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victorian branch

AEU NEWS v o l u m e 15 I i s s u e 5 I a u g u s t 2 0 0 9

The rising cost of


Students working overtime Inside The Pavilion Sub-branch 101 AEU

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

AEU Victorian Branch 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




lections are due for AEU Victorian Branch officers and sector councillors. Official notices will be posted to schools and workplaces to arrive August 3. Branch officer positions open for election are: Branch president Branch deputy president Branch secretary Branch deputy secretary Vice president, primary sector Deputy vice president, primary sector Vice president, secondary sector Deputy vice president, secondary sector Vice president, TAFE and adult provision sector Deputy vice president, TAFE and adult provision sector Vice president, early childhood sector Deputy vice president, early childhood sector Nominations open on August 3 and close on August 31. Electoral material must be submitted to the Australian Electoral Commission by September 7. Ballots, if required, will open on Monday, October 5 and close at 10am on October 26. Nomination forms will be available from the AEC and the AEUVB. Official notices and nomination forms will also be posted on the AEUVB website at

AEU OH&S conference 14 AUGUST 2009

at AEU Building, 112 Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford 9.00am-4.00pm Register by 6 August at 2

aeu news | august 2009

cover story

The rising cost of TAFE


TAFE student Rachel Hall and friends face rising debts thanks to Brumby’s skills reforms. But most Victorians are unaware of the new fee hikes.

features sub-braNch 101

COVER IMAGE: Thom Rigney




Sub-branches are the foundation of the AEU. But what’s the key to a successful sub-branch?

Full-time study and part-time work leaves many students open to exploitation.

Victoria is to become a national laboratory for new program Teach for Australia.

Tips for a great Students working Learn to teach AEU sub-branch overtime in six weeks!

Inside The Pavilion


Open for just two years, The Pavilion School is earning a reputation for success as a last resort for excluded and at risk students.

regulars 3 4 11 23 25

president’s report letters christina adams women’s focus on the phones

27 28 29 30 31

safety matters classifieds international culture 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 GEON on Re Art Matt 100% Recycled Paper. Free to AEU members. Subscription rate: $60 per annum. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the AEU News are those of the authors/members and are not necessarily the official policy of the AEU (Victorian Branch). Contents © AEU Victorian Branch. Contributed articles, photographs and illustrations are © their respective authors. No reproduction without permission.

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president’s report

Gillard’s lab rats

The Brumby Government has turned Victoria into a laboratory for Julia Gillard’s agenda of ill-conceived and badly implemented reforms. It’s time to stand up in opposition.


an agenda that has been embraced pre-eminent and virtually universal. Gillard’s agenda HE Rudd Government was elected by the Federal Government but has Our Federal Government by The federal election will be held late on a promise that education been resisted by other states and contrast turns to lowly ranked OECD next year unless the PM decides to was its number one priority. To be territories (see page 5). nations — the United States and UK go early. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard fair, after the dark Howard years of Our TAFE 4 All campaign exposes — for its education inspiration. want to enter any campaign retaining attacks and under-funding for public the flaws in this agenda and the Consequently, we are trialling their government’s “Education education, we have seen significant impact it will have on our most disad“Teach for Australia” which takes Priority 1” status. reinvestment. vantaged students and communities. so-called high performing graduates, Unfortunately, what is emerging Despite some problems in gives them a six week summer in its education policy is a mixture implementation, the computers for Time to stand up school, and places them in our most of quick fixes, cheap options and secondary schools program and the With a state election also due in disadvantaged schools with the aim populist, simplistic policies. Equally Building the Education Revolution of making a significant difference (see November next year, the AEU will alarming is that Victoria is willingly stimulus package for primary and stake out an agenda for the future pages 5 and 18). becoming Gillard’s guinea pig. secondary schools represent the of public education that challenges Victoria is also road-testing so We are in the forefront of trialling greatest federal investment in school the State Government to match its called “performance pay” models. a range of Federal Government education ever. AEU PREFERRED PROVIDERS rhetoric that public education is its These trials focus on “whole school” initiatives which have more to do with Also welcome has been the number one priority. or “individual teacher” reward politics than any genuine Education reversal of funding priorities, with The Federal Government faces schemes. The AEU supports what Revolution. public education receiving around the same challenge from the AEU we have called professional pay 70% of the total investment for these Bothhundreds governments be who satisfy Quality teaching initiatives. Retirement Victoria advisersforareteachers acknowledged experts“highly in State Super andfederally. have assisted of AEUwill members pressed to develop policies which accomplished” teacher criteria. Finland, a country consistently at There is more funding for primary deliver real and sustained improveThe Victorian Government trials are the top of OECD tables in terms of students and promised increases for ments for public education. ◆ for security all students, socio-economic disadvantage — and education outcomes and social systems. focused on one-off payments rather than an aspirational model that again, government schools will be the can tell us much about what is Cooper, Geoff Allen & Staff is endorsed and assessed by the needed. It does not have national major Alan recipients. Level 3/432given St Kilda Road, Melbournetesting. 3004 Its teachers have high qualifi- profession. The priority to early Alan Cooper, Geoffjudgement Allen & Staff are Authorised Representatives of Retirement Victoria and In TAFE, the State Government is are the AEU’s preferred providers of retirement planning childhood is also welcomed. cations, their professional Visiteducation us at and services to AEU members. Retirement Victoria Partnership ABN 13 409 340 986 AFSL 273316. again in the forefront of implementing is respected, and public education is However, alarm bells are ringing. AEU Vic branch president


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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: 17 August, 2009.

End of semester dreams WAITING at the bus stop; busses go by full of happy people but none stops for you. Bus finally stops and driver is nervous, doesn’t know where he is going and neither do you. Trip is bumpy and he dumps you somewhere in the dark; very scary. You don’t know where you are, how long till another bus arrives or even if there is another bus. Your dream may use a car, train or even a bike instead of a bus. They all represent your journey in life. You may be stuck on one side of a bridge and you can’t get over. If you’re on a boat then you’re really stressed, as water represents your emotion. Or your car is close to the edge of a cliff, your train is running off the rails or your bike has a flat and you don’t where the pump is. Does any of this sound familiar? For many of us in TAFE, this is our usual dream state at the end of semester. Advice: 1. Lots of chocolate (to help you feel loved). 2. Lots of wine (if the chocolate doesn’t work). And when you go to bed, repeat this affirmation: “My life is full of exciting possibilities, I am worthy, I am safe.” And dream of dancing gaily over that bridge. — Name withheld William Angliss TAFE

across Victoria during the campaign. Let’s hope the AEU can achieve the same success with the campaign against the skills reforms, student fees and loss of concessions. Of our current 130 Diploma of Community Welfare students, 67 receive concessions. Most, when asked in informal focus groups, said that they would not have had the confidence to attempt the course with greater fees or incur a debt when they did not think they had the ability to complete it. In our course the concession students comprise sole parents, Newstart and low-income students, disability pensioners, family tax benefit, and age pensioners. The increased fees and income contingency loans are a psychological and real barrier. — Norah Hosken Gordon Institute of TAFE

Pike scapegoats teachers Education Minister Bronwyn Pike’s warning to teachers and principals on the issue of publishing performance data is a strategic attempt to deflect debate from the Brumby Government’s inadequate resourcing and support for struggling government schools. The minister claims that there are some schools where teachers have “such low expectations” that student “results had plateaued” and that the community has a “moral obligation” to address this. I dare say that the minister is aware that infrastructure in Why we need TAFE for all schools is so poor that, for example, Thank you to the AEU team at the I have been unable to teach in one of Gordon TAFE and the whole AEU my classrooms. for the hard work and campaign for At the height of summer in 2007, the pay rise and back pay. Given the my Year 10 students would refuse to changed economic climate it was a enter the classroom. Claustrophobic particularly good win! I thought the size, excessive heat and lack of AEU campaign was excellent with the TV ads, written material, meetings and ventilation or air-conditioning created protest marches being well researched a situation whereby students refused to follow instructions and participate and organised. I saw the value in my in learning. membership. As a teacher who has On less “heated” occasions, worked in what has at times been a stressful, under-resourced and under- a cohort of six to eight of these students became increasingly dysfuncvalued position it was an amazing tional. When these behaviours increase feeling to be with other teachers


aeu news | august 2009

in frequency and infect the rest of the student body they become serious problems. They create a palpably hostile environment that is detrimental to the welfare of the rest of the class and the teacher. It becomes impossible to achieve “results” for these students because in short they don’t care. The educational buzzword now is “student engagement”. But what happens when you spend unpaid hours reinventing the curriculum to make it more interesting for these students and matters improve only marginally? Ms Pike, to call me “naïve and paternalistic” on the matter of transparency is a little below the mark. — Jenny Caust Taylors Lakes Secondary college Mergers on the record RE: THE article “40,000 Strong” (AEU News, June 2009). First, congratulations to the union on achieving the 40,000-member milestone. Second, there is an error in the article regarding the organisations that existed at the point of merger. The fourth last paragraph refers to the levels of membership “at the point of merger with the TTUV, VTU and Kindergarten Teachers in 1996.” The merger, in mid-1995, was of the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria (FTUV) and the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association (VSTA). The Victorian Teachers Union (VTU) and the Technical Teachers Union of Victoria (TTUV) had merged to form the FTUV in 1990. Thus, the VTU and TTUV had not existed for five years at the time the FTUV and VSTA merged to form the AEU Vic Branch. Later in 1995 the Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria (KTAV) joined the AEU Vic Branch. — Peter Lord, Richmond West PS

Kinder surprise I am writing to congratulate the early childhood team on the successful outcome of negotiations over pay and conditions for early childhood teachers. I am so pleased at the outcome, and to see my first-year grad colleague’s look of delight was very rewarding. Now I just have to get her to join the union. And to all those other teachers out there who are pleased — join up now and financially and morally support the great work everyone does at Trenerry Crescent for our benefit. This success does not come out of thin air. There are many years of work behind the scenes to achieve this. The outcome is so timely. The early childhood sector has great and gifted teachers, and now we can offer the rewards to those new grads who hesitated in the past when choosing which path to take. Rightly, many went into primary schools because of the better pay and conditions. The early childhood sector councillors will all feel very pleased as I know they too have worked long and hard to achieve this outcome. Thankyou all. — Pauline Nowlan St Albans North Preschool Fight this creeping competition Whatever has happened to our union? As a young state secondary teacher in the early 70s, I took part in strong action by the VSTA to ensure that all state secondary teachers were properly prepared, with both academic and teacher training, to best cope with the rigours of our profession. This was not an easy action. Its success, however, has been enjoyed by the profession ever since. We now see our union’s acquiescence to a scheme designed to put graduates with six weeks’ teacher

Editor’s note: Apologies for these errors.

continued on page 6 ➠


Public turns on Brumby over TAFE Advertising condemned as coalition grows against TAFE fee hikes. Nic Barnard AEU News


HE Victorian Government’s $16 million propaganda campaign for its skills reforms has left the public unaware that TAFE fees are being almost tripled and concession rates abolished, an AEU survey has found. The survey of 1000 Victorians, published as the AEU launches its TAFE 4 All campaign with a growing coalition of community, student and education groups, also showed the huge depth of public support for the TAFE system. Only one in five respondents knew that fees for diplomas and advanced diplomas had risen from $950 to $1,500 on July 1 and will rise further to $2,500 by 2012 — almost tripling in three years. A massive 68% had heard nothing of the changes, which also include HECS-style loans, abolition of many concession rates and the charging of full fees for many students. Opposition to the increased fees was 77%. Four out of 10 TAFE students are currently eligible for concession rates. The findings came as The Age revealed that the Brumby Government had spent $16m to spruik its skills reforms, touting wider access and more courses. The spending was condemned by AEU TAFE sector vice HOL 527 AEU Ad02 3/7/06 president Gillian Robertson.

“TAFE has been screaming for funding for the past decade,” she said. “Victoria has had the most under-funded TAFE system in Australia for 10 years and here is the Government spending a whopping $16m on advertising.” Students at Chisholm TAFE have reacted to the government ads — which use the slogan “my piece of paper” to promote qualifications — with their own piece of paper: a cheque showing a $10,000 debt. It highlights that students who already have a diploma or degree will have to pay the full cost of taking further diploma courses. Fees can exceed $10,000, putting retraining and specialisation out of reach for many. RMIT’s highly regarded professional writing course is already understood to be at risk. Chisholm community development and social welfare diploma student Rachel Hall said: “Our course is a really great course, but it really is a foundation for our learning, it’s a springboard. Students know they will have to go and do other studies but they’ll be penalised hard. “There are a lot of single mothers on my course and they’re trying to educate themselves out of the welfare system. How the Government can justify taking away the concession 1:25 rates,PM I don’tPage know.”1

The AEU survey also found: • 94% agree that a well-funded TAFE system is essential to ensure every Australian has access to quality vocational and further education • 93% said TAFE fees need to be low to ensure access for all • 88% said TAFE funding needed to rise during an

Rachel Hall

economic crisis. Only 5% agreed with the Government that the reforms would increase demand for places — 66% said it would reduce it. ◆

Join our campaign for TAFE 4 All


AFE 4 All is the rallying cry for a growing coalition opposing the Brumby Government’s skills reforms — and we need you to get involved. The AEU is taking the campaign to TAFE colleges and secondary school campuses across Victoria to highlight the damaging impact of the reforms on students. And we have launched a new website — — to give voice to the growing coalition of opposition, encourage action and provide briefings and campaign resources. And the campaign is on Facebook and Twitter — just search for TAFE4All. Brumby’s reforms shift the cost of TAFE onto those who can afford it least. They don’t just affect TAFE teachers and students — secondary students are next in line. Melbourne City Mission and the Brotherhood of St Laurence are among those working with us, recognising that the people they work with will be hardest hit by the reforms. The union movement is on board — cutting access for disadvantaged students will worsen the skills shortage and hit industry. Check out our website, sign up for updates and join us on Facebook and Twitter. There’s a petition to circulate, and regular actions to take part in to spread the word. Join us in the fight for TAFE 4 All. ◆

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Numbers CouNt

Bushfire schools climbing back Ruth Konig Yea High School


N FRIDAY June 5, a group of Year 9 boys from Yea High School travelled to Rubicon Outdoor Education Centre for a day of challenge and fun. The day’s activities were subsidised by an AEU grant aimed at helping students in bushfireaffected schools. Immediately on arrival they were instructed in safety procedures and climbing techniques. The climbing tower may not look all that high, but it certainly tests both strength and ingenuity. This is an activity where you learn to double-check everything and trust your mates on the safety ropes. Fire has closed the Cathedral Park, so “real rock” was not available, but all techniques learned can be used for bush settings.

