soul of TAFE

15 16

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.

COVER: Kim Fleming


TAFE is in crisis — but after years of mismanagement, united action can help it turn a corner.

Friendship’s firm foundations

The earthquake in Japan has alarmed members who have made firm friends with Japanese families through the AEU’s exchange program.

Standard bearers

Education ministers have signed off on a set of national standards for teachers. But how do they measure up?


3 president’s report 4 letters 23 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 journalist Rachel Power | 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.

Printed on ReArt Matt 100% recycled paper

AEU Victorian Branch

Teachers made their feelings known when our somersaulting premier visited their primary school.

president’s report

SOMERSAULTING premier Ted Baillieu’s pledge to make our teachers the best paid in Australia was no off-the-cuff soundbite — he made it at his party’s highest state forum.


T DIDN’T take long. Only two Government over the Schools equal with other states, but the We have had 11 years of weeks after we learned that the Agreement. We met Ted Baillieu on highest-paid in the nation,” said budget surpluses, and the Baillieu Coalition had ordered the Education several occasions and pressed our Mr Baillieu. Government has just announced a Department to cut $338 million from case for Victorian teachers to move The press release went on to say the $347m half-year surplus. its budget over the next four years, from the lowest paid to the highest Coalition would bring kindergarten, Every government calls for Premier Ted Baillieu reneged on one paid in the nation. primary and secondary teachers to productivity from the public sector of his few positive public education It was at the Liberal Party State “national parity levels and above”, in enterprise bargaining. However, policies — to make Victorian Conference on April 13 that year that and even added this promise from this government singled out Victorian teachers the highest paid in the he made the unequivocal pledge that Mr Baillieu on cost-cutting: government school teachers; there nation. he took to the 2010 state election. “If we want the best and brightest was no caveat. Instead, Mr Baillieu said, Victorian To quote from his press release teachers we must compete and Moreover, there are no producteachers would be offered a 2.5% of the day: we must be prepared to fund tivity “cuts” to be made. Victoria pay rise with any additional increase “Victorian parents and teachers realistic salaries. We will not cut is still the lowest funded education to be “offset by commensurate should not endure a situation teacher numbers, and we remain system in the nation. The Government AEU PREFERRED PROVIDERS productivity improvements”. where our teachers continue to committed to maintaining the spends over $1,100 per student Let us be clear: a 2.5% “pay rise” receive the lowest levels of pay current student-to-teacher ratios below the national average, and we when the cost of living is running at in Australia. Victoria’s children in our classrooms.” have the leanest bureaucracy of any 2.7% is effectively a pay cut. From deserve better, and education can In November last year, the Liberal state or territory. highest paid to pay cut inside 100 never be our number one priority leader insisted that his election Yet we have the highest or days of government is a backflip of if those who teach our children policies had been independently fully near highest student outcomes in enormous proportions. Moreover, it struggle on poor salaries. costed and would be delivered. Australia. cannot be justified. “We are facing an exodus of Ted has no excuse. There is no Now that’s productivity at its Mr Baillieu’s original pledge was teachers from Victoria and those budget “black hole” such as former maximum! ◆ Alanlightly Cooper, not made nor atGeoff the lastAllen minute& Staffwho suffer most are our children. Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett used as Levelheat3/432 Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004 in the of theStelection campaign. That is why we must immediately the excuse to slash 10,000 teachers Victoriainisour the AEU’s preferred provider of financial retirement planning services to members. ItVisit was made in 2008 during lift the pay Retirement of teachers and support staff,andand cut preschool us at Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Lts AFSL 244252 AEU Vic branch president our dispute with the then Brumby school system so they are not just and TAFE funding by 20%.


APPOINTMENTS (03) 9820 8088


Retirement Victoria will hold the following seminars at the AEU building, 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford on the following dates:

Tuesday 12 April 2011 at 10 am (holidays) Book online at Saturday 28 May at 10am Book online at Tuesday 5 July at 10am (holidays) Book online at

Members will have noticed that the State Super Fund (ESSS) has changed the format and content of its annual member statements. Whereas the previous format was clear and informative the new approach is precisely the opposite. A foreign language! Retirement Victoria offers a free translation service at your first appointment along with a wide ranging discussion on the best way to attain your retirement objectives.

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: 4 May, 2011.

Maths as taught in private schools I

AM merely a primary school teacher, but I don’t see how Ted Baillieu’s offer of a 2.5% pay increase at a time of 3% inflation will make Victorian teachers gain the extra 8% needed to be the best paid in the country. Perhaps because I teach in a government school and Ted went to a private school, I may not be as good at maths as he is. Education is a service industry and yet we are expected to make “productivity” gains, while Ted presides over a budget that spends over $1,100 less per student than the national average. The cliché of “champagne tastes on a beer budget” comes to mind. Ted is effectively cutting teachers’ pay, yet at the same time trying to attract the brightest and best graduates into education. Am I missing something? Working teachers harder, paying them less, blaming them for the shortcomings of today’s society, and adding more and more to the curriculum is a Dickensian approach at best that has been tried in the past unsuccessfully. The dedication of teachers to their students, their colleagues, and to the profession has kept the education system afloat for the past 30 years. Does the Premier realise that around 50% of teachers are due to retire in the next few years? Someone will be needed to fill those positions. I am glad I am not in Ted’s job where critical decisions must be made about whether to fund the Grand Prix or pay teachers, nurses, emergency services and police for what they actually contribute to society. I am happier in my classroom teaching children, even though the equation 2.5 - 3 = 8 will be hard to explain to them. — Greg Tuck, Nyora Primary School Thanks for the win CONGRATULATIONS to the union! What a fantastic resource of knowledge and expertise for members. An article in AEU News alerted me to a possible underpayment. With expert assistance from David Bunn, the outcome was a large reimbursement. To think I may never have known. The union does know best. So I urge you all to read the contributions to AEU News and appreciate the wealth of knowledge and work of the AEU. — An extremely grateful member, Anna Poynton, Ascot Vale Merit pay anathema to teaching THIS sub-branch views with serious concern that the AEU has effectively endorsed the trialling of a performance pay process. Our members are deeply dismayed at the potential division that will emerge in schools as staff members are encouraged to clamour over each other for an amount of money that should be paid across the board to all teachers in order to keep us in line with the best-paid teachers in this country. We are also concerned that the scheme is based on a tried and failed business model that aims to encourage selfish individualism and falsely assumes that simplistic and


aeu news |april 2011

ill-defined measures of performance can represent the known complexity associated with educational outcomes. Performance pay is therefore anathema to the collective and collaborative needs of schools and to the sharing of resources and skills this system requires. — Grant McMurdo, Princes Hill SC AEU representative

Mary Bluett responds: AEUVB policy does not endorse performance pay. The full policy can be found at EduPay’s part-time problems AFTER reading the current Education Support Newsletter, I have a comment regarding eduPay access for part-time staff. As a part-time ES, my access to computers at my workplace is somewhat limited given the number of hours that I work. I believe that it would be far more useful to provide external access from home computers so that things like pay advice slips and leave credits could be readily viewed from home or at an external access point. I have not seen details of my pay since this system was introduced. — Lyn Crisp Thornbury High School

Research into child abuse: teachers needed TEACHERS (current and former) who have had experience of reporting (or considered reporting) suspected child abuse since 1994, when legislation obligating teachers to report was introduced, are invited to participate in a research study. The purpose of the study, Understanding Victorian Teachers’ Participation In Child Protection, is to understand better the nature of teachers’ experience in learning about and being involved in child protection responsibilities. Participants will be invited to attend a 45-minute interview about

their preparation for, and involvement in, child protection activities. The interview will be audiotaped and transcribed. To protect the confidentiality of those involved, you will be asked to discuss general aspects of these events. In reporting the results, pseudonyms will be used to protect the confidentiality of participants, pupils, events and schools. Any identifying details will be held separately from any data collected. Please email me at if you wish to take part. ◆ — Louise Laskey Deakin University, Burwood

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Baillieu told: Honour your word

Premier targets low-paid disability members in second backflip, while teachers warn action will follow if he doesn’t move on pay.

Nic Barnard & Rachel Power AEU News


OMERSAULTING premier Ted Baillieu has been put on notice by the AEU after his double backflip on election pledges. Just days after demanding “productivity gains” or an effective pay cut from teachers, he threatened disability sector workers with job losses and cuts to hours over the outcome of the ongoing national equal pay case. The Coalition — which in opposition pledged to fund and support the outcome of the case before Fair Work Australia — said it had budgeted only $50 million per year for any wage rises for disability, community and social workers arising from the case. The AEU has already written to the Premier demanding a meeting after his reverse over teachers’ pay. Having pledged to make Victorian teachers the best-paid in Australia, Baillieu is now offering just 2.5% per year — below inflation. AEU branch council on March 18 unanimously rejected the offer and called on the Coalition to honour its pledge. It also warned that if agreement negotiations — due to begin shortly — were not productive, the government would face a vigorous campaign, including industrial action after the current agreement expires in December. The productivity demand comes on top of instructions to government departments across the board to make savings, including $338m over four years in education. Victoria already has one of the leanest education bureaucracies and remains Australia’s lowest

funding state — spending $1,100 below the national average per student. Baillieu got his first taste of teachers’ mood when he made a scheduled visit to Hawthorn West Primary School in his electorate the day before news broke of the new pay policy. The school is a regular location for photo opportunities for the Premier but members said they could no longer stand by. In a silent protest, they held placards with slogans including “Broken promises — not what we teach our kids” and “You’re no different are you Ted? 100 days and your word is dead.” “We’re very disappointed,” said AEU rep Belinda

L-R: Teachers Olivia Soderberg, Belinda Fillmore and Melanie Jacobsen.

Fillmore. “Baillieu came here on election day to take photos with the children and now he’s kicking us in the teeth.” AEU member Melanie Jacobsen said: “It’s a lack of respect to our profession. A lot of baby boomers are retiring. We’ve got a leadership crisis. We need to attract good people.” Baillieu shook hands with AEU members outside the event but didn’t stop to talk. Victorian teachers are paid 8% less than colleagues in Western Australia, the current highest paid. ◆ More on the disability fair pay campaign: page 11

Sadness and solidarity for Japanese friends


HE AEU has sent a message of solidarity to teachers in Japan through its sister union in Shizuoka following the earthquake and tsunami. AEU branch council expressed its condolences to the Shizuoka Teachers’ Union and through it to the Japanese people. The AEU has had a partnership with the STU for over a decade. The resolution said: “The terrible earthquakes and tsunamis have caused so much loss of life, injuries, displacement and hardship. “The damage to nuclear plants and the potential impact on the people is frightening. Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Japan and to our many friends in Shizuoka.” AEU branch president Mary Bluett has also

written to outgoing STU president Norio Kato expressing her concern. “We trust Shizuoka has been spared but know you will all be grieving the deaths, injuries and displacement of so many of your people,” she wrote. Shizuoka, south of Tokyo, is outside the immediate earthquake zone and was not directly affected by the tsunami. This year’s AEU trip to Shizuoka is expected to go ahead as planned. Education International, the global federation of teacher unions, has set up an urgent action appeal to help the Japan Teachers Union support its members. To donate, go to More: pages 16–17.