All the boys found the day very satisfying and even the beginners were soon attempting the more difficult climbs. We are making good use of our AEU grant, with excursions to two films and a rock concert in Moonee Ponds that was partly funded by young people from that region. These are just normal happy events with friends that help us cope with the ongoing stresses of winter in this area when charcoal turns to chill. Two more ambitious activities are in preparation. One is the Youth Leadership Conference in Sydney. An AEU subsidy has again assisted the school to send two students to this event.

We have a winner!


A Yea HS student on the Rubicon climbing wall.

The second is the involvement of two Flowerdale students in an Arts in the Community project, “Meet, Merge and Meld”, involving all fire-affected areas. The project explores the possibilities of music, drama, art and writing in community recovery. It is hard to overestimate the role of schools in these bushfire areas. They are centres of normality and safety and, in small towns, a source of hope for the future. ◆

RISH Chandler, education support rep at Lyndhurst Secondary College, is the winner of our ES Numbers Count recruitment competition, receiving $1000 in cash. The campaign consolidates the recent surge in ES membership, with over 1,500 ES staff joining the AEU so far this year. Trish recruited new member Chris Minch, who was attracted by the AEU’s pro rata fees for part-time employees. Trish, who works as careers and welfare assistant among other things, tells potential members that her AEU fees “pay for themselves” with the assistance she gets from the union.◆

Letters continued training in front of classes in “hard to staff” schools. What a slap in the face for the rest of us … What a disservice to those students! But that’s OK, I suppose, because instead of having colleagues in our schools constructively co-operating in the task of educating the state’s youth, we will have employees being encouraged to competitively outclimb their co-workers through the ranks. Such will obviously be the outcome of the push to selectively reward those seen as being better at training their students for success in a battery of national tests. And do we


aeu news | august 2009

see our union’s anger at this major re-alignment? Furthermore, the subsequent facility for abuse of such tests’ results to construct the inevitable league tables of schools has been meekly accepted by our union. While accepting that I am just an old fart, I am still increasingly dismayed by the demise of my profession as assisted by the studied inaction of its once strong, relevant and respected union. — Linton Baker, Kallista Editor’s note: See pages 3, 7, 9, 10, 18, 19 and 30

Certifiable I have taught at Gipps TAFE for 22 years in the further education sector and have a degree, a diploma in education and am undertaking a Masters in Education. I was disappointed to find out that I would have to obtain a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment as the TAFE funding bodies require the same base level qualification for all staff. For those of us with higher level qualifications, we have been able to deflect this nonsense with union backing in the past. But not this time. I am very disappointed that there is

no union protection on this issue. It is a nonsense that staff with many years of experience and relevant qualifications need this qualification. We live in topsy-turvy times! Government is pushing students towards higher qualifications, and teachers to more base qualifications! Make sense of this. — Persephone Minglis Community Access Centre Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE Editor’s note: The TAFE Agreement stipulates Certificate IV or equivalent and allows for recognition of prior learning.


Launch pad — out of teaching

Questions are being raised about the Teach For Australia scheme. Nic Barnard AEU News


HE hook is an invitation to address Indigenous underachievement — but the pay-off is all about polishing your CV, building contacts and launching a career outside teaching. Welcome to the Teach For Australia website, the first port of call for bushy-tailed graduates considering a couple of years in teaching without doing the degree. Recruiting would-be teachers — or “associates” as they are called in the scheme to get round objections that they are unqualified to teach — may be the least of the problems. AEU News understands that department officals are concerned about the lack of interest from schools and are scaling back their original target of 160 recruits over two years. And reports from the UK – on whose Teach First scheme the program is modelled — have given the lie to the claim that it benefits disadvantaged students and under-performing schools. The Times Educational Supplement reports that a study by independent researchers Education Data Surveys found some of England’s most successful schools are among those taking part.

“The study shows Teach First is not operating in the worst-performing secondaries in London, and in many cases graduates are in schools where (exam) results are above the national or local average,” the TES reports. Teach First was intended to put graduates of the UK’s best universities into schools where less than a quarter of 16-year-olds met national exam benchmarks, or more than 30% met low socioeconomic status indicators. The Australian website makes similar claims to address disadvantage. “Seven in 10 Indigenous students fail basic literacy tests — you can change this,” its front page exhorts. But inside, children are curiously absent, there are no descriptions of classroom life and the site seems more excited by the fact that business leaders rate TFA graduates as ideal recruits. “Alumni (in the UK and US) … have gone on to set up charities domestically and internationally; write books and explore the creative arts; have fulfilling careers in law, medicine, commerce and many other areas,” it says. Tellingly, three out of the five case studies have already left teaching. The site also promises “full salary and benefits” — without mentioning that it’s not a full teaching

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salary (graduates are paid as paraprofessionals). AEU branch president Mary Bluett said the site showed that TFA was really an expensive political stunt, not a serious attempt to address teacher shortages or underachievement. “These graduates aren’t expected to stick around.” ◆ Learn to teach in six weeks! Page 18

Partnership grants S

CHOOLS are invited to apply for awards of up to $50,000 under a $5 million national program co-founded by the Australian Council for Educational Research to promote community partnerships. The Schools First program is based on ACER research which shows that successful partnerships lead to improved student outcomes. Schools need to demonstrate that they are involved in or developing a school–community partnership that improves student outcomes. The deadline for applications is August 14 — forms are at ◆

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Roving ambassadors Rachel Power AEU News


TS reputation as a green school attracted the likes of Rove McManus, Ryan Shelton and several AFL football players to North Fitzroy Primary this year as part of the National Schools Tree Day. Students made sure the celebrities got their hands dirty, helping them plant over 300 new shrubs and grasses. It is one of many programs taken up by the five-star sustainable school,

which undertook the three-year accreditation process as part of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI). Working closely with Eric Bottomley, CERES Sustainability Projects team leader, the school focused on reducing energy and water consumption, minimising waste and increasing biodiversity. The school has implemented almost every environmental initiative available — from flow restrictors in toilets and worm farms, to developing a sustainability curriculum and running parent sustainability surveys.

Join the AEU Environmental Network


he AEU is setting up a members e-newsletter on environmental matters, keeping you informed of initiatives in your workplaces and in your union, and giving you a chance to share what is happening where you work. The AEU is aware of the high level of interest from members in environmental issues, ranging from international developments in the lead-up to December’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen, to Australia’s own climate change legislation, to — most importantly — the programs and curriculum initiatives happening day-by-day in our own schools and workplaces. Your environmental e-news will include up-to-date information on current issues affecting members and their workplaces. We would also welcome input from members to highlight the work you are undertaking locally or issues that you are interested in. To join our environment email group, please send your email address to If you have any questions please ring Meredith Peace at the AEU on (03) 9417 2822. ◆

Helping those with depression


NE in five people in Australia will be affected by depression in their lifetime, and teachers and education workers are no exception. DepressioNet ( is an organisation that helps those living with depression. Peer support services operate around the clock, led by trained facilitators who use online communication forums and discussion rooms to provide a safe and supportive environment where people can share experiences, compassion and understanding. DepressioNet is expanding and needs more peer support facilitators. If you’d like to help, using your teaching experiences, please email or call Jennifer or Tom on (03) 9428 2229. ◆


aeu news | august 2009

The school has three tanks to collect rainwater, donated by a parent, which are used to irrigate the school’s grounds and a flourishing vegetable garden maintained by a lunchtime gardening club. Students and staff are now well versed in switching off lights and computers, and carrying out “door and window regimes” to maximize cross-flow ventilation. But now that it is five-star accredited, the school is committed to finding new ways to reduce its impact and learn about sustainability, says teacher David Ruddick. Part of this is moving beyond local issues to think global, helping developing nations as

Rove McManus and Ryan Shelton at North Fitzroy PS for tree planting day

part of National Water Week. Having set up an EYT (Extend Your Talents) Green Team and ELF (Environmental Leaders of the Future) program, the school is currently developing its own North Fitzroy PS Environment Policy. Students are urged to ride or walk to school, and develop awareness of the importance of conserving energy and using less fossil fuels. The school also offsets the amount of carbon used in getting students to and from excursions and camps, gaining a massive five tonnes worth of carbon credits last year. ◆

Green schools symposium


ELBOURNE University’s Smart Green Schools project will host a symposium on October 29-31 exploring issues around how pedagogies and learning spaces are evolving. The Talking Spaces Symposium will comprise presentations, site visits and a practical workshop to assist educators to further their understanding of the role of physical learning spaces in relation to teaching styles. For more information, email Julie Rudner, Smart Green Schools symposium co-ordinator, at or call 0438 783 637. ◆

Building hope Press Watch got all excited when we saw the headline on the front page of The Age — “Rudd to rush legislation aimed at building unions.” About time too, we thought — Labor should be doing much more to build the union movement. Then we read on and realised Kevin was actually sticking the boot into construction unions. We can live with the despair. It’s the hope we can’t stand… Transparently obvious The Australian, already the ideological wing of the league tables crusade, has been almost as noisy over the push to drop import restrictions on books. The Aus is rightly a fearsome opponent of vested interests, but is less forthcoming in pointing out the big winners from its pet causes — the papers who can expect big circulation boosts from tables and multi-national publishing houses like, er, Rupert’s News Corp. As Julia might say, more transparency please! u


School facing front

Climate truth now more convenient

The AEU’s Meredith Peace has been trained to deliver Al Gore’s famous climate change presentation. Rachel Power AEU News


L GORE has a new ambassador — the AEU’s Meredith Peace. The AEU secondary sector vice president was last month trained to give his famous climate change presentation as part of Gore’s Climate Project. Peace will be giving the presentation — an updated version of the material that formed the former US vice president’s film An Inconvenient Truth — at schools, AEU meetings and other forums. Gore has updated his slide show, and tailored it to the Asia-Pacific region. Peace said it had left her more concerned about the growing impact of climate change but also optimistic about the capacity to turn things around. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that change was happening much more rapidly than previously thought. “The scary thing was how much things have deteriorated,” Peace said of Gore’s presentation to trainees. But Gore also gave examples of other dramatic world events and made the point that humans have found ways to address them and move forward. “The overarching view was that we already have the technology to deal with the problem.” Gore was in Melbourne for The Climate Project


ATHERINE Ruhl, sub-branch rep at Concord specialist P-12 school in Bundoora, is Rep of the Month for her commitment in keeping channels open between staff, union and management and winning ongoing positions for contract employees. A member since 1974 Catherine is “passionate about her beliefs in the union movement and very professional in the way she undertakes her role as a rep,” says AEU organiser Kim Daly. Central to this, says Catherine, is making herself available to staff.

Nominate your REP!

Asia-Pacific Summit, and appeared optimistic about the prospects of a positive global agreement in Copenhagen in December. He also launched a new non-government organisation Safe Climate Australia at a breakfast of 1000 Australian leaders. “The debate has shifted since An Inconvenient Truth and there is greater acceptance of climate change, so people are looking for solutions and a positive message,” Peace said. “As a union we’re excited to have a role to play in this.” Peace has also been invited by ACTU president Sharan Burrow to be a leader in getting the message out to the union movement. “I think first and foremost we have to start taking this seriously. We’ve been talking for a long time, but now we’re at crunch point. For me, now, it’s about doing something about it and playing a role. I try to do things in my personal life but I want to start using my position in the union to get to people and talk to them.” ◆

Peace talks

Meredith’s first public presentation of the Climate Project slideshow will be at a special AEU members’ forum on August 26, 4.30-6.00pm.

“Everyone knows that, if they are a member of the union, they can come to me with any issues and I will get back to them within 24 hours.” She makes a point of being discrete, “so people know their problems won’t go any further”. Catherine says that, with the school administration supportive of the union, her role as sub-branch rep is recognised as one of the duties in the school. She organises Daly to attend a staff meeting once a year to “talk

Andy Moffat and Sue Werner


ISITORS to Spensley Street Primary School in Clifton Hill are left in no doubt where staff stand on the issue of public education. The 100% AEU school has hung its “Public education: Australia’s future” campaign board by the entrance. The signs have been distributed to schools across the nation as part of the federal AEU’s For Our Future campaign for fair funding. Spensley Street sub-branch president Andy Moffat said it was a sad indictment that such a statement needed to be made. “I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t say public education is Australia’s future,” he said. He added: “We’re supposed to be the land of the fair go, and where else does that start but with public education? Otherwise you’re stuck with the class system and the old school tie.” ◆

openly” to the whole school. Kim says Catherine “has an excellent relationship with leadership in terms of bringing up AEU issues”. “She achieved a particularly good outcome last year in relation to translation to ongoing. She also attends all regional meetings and brings others along.” Catherine posts the agenda and minutes for sub-branch meetings on SharePoint, and keeps an AEU information folder up-to-date. ◆

Catherine Ruhl Concord School

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



Labor’s double talk on tables A

ustralian Labor governments have duped parents and teachers about the introduction of school league tables. The publication of tables by the Hobart Mercury and the Brisbane Courier-Mail last May shows what we can expect from now on. Soon, there will be a national league table and each state and territory will have a table of its own. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard assured the public that “silly” and “simplistic” league tables would not be introduced in Australia. These assurances were backed up by state Labor education ministers. They have been exposed as completely false and disingenuous. Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett claimed in a media release last October that publishing individual school results “is not about ranking schools or creating league tables”. Yet, this is precisely what happened only six months after his assurance was given. The Mercury simply used the school results published on the Tasmanian Department of Education website to construct its league table. The department’s table was enthusiastically endorsed by Julia Gillard when it was introduced [The Australian, November 1, 2008]. Rod Welford, Queensland Education Minister until recently, said last year that the Queensland Government unequivocally rejected league tables because they are “misleading and deceptive” [The Australian, May 13, 2008]. Yet the CourierMail was able to draw on school results published on the Queensland Department of Education website for its league table. There is more to come. Victorian Education Minster Bronwyn Pike said last year that league tables aren’t helpful because they can unfairly stigmatise schools [ABC Radio National, AM, August 11, 2008] and she didn’t want parents to have access to comparisons between schools [The Age, August 17, 2008]. However, last month she announced that the Victorian Government will publish the results of all schools. Other state government ministers said they opposed league tables, but have fallen into line behind Rudd and Gillard without even a whimper. NSW Education Minister Verity Firth said that she opposed league tables [Sydney Morning Herald, June 6], but


aeu news | august 2009

Education ministers from Darwin to Hobart have voiced their opposition to league tables while putting in place the means — and even the laws — to create them.

proceeded to amend the Education Act to allow their publication. Her predecessor, John Della Bosca, said last year that league tables were a “silly idea” [The Australian, May 13, 2008]. While she was education minister, NSW Deputy Premier, Carmel Tebbutt, refused to comply with then Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson’s demand that NSW publish school rankings [Sydney Morning Herald, October 31, 2005]. Now, her

government has rushed to submit. South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith has repeatedly stated she is opposed to league tables [The Australian, May 13, 2008; The Advertiser, June 24 and 26, 2007]. Yet, she too has caved in feebly. ACT Education Minister Andrew Barr simply denied reality. Just weeks after the publication of league tables in Tasmania and Queensland, he said that fears that the Federal Government’s program to publish school results would lead to school league tables were unfounded [ABC News, May 29]. He also said he was opposed to league tables despite agreeing to provide the information that would enable them to be published [media release, June 24]. The fact is that all school results will soon be published in tables on centralised government websites both state and national. These tables will provide the raw material for ranking of school results by newspapers and other organisations around Australia. Labor ministers cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim to be opposed to league tables while providing the information to enable their publication. They cannot wash their hands of responsibility for the introduction of league tables in Australia. They are collectively culpable. ◆ Trevor Cobbold is national convenor of the public education lobby group Save Our Schools.

Cartoon © Pope/The Canberra Times

Trevor Cobbold Save Our Schools


Queensland Queensland Teachers Union suspended its program of industrial action as AEU News went to press, in anticipation of a new pay offer. Despite negotiations that began last November, pay remains the sticking point for a new agreement — the State Government had threatened to reduce its offer to just 2.5% if no deal is reached by September. The union had also imposed a series of work bans, including non-co-operation with a series of government initiatives. Ministers attempted to portray the bans as hitting disadvantaged students. QTU has responded by calling for a public debate on education funding and disadvantage in the state. Tasmania AEU branch president Leanne Wright has condemned the “obscene irony” of wealthy students having access to luxury school sports and recreational facilities thanks to “the poor (who) help them do it through the taxes they pay”. In a speech to the Fabian Society, she contrasted recent adverts for private schools with a state school that closed its sports ground because of dangerous cracks. She praised Tasmanian public schools for producing independentthinking, tolerant and high-achieving students, but said: “Most Australian children are being educated on a shoe string.” Northern Territory The AEU has won back pay for relief teachers in a conciliation hearing in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The NT Government had claimed that relief teachers were not covered by the new agreement that came into effect in December and which included back pay to July 2008. Relief teachers employed in government schools on December 11 have now been invited to claim the back pay. ◆

When fear stalks the staffroom T

HERE are certain times of the year that partners and children of teachers must dread. Times when even the calmest, most rational of teachers turn into acid-spitting, venomous time bombs best avoided at all costs. The best time to stay away from a teacher is report writing time. Staring down the barrel of reports, the atmosphere in the staff room is tense. Students appear to walk more quietly past teachers in corridors than at other times of year, as if they, too, can sense the danger. The core of the stress and tension can be found within the staffroom. Outbursts of frustration with the reporting program fill the air and many teachers can be seen huddled over great piles of marking, attempting to finish grading assessment tasks before typing up the reports themselves. Debora from the office, secretary of the tea and coffee club, can’t keep up with the rapidly emptying tins of coffee and is frantically posting reminders to make sure payments are up to date or else she is going to have to dip into petty cash. The latest victim of a computer malfunction is being consoled in the corner with cups of tea and intermittently curses her predicament by kicking at the pile of marking in a recyclable supermarket bag at her feet. No one can find the IT staff and no one can work out how to retrieve the missing reports from Sandra’s hard drive. Dave the maintenance guy had a go when he came in for a coffee and, for a while, he and Con the woodwork teacher hovered over the laptop, willing it to find all of

7A’s reports. Even Greg the principal tried to help out before admitting he usually asks his teenage son for help with his technological problems. As D-Day comes ever closer, teachers are propped all over the school, proofreading their colleague’s reports, correcting them and ducking for cover after placing them into pigeon holes for reworking. Greg calls everyone into the staff room over the loudspeaker, the day before reports are due to be collated. Muffins on trays fill every available space. Greg takes centre stage, fidgeting with his tie, clearing his throat, and calls for everybody’s attention. “This is just a small token of recognition for how hard everyone is working at the moment. So, enjoy.” Greg retrieves his partially consumed orange and poppyseed muffin from behind the staffroom computer where he had hidden it when the bell rang (well, there weren’t many orange and poppyseed ones, and he didn’t want to miss out). Students hovering at the staffroom door are ignored as the feeding frenzy begins. Brenda, who is only halfway through her reports, stockpiles four muffins on a napkin and barrels out the door, sending kids flying. Report writing is a dangerous time best survived with copious amounts of caffeine and cake. You have been warned. ◆ Christina Adams is a Melbourne teacher and comedian, but I wouldn’t ask her to tell you a joke right now, I really wouldn’t.

Join us at the


Teachers Games

hinking about the next term break? Why not join your colleagues at the Teachers Games in Bairnsdale on September 20–23. The AEU is a major sponsors of the games, which have become a highlight in the education calendar. We will provide all participants with an

AEU drink bottle and sports towel. Plus we’ll be hosting a range of social events for AEU members so you can meet your union, its staff and leadership and your fellow members, and have a sausage and a beer on us. There is a full program of events, from running, cycling and swimming

to the leisurely pursuits of fishing and lawn bowls, plus team sports including basketball and netball. AEU members at the games will be eligible for a range of prizes and drink vouchers to assist with the fun. Register now at ◆



Respect your It’s early days, but a new facility for at-risk and excluded students is earning results and attracting awards. Rachel Power on The Pavilion School’s mix of teaching, social work — and respect. Jimmy Moorehead and Josie Howie at The Pavilion School


EACHER Brendan Murray is handing out copies of a Franz Kafka short story to The Pavilion School’s all-girl class of half-a-dozen Year 9/10 students. One girl wanders back to the computers. Another insists that she can’t read. Almost all declare that there’s no way they can manage the dense-looking text. Meanwhile social worker Jimmy is pacing the room, phoning kids to remind them they have a class on, and dealing with a posse of girls who drop off a friend and proceed to hang around outside. It’s Monday. Brendan has spent the weekend liaising with the police on behalf of a 15-year-old boy whose mother was locked up and has spent the past four days at home alone. Jimmy has already picked up some kids from home and done the food shopping for another. “The all-girl class is very relaxing,” one student tells AEU News. “I love it when we do Brendan’s nails.” “And he makes the best coffee,” adds another. Brendan rolls his eyes. Food and coffee, internet access, painting the teacher’s nails — the Pavilion will do whatever it takes to keep its students at school. For


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the majority, it is their last chance to stay in the system. Eventually the banter subsides and Brendan draws everyone back to the circle. “No one has to read. I’ll read it and you can listen. This is usually Year 11 or 12 level, but I know you can do it.”

❛ We have to have really high expectations of these kids... We’re not strict; we’re tough — but always nice. ❜ He is determined to get his students to see what they’re capable of. “We have to have really high expectations of these kids,” he explains. “Someone has to. We’re not strict; we’re tough — but always nice. There

is only one rule: you’ve got to be respectful.” Brendan established the Pavilion School with social worker Josie Howie in 2007, following pressure from the local community to deal with disengaged kids. The education department region gave them 20 days to enrol 20 kids, working out of a room at Northland Youth Centre. Fifty local kids “put up their hands” to say they were interested, and around 30 of those became the school’s first cohort. Since then, the school has educated 140 kids, and is about to introduce VCE subjects. “Having worked for so long with at-risk kids in the sector, I could never find appropriate educational options for them,” says Josie. “They were always being rejected or failing, or isolated in some way.” While anyone can approach the school, The Pavilion does not accept kids who can get along in a community, mainstream school or TAFE setting. “We find kids among that sub-culture of at-risk youth,” says Josie. “The main criterion is their willingness to participate. It’s not a drop-in centre.” The alternative setting is attached to Banksia–La Trobe Secondary College, using a social work and education model side by side, with equal weight given to both approaches. Now located off site in a West Heidelberg sports pavilion, the school has recently been recognised by two awards: a federal Closing the Gap award, for building the relationship between its Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and the 2009 Victorian Educational Excellence Award for outstanding secondary teacher for Brendan’s achievements in educating marginalised kids. Central to the school’s strategy is relationship-based teaching. “We need to create a secure attachment, prove that we are reliant, respectful and trustworthy, and provide lots of positive reinforcement to build their confidence, before these kids can go on to succeed,” says Brendan. Rather than start the school year in class, the Pavilion staff have one-on-one meetings with the students for three weeks before the school term begins. “We can kick the footy or go to Macca’s. That’s when we find out how they’re linked in with Centrelink, who’s at home, who’s cooking

feature study

rself — those basic things that go a long way. It means when the class starts, it runs like clockwork.” Josie says a lot of emotional counselling and motivational, solution-focused therapy are the keys. “The kids have often gone from mainstream to a community or alternative school to distance education before they get here,” she says. “Most

❛ We tell these kids, under no circumstances are we ever going to expel you, so you need to respect that. ❜ have two or three schools under their belt and lots of failure. “We get them to focus on the things that they’re good at and setting goals. We tell them that it’s the system that’s let them down and they’ll do great with us.” Brendan says the school is able to meet the basic curriculum requirements fairly rapidly, freeing up time to bolster students’ education with classes in drug and alcohol education, in the law and their rights or in parenting skills, which they link to relevant VELS subject areas. “We’ve become really good at getting outcomes for VCAL,” says Brendan. “We’ve learned to be confident enough to adapt the curriculum to the kids’ interests. I feel like a miracle worker when we look at the data.” The Pavilion works with each student to make an entirely individualised timetable. “We look at their educational opportunities first — completing VCAL or Year 7/8 VELS — alongside the case management,” says Josie. “We’re flexible so that we can work with whatever the kids can manage.” The school operates with a reduced timetable, with classes of around 12 students and two teachers, allowing work to be closely aligned with kids’ interests — whether it is motorbikes or the criminal justice system. “It cuts out behavioural issues [if they’re not here all day],” says Brendan. “For two hours you’ve got to come in and perform. They say, ‘I can do that; it’s just that by 4 or so I’ll start to crack the shits.’” He says while building a creative and productive environment is the first principle of teaching

Brendan Murray

and learning, there is not enough talk in teacher training about how to do that. In a social work model, “that’s our bread and butter”. “We have some high-level social work support,” Josie explains. “We can do outreach and see them at home if that’s what suits them. They can work two hours straight without a break, if that suits them. “Even in a mainstream setting, with all the breaks and so on, you might only do two or three hours of quality work a day. That said, we are genuine; we are not into just ticking kids off [as having completed the work].”


ith homelessness, trauma, abuse and neglect typical features, almost all the kids are dealing with major mental health problems, Josie says. “There’s anxiety disorders, some are in child protection and we also have a lot of teenage mums. There’s a high percentage of kids who’ve grown up in poverty and about 20% are Indigenous.” Brendan says that on an education continuum, the approach is closest to early childhood. “Consistent, reliable and a lot of care. In many ways, what works for four-year-olds works for our kids.” On the other hand, the room is laid out like an adult education space, and there is an emphasis on autonomy and respect. “They’re grappling with a power imbalance in every other part of their lives. Here, everything is up for negotiation, except for disrupting other people’s learning, or being disrespectful.” Brendan believes mainstream schools are always going to struggle to build relationships with difficult students if their policy is ultimately to exclude. “We tell these kids, under no circumstances are we ever going to expel you, so you need to respect that. We offer unconditional positive regard.” This means that even when a kid lights a fire as a challenge to be expelled — as happened last year — he was told: “You’re not in trouble, we still really like you, I think you’re telling us you need more support.” The Pavilion employs two of its graduates in part-time clerical roles. One of them, Brad, had attended around five different schools and had hit rock bottom, Josie says. “He wouldn’t leave his room. But he stayed here for a few years and now

he’s employed by us and is doing drafting at TAFE.” For social worker Jimmy Moorehead, much of his time is spent in court, as witness to the character of the defendant and his or her efforts at school. “It’s mainly petty stuff. But as they get older, it gets a bit heavier, so we offer more support. In many ways, we are an outreach service. A letter from the Pavilion goes a long way [in court]. And we follow it up with the student; use it as leverage.” In its submission to the Victorian Government’s review of alternative settings, the AEU has reiterated its call for schools to be adequately resourced to help all kids become successful learners, but accepted that additional programs and settings are necessary to provide a quality education. “Ideally all kids are catered for in the mainstream,” says Justin Mulally, AEU deputy vice president, secondary. “But as it is, we acknowledge that there’s never going to be adequate funding for the whole spectrum of learning and behaviour needs.