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CLOUDS OVER mid-east flagship Teachers say jobs at Victoria’s international school in the Middle East are not what they were promised. Rachel Power AEU News

But that’s where the relationship ends — a fact made “crystal clear” to teachers, according to N MAY 2008, amid great fanfare, then Premier Sue Christophers, general manager of the DEECD’s John Brumby formally opened the first international international division. Pay and conditions are entirely school to teach the Victorian curriculum — the matters for the school, she says. Victoria International School of Sharjah (VISS). For some staff working at VISS it has been a The Emir of Sharjah’s admiration for Victoria’s shock to find they are now on their own when it Effective Schools Model had led him to establish the comes to professional and industrial matters, with private school in the United Arab Emirates catering little recourse when things go wrong. for local and expatriate students from Prep to Judy (not her real name) arrived at the school Year 12. in mid-2008, not long before the global financial It operates under a memorandum of undercrisis hit exchange rates, turning what she says standing between the Victorian Government and was touted as “a very lucrative engagement” into the Emirate of Sharjah, with staff largely seconded a nightmare. “Instead of getting ahead in Sharjah, from Victorian schools; employment is promoted to (we) were going backwards,” she said. Victorian teachers as a unique professional developStaff were presented with an amended contract, ment opportunity. hastily delivered without consultation, which they The ties between the two are close. Teachers signed believing it would be reviewed after 12 implement the Victorian curriculum and have access months, she said. to edumail. Their service is recognised by the DEECD The college shifted to paying staff in the local for the purposes of salary, long service leave and dirham currency. Salaries were set in Australian sick leave. The department helped develop the VISS dollars but converted at a capped exchange rate. strategic plan, and is about to conduct a five-year Staff were notified of another serious amendment review of the school. to their contract — a shift from three months to six months’ notice — via a generic email, Judy said. The change made it impossible for staff to take up alternative AID parental leave (PPL) was introduced for new parents by the Federal Government on January 1. From July 1, it will be paid through your positions at the start of the next academic year employer. However, the Federal Government continues to fund this leave, so without risking their benefits. ­prospective parents must continue to register for PPL through the Family Assistance Office, either online or at a Medicare office. Judy said the situation led to a The FAO will decide your eligibility and advise your employer how much to pay. The employer will act only as paymaster. dramatic hemorrhaging of staff between late Detailed advice can be found at and will be 2009 and mid-June updated as more detail becomes available from the Education Department. The department is preparing advice for principals and business managers 2010, allegedly due to the wage changes and on the mechanics of this payment. Members should also note that federal PPL is additional to your existing employer-funded paid maternity leave. ◆ low morale. Among them were  — Barb Jennings women’s officer teachers Cassandra


Parental leave update P


aeu news |april 2011

Crevola and her husband, who were offered the new contract with changes to paid leave and other entitlements a few days after their arrival. “We went over there believing that the school was running in conjunction with the Victorian Government, so should be pretty safe,” Cassandra says. The couple quit just four months into a threeyear contract. On top of wage changes, she says, the induction and accommodation fell well short of expectations; accessing benefits involved time-consuming, bureaucratic processes; and any concerns took months to resolve. “We were promised something quite incredible and got something quite different,” she says. Both Judy and Cassandra say such conditions were a shock for teachers used to working in the unionised Victorian education system. The fact that VISS followed Victorian department policy on VELS, annual reviews and staff structure led them to assume their wages and conditions would also be protected by DEECD. “My overall impression was that … the school was working hand-in-hand with the department. It wasn’t until we were at the school that we realised that links between the department and the school were pretty flimsy,” said Judy. Sue Christophers blames early teething problems, coupled with the financial crisis, in causing confusion for staff. “We try to give thorough briefings about what’s involved,” she said. “But it’s a tough job and it’s not for everyone. Our advice is to go in with your eyes open.” The college is now onto its third principal in less than four years. Former principal Gordon Pratt told AEU News: “It is recognised and indeed discussed quite openly that this experience may not be for everyone and that to commit to a minimum of two years is a decision that should not be taken lightly. “It is fair to say that those who enjoy this experience the most are those who are flexible, engaged and interested in experiencing another culture.” ◆


Flooding prompts health warning A case has highlighted how mould and damp can cause permanent health problems.

AEU member Jane was left disabled by damp and mould

Rachel Power AEU News


LOODING in Victorian schools has highlighted again the dangers of damp classrooms and the need to ensure safe working environments. Janet Marshall, AEU health and safety organiser, said the case of six teachers who fell ill at Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School following the February floods offered a particular warning. The school, in Melbourne’s south-east, was closed for several days after carpets were damaged in flash flooding. Upon return, several teachers reportedly suffered headaches and nausea caused by chemicals and mildew made airborne by large fans used in the drying process. “Schools must make OH&S a priority,” Marshall said. “Funding and resources may be scarce and some buildings require greater maintenance and cleaning than others, but this is no reason not to comply with the law.” Lyndhurst Secondary College was also closed for three weeks by the floods — a painful reminder for former teacher Jane (not her real name) of the injuries she suffered while working there.

She hasn’t returned to the school since 2006, when a severe asthma attack left her in intensive care, and has now given up teaching completely. After three-and-a-half years fighting for compensation, Jane won a six-figure payout for respiratory problems caused by working in a damp and mouldy classroom. But while the money will enable her to manage her ongoing medical costs, she says: “Through all this, I was mostly hoping that I’d get a piece of paper from the Government saying that the problem (at the school) had been rectified. “The money is nothing compared to my health.” Jane says that while a lot of effort is put into warning about obvious hazards like tripping, invisible risks can be the most dangerous. “We laughed at the fact that there was a mushroom growing out of the carpet. Had I known what I know now, I would have vacated that place immediately. “People get sick and don’t realise why. … The rule is — if it smells musty, there’s mould present. You need to contact your OH&S officer and get a thorough (inspection) done straight away.” She says her case is evidence of why union

membership is so important. “The AEU has been very supportive. They did more than enough.” Marshall says such illnesses and adverse reactions are not uncommon, and must be taken seriously: “Too often cleaning and maintenance is sub-standard because of the reluctance to take precious resources out of the education program. “This can result in staff developing dust and mould-related allergic conditions and asthmas.” The Education Department recently reissued an OHS policy procedure (DEE EHU-01-1-2) reaffirming its commitment to allocating resources to maintain healthy, safe and supportive workplaces. “We must work together to ensure that this commitment is upheld,” says Janet. “This means AEU members working collectively with health and safety reps to ensure employer obligations under the Act are met.” For health and safety support, email janet.marshall@ ◆

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Scenes from Yarraville West PS’s entry.

news Keeley at the computer working on her school’s Wakakirri project

DUCKS AND APES get message across Melbourne state schools were among the winners at a national arts festival, with one taking out the top award for its campaign against palm oil. Rachel Power AEU News


ACH year the national Wakakirri Festival challenges students to make a positive impact on the world around them in the form of dance, song, film, writing or general arts. Lysterfield Primary School took the overall Wakakirri Prize for Positive Impact for its project investigating the effects of palm oil farming on the habitat and wildlife of south-east Asia. This prize is awarded not only on the strength of a school’s Wakakirri work, but on how students have used their entry to spread awareness within the local and global community, and practiced their message at school. Contrasting the lives of a boy and an orangutan at risk of losing

its home, the school’s story “Palm Oil Problem” makes the link between the destruction of native habitat to make way for palm tree plantations and the luxury goods we find on our supermarket shelves. Teacher Danielle Sandeman says the students were ecstatic about winning the national prize. “It really highlighted Wakakirri and the power of storytelling,” she says. “It was great for the kids and the community to see that a simple thing, like buying a particular product, can have a big impact.” Their campaign included creating a mural for a local community festival, making posters, signing petitions, writing articles for the school newsletter and making presentations.

Lysterfield PS students are now well-versed in checking the labels on supermarket products to identify which ones to avoid. Wakakirri’s marketing coordinator Brendon Comber says the students really embraced the issue. “They coordinated a campaign which demonstrated awareness and commitment to a specific issue, and resulted in an actual change in the purchasing habits of their parents and the people around them.” Also among Victoria’s winners was Yarraville West PS, whose short animation “A Duck Out of Water” won the story–film category. Coordinator Heather Britton says a group of Year 5/6 students took four months to create the script, make the



URRENT regulations are not designed to protect workers against risks from nanomaterials that proliferate in everyday products, members were told at an AEU health and safety forum. The first of four forums in 2011 heard from Friends of the Earth about the health and environmental challenges of nanotechnology — the science of the small. When materials are scaled down in size they exhibit new properties, creating great potential for science, medicine and manufacturing, but also bringing new risks. Nanotechnology is now used in areas as diverse as food, computing, automotive industries and diagnostics. It is already used in over 800 everyday items such as sunscreen, where its use is often not labelled. However, nano particles can be hazardous because of their size, surface area and toxicity. They can be inhaled or absorbed through skin. Despite growing evidence of the dangers, no country has yet introduced regulations to cover these risks. Instead, they rely on regulations that weren’t designed to protect workers against nano-sized materials. Now unions are lobbying for regulations to protect workers. The issue will also be considered at AEU Council — in particular the case of sunscreen. OH&S forums are a chance for AEU members to come together over a glass of wine to find out about new or emerging health and safety issues. The next forum is on May 18. More at ◆ — Janet Marshall OHS organiser


aeu news |april 2011

sets and models, and shoot and edit the film. Its theme of clean waterways emerged after a local field trip to Stony Creek, and was made as part of the school’s regular claymation program. Having run second for two years, the kids were “very excited to finally be voted the winner,” says Heather. “A Duck Out of Water” will also screen at this year’s Little Big Shots film festival. Established in 1992, Wakakirri has become Australia’s largest arts festival for schools. Entries presented at live shows and online reach over 1 million people each year. Schools can view entries and register their interest for the 2011 competition at ◆

National Reconciliation Week 2011 May 27 – June 3 “LET’S Talk Recognition” is the theme of National Reconciliation Week 2011 — a time for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories and achievements. Recognition will be a key issue in the coming years; the Federal Government is expected to hold a referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution. But Reconciliation Victoria says the theme is also about what the act of recognition means to each of us and to the nation. Schools are encouraged to stage events and lesson a­ ctivities to mark the week, interpreting the theme however they wish. You could hold an event to recognise the important ­contributions Indigenous Australians make to your community — or engage students and staff more deeply in a c­ onversation about the value of recognition and its particular importance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation Victoria would like to know about any activities you have planned. Email


Backpay advice nets teacher $100k Simple questions to the AEU can produce big benefits. Nic Barnard AEU News


POINT Cook teacher won almost $100,000 in backpay after the AEU advised her she had been underpaid for more than a decade. Elaine (not her real name) returned to teaching 11 years ago after raising a family. She had taught for six years in the 1970s, service that should have counted towards her pay grade. Instead, she was wrongly given a new TO number and placed back at Level 1 of the pay scale. After 11 years, thanks to further misclassification during six years of contract and casual work, she was still only at accomplished level A3 — around $17,000 pa short of her correct grade at the top of the scale.

She raised the issue at an AEU Active training course with Ballarat organiser Erich Sinkis who immediately put her straight. “He rang someone at the (education) department and got them to look me up,” Elaine said. Erich told her how to get a record of service from the department. “I’m so old, they had to look in the archives,” she said. “Once I got that record, it was a really easy process.” She added: “Erich started me off and put me on the right track and told me what to do.” Sinkis says it’s the biggest payment he’s ever helped a member to secure.

attending meetings outside her working hours. She had been told she had to attend as part of her contract. She was also paid only from 9.08am each day despite being required to start earlier, and was not paid for recess. With the support of ES organiser Kathryn Lewis, she took the case to the Merit Protection Board, which ruled that Lyn had “worked in excess of her agreed time fraction” and ordered her to be paid backpay for those extra hours. The total is expected to be more than $2000, and sets a precedent for

ES wins backpay for meetings Western suburbs integration aide Lyn Dawson has won backpay for

Disability program in limbo

Conference call C

LIMATE change will be high on the agenda at this year’s AEU Branch Conference on August 6 — the union’s peak decision-making forum. Legislation on a carbon tax is expected to be making its way through the Senate as the conference is held, making the issue highly topical. But there will also be debates on state and federal education matters. Nominations for delegates are now invited; there are almost 900 positions open. Members can also apply for observer status. For details see the notice on page 2. Notices have been sent to all sub-branch representatives. Branch conference sets the union agenda for the year and is a chance for members to steer AEU policy. The more members who participate, the greater our voice. ◆


HRIS Johnson does “pretty much everything” he can to maintain an active sub-branch at Doncaster Gardens Primary School. Since he took over as sub-branch president in 2008, membership has grown threefold from a handful of members to its current 22. “Basically I go into bat for staff,” he says of his role. “I keep people abreast of what’s going on,

Nominate your REP!

encourage members to attend the AEU Active course and let graduates know about the benefits of being in the union.” Chris says he became involved with the AEU as a contract teacher in the mid-90s. “Moving from school to school, each time I changed, my sick leave would go back to zero credit, pay back to the old subdivision 1. The union sorted all of that out for me.”

four colleagues who were in the same position. Lewis said: “This is a common misreading of the agreement for ES staff who work in the classroom with teachers. We keep coming across members who have been underpaid for weeks or even years. So we go back and win backpay for them.” “I was very impressed by Kathryn,” Lyn said. “She was very professional and kept on top of everything.” Members who think they may have been underpaid should call the MSU on (03) 9417 2822 or email ◆


HIGHLY-praised program to assess and support disabled children in Victorian schools has been left in limbo by the new Baillieu Government. The ABLES program was launched with fanfare by the Brumby Government during the state election campaign, after a lengthy trial involving special and mainstream schools. But the reference group set up before the election has never met — its first meeting was cancelled, and AEU vice president Carolyn Clancy says no new date has been set. “It would be extremely disappointing if the program were cancelled before it even got off the ground,” she said. “A lot of work has gone into it over a number of years, especially from special schools in trialling materials and offering strategies to teachers to support these students.” ABLES features a suite of tools to allow teachers to assess students with special needs and evaluate their progress, as well as strategies to help students reach the next level. “The trials were extremely well received,” Ms Clancy said. “It’s a valuable tool for designing one-on-one programs for students with special needs.” ◆

AEU organiser Kim Daly says Chris is an “enthusiastic and passionate” rep, whose sub-branch members hold him in high regard. “Last year he put a lot of effort into establishing effective consultation at the school,” she says. “He maximises attendance at sub-branch meetings. He also ensures that his sub-branch is always well represented at regional meetings.” ◆

Chris Johnson

Doncaster Gardens PS

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.