❛ I feel like a miracle worker when we look at the data. ❜ “The main concern for alternative settings, like any program, is their sustainability — that they’re not solely reliant on the people who set them up,” he says. “They are commonly housed in inadequate settings and without a lot of PD opportunities or clear career structure for staff.” Brendan is aware of these potential pitfalls. In his Teacher of the Year acceptance speech, he thanked the AEU for enabling the staff to come under AEU-negotiated awards. “When staff started, (we were) all on different awards — now we are employed as ES officers and leading teachers. That’s why when I went to the presentation at Crown, I wanted to thank the union, because now I can attract the best staff.” And while the sports pavilion is “not the building we deserve” — Josie and Brendan spent their first holiday tacking down carpet, and they clean the space themselves to save money for kitchen supplies — the one-room facility suits their needs, he says. More than anything, the kids are “a great inspiration to staff,” Josie adds. “Just to see them enjoying learning. I think they surprise themselves.” ◆



Sub-braNch 101 Sub-branches are the cornerstone of the AEU — the first port of call for members and the link between workplaces and the union. But what does the sub-branch do and what’s the key to success? Rachel Power finds out.


NASTASIA Foster, AEU councillor and sub-branch rep at Mossfiel Primary School, has put a lot of thought in to how to make her sub-branch better. Top of her list is “communication”. “Keep yourself well informed and make that information really clear for your members — what you know and how you can help them — so you’re maximising the benefits to them,” she says. She’s even “prettied up” the AEU newsletter to make it more readable for members and non-members at the Hoppers Crossing school. Anastasia is one of the thousands of people who make the AEU work — the sub-branch reps. The sub-branch is the building block of the union. It’s the face of the AEU in the workplace, the voice of members on consultative committees and other bodies, the link between individual members and organisers and leadership. It’s a conduit for information and a route for grievances and concerns. And it’s the key to recruitment. Every new member of staff should have an AEU application form thrust into their waiting hands on day one. In short, without the sub-branch — and without the sub-branch rep — there is no AEU. But if that sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be. “Just because you’re sub-branch rep, doesn’t mean you have to do everything,” says AEU secondary sector vice president Justin Mullaly. “Some sub-branches appear to work well only because the rep is doing everything, but that’s not sustainable.” A truly effective sub-branch will work out the strengths in the group and divvy up the roles accordingly, then rotate people through those roles at least every five years, he says. AEU organiser John Handley agrees that this is the key principle of success: “A sub-branch needs to be a team, not just one person — that’s the first thing. One person can’t carry it year-in, year-out.”


aeu news | august 2009

This creates “an inbuilt filter”, he adds, whereby no one will be solely responsible for dealing with problems — or, just as importantly, be singled out to cop the blame. Handley suggests that an executive group be made up of credible people in identifiable AEU roles, as they establish the reputation of the union in the workplace. It should also involve newer members, to ensure proper succession planning. Mullaly says that at the very least, a good subbranch executive links members with the union’s formal structure, so they feel part of the loop. “Being well-informed, with a lot of people who are trained, makes for a good sub-branch,” he says. “And it’s a good idea to send someone to regional meetings to have a say in how and why decisions get made.”


s Handley puts it, “Knowledge is power”, recommending new executives do the AEU Active training course sooner rather than later. “Knowledge is also success. You’ve got to be seen by the teaching and ES community to have a win that you wouldn’t have had without the AEU — time-in-lieu for parent-teacher evenings, for example,” he says. It also helps to have a well-planned sub-branch meeting schedule. Heathmont Secondary College has recently had its union meeting times included on the school’s general schedule. “This gives the sub-branch credibility, and shows that the AEU is a key stakeholder in the school,” says Handley. Mullaly says that managing conflict and good strategic negotiation skills are vital qualities for subbranch reps, as it is vital to avoid painting yourself into a corner. The idea of “chipping away” at issues is also fundamental, he says. “Nobody has time to solve all the problems in one fell swoop, and there’s always a

new challenge.” At Mossfiel PS, Anastasia says positive thinking is important. When she took up her position as subbranch president, some members didn’t feel there was any scope for change. That’s where the consultation committee comes in. “We’ve been really persistent with consultation,” she says. “If issues aren’t resolved, we go back again and again until they are — hopefully positively; and then (we) celebrate the wins. “People need to see what the consultation committee does so it’s not this secret thing. It should be a discussion forum where people from different areas can come together and work things through.”


o at what point should you contact the AEU? Anastasia says she is in constant contact with organiser Kerry Maher at the AEU, and invites her in regularly so colleagues can “put a face to the union”. More importantly, she operates by the rule: “If you don’t know, ask.” Handley says all too often sub-branch reps ring their organiser when it’s already too late and unnecessary concessions have been made when negotiating a local agreement, for example. “If in doubt, ring,” he says, “especially when things look like they’re stalling or about to fall over. Some sub-branch execs will check in with us several times a week, so they can go back to their members and say, ‘This is what the union says.’ It’s one way of being transparent.” One last tip: Don’t forget to have fun. Anastasia advises sub-branch reps to access all AEU funding available so that there’s food at meetings and subsidised functions outside of school. Or as Mullaly says: “A good sub-branch inspires a sense of camaraderie. It should be about being together, having a bit of fun, not just all industrial stuff.” ◆


KeepiNg aN opeN door

KeepiNg in touch

Credibility couNts




SUB-BRANCH not only offers a great opportunity for staff to hear what’s happening in their organisation — it reminds the organisation that the union is a significant part of TAFE and needs to be taken seriously, says Greg Barclay, AEU rep at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE (BRIT). Greg says a strong sub-branch ensures that employees are playing a significant part in driving change within their workplace. As sub-branch president, he has made sure there is a union representative on all of BRIT’s sub-committees. He has also gone out of his way to make contact with all departments at Bendigo TAFE and has ensured there is an executive rep at all four centres. The high percentage of members at management level is testament to his recruitment strategies. In all this, Greg draws on his knowledge of community development strategies, encouraging all staff members to play a more active role in their workplace for the benefit of the institute as a whole. Recently, staff’s participation in a People Matter survey exposed the degree of bullying in the institute. From there, the sub-branch ran a highly successful anti-bullying campaign and set up a core support group to help people needing to lodge a complaint. “I have an open-door policy, so anyone can front up,” he says. “As well as creating general awareness about the agreement, I make sure people really understand the information and help them deal with grievances.” Greg says being personable and engaging individuals are key to being a good union rep. He also doesn’t overwhelm people with generic information, but tries to provide tailored advice and responses to queries. ◆

HE strength of the sub-branch at Wantirna Secondary College came to the fore during a recent grievance process. With money tight and teachers being asked to take on extra duties, things deteriorated when an acting assistant principal wanted to extend teaching hours by cutting into their lunch break. Sub-branch rep Diane Aumann says that members were united in taking a stand because no-one was alienated by the language used. “The union executive is the same as everybody else,” she says, “so people don’t feel they’re being asked to fight a cause they don’t feel part of. We just wanted what’s best for the students and the school.” AEU organiser Helen Stanley says: “What’s great about this subbranch is their communication and the commitment of the sub-branch to attend important meetings to support the executive. “The sub-branch reps have maintained close contact with the union and watch out for PD that they think will assist them in their work as reps.” She says she is impressed by their commitment and planning, reading the AEU’s information and registering for workshops, such as the Member Forum on consultation held in July. “They are well-organised,” says Helen. “I am not saying they are putting extra hours into their roles, but they know when they have to pick up the ball and when they need assistance, or at least they know when to contact us for further info.” ◆

N THE disability services sector, “the rep’s job is tough,” says AEU organiser Meaghan Flack. Making representations to an employer is always going to be fraught in this industry, she says. With most disability centres employing 100 people or less, they have until recently been exempt from unfair dismissal laws under WorkChoices. “There’s no merit protection board to protect their rights. Active people are always at risk of being retrenched.” Flack says AEU reps need both high-level knowledge of the industrial agreement and interpersonal skills. She suggests that the best person for the job is an employee who has been in the one centre for a reasonable amount of time and built up their credibility with both the employer and colleagues. “It’s got to be about having the confidence, and being a good operator in the workplace, so that you’ve gained that respect.” ◆

Tips for a successful sub-braNch • Spread the load between members • Keep members informed • Hold regular sub-branch meetings • Keep in regular touch with your AEU organiser — invite them in for briefings • Send members on AEU Active training • For schools, be active on the consultative committee • Send someone to your local AEU regional meeting • Claim your sub-branch funds from the AEU to cover social events and local campaigns • Recruit, recruit, recruit • Plan for the next generation of reps • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. ◆

❛ Without the sub-branch, and without the sub-branch rep, there is no AEU ❜



Students working overtime A million young Australians combine full-time study with part-time jobs. But many are being exploited at work. Geoff Maslen reports on the union movement and Canberra’s response.


WAS treated unfairly for ages in this, my first and current job,” Camilla says. “As young workers we did not know what to do. We did not know what union we were under, if any. The family business was a franchise and is now independent so how do you stand up against them in that case without jeopardising your job?” Sixteen-year-old Camilla is in Year 11 at a Melbourne secondary school and she works part time, as do most of her friends. But, like them, she is also woefully ill-informed about what she is entitled to in terms of wages and working conditions. “I went for a whole year without knowing what I was being paid. We still often get ‘threats’ if we ask for days off during holidays or for


aeu news | august 2009

family commitments.” As one of Australia’s 1.4 million youngsters aged 15-19, Camilla is among the majority of teenagers who combine full-time study with a part-time job. Yet few of them are believed to have any real idea of their rights or, as she says, even how much they should be paid. Tom, a Year 12 student in an eastern suburbs school, says young people not only don’t know how much money they are owed but the rules their employers are supposed to follow. “They don’t know there are health and safety regulations that are being ignored or anything else; you just count yourself lucky to have a weekly pay packet.” With growing evidence that more and more students are working while

studying and that many are being exploited by some unscrupulous employers, the ACTU and the Federal Government have each responded. The ACTU has updated its Worksite for Schools website, which is aimed at students in Years 9 and 10, to coincide with new federal workplace laws that came into effect on July 1, while the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Training has been investigating the way young Australians combine school and work. ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the new workplace laws were an important topic for all teachers and students. Burrow, a former teacher herself, said schools had an important role to play in alerting students to their rights at work.