New faces, new jobs It’s all change at the AEU, with two new faces on the Membership Services Unit and a new home for our membership records team.


ICHAEL Hill and Rob Stewart are the new voices at the end of the phone when members call the AEU’s Membership Services Unit for advice. Michael is the first principal to join the team — he recently retired from the helm at Upper Yarra Secondary College after 37 years in teaching. It’s not his first time at the AEU; he worked here briefly in the late 1990s. He left then because he missed

Vale Brian


RIAN Harbour was AEU to the end — so much so that the Sebastopol College teacher was buried last month with an AEU flag draped over his coffin. Brian died in February aged 61. Sub-branch president Wayne Johnston paid tribute to his “comrade and mate” at the funeral as “an outstanding and loyal teacher unionist” who held numerous union roles during his 36 years at the school, including being the unofficial entertainment officer. “Brian always fought the hard fight to make teachers’ working conditions better,” Wayne said. “He was always at the forefront of strikes, stopwork meetings, union rallies and union marches. … We would walk together as a team at the front of the march to hold the union banner high. He could always find an ­alternative or a compromise to break a deadlock, and he would always go the extra mile to help out union members.” ◆


aeu news |april 2011

the students — “it was like having a stone in my shoe” — but is now glad to be back. “It’s a learning curve,” he says of his new job, “especially working not just with the school sector but disability, TAFE, AMES and early childhood. But the issues seem very similar in all of them. “Institutions everywhere are struggling with increasing demands and shrinking budgets, and staff and leaders are caught in the middle, trying to do their best with the interests of their students at heart.” Rob Stewart brings his experience as a past deputy vice president for the TAFE and adult provision sector to the job. He and Michael fill the big shoes in the MSU left by Glenda Piddington and David Bunn. David, a former organiser who has spent 30 years working in the union movement, is our new industrial officer, supporting the AEU and individual members with legal and industrial matters, delving into the fine print of laws and agreements, helping frame logs of claims and advising on legislation.

Meanwhile, Glenda has moved to head up our membership records team, which is now front and centre on the ground floor of the AEU building in Michael Hill Abbotsford. The team handles all membership inquiries, processing new members and changes of details. With membership now at a record 45,500, they have been ploughing heroically through applications. As well as joining or updating online, members can now visit them at their new front desk to pay subs, pass on changes of details, and buy AEU merchandise. Glenda, a business manager and AEU rep at Springvale PS until she joined the AEU staff last year, said:

Glenda Piddington

“We’ve got a great team in the records section, but this move will hopefully mean we can give an even better service to members.” ◆


Nic Barnard AEU News


Say it loud: PAY UP! Baillieu’s broken promise demands a loud response from the equal pay campaign in disability services. TASMANIA TEACHERS are ramping up their pay campaign as the Tasmanian Government refuses to address key concerns in agreement talks. AEU branch president Leanne Wright says the union has put the Government on notice amid concerns that it might turn its back on maintaining salaries in line with interstate pay levels. “We can’t get any straight answers from the education ­department,” she told The Mercury. “We keep asking them to put a salary offer on the table and they won’t do it. “We have decided we are not going to wait and see what it is — we are going to start ramping up our campaign now.” The union is also fighting for teachers’ aides, who are currently stood down over Christmas. NEW SOUTH WALES NSW Teachers Federation has called on new Premier Barry O’Farrell to rule out plans to slash the public education budget following a Sydney Morning Herald exposé of a secret Education Department blueprint modelled on Jeff Kennett’s cuts. The SMH says the department plans to slash up to $1 billion initially and then up to $800 million each year thereafter. Acting NSWTF president Gary Zadkovich says 100 schools would be closed and assets sold, leading to a loss of 7,500 teachers and 1,500 support positions. TAFE cuts of up to $135m pa are also planned. “This would be the most devastating attack on public education students and staff in NSW history,” Zadkovich said. QUEENSLAND QUEENSLAND Teachers’ Union has now distributed around $350,000 in relief funds to members following the floods and cyclone. General secretary John Battams sent a message of thanks to AEU branches.◆

Nic Barnard AEU News


UNE 8 will see a National Day of Action over equal pay for disability and community workers — an event now even more important after the Coalition’s broken promises. The day will put pressure on federal and state governments to fund in full the outcome of the equal pay case now before Fair Work Australia. Before the state election, Premier Ted Baillieu and his community services spokesperson Mary Wooldridge promised to fully fund the outcome of the case. Ms Wooldridge told the Victorian Council of Social Services: “We’ve been very clear: we’ll be making financial commitments in our policies in relation to supporting that claim and if it’s more than that, then we will be funding and supporting it.” Now the Coalition says it has budgeted only $50 million per year to meet the outcome and anything more could result in a “gap” in government funding to the sectors. “This may result in a reduction in services,” its submission to FWA says, which could in turn lead to cuts in jobs or hours. AEU branch president Mary Bluett said: “Mary Wooldridge had made her position crystal clear — they would fund the outcome. “Our members in disability work with some of the most disadvantaged and disabled adults in Victoria. They perform an enormous service to the

community, often at personal risk, and yet are some of the lowest paid workers in the state. “If Fair Work Australia says these workers deserve more, then the Government has a responsibility to fund it in full. Disability services are already stretched and underfunded and have no ability to bridge the gap.” She added: “To threaten cuts to staff or hours when the service already has difficulty attracting and retaining trainers makes no sense.” Unions argue that community and disability workers have been historically underpaid for their skills and qualifications, because the professions are mostly staffed by women. June 8’s rally will not be protected industrial action, but any member who is free on the day is urged to attend, and those in disability services in particular should seek approval from their employers to take part. Many employers back the equal pay case and have supported previous rallies.

Equal Pay rally, November 2010

Pressure on to pay up Meanwhile, the AEU is to increase pressure on a handful of disability employers who are holding out over a 3.25% pay rise from last July for which they have already been funded by the State Government. Many employers have signed a memorandum of understanding with the AEU to pay the money — work on a new agreement has been suspended until the outcome of the equal pay case. But a few have not signed and have not yet passed the money on. They face a campaign of naming and shaming if they fail to do the right thing by their staff. ◆

TAFE appeals landmark email ruling B

ENDIGO TAFE has sought leave to appeal against the Federal Court decision that it acted illegally in standing down AEU rep Greg Barclay over an email sent to members. Barclay — now the AEU’s acting deputy vice president for the TAFE and adult provision sector — may have to wait until next year just to learn if leave has been granted. The case has already hung over him for more than a year. A majority of the full bench of the court found in February that the institute had contravened the Fair Work Act. It was a landmark ruling that protects the right of union officials to communicate with their members over issues of concern. Branch president Mary Bluett said: “While it’s disappointing, this comes as no surprise. This is a very significant decision and if they are given leave to appeal we will contest it all the way.” Barclay remained phlegmatic. “Bendigo TAFE breached the Act and that’s the way it stands. We’ll just have to wait and see if they are granted leave to appeal. At the end of the day, I still know I did the right thing.” ◆  — Nic Barnard





S WE head towards bargaining for a new Schools Agreement, we at last have an opportunity to address the significant issues that face casual relief teachers. Changes brought about by the Fair Work Act mean we can now attempt to bring CRTs into the agreement — until now, they have been covered only by a ministerial order. This will be difficult to achieve, particularly under a Coalition government, and we will have to campaign hard for that outcome. But it would give us an excellent platform for improving conditions and salaries for our CRT members that we simply haven’t had in the past. Is CRT pay all that bad? The common perception among permanent teachers is that the rate for CRTs is not that bad. Many believe that CRTs get paid the same as other teachers plus a 20% loading to compensate for going unpaid during holidays and the lack of leave entitlements. The reality is that CRTs are paid significantly less than a graduate teacher. Over time, CRT wages have declined relative to


aeu news | april 2011

other teachers. In 1989, a fully qualified “temporary teacher” was paid $128.80 per day; today, the maximum daily CRT rate is $256. By comparison, a first-year teacher was paid $23,816 in 1989 compared to $55,459 today. Salaries have risen 127% for graduates but only 95% for CRTs. So a CRT today can earn a maximum annual income of $51,200 (inclusive of that 20% loading and regardless of experience) — more than $4000 less than a first-year teacher. And that’s assuming they can find work every day. There are a number of reasons for this clear decline over time. The two most important are that CRT wages barely increased during the Kennett era; and CRTs have not had the benefits of changes to the salary structure. Since the end of the Kennett Government in 1999, CRT wages have risen only by the percentage increases won by the AEU for the rest of the workforce. However, changes to the salary structure have delivered significantly more for ongoing and contract teachers than these flat percentage rises. CRT pay rates are complicated further when teachers are employed by an agency or referred

Casual teachers do it tough, with low pay, no security and little PD. But James Rankin, AEU vice president and convenor of the union’s CRT association, says a new agreement could put all that right.

to a position by an agency. Fees vary between agencies, as do the amounts charged to schools. This can result in CRTs being paid even less than $256 per day — in some cases significantly less. However it’s not just about the money. CRTs have a range of other important grievances including lack of breaks, hours of attendance, yard duty, access to PD and the non-payment of superannuation to name a few. What can we do? We need to re-establish the link between CRT rates of pay and the Schools Agreement’s salary structure. The essential task is to make sure that where salary increases are delivered to the teaching workforce that this includes CRTs. The log of claims submitted by the AEU to the Education Department late last year includes a claim that would deliver this salary outcome, as well as a number of other items developed in consultation with CRTs across the state. To find out more or to get involved in the campaign, please contact me on james.rankin@ ◆


STUCK in limbo Despite loving her CRT work, Olivia O’Connor says she can no longer afford it. PHOTO: MARK WILSON


IKE many women, I started CRT work while on family leave. I would have preferred a part-time role, but there are very few available in the primary sector. CRTing was the next best thing, and was OK for us for a while as we had my husband’s income to rely on. I didn’t expect to enjoy the work as much as

I do! I love the challenge of walking into a new classroom, of quickly creating a positive atmosphere with the students and implementing another teacher’s planning, or of creating a program for the day. And I am excited to see the wonderful work that goes on in schools, and inspired by the



EATURES of our log of claims that affect casual relief teachers include: • All CRTs to be employed by DEECD • Salaries re-linked to Level 7 on the teachers’ pay scale plus 20% loading in lieu of annual and personal leave • Tighten up payment of superannuation • Medical intervention allowance when such duties are required • $40 short call allowance in addition to daily salary • Paid travel expenses for engagements beyond 50km • Professional development allowance for CRTs • PD provided by the DEECD centrally with provision for CRTs to attend local school-based PD • CRTs to be informed of new DEECD initiatives • Minimum 30-minute paid lunch break and other changes to rules on hours • No more than one yard duty of maximum 30 minutes per full day • All CRT employment recognised for commencement salary • Minimum standards for CRT agencies through an accreditation process to be developed by AEU and department. Full details at (see from page 58 of the schools log of claims). ◆

commitment and caring of the teachers I meet in these schools. This year, however, I can no longer afford to work as a CRT. My husband is returning to study, so I need to be the main earner in our family. I can’t earn a living as a CRT! With 12 weeks of the year where I can’t work, no sick leave or carer’s leave, no holiday pay and no guarantee of work, CRTing isn’t an option for us. We need some guaranteed income, not one or two days one week, and maybe a full week the next, then no work for a week. I simply can’t pay the bills or feed my daughter. I am now stuck in financial limbo. I couldn’t return from family leave this year, as I couldn’t commit to working until I knew whether my husband was accepted into the course. I am currently applying for contract positions, but unfortunately there aren’t many available at this time of the year. My husband and I are stressed and worried about money, and if I don’t find work soon, I will need to look at working outside the profession. The irony here is that despite these experiences, my husband is studying to be a primary teacher too! ◆

PD FOR CRTs Your room — my rules HIS year the AEU offers three PD conferences specifically for CRTs during school holidays. The first of these, “Your Room, My Rules” in South Melbourne on April 14, will cover the popular issue of classroom management. Speakers include a keynote from Jo Lange, who will also run a workshop on boys and behaviour, the popular Glen Pearsall on five tips for engaging students, Margaret Armstrong on restorative practice and Jo Prestia on catering for different learning styles. For more information, or to book a place online, visit ◆




HE AEU website has a dedicated section for CRT members. There is a wealth of information for you there — so get informed and get active at ◆



My School’s

SELECTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY ACARA and the Gillard Government should not be allowed to get away with the damage they have caused to public schools’ reputations, Chris Bonnor writes.


ESPITE its improvements, the posting of My School 2.0 should have left public school teachers seething with anger. It has laid bare the substantial fraud in claims made by the Gillard Government and by curriculum body ACARA about the original website. In this apparent new era in school

accountability, the sponsors and designers of My School 1.0 have ended up wearing the least accountability of all — while the schools serving the most disadvantaged were forced to wear a year of shame. My School 1.0 was launched with all the language of transparency, accountability, choice and quality

The lessons not learned


OR all the effort the Federal Government put into relaunching My School, it proved something of a one-day wonder in the press. But if the site itself is an improvement on last year, the media failed to raise their game to match. Melbourne High School principal Jeremy Ludowyke might as well have been shouting into the wind last year when he forcefully pointed out that students have been at the selective school for only three months when they sit the NAPLAN tests. MHS was again widely celebrated for its results. Once again, there was no distinction across the media between the results of selective and non-selective schools. One of the most important changes to the site, the display of margins of error, went entirely unreported. The margin of error shows clearly the unreliability of this snapshot data, but for all the unsuspecting reader of The Age or Herald Sun knew, the raw scores were gospel. Perhaps most surprisingly, there was no attempt to examine the data to see which schools had registered big improvements since students last sat the tests, two years ago. The Herald Sun ran eight pages of hard-to-read tables — unranked — which left some suspecting the paper had been given high-level access to the files. Predictably, most reporting focused on the new funding information, which has put the independent sector in particular on the back foot — there seems little link between the high fees of elite institutions and their outcomes. By Sunday it was all over, save for a story in the Sunday Age about alleged cheating at one western suburbs public school. Whatever the truth of that particular case, it proved the Gillard Government had been successful in at least one of its aims — it’s now teachers that bear the burden of responsibility, not governments. ◆ — Nic Barnard


aeu news | april 2011

— almost a perfect storm of political advantage. From the outset observers were able to see that claims made about the website and about its index of advantage, ICSEA, just didn’t ring true. In a longer study published in Inside Story ( I looked closely at the 35 secondary schools given an ICSEA value of 1000. They clearly did not enrol similar students and should never have been compared. The new website has sparked a host of stories about school funding, and this will help recreate the debate about equity and funding. But all I could think about was the original group of ICSEA 1000 schools. How did they fare in the new website? My School 2.0 shows that these 35 schools are very different indeed.

problems, telling a Senate inquiry that the very publication of data improved its quality. Any commercial product in such instant disrepair would be subject to a recall or just laughed off the market, with its manufacturer called to account and/or paying a considerable price. Obviously the media is happy to move on and forget the mistakes of the past. If the teaching profession is equally sanguine we’ll all face the problems of the mistakes being repeated with impunity. My School 2.0 still does not allow schools to be fairly compared and it might be some time before we can be confident about the financial data. The Gillard Government and ACARA should make some statement of contrition to the thousands of schools

❛Some schools have seen their inflated reputations evaporate overnight.❜ They spread across an ICSEA range from 941 to 1059. Most of the private schools saw their ICSEA values adjusted upwards; most of the public schools went in the reverse direction. Many which displayed splashes of red (don’t go there) on their original NAPLAN page now have respectable tinges of green (safe to go). Other schools have seen their inflated reputations evaporate overnight. It didn’t have to be like this. If it was ever needed, My School appeared at least one year too early. A charitable explanation (for ACARA) would firmly place the blame for this at Gillard’s door. But ACARA chiefs tied themselves in knots trying to justify claims made about the site. Its chief executive, Peter Hill, understated the errors in ICSEA and lightly dismissed

unfavourably compared under My School 1.0. ACARA must place very visible caveats on every page of the new website, warning about the use of the data to compare schools. More than that: we are entitled to a full inquiry into the circumstances preceding and accompanying the launch of My School 1.0 and the various official claims made about the site. It’s not good enough to just move on — to do so would be to invite more of the same. It’s about accountability. ◆

Chris Bonnor is a contributing author to the Centre for Policy Development’s More Than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now. You can read a fuller analysis of My School 2.0 in Inside Story at



for the soul of TAFE After years of mismanagement, things have rarely looked bleaker for TAFE. But united action can help it turn a corner. Greg Barclay says the fightback starts here.


ANCY a career in horticulture? A member reported to me recently that a student enrolling in the subject at his regional TAFE institute can expect to pay around $17,000 — for a Certificate III qualification. That seemed to sum up the dire state we have reached in the public TAFE sector. Horror stories abound in our institutes — stories of broke students dropping out, rising workloads and redundancies. Most of the issues are not isolated — they are endemic, a consequence of years of under-funding, patch-ups and denial about the true state of the public TAFE sector. TAFE in 2011 is seeing more of the negative aspects of the last government’s “skills reform”, just as the AEU had predicted. Despite the concessions introduced by the new Coalition Government, a 25-year-old student with a health care card can find herself on a ­government-subsidised course paying $2000 but sitting next to another student who is 24 and has had his fees and charges reduced. This inequity is unacceptable and must be addressed. But the legacy of the skills reform is not the only problem facing TAFE. Quality down, workload up We now face a move back to paperbased compliance and away from good teaching and learning practice. Face-to-face delivery continues to

be reduced more and more. Teachers are responsible for learning done by students through homework guides, learner guides or some other form of low-cost or no-cost delivery. Only non-teachers could justify this game of smoke and mirrors. Teachers know that an injustice is being done to the students — and to teachers, some of whom have had their delivery hours slashed by up to 60% in cases reported to the AEU. Decisions to slash delivery hours are not made to benefit students; they are made to increase profitability. Instead of being responsible for 800 hours of teaching per year, some teachers may now be responsible through this “shaving” of hours for up to 1,600 hours — but with only half the time for preparation and ­correction of students’ work. As if that weren’t enough, the issue of excess hours compounds the growing pressure on teachers. Excess hours are now seen by some TAFE managers as a way to further increase delivery at reduced cost. Bizarrely, some teachers are told they will not get any additional preparation or correction time for the excess teaching hours they are being asked to do. So much for quality teaching and learning practices. So what are we going to do? There is a saying that you get what you settle for. Well, the AEU will not

settle for what is happening to TAFE. Nor do we accept that nothing can be done about it. While others appear to have given up, the AEU will not. To force the defenders and deniers to acknowledge what is occurring, we need to continue to expose the current situation in TAFE for teachers and students. The TAFE 4 All website will continue to publish the personal stories of AEU members and students about what is happening in their TAFEs across the state. We will ensure that politicians, bureaucrats, boards of directors, CEOs and managers cannot use that tired old defence, “We didn’t know”. Time to step up But we must also strengthen the way we work as a union to reverse this spiral of decline. That means: Stronger AEU sub-branches: We know that senior managers from TAFEs meet regularly to share how they are squeezing more out of teachers, and that these strategies are imposed at the teaching centre level. Strengthening the ability of subbranches to challenge and expose these practices through institute consultative committees (ICCs) and the consultation provisions in our TAFE Agreement will help us resist these attacks on the integrity of teaching practice.

Sharing information: Sub-branches have successfully negotiated changes to work practices and addressed the negative impact on workloads in their own institutes. We will continue to share these strategies with other sub-branches so that they too may push for similar changes at their own TAFEs. Strengthening our professional networks: The greater the number of networks that exist across TAFE for AEU members to discuss and work together to defend their teaching and professional integrity, the more effective we will be in bringing about positive change for TAFE. Unite and fight We have shown that we are capable of great things in TAFE. The MBA campaign. The TAFE4ALL campaign. The way we positively transform the lives of thousands of students on a daily basis. Working together we can and will defend and rebuild what happens for each teacher and for each individual student, and the public TAFE system. ◆ Greg Barclay is acting AEU deputy vice president for TAFE and adult provision.

Join the campaign • •



Friendship’s firm Last month’s earthquake alarmed many members who have made firm friends with Japanese families through the AEU’s exchange program. Cynthia Karena reports.


ETER Walker watched with anxiety as the tsunami wreaked destruction on the coast of Japan. The Year 5 teacher at Roxburgh Homestead Primary School was in Japan last year as part of the AEU’s annual exchange program with Shizuoka Teachers’ Union. He was hosted by a family in Shizuoka, on the east coast, about 150 kilometres south of Tokyo. “I was initially worried when I heard about the tsunami, because Shizuoka is on the coast. It was only the next day when I saw the maps in the newspaper and realised it had happened much further north that I felt confident my host family was OK.” Peter sent the family an email to let them know he was thinking of them. Even though “Shizuoka is a lot further south of where all the action was happening,” he was still relieved to receive a reply confirming they were safe. He had stayed with them for only three nights, but the family was so generous and warm towards him that they became close friends. When Sheho, the

little girl, burst into tears as he said goodbye, Peter couldn’t help but shed a tear or two himself. AEU branch president Mary Bluett has also written to the Shizuoka Teachers’ Union on behalf of the branch, expressing sympathy and solidarity after last month’s tragedy. The two unions have run the annual educational exchange since 2000 and Bluett has made several trips herself. “You get an idea of Japan and Japanese education,” she says. “People are initially worried about the homestay, but they come back and say it was the highlight of the trip.” The daughters of her host family asked her how Australian women made the strides they had. “(Japan) is so different, but these two young women’s aspirations are the same as ours. They want to learn from us, which is pretty humbling.” It was the STU that came up with the idea of an inter-union exchange. For eight years, its teachers came to Victoria annually.

“The union wanted its teachers to visit here to find out about our school councils first hand,” Bluett says. “This (aim) became broader, looking at our education system, the curriculum and how we teach.” The Japanese delegation arrives in Victoria mid-year, and now Australian members visit Japan in the Term 3 holidays for sightseeing, a union conference, and the homestay and visit to the host teacher’s school. “Personally and professionally it’s very enriching,” Mary says. “It broadened my horizons and knowledge. I’ve met a lot of people in my travels, but the Japanese are such lovely people. Everybody’s changed by the experience.” Peter was hosted by Akira Sawaoku, an English teacher at a local junior high school, Sanae his wife, and daughters Ai and Sheho. “The Japanese people are poles apart from the World War II stereotypical understanding of Japanese,” he says. “They are the most hospitable people you’d ever meet. I never spent one yen. The

Enlightening, enjoyable and stress-free Having never travelled overseas, the supportive environment and the friendliness of the Japanese was a fantastic way for Dianne Le Marshall to begin.


OU get three holidays in one — sightseeing, a look at education in another country and a grassroots look at family life through the home stay visit; something you can’t get on any other tour,” Dianne Le Marshall says of her trip to Japan last year. A Japanese teacher at Windemere Primary School in the Victorian Central Highlands, Dianne found the exchange opened her eyes to another culture. “It was fascinating. Some of my perceptions were changed. I thought (Japanese) were strict; they were, but there is a nice feeling that teachers and students have with each other.” Being a part of Japanese life was one of Dianne’s more memorable experiences. “I was really lucky; I got to see a tea ceremony and it was really amazing. The reverence placed on the ceremony, the tea house, the ritual, the formal kimono — it takes you back to times past.” The conference day was an opportunity to meet and share experiences with other unionists. “They have longer hours, and harder hours. They are expected to do a lot more extracurricular stuff (such as) run clubs. “They are very non-militant. But they did get Saturday morning work dropped recently. “The teachers didn’t seem to find class sizes an issue, but they were stunned to find out our class sizes. “Very little time was spent on discipline. Students stood by their desks and bowed. I didn’t see any misbehaviour. But some (children) didn’t get attention because there were so many.” Dianne and the other Australian teachers were surprised at the lack of technology in the classrooms, “considering the Japanese are known for their technology — it was a bare classroom, there were no computers or interactive whiteboards.” And she has just one piece of advice for anyone thinking about the trip: “Go for it.” ◆


aeu news | april 2011


foundations family took me out to Japanese restaurants, and showed me around their immediate area.” The husband took Peter to the local school where he saw class sizes of 40 students. “As a unionist, I see the benefit of having a strong union. Their union is trying to get a lower ratio. “I’m always interested in education and unionism overseas. This trip was an opportunity to meet up with fellow unionists. No matter where in the world, unionists want to get the best for their fellow worker and for the students.” But Peter never realised how multi-cultural Australia is until he went to Japan. “In the school, four out of 700 were a different nationality. I went to a shopping mall and I never saw another European. At dinner on my last night a Japanese toddler was staring at me with his mouth open.” The Japanese exchange program also exceeded Elizabeth Healy’s expectations. The student welfare coordinator at Princes Hill Secondary College is an experienced traveller and says Japan is the

friendliest, best mannered, most helpful and safest country she has ever visited. “I got a better appreciation of Japanese culture and living in a Japanese home to see how they live.” At her homestay, despite Elizabeth’s protestations, her host wife, Kazuko, was determined to dress Elizabeth in a kimono and take photos. “We fell about laughing.” More laughter followed when Kazuko took Elizabeth to a bath house, “but everybody made me feel at home.” Elizabeth found the schools highly structured, but says the Japanese passionately believe school should be fun. “There are lots of games and lots of activities. Teachers have a positive relationship with the kids. Anyone new was regarded as fun.” The teachers’ conference gave Elizabeth an opportunity to hear about their concerns and issues in the workplace. “It was interesting. They are working towards having a more inclusive curriculum, but there’s a long way to go. We talked about class

sizes, inclusion, and catering to different abilities. “I came away with a strong sense of similarities of purpose and values. There is a desire to improve their working conditions and what they can do for the kids.” Elizabeth was also concerned when the earthquakes and tsunami hit Japan. “The first thing I did was have a quick look at the map. “Shizuoka is OK, it is safe. I sent an email to my host family and Kazuko replied saying they were (alright), hopeful and safe, and that words couldn’t describe what had happened.” The tragedy in Japan has not lessened the effect the exchange program had on her. “It was an absolutely amazing experience. It was inspiring, it was fun; the people were helpful and so generous with their time.” ◆

Find out more at

T Peter Walker with Ai and Sheho of his host family during last year’s exchange.