“Worksite is all about helping students understand their rights so they can enjoy them and get the most out of work. Research conducted for Worksite found that many students were unaware of their rights in the workplace, that students did not know how to find out if they were getting the right pay or conditions, or where to get help if they had other work concerns.” Meanwhile, federal MP Sharon Bird is chairing the inquiry into teenagers and work. Bird says there is anecdotal evidence that in some cases students are spending almost as many hours in paid work as they are at school. Submissions to the federal inquiry have argued that students need to be protected against excessively long hours of work, against injury and


resources abuse, and against employers who do not allow rostered time off for major assessments at school. Part-time employment should provide young people with basic employment skills and, where possible, higher-level vocational and technical skills, she says. These are among the issues taken up on Worksite. As the website states, “At work, everybody has rights — it’s the law. You have the right to get the correct pay and conditions; the right to a healthy and safe workplace; the right to be treated fairly and not be discriminated against because of your age, sex, marital status or ethnic background. You also have the right to be a union member.” The site also points out that work experience is a good chance for students to see these rights in action. It suggests they use the ACTU work experience diary to gather the information they will need about a job — the pay, working conditions, safety and training. The website also provides information about what students should know before they start their first paid job, how to figure out what they will be paid, as well as the hours, holidays and other benefits. Fact sheets look at pay, safety, training and “getting a fair go in your first job”. Another section offers details of what unions do, noting that they helped win rights for all workers. Worksite tells the story of how union members have helped make Australia a better place. Among the many researchers who have investigated what happens to students who also work is Erica Smith, a professor of education and dean of graduate studies at the University of Ballarat. Smith says that although studies indicate school work suffers when students spend longer than 10 hours a week at a job, it is uncertain whether this is because of the job or because students working long hours are “not particularly engaged with schooling anyway”. “Our research has shown a substantial minority of students working quite long hours in Year 12, for example ... On the positive side, [the research suggests] that working part time has encouraged students to complete their schooling when they otherwise might not have done.” Justin Mullaly, the AEU’s secondary sector deputy vice president, says that part-time work forms an increasingly important but often

unrecognised part of students’ education. He says there is a need for more flexible arrangements to take account of the fact that students are spending so much time in the workplace. “There is a strong case for a broad, statewide provision for students who are at risk of becoming disengaged from schooling and providing them with an avenue to gain some level of qualifications. Particular programs are operating in isolation at schools and in other settings across the state but this needs more coordination.” The AEU is calling on the State Government to provide resources for schools to run better programs so all students leave school with a qualification that allows them to obtain employment or go on to further study. Mullaly points to the Teacher Learning Network’s work developing a curriculum resource for Year 10 students on workplace rights and obligations (see right). TLN, which is co-funded by the AEU, is collaborating on the project with the Australian Institute for Employment Rights, a not-for-profit think-tank that promotes collaborative employment relationships. The Australian National Schools Network is another player in this area. It has called for an “Intergenerational Youth Compact” to promote closer integration of learning in and out of school. It wants to “badge” youth-friendly employers who provide appropriate training and meet regulations on wages and conditions and health and safety. In Canberra, Sharon Bird estimates the House committee has now heard from several hundred students, teachers, parents and employers at public hearings and school visits across Australia. As well, more than 2500 students in Years 10 to 12 have responded to an online survey. “There seems to be a real split between young people, with one group saying the experience is really positive, with good employers who understand they have school commitments and don’t require them to do unreasonable numbers of hours,” Bird says. “But a significant minority say they get lots of calls to do extra shifts and they don’t dare say no because they then don’t get any shifts at all. Often students will work till midnight and one youngster told us he had to close up the shop at midnight and then open it again at 6 o’clock the next morning — he’d been promoted to a supervisory role and was still under 18.” ◆

❛ few [working students] are believed to have any real idea of their rights or even how much they should be paid. ❜


CURRICULUM resource for Year 10 students on workplace rights and responsibilities is being developed by TLN, the Teacher Learning Network, with a steering committee of government, employer and employee representatives. TLN executive officer Michael Victory says production and distribution of the resource is being financed by the Victorian Department of Industry, Innovation and Regional Development, with trials beginning this term and the resource distributed to all secondary schools in Term 4. Victory says the 10 themes that underpin the resource were developed by a group of students who worked with the curriculum writer to decide what rights and obligations should exist in the workplace. “It will be a cross-curriculum resource but will probably be picked up by career teachers and is designed to accompany the schools’ work experience programs,” he says. “It is not just a list of do’s and don’ts or rights and wrongs but how a workplace operates and what is reasonable and acceptable — and how students recognise that.” One online resource produced by the Rudd Government is a special page on its Australian Youth Forum website. The page is aimed at young people who are in the workforce or are looking for jobs. (See Youngsters logging on to the site have already applauded the announcement that the Government is developing a “Young Workers’ Toolkit” to provide information about starting work. The kit will offer answers to some of the questions young people confront on a daily basis at work, including how much they should be paid, what to do if they believe they are not receiving the full amount and what action is available FROM to them if they are sacked unfairly. Another online website has been created by the Young Unionists Network, under the auspices of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, to bring together young unionists from different industries to organise collectively to fight for their rights. The network is backed by union TO affiliates of the VTHC. ◆



ACTU Worksite Young Unionists Network Australian Youth Forum Teacher Learning Network



Learn to teach in just six weeks! Will Teach for Australia really attract a new generation of bright young things into teaching and how will they cope when they get there? AEU research officer John Graham reports. Miss, why did you become a teacher? I guess I just wanted to teach for Australia!


ICTORIA has its hand up once again. This time it’s to become the national laboratory for a program called Teach for Australia. Teach for Australia is a strange hybrid — partly a new type of on-the-job teacher training program, partly an attempt to raise the academic achievement levels of new teachers, partly an intervention strategy for students in low SES schools and partly a proposition that a more business/entrepreneurial approach is needed to ginger up the quality of teachers and teacher education. The program is as home-grown as McDonald’s. It’s the Australian version of the Teach for America and Teach First programs operating in the United States and the UK, respectively. Teach for America, the first of these programs, was set up in the US in 1989. It has been described as a “Peace Corps-style rescue mission” where “the brightest” graduates postpone their “real” careers while they go teaching in disadvantaged schools. Given five weeks training, and buoyed by their idealism, the Teach for America graduates spend two years trying to close the achievement gap for low-income students. Whether they succeed or not, at the end of the two years most of them depart teaching to take up their deferred careers, including jobs in the businesses which co-sponsor the program and use it as a means of recruiting personnel. The Victorian Teach for Australia program begins at the end of this year with up to 180 graduates across two nationally-recruited intakes. The graduates (known as “associates”) have to be bright — defined by a high grade point average in a first degree awarded within the past five years — and have a range of desirable attributes; from a commitment to making a difference to “respect and humility”.

They will teach in disadvantaged secondary schools for a minimum two-year period. They receive six weeks pre-employment training and have a 0.8 teaching allotment. They will be paid on the paraprofessional salary scale (around $45,000). While teaching, they will undertake studies towards an accredited teacher qualification. The aim is to place three or four associates together in a secondary school. Schools will receive Strategic Intervention funding to cover a range of costs; but not to pay for an additional teacher. The schools will be selected because of their level of disadvantage (as determined by the Education Department) and their willingness and capacity to support the associate teachers. The program is a partnership between the Victorian and the Federal governments and a not-for-profit company known as Teach for Australia.

The boosters of Teach for Australia — the company, the department and (you guessed it) Julia Gillard — make some big claims about what it will be able to do. For example, they claim that it will bring high achievers into the profession who would not otherwise have considered teaching. The program, however, may be more about shifting “elite” students from one form of teacher preparation to another. Unlike other pre-service courses, it offers a salary while the associates (or student teachers) gain their qualification. This will be attractive to any graduate whether they intended to become a teacher or not. A far more contentious claim is that bright graduates with six weeks of training are more able to close the achievement gap for students in disadvantaged schools than fully qualified teachers. The department website uses selective Teach for America research to put this position. The reality is that Teach for America’s outcomes are a source of major academic dispute and controversy. The department appears to have uncritically copied the Teach for America (the US organisation) line about the program. It illustrates what happens when political imperatives masquerade as evidence-based policy. The AEU voiced its concerns about Teach for Australia to the department and was instrumental in gaining significant improvements, such as 3.5 hours per week support for the associates and between 90 minutes and two hours’ time release for teacher mentors (known as “teaching fellows”). Making teaching a competitively attractive profession and improving the quality of pre-service teacher education are important and complex goals. They will not be met by headlines and gimmicks. Instead we need at least three things — some real evidence about what will work best for Victorian government schools, the profession as a partner (not an afterthought) in the enterprise, and sufficient resources to make improvement happen. ◆

❛ Graduates need a range of attributes, from commitment to making a difference to respect and humility. ❜


aeu news | august 2009

Victoria provides the schools and teachers and some of the funding. Canberra provides funding and guidelines as part of its $550 million National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality. The company, which owns the intellectual property in Australia, will promote the program, recruit and select the graduates, work with sponsoring business organisations and provide “PD coaches” for leadership training. Teach for Australia (the company) arose out of a partnership between the Cape York Institute, Macquarie University and the Boston Consulting Group. Its CEO, Melodie Potts Rosevear, previously worked for the Cape York Institute and before that for Boston in Atlanta, Georgia. The chair of the governing board is the Reverend Dr Rufus Black, the Master of Ormond College at Melbourne University.


Under-performance We know what works when it comes to performance pay. So why is Victoria rolling out the same old failed ideas and setting teacher against teacher? John Graham AEU research officer

best performing schools involved gain a bonus.



NEW performance pay scheme will be trialled in Victorian government schools in 2010. Known as “Teacher Rewards”, it will be piloted in 25 schools across the state and see an annual bonus paid to the best performing teachers in the school. Education Department guidelines stipulate that 80% of the bonus must be given to the “top performing” 30% of teachers. The proviso is that this 30% must represent roughly the same proportion of teachers in each category — graduate, accomplished, expert and leading — as in the school staffing profile. The assessment will be undertaken by the school itself through a panel of three school leaders, including the school principal. It will be based on a “balanced scorecard” approach and must include: classroom excellence (at least 40%), teaming and leadership (at least 20%) and professional learning (at least 10%). The scorecard will include classroom observation and the use of student achievement data and will involve the implementation of the department’s new e5 instructional model as a core component. The money offer is in addition to the school’s global budget (SRP) and works out at around $1000 per staff member. This would mean that in a school with 30 teachers the bonus pool would be $30,000, with at least $24,000 of that going to nine teachers. The bonus does not need to be shared equally among the nine. The department is also looking at trialling a separate whole-school model where only the 20%

or anyone who’s been around a few years, the phrase déjà vu comes to mind. The lineage of this “new” performance pay model can be traced back through Julie Bishop’s proposals under the Howard Government to the 1990s’ Professional Recognition Program (PRP) for leading teachers and principals which operated under Jeff Kennett. The Bishop scheme linked performance to student test and exam results and the subjective views of people such as the principal, with bonuses paid from a limited merit pool of funds and no additional federal funding. It was universally rejected by Labor state governments. The 1990s PRP shemozzle had a shonky, divisive, shrinking bonus scheme, inconsistent line management assessment, bonuses linked to implementation of department policy priorities, a lack of transparency about who got what and why, and was generally considered a waste of time, energy and money. It ended up in the wastepaper bin of the Bracks Labor Government. The new model then seems to have been created using an institutional memory bypass. It draws upon some of the worst elements of its predecessors. It seeks to recognise the variation in individual performance by setting up a competition among colleagues for a limited pool of funds. This model simply ignores research about good performance pay models and flies in the face of everything we know about teacher collaboration and collective efficacy as the means to improve quality teaching in a school. When the Australian Council of Educational

Research (ACER) studied performance pay programs around the world, it recommended a framework linked to standards and external evaluation. The international research findings indicated that these programs were the ones which worked; they actually raised the quality of teaching. The model recommended by ACER is similar to proposals separately made by the Business Council of Australia in its publication Teaching Talent, and by the AEU in its national professional pay scheme. Both the AEU and the BCA want a new national career structure for teachers linked to a major increase in salary as a means of attracting and retaining the best teachers. Those in a new national classification known as an “accomplished teacher” would be paid around $100,000 pa. In both cases, access to the higher classification would be through voluntary assessment against a set of research-based standards. An external peer-based panel would consider each applicant’s portfolio of performance and determine whether they had met those standards. The proportion of teachers who would gain the new classification would be determined by the number who met the standards. Research carried out by Educational Assessment Australia at the University of New South Wales in 2008 estimated that around 50% of teachers were ready to be assessed as accomplished. These professional pay proposals provide the blueprint for an effective national performance pay program. Unfortunately the message has not got through to the State Government. ◆



CRT-friendly schools

What a


Being a casual relief teacher can be challenging enough — so it helps if schools smooth the way for their emergency troops. Rachel Power hears how.


O CRT-friendly schools exist? I can’t wait to read about them!” was one disheartening response to AEU News’s call for stories about positive experiences of casual relief teaching. But others, like Warren Sapir, have only good things to say about the way some schools treat their replacement staff. He says CRTs are made to feel part of the “great team” at Hampton Park Secondary College, where the geography and history teacher works an average of two or three days a week. He says the school’s principal “doesn’t just hand over an induction document, but takes you around, shows you where everything is”. New CRTs are introduced to the more experienced ones, as well as the rest of the staff. “The back-up from administration and the other teachers is amazing,” he says. “It’s one united staff. We’re not treated like strangers but like equal colleagues.” This contrasts strongly with a story from Jenni (not her real name), a psychology teacher, who has made a point of not returning to Warren Sapir an independent


aeu news | august 2009

Christian school where she was shown “where the CRTs sit” upon arrival. “The staff room was L-shaped, and everyone else was in the other section,” she says. “Most unwelcoming, and for my first school as a beginning teacher at the time, I did not feel as though I was good enough to be included.” Fortunately, she finds teachers at most schools friendly, if a little a rushed. More common problems for CRTs are a lack of induction, excessive yard duty or no classwork being supplied. At one school recently Barbara (not her real name) was given both recess and lunchtime duty. “This school splits its lunchtime into three 15-minute shifts, so CRTs are without fail given the middle shift, which means we have to use minutes of our lunch to get to the duty and minutes walking back. In effect, we have a non-continuous lunch break,” she says. To top it off, she was given after-school duty in the park, a decent walk away from the school. “This, after a completely full day at the school!” Jenni’s “biggest beef” is getting a call at 4.30pm to work the next day, and then finding there’s been no classwork left, sometimes not even a roll. “As teachers, we’re supposed to be prepared. We’ve got the internet; a quick email is all that’s needed.” One school didn’t even provide a key to the door, so she had to deal with the kids in the hallway until another teacher wandered past to let them in. Warren says that Hampton SC teachers usually leave classwork or email material in. But, like all CRTs, he knows to be armed, just in case.