HIS year’s trip to Shizuoka is still scheduled to go ahead during the Term 3 holidays. The AEU is now seeking expressions of interest from members. No Japanese language is required. Running from September 25 to October 3 (dates may vary slightly), this is an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and information about education with teachers in Japan, and to experience the Japanese culture. The program includes: • Educational exchange with Shizuoka Teachers’ Union • A three-day homestay with a teacher’s family and visits to their school • Meeting with Shizuoka Prefectural Board of Education • Sightseeing in Kyoto and Nara. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development recognises this program as PD (for tax purposes) and works with the AEU on various aspects of the visit. Members are also sought in the Castlemaine and Bendigo region to host families during the Japanese visit to Victoria. An allowance of $200 towards hosts’ expenses is provided. Contact: Lee-Anne Poynton on ­ 03) 9418 4874 or email lee-anne.poynton@ ◆



ES MEMBERS stake their claim

A tighter rein on contracts, 30% pay rise, paid breaks — and of course a laptop deal. Organiser Kathryn Lewis outlines the ES log of claims.


UR log of claims for education support members is now sitting on the desk of Education Minister Peter Hall, ready for negotiations to begin for a new ES Agreement. Our long preparations culminated with the log being served on the Minister after it was unanimously endorsed by AEU councillors at the February meeting of branch council. The log represents a joint effort from members and the AEU and as a result we have a clear direction for negotiations. Our ES membership has more than doubled since the last agreement was negotiated. That gives us great strength at the negotiation table, and members old and new are all eager to work together to improve their conditions and entitlements. We will be seeking some major improvements for ES members. We are looking to ensure that the consultation clause is strengthened — that clause is the key to unlocking the potential of any agreement. We will also be seeking a 10% salary increase per year for the three years of the agreement, as well as increases to special payments and allowances. The process around requests for range reviews and reclassification was improved in the current agreement — but there is still work to do in this area. We will be seeking clearer guidelines and timeframes around review requests. Members have a right to know the reasons for any decision — we will be seeking for employers to be obliged to provide these reasons, as well as seeking the capacity for principals to use special payments to attract or retain staff. We are also seeking changes to the eligibility for the first aid allowance, and additional criteria for special payments, with a minimum level of $1000. Contract employment levels remain high for all staff in schools — both teachers and ES. Our claims will seek to strengthen eligibility for translation to ongoing employment.

We will also be trying to tighten the relevant clauses around contract employment to ensure that staff are not kept on contract without very good reason. Our most significant claims can be found in the attendance and time in lieu (TIL) clauses, where we will be looking to update the 48/52 model of attendance to bring it more into line with the 52/52 model for teachers. We are also claiming a paid lunch break for ES staff — as per teachers. Our log seeks to introduce a paid morning and afternoon tea break as well as time allocated during working hours to access eduPay and greater clarification around TIL. For ES staff who work directly with students, we will be seeking guaranteed preparation time. Under our proposed Reimbursement of Expenses clause, the cost of the National Criminal History Record and the Working with Children Check would become allowable expenses. And of course we will also be asking the Education Department to make laptop computers available to ES staff on the same basis as it does for teaching staff. Our log of claims is very comprehensive and this article does not do it justice. I encourage ES members to go to the AEU website and view the complete document for themselves. I would like to thank members who took an active part in the log of claims process and worked with us in this first step to shape the next agreement to improve your working conditions. As well as serving the log on government, we have met the two other unions that cover ES staff — United Voice (formerly the LHMU) and CPSU — to begin developing an agreed position for negotiations. The AEU is serious about achieving an agreement that meets members’ needs, and a strong membership provides us with a commanding negotiating position. ◆

Find out more and read the log at 18

aeu news | april 2011

Teachers’ aide Deb MacPherson is passionate about winning a better deal for ES members — and a new AEU program has helped her get the message out. Cynthia Karena talks to her.


O MANY people don’t know what we do,” says teachers’ aide Deb MacPherson, of education support staff. Deb, who works at East Gippsland Specialist School, has been developing an informal network of ES members in her region, to try to promote the profession and campaign around the AEU’s forthcoming negotiations for a new ES agreement. So last month she signed up for the AEU’s ES Advocate placement program to learn more about her union. The program brings ES members into the AEU’s Abbotsford office for a week to shadow the union leadership and organisers. “Even though I’m a treasurer on the subbranch, I don’t have much idea about how the union operates,” Deb says. But in a week with the program — “it’s wonderful, brilliant, do it” — she made lots of useful contacts and is now aware of where to turn to in the AEU for help and answers. “It was one of the most enlightening courses I’ve ever done. It gave me great insight into how the union works,” says Deb. “I viewed the day-to-day running of the business, but I also saw the human side. I’m impressed by the dedication to improving everyone’s conditions. There’s heaps of heart. It’s not a bureaucracy. Your union has a soul.” Deb has been in the AEU for four years. She initially saw it as an organisation to back her up if there was an issue with the school or workplace. “The union was insurance if something went wrong.” Now she thinks of it as a place of action. “It’s about members and getting things done for education.” Taking part in the ES Advocate program increased Deb’s passion to see a better deal for education support staff. And as a new AEU councillor, she was able to

channel that enthusiasm into arguing for improvements in the ES log of claims as it was ratified by council last month. AEU deputy president Meredith Peace, who has led the union’s work on the ES log, says: “We need members like Deb there to mobilise people. When we start to negotiate, we need people there to bring pressure to bear.”


The most important thing I take into the classroom every day is … Definitely a sense of humour. The best trick for coping with staff meetings is … actually to listen. Getting caught out when something is said and you haven’t been listening is very embarrassing. The best piece of advice I ever received was … To treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. My advice to a beginner in my job is … Don’t run away on your first day — it gets better. The most important thing the AEU does for its members is … Keeping us informed of our rights. The most inspirational figure in your life was … My mum. She taught me to go with the flow and be able to cope with anything. In my other life, I am … A mother of five and a grandmother of almost six — one is due in November, and that’s really cool. ◆

Deb says one of the key issues for her is the level of pay for ES staff. “It’s low compared to the work we do,” she says. “We’d like a substantial pay increase; something that recognises the intensive work we do and the larger responsibilities we have. “My particular passion is for special school settings, where there can be more occupational violence because of behavioural attitudes.” There is greater mental stress because of the potential for violent incidents to happen, says Deb. “A young student who had very little self-control lashed out and scratched my face quite deeply. It happened in a split second. “Older kids pick up and use weapons (such as) scissors against students and teachers. I’ve had scissors pointed at me by a student who threatened to stab me.” Why then, after six years as an ES, does Deb still do the job? “We love the kids and we love to see the advancements they make. That’s so worthwhile; it far outweighs the scary stuff.” In special schools, every student has a special need, says Deb. “In the mainstream schools also, particularly those with medical interventions. “It’s a big responsibility. For some interventions there is pay to compensate, and for some there is not.” Compounding that is the ES pay scale, which comprises five ranges. “Most ES working in the classroom are range 1,” she says. “Our ultimate aim for ES working in specialist schools and mainstream with a high level of medical intervention is to be put into range 2… to cover the extra duties we do.” The AEU’s ES log of claims includes a 10% annual pay claim,matching that for teachers. Negotiations are expected to begin shortly; the current agreement runs out in December. ◆









Education ministers have signed off on a set of national standards for teachers. But how do they measure up? AEU research officer John Graham takes a look.


NEW set of national professional standards for teachers was approved for release by the country’s education ministers at their meeting in February. The standards are intended to supersede existing standards used in registration-related processes, underpin pre-service and continuing teacher education programs, and link into career structures They were developed through the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) — a public company which came into being on January 1 2010 under the aegis of the Federal Minister for Education. The “new” national standards (and sub-standards and descriptors) are a mixed bag. They combine standards already used in various states, add-ons from the AITSL bureaucracy and some minor fine-tuning after “consultation”. The key message in the AITSL documentation is that they represent the teacher view of teaching practice. There was, we are told, “an extensive validation process” with teachers to the point where “each descriptor was shaped by the profession”. This claim does stretch credibility. The AEU, for example, wrote to AITSL expressing our concern that the final draft could only be accessed by teachers through invite-only consultation forums rather than as a downloadable document on its website. The stated purposes of the standards range from the fairly explicit — to underpin pre-service program accreditation (graduate standards), support processes for full registration and the requirements of nationally consistent teacher registration (proficient standards) and inform “voluntary certification processes” for highly accomplished and lead teacher categories — to vague possibilities such as informing professional learning and acting as a possible basis for a “professional accountability model”. The new framework consists of three broad “domains” and seven standards, each with four to seven substandards (called a “focus”) and four descriptors for each sub-standard/focus corresponding to four teacher levels — Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead. The three domains are Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Engagement — the


aeu news | april 2011

same as those used by our Victorian Institute of Teaching. The standards themselves have some slight variations from their VIT versions. Under “professional knowledge”, the national standards combine VIT Standards 1 (“teachers know how students learn and how to teach them effectively”) and 3 (“teachers know their students”) into the single standard: “Know students and how they learn”. Under “professional practice”, the VIT and AITSL standards cover the same three areas but with a different mix and match of the various elements. Under the third domain, “professional engagement”, the VIT standard, “teachers are active members of their profession”, is watered down to the bureaucratic “engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community”. The major difference between the existing VIT standards and the new national standards is the division of the latter into the four levels — Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead. While Graduate and Proficient equate to the VIT standards for graduating teachers and full registration, the two higher levels have not been addressed by the VIT. The category descriptions and standards for Highly Accomplished and Lead come from those used by the New South Wales Institute of Teaching. The only Victorian parallels are links to career structure performance standards (and the roles and responsibilities) for expert and leading teachers. The levels are described as progressive “career stages”, with each stage representing “increasing levels of knowledge, practice and professional engagement”. The idea is that a teacher passes through each stage in turn. This seems straightforward enough for the first two levels. The differences between the top two levels are less clear. According to AITSL these levels will be accessed by “voluntary certification”. The role descriptions of the two levels overlap; some of the attributes ascribed to one level could just

as easily suit the other. Other distinctions fall into the “good/better/best” camp, with Proficient teachers labelled as “effective”, Highly Accomplished teachers as “highly effective” and Lead teachers as “exemplary” and so on. The weakest part of the framework is the descriptors; in particular, the notion of progression from one level to another. The strain of making meaningful distinctions between the levels is evident in the language used and the inconsistencies. There is a sort of formula for each level of the descriptors. The Graduate generally has to “demonstrate” whatever substandard is being described. The Proficient teacher seems to have moved beyond “demonstrating” to “apply”, “implement”, “establish” or “use” the sub-standard. This distinction is confusing, and hardly valid, as the notion of “demonstrating” is more about how performance of a standard at any level can be indicated and assessed. The formulaic differences between the top two levels are also problematic. The Highly Accomplished teacher spends a lot of time “supporting and assisting their colleagues” while the Lead teacher “leads their colleagues” (presumably not in a supportive way). The Lead teacher does a lot more “reviewing” and “evaluating” than their Highly Accomplished colleagues. The inconsistencies are many and varied between the levels. The Highly Accomplished teacher has to “support colleagues to interpret codes of ethics and exercise sound judgement in all school and community contexts”. The Lead teacher, instead of supporting colleagues, just has to “model exemplary ethical behaviour”.



Standards, not quotas Good teachers who stay in the classroom deserve reward — but arbitrary quotas must not be imposed. Mary Bluett branch president


OHN Graham’s article provides an excellent overview of the national professional standards for teachers. The implications for the profession are potentially very important. The AEU can support and even welcome national professional standards for teachers. However, the current standards suffer from a lack of broad input from the profession, and a process and timeline that have again been driven by political rather than professional or educational imperatives. Their endorsement by education ministers after their meeting in February was premature. Every year, many teachers cross state or territory borders. In this context, national standards (with national registration in line with those standards) make sense. A set of compulsory standards for pre-service (graduate) and full registration (proficient) — endorsed by the profession — would further facilitate and extend cross-border accreditation and registration. This is a process and outcome that the profession would welcome. The development of these standards would also drive, and ultimately regulate, pre-service courses in universities nationwide. In addition to these two compulsory levels, the national standards propose two “voluntary certification processes” for Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher categories (both above the current Victorian expert teacher level). While we have concerns about the current standards, we support the broadening of a career structure based on classroom teaching: in particular, a no-quota, standards-based classroom teaching career structure. Our current career structure increasingly pressures teachers to leave the classroom to pursue promotion and the higher salary that comes with it. Leaving the classroom should be a real choice rather than the only financial choice. Given that, the inclusion of “Highly Accomplished” and “Lead” teacher classifications extends the important debate about how we meet the needs of the profession — to recognise and reward classroom teaching while providing choice of career paths. One consolation, and an empowering one, is that any change to the career structure must be covered by our industrial agreement. The AEU’s federal policy, endorsed by the Victorian branch, is that we support such a career structure provided it has no quotas. Indeed our log of claims includes the “highly accomplished” classification at a salary double that of a beginning teacher (currently $55,459 per year). Let’s see how Backflip Baillieu responds to this! ◆

In another case, Graduate and Proficient teachers have to set “achievable and challenging” goals for all students while the Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers only have to worry about “challenging” goals. The crucial relationship between the new national standards and existing career structures and industrial agreements is left up in the air. “There is no link between performance pay, career structure and the

Standards, as these are management and industrial issues to be determined within individual jurisdictions, sectors and employers,” AITSL says. Governments can say that there are now “national standards” for teachers in Australia. The rush to get to this point met political imperatives but seems to have compromised the quality of the standards and subdued the teacher voice in their creation. ◆

IN BRIEF One set of standards • Signed off by state and federal education ministers, December 2010 • Must be incorporated into agreements to take effect Three domains • Professional knowledge • Professional practice • Professional engagement Four career stages • Graduate • Proficient • Highly Accomplished • Lead

Seven standards PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE 1. Know students and how they learn 2. Know the content and how to teach it PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE 3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning 4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments 5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT 6. Engage in professional learning 7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community More information:

Teach Positive


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David Bott BA(Psych), PG Dip Ed, PG Dip Psych

Head of Psychology, Head of Year 7, Aldenham School, UK

Alison McCormick, PG Dip ACS, MAPP, MRCSLT, MNZSTA

Positive Psychology Consultant, Speech & Language Therapist

Jeanne Shaw, BA(Hons) PG Dip Ed, MEM, PhD (in progress), MACE Retired Deputy Principal


Trafficking and slavery is the third largest organised crime activity in the world, behind drugs and arms, enslaving 27 million people worldwide. A new campaign aims to raise awareness through education.


ON* was 17 with hopes of a better life when he accepted a trusted friend’s offer of work. His friend said they could earn better wages if they crossed from Laos into Thailand. Together, they crossed the Mekong River at night. Non was hurried into the back of a van that didn’t stop until it reached the Thai coast. His friend was nowhere in sight. Non was pushed onto a fishing boat and forced to work, under the watchful eyes of men with guns. He was threatened with beatings if he worked too slowly — and sometimes beaten for no reason. For two years, he lived on board, working from early morning well into the night and sleeping on a crowded deck with 40 other men. Forcing or tricking people to work against their will for little or no pay and in abusive conditions happens worldwide. In the south-east Asian fishing industry, this form of human

trafficking is particularly horrific, as there is no escape for men trapped at sea. As many as 10,000 workers are trapped on trawlers in the Gulf of Thailand. Food and medical treatment are often withheld. There have been reports of ship captains spiking drinking water with amphetamines to ensure workers work day and night, or shooting those who fall ill and throwing them overboard. Aid organisation World Vision has launched the Don’t Trade Lives campaign to educate and unite the public against this modern slavery. The campaign calls on governments, individuals and the private sector to address the demand for exploited labour, and challenge the attitudes, systems and structures that allow it to happen. Melissa Stewart, World Vision Australia’s advisor on human trafficking, says: “We raise awareness of trafficking among vulnerable

communities and help victims like Non in trauma recovery. Our programs support victims through counselling and protection services, helping them secure justice through criminal court processes.” Non often despaired during his captivity. But he worked hard and stayed silent, gaining his captors’ trust over time. Finally they left him alone during a brief stint ashore and he seized the opportunity to escape. After days in the jungle, he found refuge in a house. He was helped to the Laos embassy in Bangkok where World Vision helped him return home. ◆ *Not his real name

Victoria Teachers Credit Union is proud to provide financial assistance for innovative learning techniques. If your School or Preschool has a new concept, idea or innovative teaching method we encourage you to apply for a grant to help your initiative come to life. Applications opened Monday 14 February and will close Friday 8 April 2011. For more information about the application criteria, funding categories and to apply, visit

aeu news | april 2011

1. Go to au and join the campaign. 2. Send a Clean up our electorate eCard urging your Federal MP to work with local b­ usinesses and ask the Government to review federal procurement. 3. Choose ethical products — the 2011 Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping in stores and online at can help you make informed decisions.

TEACHERS can connect their class to international issues through Get Connected, World Vision’s global education resource for upper primary and lower secondary schools. Published twice a year and distributed to all schools, this issues-based workbook won the Australian Geography Teachers Association award for Best Primary School Resource 2010. You can order Get Connected and find other resources online at

teaching initiatives program 2011


Take action



Caught in the traffickers’ net



ting 10

be fo und at www. aeuvic. /IWD teache r reso urces can


studen ts and

The blame game



Activiti es for

Barbara Jennings women’s officer

0 years


Women’s FOCUS

inside the AEU



9:46 AM

Our IWD dinner offered a timely insight into the world of AFL — and how women get the blame when men misbehave.


AMANTHA Lane was a very topical speaker at our International Women’s Day dinner on March 8. Sam is an award-winning football commentator and journalist, a feisty young professional woman who holds her own with some of Australia’s best known comics on Channel 10’s top-rating footy show Before The Game. She spoke about her disappointment with sections of the AFL following the treatment of a damaged 17-year-old girl who had behaved

unwisely with some male footballers. Her love of the game and respect for much of the code was clear. It is disappointing to many of us who love the game that the attacks have been aimed at someone who is not an adult rather than at the adult men who have chosen to act very L-R: Gillian Robertson, Samantha Lane and Mary Bluett. inappropriately. Sam spoke passionately and openly about her life Women’s Day across the world. Lyn Baird from our and was such an inspiration that she had a queue publications unit designed a gorgeous placemat to of admirers afterwards wanting her autograph. mark the occasion which you can see above. ◆ The dinner celebrated 100 years of International

Dig for victory W

ITH IWD over, planning is well underway for our second big event of the year — the annual Women’s Conference on Saturday May 7. This year’s theme is “Harvesting the Fruits of our Labour”, and should be another sell out, especially with our keynote speaker, Stephanie Alexander, the award-winning chef, r­ estaurateur and founder of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. This fabulous program involves students (only in government schools) growing their own food organically in a school kitchen garden with the

help of a garden specialist, and then preparing and eating a yummy meal with the help of a kitchen specialist. Teachers report that the program excites and engages students while teaching them about organic gardening and the pleasures of cooking and sharing healthy food. Workshops at the conference will show you how the program can be embedded into curriculum materials and resources. There will also be information on how to get funding so that your school can be involved. Other workshops include dealing with negative people, easy strategies

Harvesting the Fruits of our Labour 100 years of Women’s Rights

Women’s Conference 2011 Saturday, May 7

Keynote speaker Stephanie Alexander

for wellbeing, and how to prepare registration: and Steve will provideinformation: food Gayle and9418 4860 great applications and interviews, champagne to start and finish the day. among other topics. See you there! Bring a group from Ged Kearney, ACTU president, will your school! address the conference and Lisa Bookings are now open for this Darmanin, assistant secretary of the member-only event, and must be ASU Victoria, will speak about the made through the online booking groundbreaking pay equity case. system — go to www.aeuvic.asn. Comedian Denise Scott will give au/womens_conference. ◆ us her take on ageing and Mary 1759_WMN_conf_flyer_2011.indd 1

2/03/11 2:57 PM

Rosemary Richards Scholarship 2011


LL women members of the AEU are encouraged to apply for this year’s Rosemary Richards Scholarship. The scholarship is valued at up to $10,000 per year. Be as creative as you like — it’s your development opportunity. Rosemary Richards was a proud feminist, unionist and educator, who played a crucial role in shaping the AEU as an organisation which reflects feminist principles. The award, now in its fourth year, recognises her significant contribution to the

AEU and to all its members, women in particular. The award aims to extend women members’ experiences and participation at all levels of the AEU (or an international public education union) by supporting initiatives including but not limited to: • Design and implementation of a discrete project • Establishment of a work shadowing or mentoring arrangement • Research or study

• Formal and/or informal training and development. Applying for the award A background document, application form and Rosemary’s full tribute can be found at Applications close Friday April 22. For further information contact Catherine Davis, AEU federal women’s officer, on (03) 9693 1800. ◆


inside the AEU






AEU TRAINING & PD Kim Daly and Rowena Matcott training officers

Our new one-day courses


dd 2




Everything you need to know about consultation and about your agreements.


HIS term, the AEU training team has successfully run a number of new one-day schools courses as well as our traditional two-day AEU Active program. We pay replacement costs for all these programs. Consultation and Employment is one whole day focusing on what a consultation committee (CC) should look like and how it should function. The emphasis is on how to improve your CC at your school, taking into account your individual setting and staffing circumstances. We also discuss

employment (ongoing and fixed term) — how and why this should be on every consultative ­committee’s agenda. The Know Your Agreements day is exactly that: a chance for you to familiarise yourself with both the Teacher and ES Agreements. We discuss the content and how to ensure these basic entitlements are being adhered to in your school context. All of our AEU Active training courses are designed to improve knowledge, allow time for questions and discussion of your individual

situations, and to give you strategies to improve your situation and the confidence to be active. Booking online We are aware that a number of people have had difficulties using our new online booking system and ask you all to persevere or call us if you can’t log in. More details of all our courses can be found at and in the AEU 2011 Events Calendar which has been sent to all sub-branch reps and PD coordinators. ◆

AEU TRAINING CALENDAR TERM 2, 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 May 18–19..................AEU Abbotsford May 18–19...............................Benalla May 24 & June 24...............Mornington May 26–27...............................Ballarat May 26–27..........................Pakenham Special settings June 1–2......................AEU Abbotsford

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


May 10....................................Ballarat May 17.................................Traralgon AEU ACTIVE FOR NEW AND May 24...................................Bendigo ASPIRING PRINCIPALS (one-day) May 31...................................Geelong June 22...............................Abbotsford June 7.......................................Melton June 15......................AEU Abbotsford CONSULTATION AND EMPLOYMENT June 21................................Whittlesea (one-day) May 5......................................Werribee May 31.........................AEU Abbotsford EDUCATION SUPPORT June 10...........................................Sale Twilight conferences Conference 4pm­–6pm KNOW YOUR AGREEMENTS Dinner 6pm–8pm (one-day) April 7.................................Mordialloc June 7..........................AEU Abbotsford June 9...........................................Sale June 16...............................Craigieburn June 20.......................................Colac June 21....................................Geelong June 30................................Whittlesea ORGANISING AROUND OH&S (half-day) June 7.........................................Melton June 15........................AEU Abbotsford June 21.................................Whittlesea


aeu news | april 2011

OTHER EVENTS Disability workshop (half-day) June 14.......................... Abbotsford



Targeting leadership (9.30–4pm) June 7........................................Keilor June 21...................................Berwick