How to make life easier for your CRT: • Welcome them at every opportunity and value them as professionals • Provide a summary of school operations • Contribute to CRTs’ superannuation scheme of their choice • Limit the amount of yard duty in any one week • Ensure absent teachers always leave classwork and a copy of the work program • Don’t give CRTs after-school yard duty or bus duty • Use CRTs rather than split classes or cancel specialist programs • Provide an accessible computer in the staffroom, especially for roll-marking • Have an accessible student engagement policy • Give CRTs preparation time • Don’t make CRTs stay beyond six hours work time a day • Don’t forget the complimentary tea, coffee and spare mugs!

“I’ve got my own trivia quiz. We might break up into teams. They like it and they’re learning at the same time. Without my questions I’d be lost,” Warren says. But no matter how welcoming the school toward its CRTs, there will always be difficult days with students. “At one school, the teacher I was relieving was going to take the class on an excursion that was cancelled, and I was blamed for it,” says Jenni. But like Warren, she always has her “kit” to hand when no work has been provided. “Even secondary kids don’t mind an activity sheet or a bit of colouring-in, I’ve discovered.” Jenni says it would help CRTs enormously if they were given an edumail account and could access government sites like ePotential. “I want to know what’s out there for teachers.” It can also get expensive for CRTs trying to develop their teaching skills. “I don’t mind going to PD sessions — they’re great — but for most teachers, their school covers the costs. CRTs have to pay for it themselves.” That said, she’s quick to emphasise that it’s not all bad. “At Koo Wee Rup Secondary College there was an induction book, which had a map of the school, outlined the school rules, a copy of its uniform classroom management strategy — it had everything. It was absolutely wonderful to get it.” And small gestures can make all the difference. “I was invited to the staff end-of-year barbeque at one school. Those are the times you know you really are appreciated.” ◆


Full Nelson Teacher Cathy Nelson returned from the World Congress on Environmental Education with renewed inspiration. She tells Cynthia Karena why schools — and her union — should put sustainability at their heart.


ATHY Nelson woke up one day and realised that what she was teaching students had no connection with how they related to the world they live in. “I was concerned that we were encouraging a generation of selfish, acquisitive consumers who lacked care or concern for others,” says Cathy, a teacher at Princes Hill Secondary College who now specialises in sustainability education. “I wanted (students) to think about how their lifestyle impacts on the environment and other people, particularly people in the developing world, who are paying the price for the affluence of the West.” That epiphany was 10 years ago, and Cathy’s passion for the environment has since taken her across the globe from India to southern Africa, and most recently to the 5th World Congress on Environmental Education in Montreal. She was one of two delegates funded by the AEU Vic Branch. Cathy found it energising to be among 2000 like-minded people from around the world, and realised that networking with experts and lateral thinkers is the next step in environmental education. “I’m keen to network with people who have different skills but who are on the same page as me. “Environmental concerns are about to consume us. There are many people that can help us, and we need to take advantage of that. Young people have great energy and some excellent ideas. We really need to use that to cultivate innovation and excellence in green technologies, for example.” She says there was growing concern at the conference about children spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. “As teachers, we are always competing with media for students’ attention. We need programs to get kids out into nature and connected with each other rather than their iPods. We need to help

researching environmental education in Australia. She is involved with CERES (the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) supporting sustainability education and development programs on both a local and global level. In India, “I’ve worked in teacher training programs, developed curriculum on local wildlife, taught in schools and an orphanage and made lots of lovely Indian friends,” she says. Closer to home at Princes Hill, Cathy has also led many green initiatives, including planting “thousands” of trees in local parks; working with local community groups such as the zoo to raise funds for endangered animals; installing water tanks, removing excessive lights and replacing The most important thing I take into the inefficient heating systems at school; and inviting classroom every day is … architecture students from Melbourne University A sense of humour. to collaborate with Year 8s on sustainable house My best trick for coping with staff meetings is … design projects. Collecting material for the sequel to Summer Heights High. Cathy has been in the AEU “from the moment The most important thing the AEU does is … I started teaching” 21 years ago. “As a science Think ahead about the implications of policy changes graduate I was shamefully clueless about when we are all really flat out teaching children. workers’ rights, but I was lucky enough to have a strong supportive union that taught me a lot. The most inspirational figure in my life is … “The thing about teachers’ unions is that it’s Bob Brown. He is a kind and generous man with the not only about workers rights, but the rights of courage of his convictions. young people. When we fight for our working The book that changed my life was ... Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. It helped conditions, it’s ultimately about the rights of me to view life as a spiritual quest, fuelled by the forces of children to get an education. “It would be great if the AEU could support the body and guided by the power of the imagination. teachers by helping provide professional developMy favourite teacher at school was … ment programs to become environmental leaders Lesley Davidson, my junior high school sports teacher. and to help teachers put pressure on principals She was hard working, compassionate and helped us to support more environmental management believe in ourselves as talented young women. programs and initiatives in schools. They usually If I met Minister Bronwyn Pike, I’d tell her … end up saving money in the long run.” The need to educate for a sustainable future is critical The union needs to be part of a sustainable right now. The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative is future, she says. “If we think there are inequities already operating successfully — why not put adequate in the world now, just wait until there is conflict resources into funding all Victorian schools to participate? over access to resources.” ◆ students develop critical thinking skills, give them leadership opportunities and link them to broader communities.” Cathy likes to “collect ideas” from across the globe. In 2004, she spent several months in southern Africa visiting schools and environmental agencies to research their environmental programs. She has also visited schools in China, the UK, and collaborated with university students in Japan



inside the AEU


Justin Mullaly deputy vice president, secondary

Education Support

Time to talk about consultation

ES Recognition Week, August 10-14


EPTEMBER 1 is a key date in school calendars. That is the deadline for principals to report to the Education Department about the consultation arrangements that have been agreed with staff and the AEU sub-branch. Both the ES and Teacher Agreements state that it is the principal’s responsibility to ensure that school-based decisions about staffing, programs and class sizes (to name a few) are “made in accordance with the consultation principles” outlined in the agreements and “carried out in a framework that enable staff to have input into the decisions that affect their working life”. The first step in this process is to ensure that staff and sub-branch have the opportunity to discuss and agree upon the way consultation will occur in the school. The AEU sub-branch, staff and principal need to agree about the number of union, staff and principal representatives on the consultative committee, how the committee is to operate and time for representatives to undertake consultation. Elected staff and AEU representatives must be given the time and opportunity to discuss issues with the groups they represent — the operational procedures must enable this to occur within the school and not require them to work beyond 38 hours in any given week to do so. This is best achieved by ensuring that the consultative committee meets during normal working hours, with representatives given enough time to raise matters and seek feedback at staff and AEU meetings. Particularly important is the need to ensure that any timeline for decisions builds in time for consultation — especially when it comes to contract renewal and the advertisement of jobs. The Teacher and ES Agreements require schools to try to come to a local agreement about consultative arrangements. When no agreement can be made a default consultative committee and operational procedures are put in place from the beginning of Term 4. Principals will need to indicate to the department any failure to agree. continued on p24

Early Childhood

Shayne Quinn vice president, early childhood

Agreement update


OLLOWING overwhelming endorsement of the variation and extension of the MECA 2005, an application for certification was lodged with Fair Work Australia. However, a number of complex process matters have arisen from the new industrial relations legislation. With a commitment to seeing the agreement applied to the widest possible number of services and staff, the parties have withdrawn the application while these matters are resolved. Services and staff will be kept advised and informed. The substance of the agreement is not affected and any delay will have no impact on the salary payment dates. The provisions of the current MECA 2005 and Early Childhood Assistants Award continue to apply. Although local government employees did not take part in the ballot, many teachers and some assistants will be affected by it as their council’s existing agreement provides a relationship to MECA 2005 and its successor. While negotiations continue for a local government multi-business agreement, the complexities of moving 30 councils — each with their own individual agreements — to one agreement without any overall disadvantage is a significant challenge. Critical to any outcome is that it is to the advantage of members to move to a single agreement. Members will be kept informed. ◆


aeu news | august 2009

Kathryn Lewis ES organiser


S WEEK is your week — an opportunity to highlight the fundamental role ES staff play in our schools and acknowledge their contributions. During ES Week, AEU organisers will visit schools to provide up-to-date information about implementing the ES Agreement and give away AEU cups and lollypops as well. So book your school’s visit ASAP so your school doesn’t miss out. ES Conference: Friday, August 7 By the time you read this, you have just a few days left to register for our ever popular ES Conference. Last year it sold out within a week. The flyer and registration forms are on the website, so get your registration forms in ASAP. We will be introducing something new into the format this year — a forum. We have invited representatives from the Education Department and AEU agreement negotiation teams to discuss the topic “How is the Agreement shaping up?” ES members will be able to ask both sides about the agreement and how it applies to their schools and situations. It will be a great opportunity to gain an insight into the reasoning behind it and debate the answers. We are looking forward to some very interesting questions being put by members. Please call Julie Lynch for more details on (03) 9417 2822. AEU Active training reminder I would like to encourage new members to attend our AEU Active training to learn more about their new ES Agreement. There are two courses left this year: September 8-9 and October 13-14. Both are at the AEU office in Abbotsford. Please call Rhonda Webley on (03) 9417 2822 for more details. ◆


Gillian Robertson vice president, TAFE and adult provision

Small sector, huge result


EGOTIATIONS for a new AMES agreement reached a successful outcome on April 22 and a formal ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission late in the semester. I’m delighted to report that 99% voted in favour — in fact, only three teachers voted against it. We hope they were just ill-informed! The agreement was lodged with the Workplace Authority on June 29 and we are hopeful that AMES will be notified soon that it has been approved. However long it takes, AMES teachers will receive back pay to April 22. Over the life of the agreement, teachers at the top of the scale will receive pay increases of 29%. Teachers at the starting level will earn a massive 47% more. This is an outstanding result in a tough economic climate. I want to state how important it was that both school and TAFE teachers supported their respective AEU pay campaigns because it helped our cause in getting a better pay deal for AMES teachers. Its an understatement to say that it has been a long and arduous process to achieve this agreement. Nearly a year of negotiations and various changes of management negotiators along the way didn’t help. AMES members might be the smallest sector of the AEU but they collectively achieved this outcome because of their gutsy and determined commitment. AMES members are to be congratulated and let’s hope the agreement — and money — come through soon. ◆

Kerry Maher disability services organiser

Northern shows the way


orthern Support Services CEO Gail Younie has offered staff a 3% pay increase in recognition that it has been 12 months since the last pay rise of the current AEU Agreement. This increase will be absorbed by any future rates in the 2009-2012 Agreement now under negotiation, and will not prevent NSS adopting any new deal. NSS has a strong AEU membership and it is clear that there is a strong ethic of consultation in the workplace. Although current agreements remain operative until any new ones are in place, there is nothing to prevent other employers following suit! Employers receive our draft agreement All three employer bodies — SIAG, VECCI and VHIA — have now received copies of the AEU Draft Agreement for 2009-2012. I and fellow organiser Meaghan Flack have held a preliminary meeting with VECCI and another has been arranged with VHIA. Formal negotiations should begin soon for the new agreement to cover Part 1 employees. Members should request that their employer indicate which organisation, if any, they are represented by and ask when negotiations will commence. Fair Pay Commission decision The final, shameful decision of the Fair Pay Commission to freeze the minimum wage has left disability sector employees who depend on these adjustments out in the cold. Most of our members in Part 2 & 4 services are affected, as are some Part 1 services that are without current AEU agreements. From now on these decisions will be made by the new Fair Work Australia but there will be no further opportunity for award wage increases until 2010. Certainly those members covered by AEU agreements will be much better off — one more reason to make sure your workplace has a strong AEU membership. ◆

CRTs Peter Steele vice president, primary

Salary justice campaign


HE AEU CRT Association is developing an awareness campaign to further the cause of achieving salary justice for our casual relief teachers. Victorian CRTs are among the lowest paid casual teachers in Australia. Among the tactics of the campaign will be distributing postcards to send to state MPs, highlighting the plight of our CRT members by showing them this table, comparing CRT rates in Victoria and interstate. The table also indicates that while Victorian CRTs are paid a fixed rate, others states pay on a sliding scale, rewarding teachers for experience. ◆ State Queensland ACT NSW NT Tasmania SA Victoria WA

Min Rate $291.90 $262.00 $261.31 $256.21 $243.19 $237.72 $243.40 $183.19

Max Rate $291.90 $286.00 $301.71 $256.21 $355.66 $327.90 $243.40 $265.04

inside the AEU

Women’s FOCUS


Barb Jennings women’s officer

Leading the way x 3

Thinking of moving into school leadership? This semester, the AEU offers a series of events to help women on their way.


LTHOUGH figures are improving, women are still under-represented in school leadership across Victoria. The AEU Women’s Program is providing targeted professional development for women who are considering taking the step up to school leadership positions, including to the principal class. Three initiatives in particular are being run across the state. 1. “Thinking about the next step?” seminars Many women aspiring to be school leaders ask themselves: • Can I do it? • What’s going to happen to the rest of my life? • Can I be successful in the selection process? This practical workshop is run by Helen Rix, former AEU principal class organiser and former assistant principal at Eltham High School. Seminars are taking place in Melbourne’s growth corridors: September 14 — Melton area October 20 — Werribee/Geelong area 2. AEU DEECD Gippsland Women’s Network Forum This annual event will be held on August 18 at In2food at Warragul with a speaker and dinner. Deb Ferguson will run the workshop. Her work is highly regarded and interactive. She will focus on: • How do I manage myself as a woman leader (whatever my sphere of influence)? • How can I build my resilience to stay positive and unstressed while leading others? • Can I have an impact on the culture I work in?