PD in the Pub: New Teachers Survival Kit (4.30pm–6pm): May 16...................Caroline Springs May 17.................................Berwick May 18................................Bendigo May 24............................Moorabbin May 25..................................Carlton May 26................................Croydon May 30...............................Wodonga May 31.................................Preston June 1...................................Mildura June 7................................Traralgon June 8..................................Geelong June 9..........................Warrnambool June 14................................Ballarat

Building resilience, managing negativity (4.30pm–6pm) May 24................................Lyndhurst June 1............................Taylors Lakes Applying for leadership (4.30pm–7.30pm) May 25................................Footscray Northern Met Network (4.30–6pm) June 15.........................South Morang Women’s conference May 7................................Abbotsford


Application writing (4.30pm–6pm) June 14........................AEU Abbotsford Applying for principal positions April 27........................AEU Abbotsford Applying for leading teacher positions April 19........................AEU Abbotsford June 22........................AEU Abbotsford

Young Member Activists Program June 14–17.............AEU Abbotsford New educators Primary conference May 6......................AEU Abbotsford New educators Secondary conference May 20....................AEU Abbotsford Students conference April 20...................AEU Abbotsford

inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

A rep’s guide to the MSU David Bunn industrial officer


HILE we spend much of our time advising individual members of their rights and obligations, the Membership Services Unit is also a valuable resource for the AEU representative in the workplace. From our point of view a call from a rep means that we are giving good information to someone recognised in the workplace as having a key role in assisting members. They will often put our information to use over and over again, including to support individual members who ring us. Many of the issues members raise with us are collective ones — for example, the system for allocating extra responsibilities in schools, conditions relating to school camps, time in lieu, or attendance requirements for part-time workers. We had many calls at the start of the year from part-time teachers confused as to whether they should attend on a curriculum day which was not one of their normal working days. Much better for us to discuss that issue with the

“Resigningorretiring? We’llpayupto $1,000towards financialadvice.” Christian Kueng, ESSSuper Member Education Consultant

Do you have an issue you’d like to see covered in

On the Phones?

Email or call the MSU on (03) 9417 2822 or 1800 013 379.

rep in Term 4 when the issue can be settled for a whole group of workers in a discussion with the principal. A good year for babies Most AEU members who give birth are eligible for paid maternity leave. Almost all parents of children born after 1 January 2011 are now also eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s paid parental leave. Contrary to frequently circulating myths, one does not cancel the other — consult our advice sheet on the AEU website at ppl. More information for new parents can be found at Late fees and VIT We get a steady flow of calls from teachers who for one reason or another failed to pay their VIT registration on time and now have been notified of a hefty late fee. Do they have to pay the late fee in order to be registered? Yes. If you had a strong reason for failing to pay the

original invoice, you should pay it now, including the late fee, and then write to VIT setting out your circumstances and seeking a waiver of the penalty and a refund. TAFE and public holidays Coming up to Easter, it’s as well to point this out: the TAFE Agreement, in setting 800 hours as the maximum face-to-face teaching time for a TAFE teacher, already takes into account the public holidays during the year. In other words, the working year has been discounted to allow for those days. That is why, if your teaching days coincide with a public holiday, you have to make up those teaching hours at some other point. Our TAFE A-Z guide recommends that when timetabling work at the start of a semester, public holidays should be excluded and teaching hours distributed elsewhere. ◆

Thinkingofresigningorretiring?Needsomefinancial advice?ESSSupermembers*–talktotheexpertswho runyourfund. Our Member Education Consultants are the experts in your fund. They can discuss your options and provide further information about your benefits. And through our partnership with Industry Fund Financial Planning (IFFP)^ you can get all the advice you need to help secure your financial future. Upto$1,000rebateforsuperannuationadvice If you’re an eligible ESSSuper member, when you obtain financial planning advice and stay with ESSSuper you may be eligible for a rebate of up to $1,000 to cover part or all of the cost of the super related advice. Visit for all the details. At ESSSuper, we know as well as you do that you’ve worked hard for your future. And we’re here to make your super work harder for you. Call1300 655 476tomakeafreeappointmentwithoneof ourMemberEducationConsultantsorafinancialplanner.


* Members include teachers who commenced employment prior to 1994. If you are not already an ESSSuper member you are not eligible to join. ^ IFFP is a division of Industry Fund Services Pty Ltd ABN 564007016195, AFSL 232514.

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ERM 1 has flown by and in a blink of an eye it will be Term 2. It’s time to start thinking about the fantastic professional development opportunities for graduates coming up in May. Primary Graduate Teachers Conference: Friday May 6 Andrea Hillbrick, a literacy expert specialising in Victoria’s e5 teaching model, will be keynote speaker at our primary conference, talking on building comprehension skills across the curriculum. She’ll share effective tools and strategies to construct meaning and understandings while focusing on implementing the e5 instructional model. Following on from Andrea’s presentation, participants can choose

three of five fantastic workshops on offer. All conference attendees will receive a USB stick with information from all presenters to ensure maximum value. Our workshops are: Numeracy ideas that work with Michelle Benoit; Parents: your worst enemy or your greatest ally with Ross Dean; Five simple things, a workshop focusing on technology in the classroom, with Martin Jorgenson; e5 with a practical classroom focus with Andrea Hillbrick; and Ten techniques to transform your teaching with Glen Pearsall. Secondary Graduate Teachers Conference: Friday May 20 Glen Pearsall is a familiar face to those who have attended his great PD in the Pub sessions. He will be





presenting a keynote speech that will explore the science and art of motivating students. Glen will demonstrate how, through effective strategies, teachers can transform disruptive classes, challenging students to take ownership of their learning. Participants will choose three of the five fantastic workshops on offer. All conference participants will receive a USB stick with information from all presenters to ensure maximum value. Our workshops are: Parents: your worst enemy or your greatest ally with Ross Dean; Five simple things, a workshop focusing on technology in the classroom, with Martin Jorgenson; Difficult students, great teachers: teaching with an evidence-based strengths approach with Greg

Donahue; Beyond telling off: effective discipline for beginning teachers – a focus on boys with Jo Lange; and Assessment and feedback with Glen Pearsall. Book your place Places will fill quickly. Keep an eye out at school for conference pamphlets with detailed information about all workshops and keynote presentations. You can also find out more at grads and secondary_grads. All bookings need to be made online through the above URLs. If you have any questions please email me: andrew.cassidy@aeuvic. Enjoy the holidays. ◆

ESSSuper members* – talk to us before you resign or retire. We know moving on from a job can be confusing when it comes to organising superannuation. So for all your important questions, we can help with the answers. Ready to make a move? Now’s the time to: think about how you want to enjoy your future speak to our Member Education Consultants about your options learn how our range of pre and post retirement products could benefit you. Our Consultants are experts in your fund and can simplify even the hardest of super questions. And, if you need to discuss individual financial circumstances, we can refer you to a qualified financial planner.


Whether you’re changing employers or retiring and want to secure a comfortable future – talk to us today.

ESSSuper is ready to help you before you leave your job.

Call 1300 655 476 to book a free appointment with a Member Education Consultant.

* Members include State Government employees who commenced employment prior to 1994. If you are not already an ESSSuper member you are not eligible to join. Issued by Emergency Services Superannuation Board ABN 28 161 296 741 the Trustee of the Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme ABN 89 894 637 037 (ESSSuper).

Proudly serving our members


aeu news | april 2011

inside the AEU

Safety MATTERS PD from your bedroom Persistence pays off Bob Maguire OH&S organiser


LN is running a number of professional development programs as live, interactive video streams. They allow you to participate in high-quality seminars at TLN training venues from the comfort of your home (or school). All you need is a broadband internet connection and a set of headphones. After enrolling, we will send you a link to the website where the event can be viewed. You can interact with other participants and the facilitator through our text-based chat system, see the slides being presented, hear the audio and view live video of the seminar on your screen. Some schools use these seminars to provide extra PD for staff after school hours, by projecting the website onto a digital whiteboard. All our online sessions run on Thursdays from 4pm to 6.15pm. Some are free for teachers from TLN member schools and others cost just $50. For more information or to enrol, visit Upcoming online programs May 5 Playgrounds, common ground May 19 Five IT apps that work in the classroom June 2 Differentiating learning styles June 9 Multimedia for the early years July 21 Brain workshop August 4 Getting to grips with how grammar works

Preschool validation training A

re you considering undertaking the validation process for early childhood teachers? Rosalie Kinson will conduct a practical workshop to guide you through validation. As a former AEU vice president, Rosalie had a role in developing and implementing the standards and validation process; since her retirement, she continues to make a contribution as an educational consultant and presenter. The workshop covers: • Understanding the domains and standards • Rules of evidence and selecting your evidence • Describing your pieces of evidence (writing your narrative). Please bring along two pieces of potential evidence to the session. This training is free to AEU members and can be included in your PDEP. A light working lunch will be provided. Registration is essential: email or call (03) 9417 2822 by May 6 with your name, workplace and whether you are applying for accomplished or exemplary classification. ◆

Saturday May 14 10.30am–1.30pm AEU Building, 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford

When classroom temperatures rose, one health and safety rep kept his cool.


ometimes a health and safety rep needs to go outside their comfort zone. The following is an example of this — and a classic example of the 3Ps of organising around OH&S: the power of the HSR, the power of the collective, and the power of persistence. In Term 3 last year we were contacted by the HSR from a primary school in north-west Victoria. He was concerned that air conditioning in some classrooms at the school was inadequate on very hot days and that, despite the support of the principal, the Education Department seemed uninterested in doing anything about it. At the behest of the HSR and staff, the principal had sought advice from three air-con suppliers, including the company whose product was in the school. All agreed the system was inadequate; one put it in writing. The ­information was passed to the region — and met with silence. The rep contacted the AEU for advice. As consultation had occurred, and the staff affected fully supported the HSR, the rep told the principal by email (records are very important) that, if no action were taken, he would have to issue a provisional improvement notice (PIN). The region responded that the school should monitor temperatures in the classrooms and report at the end of the school year. As summer was approaching, the HSR issued a PIN giving the department until the end of the Term 3 holidays to fix the problem. The HSR rang the AEU again at the start of Term 4 to discuss what action to take next in light of a response from the region. In the interests of ongoing relationships, we advised him to again meet staff and then give the principal another opportunity — in writing — for the region to produce a plan of action; if no acceptable response was received within 48 hours, the HSR should contact WorkSafe. This time, the HSR was contacted by an OH&S specialist engaged by the region. When the rep said that he could feel the heat coming through the walls, the specialist indicated that the wrong type of classrooms had been sent to the school. The region agreed to install an extra air-conditioning unit in each classroom and to monitor temperatures at no cost to the school. This occurred in late November. The HSR wrote to tell us the outcome, adding: “Further to this, I have now got processes in place that will enable me to see issues resolved through consultation at staff meetings and OH&S team meetings as required.” He also noted that good relationships with principal staff had been maintained: “Being careful to document all communications and maintain good communication processes has been vital.” All of which shows the 3Ps at work. The OH&S Act reverses the power balance in workplaces — the health and safety rep now has power, and it was by using it that he got the region to take action. Regular meetings with the affected staff empowered the rep and provided invaluable support. Taking a group on is harder than an individual; there is safety in numbers. And as the HSR points out, this support included the AEU. And persistence paid off. Despite inadequate responses — and sometimes no response at all — the HSR pushed on. And won! ◆



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aeu news | april 2011

FRANCE — PROVENCE Restored 17th-century house in mediaeval fortified village of Entrevaux. Spectacular location, close to Côte d’Azur and Italy. Contact owners (03) 5258 2798 or (02) 9948 2980. FRANCE — SOUTH WEST Renov 17thC 2 bdrm apart in elegant Figeac, “centreville”, or cottage in Lauzerte, 12thC hilltop village. Low cost. com/photos/clermont-figeac/ or www. Ph teacher owner (03) 9877 7513 or email for brochure. ITALY — FLORENCE Beautiful fully furnished apartment in historic centre. Sleeps 2-6, $1,700 pw, telephone 0419 025 996 or ITALY — UMBRIA Apartment. Beautiful sunny 2 bdrm. Historic Centre Citta Di Castello €625pw 2p, €675 3-4p. 0414 562 659 PROVENCE — LANGUEDOC Large village house. Luxury plus location. Suitable for up to eight adults. (03) 5444 1023 ROME Studio apartment, Piazza Bologna, beautifully appointed, sleeps 2, opens onto garden courtyard, $1100 pw, telephone 0419 488 865 or 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 TEACHER TOURS JULY AND SEPT. All tours 14 days and tax claimable (1) July 2 — THAILAND-LAOS. Bangkok, River Kwai, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane etc $3995 pp twin (2) Sept 24 — CHINA. All the iconic features of China inc 4 day Yangtze River cruise. $4299 pp twin (3 )Sept 24 — VIETNAM. Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang and HCMC. Mekong Delta. Cu Chi Tunnels. $3355 pp twin. Non-teachers welcome. For itineraries email Terry Tremellen (Shepp High). tremellen.terence.k@ or 0431 359 283.