3. Flexible work options for school leaders seminar This joint seminar of the AEU Principals and AEU Women’s Network has become an annual event. This year’s event will be held at the AEU on Monday, September 14 from 4.30-6.00pm with drinks and refreshments. Dr Kathy Lacey, a leading Australian expert on emerging models of co-principalship and job sharing will present the seminar. She will discuss her latest research and work in schools. There is a current and projected shortfall of school leaders in Australia. This is partly a result of imminent massive losses due to retirement. Such issues increase the imperative for alternative ways in which principal class leadership might be conceived and enacted. Co-leadership models may increase the diversity of school leaders in the education system by making the position more appealing. It may provide an attractive model for certain people at different stages of their life. Dr Lacey also notes that work and family balance is having a detrimental impact on the career progression of educators. All these events will be practical and interactive. Presenters have been chosen for their expertise and knowledge of school systems and current leadership approaches. For details of any of these events, please call me on (03) 9418 4860 or email me at ◆


inside the AEU

AEU Training

Member Benefits

Rowena Matcott and Kim Daly training officers

Term 3 means consultation, job applications — and don’t forget our conferences


UR training schedule for Term 3 is focussed on consultation and applying for jobs. Sub-branches should be evaluating the consultative processes operating this year and considering what needs improving for 2010. They should also be considering how to structure local agreements for 2010. Contact your organiser for support in both of these important discussions. Effective consultation underpins effective schools and staff morale. We are running seven twilight sessions around the state on applying for jobs, and our popular Meet the Principals program for student teachers also returns. This term also sees our ES, early childhood and OH&S conferences. Our principals conference has been moved to Term 4. AEU Active The two-day AEU Active course continues to be popular. We urge

schools to keep sending members. Recent feedback we have received includes: • Knowledge of ES Agreement led to two more ES staff joining • We were able to assist staff with information about translation to ongoing • Arranged for the organiser to present a duty of care session to ES staff and five joined • Revamped our noticeboard and organised for graduate and accomplished teachers to speak to new staff • Teachers Health has been a great recruitment tool • Established an AEU email list which has helped with communication. Members often ask for follow-up courses on practical negotiating skills. We are keen to look at this. Events in our Term 3 calendar run all day unless noted. For more details on any event, call 1800 013 379. ◆

TERM 3 Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

4 August 4.30pm

Bendigo (Venue tba)

Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

5 August 4.30pm

Golden City Hotel, 427 Sturt St, Ballarat

AEU ES Conference

7 August

AEU Building

Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

11 August 4.30pm

Gippsland (Venue tba)

AEU Active

12-13 August

Latrobe Valley (Venue tba)

Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

18 August 4.30pm

Geelong (Venue tba)

AEU Active

18-19 August

The Regal 163-165 Timor St, Warrnambool

Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

20 August 4.30pm

AEU Building

Consultation One Day Training

21 August

AEU Building

AEU Active

25-26 August

Eastwood Golf Club

AEU Pca Conference

27 August

Venue TBA

Meet The Principals (Primary)

1 September 4.30pm

AEU Building

AEU Active

1-2 September

Sugar Gum Hotel (Sydenham)

Meet The Principals

2 September 4.30pm

Morwell (Venue tba)

Meet The Principals

3 September 4.30pm

Golden City Hotel, 427 Sturt St, Ballarat

Meet The Principals (Secondary)

8 September 4.30pm

AEU Building

Es AEU Active

8-9 September

AEU Building

Meet The Principals

9 September 4.30pm

Wodonga (Venue tba)

Meet The Principals

10 September 4.30pm

Bendigo (Venue tba)

Member Forum: Applying For Jobs

14 September 4.30pm

AEU Building

Meet The Principals

15 September 4.30pm

Geelong (Venue tba)

Meet The Principals

16 September 4.30pm

Warrnambool (Venue tba)


aeu news | august 2009

Pack your bags T

EMPO Holidays, one of Australia’s leading travel brands, is offering special deals for AEU members who book holiday travel or accommodation online or through its call centre. Tempo offers accommodation, car hire, cruises, sightseeing, tours, packages, travel insurance and more in over 40 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and Latin America. Visit the Tempo website and enter AEUTEMPO into the offer code box when you make a booking online to benefit from any special savings. Alternatively, contact Tempo travel consultants on 1300 558 987. Don’t forget to tell them you are an AEU member or quote the code AEUTEMPO. Cruising More holiday offers are available to members through AEU travel partner Focus Vietnam, which is offering a special discount on a fortnight’s holiday and cruise tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. Visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Siem Reap and Ankor, and sailing for seven days on the Mekong River cruise vessel La Marguerite, the tour departs Saturday, September 19. Fares start at $4,347 per person for twin share. More at — email or call 1300 737 690. More Apple training More free training sessions for AEU members with Apple notebooks have been arranged. The new dates are August 26 and September 21, both at the AEU office in Abbotsford. More details on the AEU website at membership — click on the AEU Apple Online Store logo. This section is for AEU members only and is password protected — type in user name: AEUmember and password: AppleAEU08. ◆

Schools sector roundup, continued from p22 Once you have renewed or developed a consultative structure then the real work can begin. Top of the list for many schools is developing a local agreement covering face to face teaching, yard duty, class sizes, and time in lieu arrangements for parent-teacher interviews among other things. Don’t hesitate to contact our Membership Services Unit on 1300 013 379, your local organiser or AEU sector leadership if you would like any further advice about consultation in your school. Pupil-free days and parent teacher reporting survey The AEU will be asking sub-branches to help us build a picture of how the changes to pupil-free day arrangements have affected schools. In particular we are keen to know the positive and negative effects on professional development and how schools have had to change their parent/teacher reporting schedule. A survey will be sent to sub-branches in the first half of term. ◆

inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

Do my years of hard work count for anything? David Bunn membership services unit


ECOGNITION of prior service and recognition of prior experience are different but easily confused concepts. Prior service: An employer agrees to count earlier periods of employment with the same or another employer to determine your entitlements — usually long service leave, but sometimes also personal (sick) leave. Prior experience: An employer agrees to recognise work experience with other employers in setting your starting salary. Imagine a school teacher who has worked for several years in a government department before becoming a qualified teacher. Those years can count towards long service leave, but not in calculating the starting salary — only years of teaching as a qualified teacher count for that. On the other hand, years of teaching in nongovernment schools will not count for long service leave but will count towards starting salary. School teachers Prior service: Employment by a Commonwealth or state government department or agency and some other recognised bodies count for personal and long service leave. To count, maximum gap in service before starting in school is 12 months, except for prior service as a teacher (five years). CRT work does not count. Prior experience: Each completed full-time equivalent calendar year of teaching as a qualified teacher entitles the teacher to start one rung higher than the entry point. Casual relief teaching counts if done

after January 1, 2005. A teacher cannot start higher than E3, unless they were previously at E4. Education support Prior service: As for teachers. Prior experience: No recognition of prior experience; breaks of service of less than 12 months mean resumption on at least the same increment.

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

On the Phones?


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

TAFE teachers Prior service: Prior employment with other Victorian TAFEs and universities, Vic government schools and the Victorian public sector count as service for LSL and personal leave, provided you apply for recognition of this within six months of starting. Individual TAFEs may recognise interstate service or service with other organisations. Each new contract of employment is a new engagement. Prior experience: The TAFE Agreement provides for recognition of prior teaching experience (as a fully qualified teacher) and industry experience in setting the person’s starting salary.

Disability sector Prior service: No provision for recognition of prior service with other employers. Prior experience: Relevant employment affects starting salaries in day services. One year’s experience gives one step up the scale, but only within the same salary band. There is no prescribed process for other employees — they must negotiate before starting. AMES Prior service: Employment in Victoria in a TAFE, school, or the Victorian public sector counts towards long service leave but not personal leave. Prior experience: Years working as a qualified teacher in Australia and approved overseas settings count for starting salary purposes. Early childhood teachers Prior service: Unenforceable informal arrangements exist for teachers in stand alone preschools to have service recognised for long service and personal leave. In local government the treatment of this issue varies widely. Prior experience: For teachers covered by the MECA, a wide range of employment and studies in the early childhood field can help determine whether teachers start at graduate or accomplished levels. Contact the MSU for more details. Early childhood assistants Prior service: As for teachers Prior experience: No formal provision. ◆

Vale Barb and Tony T

HE AEU has lost two dedicated members and activists, in education support councillor Barb Vojtek and Sunraysia TAFE sub-branch president Tony Fishwick. Barb, who worked at Taylors Lakes Secondary College, died last month after a brief but courageous battle with illness. She is remembered as a trailblazer for ES members in the union, becoming one of the first to join and one of its first non-teaching councillors after the AEU gained coverage. She demonstrated a tireless passion and commitment, and was an active participant in the AEU’s women’s program. Her cheeky and confident nature meant she was never afraid to speak openly or ask a curly question. Tony Fishwick, who died in a car accident in June, is remembered for stepping up to the plate and taking over the Sunraysia TAFE sub-branch in Mildura two years ago, when it was in urgent need of renewal. Although a relatively new member, he took to the role with gusto. Colleagues recall his personal touch, his infectious enthusiasm and his ability to get things done. Tony and Barb will be sorely missed by their friends, colleagues and by their union. ◆


inside the AEU


New Educators NETWORk James Rankin graduate teacher organiser

Setting the agenda AEU sub-branches are there to support all members, including new teachers. So make sure your issues are on the table.


ERM 3 is generally when schools start the process of discussing local school agreements and consultation arrangements. That means this is the perfect time to make sure that important issues for you are put on the agenda at your sub-branch and with the school consultative committee. This is the best way to ensure that concerns or issues relevant to new teachers are properly addressed at your school. The consultative committee is a formal body under the Schools Agreement that facilitates meaningful consultation with staff about all workplace decisions — including staffing levels and workload, which makes it particularly relevant to new teachers. Committee members should include representatives from both the AEU sub-branch and the whole staff. So make sure your voice is heard. Speak to your consultative rep and ask to have some items added to the agenda. These may include the 5% reduction in graduate workload, the induction and mentoring program, access to professional development, allocation of student teachers and translation of contract teachers to ongoing. Don’t be shy!

Sick of contracts? Time to start talking translation For all those contract teachers out there it’s time to start talking to your school about the process of translating from contract to ongoing. I’ve discussed the process for this in previous issues of AEU News so for details check out back issues or download our Contract to Ongoing leaflet at There’s also a draft letter to help you or your sub-branch submit a formal request for translation. Teachers’ Games: September holidays Every year the Education Department organises a mini-Olympics for Victorian teachers during the Term 3 holiday. Anyone can enter and this year’s games are being held in Bairnsdale on September 20-23. The AEU is going to be the main sponsor and will be entering teams in many events — as well as holding some social events for members. If you are in any way sports-oriented then you should think about coming and entering some serious events. If not, there’s always lawn bowls! For more info about the games and the types of events go to and we’ll see you there! ◆

From the archive... The forty threats


N 1926, despite protests from unionists, school councils and other groups, the Government imported 40 secondary teachers (known to many as “the forty threats”) from the UK to take up places in the growing secondary sector, claiming a shortage of well qualified Australian teachers. Mordialloc High School Council summed up the concerns: “We deprecate the importation of teachers for high schools as being opposed to the Australian sentiment … The shortage of teachers is due to the inactivity of the Government in regard to finances.” In June 1927, there were 1,061 teachers in the secondary system. Despite the importation of the 40 UK teachers, the shortfall was 72 teachers, the Victorian Teachers Union claiming that this was on account of the need for “better salaries and less irksome conditions in the schools”. ◆ — Cheryl Griffin Sources: Public Record Office of Victoria, VPRS 892 Special Case 1206, Overseas teachers 1926-7; Teachers’ Journal, June 1, 1927, pp170 & 176




Challenge us to find you a better deal. Big Savings for Union Members


aeu news | august 2009

Emma Swann Holding Redlich


VERY teacher’s worst nightmare has just become your reality. You’ve had a car accident and a student was in your car. The student is badly injured. The accident was your fault. Who pays for the student’s medical bills? Can you be sued? Part of the vehicle registration fee that you or the owner of the car pays to VicRoads each year funds the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). Once a TAC claim form is lodged and accepted, the injured student can access a range of benefits from the TAC. Medical expenses The TAC will pay the student’s medical expenses for as long as they are required. This includes ambulance, hospital and rehabilitation expenses. The student is entitled to have other treatment, such as speech pathology or occupational therapy, paid for by the TAC, where it is reasonable and directly related to the accident. Impairment and minors benefits The injured student may be entitled to a lump sum impairment benefit on turning 18. The benefit is calculated using a formula based on the student’s level of permanent impairment. The student’s parents can receive a small weekly sum from the TAC called a minor’s benefit up until the student’s 18th birthday. Loss of earnings If the student was over 15 and had worked for specified periods before the accident, they may be entitled to loss of earnings benefits from the TAC. They may also be entitled to payments up to the age of 21 if it is shown that the student would have worked and has lost income because of their injuries. The right to sue If the student is deemed to have a “serious injury” — a long-term loss of a body function that has a severe impact on their working or domestic life, an impairment of 30% or more, significant scarring or a severe mental disorder —they have the right to sue for pain and suffering and economic loss, since their injuries were caused by your negligence. But don’t worry. The purpose of the TAC charge paid upon registration means that the TAC stands as the insurer to a negligent driver and is responsible for the costs of litigation. The negligent driver is not personally involved in the court process and is not economically liable for the costs involved in fighting or settling the case. ◆

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inside the AEU

Car accident — can I be sued?


Christine Stewart deputy branch secretary

First steps to a healthy workplace Stressed workplaces can change — but only if staff are brought together to address the challenge.


T’S that time of the year again when schools receive their Staff Opinion Survey results. We hear each year from concerned members about the difficulties associated with this — these come from principals, teachers and education support staff. So it is about time that we began to see poor results as a starting point for improvement. Yes I know that is easier to say than to do — but let’s look at how we can start to turn these results around. Or to be more accurate let’s start to change the school climate that has led to these results. Firstly this should be a whole of school activity; it is not something that can be fixed with a top down plan. It should not place extra work on an already stressed staff, but this task is important enough to dedicate staff meeting time to it. Remember — the Staff Opinion Survey captures a point in time, and one year’s result is not much use by itself. These scores need to be set in context with previous results and other available data. If these disappointing results are a one-off — your job is easy. Collectively, discuss what caused the downturn at the time you did the survey. Is it an event that is likely to be repeated? If yes, then the discussion needs to address ways of relieving the stress created. But if results indicate a continuing pattern then alarm bells should be ringing — things must change. There are two main ways of tackling stress through a whole staff approach — both should be used. The agreement and its consultation and (if necessary) grievance processes are the best way to tackle workload issues in particular; advice on this can be found in your AEU Agreement Implementation Guide. For other stress issues, you should turn to the health and safety legislation’s requirements on consultation and, more importantly, risk management. Advice on this can be found on the Education Department website at The “Health Schools” approach has been updated. We still have some concerns with the approach adopted here — but the intentions are good. Another option is the risk prevention approach in WorkSafe’s guide Stresswise — Preventing Work-Related Stress ( It takes a fairly simple approach; start by brainstorming a list of stressors. I suggest you now divide this list into three — either short, medium and long term issues or major, medium and minor stressors. The next step as a whole staff is to prioritise — don’t tackle all at once; that will only add to the stress. Then start to identify solutions. For this to work there needs to be a commitment from management to change. The department can provide support to help schools in this — including providing outside facilitators. Don’t put up with the risk to health created by stress any longer. Start by seeing the Staff Opinion Survey results as the first step to a more healthy working environment. ◆



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aeu news | august 2009

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Advertising deadline for AEU News 6 is

17 August 2009

Melbourne’s Tall Ship A unique educational resource

Information Afternoon for Teachers Includes a complimentary 1 hour sail Thursday 3 September, 2009

Find out what Enterprize can offer your students 2.00–4.00 pm at Docklands Bookings: p. 03 9397 3477 e.


Union aid

reaches milestone Nic Barnard AEU News


T’S now 25 years since the Australian union movement launched its humanitarian aid agency, Apheda (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad). Since then, as Union Aid Abroad–Apheda, it has expanded to run projects throughout southeast Asia and in southern Africa and the middle east with local and international partners. In Vietnam, Apheda provides work skills training for youths disabled by Agent Orange, and provides occupational health and safety training, has set up a micro-credit project and worked to counter trafficking of women and children. In Cambodia, it has been working to improve rural livelihoods, supported experimental work in high-nutrition, low-cost fish foods, and provided union training for beer promotion workers. On the Thai-Burmese border, Apheda works

with refugees, provides emergency housing for migrant workers and provides skills training for democracy activists. And it has provided skills training for women in Laos and education for child workers on Manila’s garbage dumps in the Philippines. Across the region, it has been involved in providing health and safety training, training, education and care around HIV and Aids. All of this work depends on the financial support of the Australian union movement and its members. AEU members are strongly encouraged to sign up to Apheda’s Global Justice campaign and make monthly donations by credit card or debit. Donation forms are available from Julie Lynch and Tony Delaney at the AEU — call (03) 9417 2822 or email Alternatively, you can sign up online — and find out more about Apheda’s work — at ◆

There’s no better time to volunteer overseas... There are many places you can go with Australian Volunteers International – from an English Language Supervisor in Lebanon to an ESL Instructor in China. Wherever you go, you’ll train local education workers and support people who urgently need your help. AVI’s next education recruitment drive starts September 19, we’re looking for: > English Language Supervisor – Lebanon > Special Education Supervisor – Lebanon > English Teacher – Indonesia > Curriculum and English Language Media Development – Indonesia > Teacher Librarian – Papua New Guinea > Day Care Centre – Mngt Mentor – Fiji > ESL Instructor – China > Community Empowerment through ESL – China

These women are just two of the hundreds who have completed apheda Aceh's organic agriculture training.

Aceh program winds down A

fter four years of working in post-tsunami Aceh, Union Aid Abroad–Apheda has closed its Banda Aceh office and completed all skills training program activities. Since 2005, Apheda Aceh has trained hundreds of women and men in a range of vocational and small business management skills, as well as providing start-up capital and grants to small business collectives. The program included the construction of an environmental resource centre, homes, community centres, community toilet blocks, salt farms and a vocational training centre. Apheda will continue to work with the Trade Union Care Centre and its international union partners to develop the capacity and skills of

activists and officials in the growing Acehnese union movement. Much remains to be done. To date, the union development program has seen hundreds of Acehnese workers develop an understanding of unionism. APHEDA has trained a core group of union activists in organising and facilitation skills, and has assisted with the emergence of new democratic trade unions such as SPKA — the health workers' union of Aceh. This work has been thanks to the support provided by those who donated to the tsunami appeal, those who continued to donate regularly to the program, and donor organisations around the world, including AusAID. ◆

But it’s not all about what you’ll give. In return you’ll receive airfares, accommodation, a living allowance, ongoing support, career advancement and you’ll have the experience of a lifetime. After all, what goes around comes around. Find out more at an AVI information session > Melbourne, Wednesday 22 July, 6.00pm - 8.30pm, Australian Volunteers International - enter via 88 Kerr Street, Fitzroy. RSVP via our website. For more information call Nancy Zele +61 3 9279 1843 or tollfree 1800 331 292 or email

tollfree 1800 331 292 AusAID, the Australian Government’s overseas aid program, is proud to provide significant support for Australian volunteers who work in a development capacity overseas.



Strine under strain

Proposed changes to book importing rules are a threat to Australia’s distinctive literary culture, children’s authors say.


USTRALIA’S rich culture of children’s fiction is at risk from the proposed changes to copyright and import laws, children’s authors and publishers have warned. Despite an outspoken campaign by authors, publishers and even many booksellers, the Productivity Commission last month recommended the Federal Government lift all restrictions on parallel importation of books on the basis that it will result in cheaper books for Australian consumers. Publishers and authors would retain territorial copyright on works for only the first 12 months of a book’s life, after which time booksellers could purchase any edition from any source in the world. Foreign editions characteristically pay a much lower royalty. The US, Britain and Canada all support territorial copyright for books. But more is at risk than authors’ income, says children’s author Sheryl Gwyther. In this new globalised market, publishers will prefer bland books that can easily cross borders, while local readers can expect to see Aussie works in foreign editions with spellings and inflections altered. “(Children need) books that hold mirror images of their own experiences, not those of children CEDAR BOYS Dir: Serhat Caradee Rated MA


EDAR Boys is an urban drama about three young Lebanese-Australian men drawn into Sydney’s underworld drug culture. Cleaner Nabill (Buddy Dannoun) hatches a plan to steal a stash of drugs with his mates, panel beater Tarek (Les Chantery) and small-time drugdealer Sam (Waddah Sari). For Tarek, the money offers a chance to fund an appeal for his brother Jamal (Bren Foster), languishing in gaol, and to impress new love interest, mysterious eastern suburbs girl Amie (Rachael Taylor). Caradee's attempt to “tell the story of our own Mean Streets”, in his first feature is a tense and authentic look at the lives of men caught between cultures. ◆ —RP


aeu news | august 2009

living in Manhattan, Texas or Manchester,” she says. “Books that echo with Australian voices, multicultural and all; stories connecting with our own place in the world. “Do you want to see Australian children reading books without Australian content and Americanised with Mom instead of Mum or faucets instead of taps, and vacation instead of holiday?” Children’s writer Mem Fox agrees: “It’s tantamount to firing the entire writing workforce in Australia and outsourcing it to other countries, who will in turn change the vocabulary and cultural references that the outsourcing country finds difficult to grasp. “This, in its turn, would mean in our case that particularly Australian books would not be published… No go for a book like Possum Magic, then, with a huge loss to readers and local cultural capital.” Fox earns 5% for each book sold — 64¢ on a $12.95 paperback of Possum Magic. Losing territorial copyright would reduce her royalty to 29¢. “It makes my old WorkChoices contract look like a gift from a fairy godmother,” she says. Australian publishers including Text’s Michael Heyward, Scribe’s Henry Rosenbloom and Hardie Grant’s Sandy Grant have all defended the current

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN Dir: Tomas Alfredson MA 15+, Madman


HIS chilly and chilling Swedish film won plenty of critics’ best-of awards last year but crept through cinemas. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a shy 12-yearold, bullied at school, ignored by his mother and gripped by thoughts of revenge. He befriends Eli (Lina Leandersson), the mysterious girl who moves in next door in his mid-winter Stockholm suburb. Portrait of lonely childhood, revenge fantasy, love story, vampire film, portrait of winter — the film is all this and more. Its moments of horror are fleeting and effective; but as with the best horror films, it’s the normal that is truly scary. The young leads are understated but effective. Recommended. ◆ —NB

system, crediting it with creating the “energy” in the nation’s most successful cultural industry and encouraging publishers to nurture their writers. The changes would transform Australia from a publishing centre to a marketplace, Grant has warned. Gwyther is leading a campaign to increase the pressure on the Federal Government to reject the commission’s report. “This corporate campaign to do in Australian authors and small independent publishers and bookshops is being ably run and organised by the giant corporations,” she says. “Are we prepared to let Coles and K-Mart monopolise the economic, political and cultural agendas?” ◆ To find out more, visit

This Little Kiddy Went to Market Sharon Beder UNSW Press RRP $39.95


EDER investigates the way corporations are turning children into hyperconsumers, passive citizens and submissive employees through their influence on school reforms, with their mantra of “standards, assessment and accountability”. Business has persuaded governments to turn schools into competing enterprises which suit corporate ends rather than the interests of children, Beder says. Funding shortages have allowed an influx of corporate materials, which shift responsibility onto school management; force a focus on test results over active citizenry and critical thinking; and erode the ideals of public education. ◆ —RP

THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE Catherine Therese Hachette Australia RRP $29.99


ILARIOUS and heartbreaking, this memoir captures the fears and preoccupations of childhood with unusual insight. The reader is plunged inside the lively mind of a suburban girl growing up in the 1960s and 70s with three sisters, an alcoholic father and a mother whom she fiercely protects. While we are taken through all the usual adolescent milestones, the underlying atmosphere is one of tension and denial, as the family works to hide their father’s terrible behaviour in the face of their mother’s shame. The confessed “odd sock” in a family, Therese has an emotionally charged story to tell — but more remarkable is her starkly original voice. ◆ —RP

Reviews by Rachel Power and NIC BARNARD

Rachel Power AEU News

AEU News is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at ABC Books, Text Publishing, Ford Street Publishing and Allen & Unwin. To enter, simply email us at by 10am Wednesday August 19. 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!

How Big is Big by 1-2W Curl Curl North Public School and Gretel Watson When students were given the challenge of making everyday maths come to life, they created an imaginary journey that tackles various concepts through colour collage artworks. It encourages young people to question, reason, communicate and reflect. Published by ABC Books, RRP $16.95.

Why Can't I Look The Way I Want? by Melinda Hutchings Unless you've been there it's impossible to know what it's like to be in the grip of an eating disorder. Melinda Hutchings, a survivor of anorexia nervosa, and ambassador for Eating Disorders Australia, has written what could ultimately be THE survival manual for victims — both guys and girls, and also friends and family. Published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $27.99.

The Fairies — Numbers by Jen Watts Counting to 10 has never been so much fun. Count fairies, magic wands, rainbows and flowers in this fan-fairy-tastic new book! Published by ABC Books, RRP $14.95.

The Good Daughter by Amra Pajalic Is she Sammie or Sabiha? Bosnian or Australian? Muslim or...? Sabiha is 15, fierce and funny. Girls bully her, she fights back. Where are her allies? Published by Text Publishing, RRP $19.95.

The Greatest Sheep in History by Frances Watts Ernie and Maud are attending the National Superheroes Conference, but when it is disrupted by Chicken George, it will take more than an ordinary superhero to save the day. Published by ABC Books, RRP $12.95.

They Told Me I Had To Write This by Kim Miller Blamed for the death of this mother and in trouble with the police, Clem is now in a toxic school for teenagers. Through his writing he goes deep into the trauma that has defined his life. Published by Ford Street Publishing, RRP $17.95.

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 4: Salt & Time Raiders #2 — Vincenzo Antonetti, Taylors Lakes Secondary College; Captain James Cook & The True History of Stuff — Joanne Thompson, Western Port Secondary College; Wallace & Gromit, Grand Adventures & Glorious Inventions — Scott Murphy, Beaumaris North Primary School; Big and Me — Emma-lee Powell, Brandon Park Primary School.

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AEU News Vol 15 Issue 5  

The August 2009 edition of the magazine for members of the AEU Victorian Branch, with features on the rising cost of TAFE, student exploitat...

AEU News Vol 15 Issue 5  

The August 2009 edition of the magazine for members of the AEU Victorian Branch, with features on the rising cost of TAFE, student exploitat...