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

NOTICES FINANCE Need money in a hurry? We offer short term personal loans from $500–$10,000 (conditions apply). CALL US NOW for a quick pre-approval. Tel: 1300 654 230. WEB: Quick and Easy Finance. The name says it all! RETIREMENT VICTORIA Visit us at 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. TAX CLAIM FOR TEACHERS A tax claims check list for teachers is provided free of charge by Teachers Taxation Services Pty Ltd. For a copy email or telephone (07) 3821 1879. VISAS IMMIGRATION For the professional advice you need — contact Ray Brown. Phone (03) 5792 4056 or 0409 169 147. Email Migration Agents Registration No. 0213358.

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Tie a yellow ribbon...

McLaren’s formula won


Paddy Kendler


CLAREN Vale now stakes a strong claim to being the best winery tourism region in Australia. I write this after some 30 visits since the 1970s, three in the past six months. Yes, there are more glamorous wine areas such as the Yarra and Mornington, while Margaret River is a delightful destination. The Barossa and Clare Valleys are undeniably charming, the Hunter appeals to many north of the Murray, the Tamar is definitely worth a glance, and Rutherglen is surely the most underrated wine region in the nation. And I had better mention the beautiful King Valley. But if ever you really wanted to chill out among the vines, to enjoy exceptional regional cuisine, revel in shiraz and grenache and take in super sea views from the hillsides, rest assured that McLaren Vale is God’s own country. Or that of Bacchus, for alternative believers. The local wines are user-friendly to a fault, the fault being too easy to overindulge. They are rarely too precious but more in the cheeky-tobold spectrum, as in heart on the sleeve. After a day’s tasting, you will sense their regional character because they speak of their soils, their aspects and their benign maritime climate. Check out Meanwhile, life in the wider wine market continues. Consider these: TRENTHAM SHIRAZ 2009 ($13): Yet another example of huge value from one of the very best producers along the Murray. Savoury stuff! COCKATOO RIDGE SEMILLON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010 ($11): The latest releases under this label are surprisingly good value but this one especially appeals because so many of its rivals at this price are downright duds. Definitely worth a substantial sampling. D’ARENBERG ROUSSANNE (THE MONEY SPIDER) 2009 ($18): An excellent interpretation of a tricky Rhone white grape which seems to have found a home in McLaren Vale. Well worth the search. PRINTHIE MOUNTAIN RANGE CHARDONNAY 2010 ($18): Quite simply, the best chardonnay under $20 I have tasted in ages and a pointer to the successful future of the Orange region in NSW. Absolutely delectable. ◆

EADING off to the school swimming sports is probably not my favourite activity on the school calendar. Piling onto a bus with students brandishing banners and face paint in a frenzy of screaming and laughter while attempting to balance a first aid kit, several litres of sun cream and all of my form group’s permission slips, I think of all the marking sitting waiting for me at home. At least this is a genuine excuse not to touch that pile. “What house are you in, Miss? What house?” “Um, the yellow one.” “How come you’re not wearing any yellow then?” “That is an excellent question… I don’t really have any yellow clothes.” “Lame.” “Wear this, Miss.” And suddenly, I become part of Yellow House, as a yellow ribbon is tied into my hair. I manage to avoid the smear of yellow face paint that rushes towards my cheek. “The ribbon is fine. Thanks.” Frank, our assistant principal, is on bus duty and the intensity of loading the entire school onto buses is now taking its toll. A sweat has broken out across his brow and his pacing between the buses has become frantic, as he clutches a clipboard and a mobile phone that someone has handed in. “How many seats left on this bus? HOW MANY?” The doors shut on his clipboard, sending the mobile tumbling to the ground. We are finally on our way. Arriving at the pool, a carnival atmosphere erupts as Greg the Principal seizes the loudspeaker system to address the school. It takes him a while to work out that no sound is coming out. Once that is rectified, he proceeds to deliver his address in a shout which is further amplified by the loudspeaker and occasionally punctuated with alarming screeches to which he seems completely oblivious. “… swimming… excellent tradition… screeeech… get out of that tree… sun smart…” Year 7s flit about the pool in their bathers and

Year 9 girls strut past again and again on neverending laps of the pool (out of the water, not in). Boys are repeatedly reminded about where it is appropriate to play ball sports and where it is not. Year 12s, suddenly wildly nostalgic about “their last” everything, take numerous pictures and regularly shout out messages to teachers and friends via the loudspeaker system. “We love you, Mr Graham.” “You rock, Miss Driver.” “Happy Birthday, Katrina! She is 18 today!” The splashes of competitors chorus throughout the day as race after race begins. Teachers swap their classroom hats for new roles as line marshals, toilet supervisors, ribbon givers and sun cream patrollers, occasionally managing a conversation with another staff member they haven’t had a chance to chat with since the start of the year. It is a rare thing for teachers to be able to talk with another teacher without interruption. Today is no exception. “What house are you in, Miss? Miss? Miss Adams?” I hold up my yellow ribbon for all to see and I am left alone.◆ Melbourne comedian and teacher Christina Adams looks particularly fetching in lemon-yellow.


New documentary Waiting for “Superman” turns the spotlight on the US education system — and seems to jump to all the wrong conclusions. Nic Barnard AEU News


WO moments among many stick in the memory from Davis Guggenheim’s saccharine polemic, Waiting for “Superman”. In the first, a cutesy cartoon illustrates what the director and his co-writer Billy Kimball see as the golden age of education. “It should be simple — a teacher in a class, filling their children with knowledge and sending them on their way,” the narrator says as the teacher opens up the top of a child’s head and pours in a jug of words. The second is a parallel that verges on the bizarre. Citing the fact that 68% of convicts in Philadelphia dropped out of high school, Guggenheim compares the cost of an average four year sentence with the (cheaper) cost of putting a child through private school. Clearly, he implies, if these prisoners had gone to private school, they would never have offended and the taxpayers would all be better off. Between them, these snippets illustrate both the gulf in understanding and the underlying agenda of Waiting for “Superman”, in which the director of Al Gore’s climate change thesis, An Inconvenient Truth, turns his attention to education. This is a profoundly depressing film; not as it intends — in highlighting the shocking failures of American education or the missed life chances of its children — but in the level to which debate about education has fallen and the capture of arguments by market-driven, private-sector idealogues. Coming as it does from a writer/ director with a progressive background, it’s also something of a Trojan horse. It has attracted media attention and generated acres of debate in the US among the likes of Oprah Winfrey. Here, its messages were quickly jumped on by The Australian and other non-friends of public education and unions.


aeu news | april 2011

In a long, mawkish and at times tedious tour of the US, its conclusions are worryingly simple: unions have destroyed what was apparently the world’s greatest public education system by making it impossible to sack bad teachers; charter schools are the only answer; and performance pay is the way to make teachers pull their fingers out. The film follows five children in different states as they enter a (literal) lottery to get into their local charter school. Into this narrative, it weaves the thread of an argument and interviews with Geoffrey Canada, the charismatic but arrogant teacher-turned-entrepreneur behind the Harlem Success charter schools, tame academics, journalists, reforming school superintendents — everyone in fact except for actual teachers. Guggenheim admits his own guilty secret at the beginning — that despite making a sympathetic film 10 years ago about first-year-out public school teachers, he chose private for his own kids. But what is the secret of the charter schools eulogised in the film? It’s never truly explored, beyond references to a longer teaching day and a belief that every child can succeed — as if most teachers go through their careers conspiring to make children fail. One chain of charter schools seems to have based its entire approach on the example of a teacher who taught her kids in rap to help them remember their multiplication tables. If only success were that simple. As the credits roll, an unfolding text leaves us with an inspirational text — that we already know what works: great teachers, more classroom time, world class standards, and real accountability. If you agree, there’s a number to text. Guggenheim pays lip service to teachers as selfless heroes devoted to their students, but actually seems to believe that most are lazy bums

who’ll only start to work if they’re threatened with the sack or a pay cut. And along the way, he repeatedly misses a different picture. One failing public school is described as one of the most overcrowded in New York; yet funding is apparently not the answer. The charter schools he focuses on show outstanding results — yet as the film admits fleetingly in passing, that’s true of only a handful of charter schools. Furthermore, the students the film focuses on, although often disadvantaged, clearly have motivated and aspirational parents who have taught their kids the importance of education and push them to succeed. The cynical implication that these children are doomed by their failure to win the entrance lottery to a charter school does them a disservice.

Nor does Guggenheim consider the impact of his own middleclass flight on his local public schools — the loss of role models and parental support. What are the lessons for Australia? Our education system is not like America’s, and our political and industrial frameworks are different. But our leaders seem inordinately fond of the American example, and charter school entrepreneurs have never been slow to travel oversees to sell their ideas. Waiting for “Superman” shows that we need to be on our guard. This is a sentimental crowd-pleaser that attempts to win hearts but has nothing useful to say. ◆

HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER Dir: Alexei Popogrebsky 124 mins, rated M

LITTLE PEOPLE Jane Sullivan Scribe $32.95, 352pp



REATHTAKING cinematography is the chief triumph of this interminably slow-moving Russian film about two men posted at a meteorological station on a remote Arctic island. Extreme weather may not be the main danger for the mismatched pair — Sergei (Sergei Puskepalis), the brusque and stoic veteran, and his distracted new offsider Pavel (Grigory Dobrygin), too busy playing video games and listening to heavy metal to keep his mind on the job. Tension builds when Pavel, intimidated by the older man, fails to relay a message that Sergei’s wife and son have suffered an accident. As radio transmissions threaten to inform Sergei of their condition, Pavel turns to increasingly desperate measures to disable the signal. There is a weird beauty in the frozen landscape, but the director doesn’t succeed in portraying tedium without forcing his audience to experience the same. ◆ — RP

HE 19th century Australian tour of a celebrated troupe of performing dwarfs forms the basis for Age columnist Jane Sullivan’s unapologetically melodramatic new novel. When Mary Ann, a pregnant and destitute governess, saves a child from drowning in Melbourne’s Yarra River she is drawn into a world she never could have imagined. Offered work and a secure future for her baby, she finds what appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime turns increasingly sinister, as she becomes caught in the web of petty jealousies and secret agendas rife among the troupe and its entourage. Part fact, mostly invention, Little People is a feat of imagination — a rollicking thriller in which the ordinary intersects with the bizarre. ◆ — RP




AEU NEWS is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at Hachette, black dog books, Text Publishing, and ABC books. To enter, simply email us at by 10am Tuesday, May 3, 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 Boy Who Wasn’t There and The Boy Without a Soul by Michael Panckridge GABRIELLE’S story begins when she wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory. She discovers a voice in her head that tells her she is on a quest. A combination of suspense, mystery, spooky themes, and an intriguing heroine make these must-reads for both young male and female audiences. black dog books, RRP $16.99 George and Ghost by Catriona Hoy, illustrated by Cassia Thomas GEORGE and Ghost are friends, but George isn’t sure he believes in Ghost anymore. How can Ghost prove to George that he is real? In this recently released heartwarming picture book, AEU member Catriona Hoy explores the ups and downs of childhood friendship — whether real or make-believe. Hachette, RRP $16.99

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz FIFTEEN-year-old Katey, aka Kid, goes to school in the Game, an alternative education system run by corporations. Students vie with each other to be sponsored — being “branded” means celebrity status, not to mention financial freedom. But what kind of freedom is it if you’re always being watched? A book about identity and integrity, and the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Text Publishing, RRP $19.95 Let’s Go Wild by Sorrel Wilby, illustrated by Michelle Pike DID YOU know? Tigers have stripy skin as well as stripy fur? Catfish have more tastebuds on their skin than we have in our mouths? Discover everything there is to know about animals and their skin — how they use it to attract or repel, hide or stand out, and stay cool or warm. ABC Books, RRP $12.99

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 1, 2011: The Billionaire’s Curse and The Emerald Casket — Claire Cochrane, Sale College; Dancing in the Dark — Julie Rees, Victorian College for the Deaf; Careful What You Wish For — Anne Stephens, Rosebud Secondary College; The Glasshouse — Allan Storer, Colac Primary School.

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AEU News Issue 2 2011  

The magazine of the AEU Victorian Branch, Issue 2, Term 1, 2011

AEU News Issue 2 2011  

The magazine of the AEU Victorian Branch, Issue 2, Term 1, 2011