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AEU NEWS v o l u m e 18 I i s s u e 8 I d e c e m b e r 2 012

l l e n a w i r e B r Faary and M What makes a great rep | The human faces of Baillieu’s cuts | Stopworks roll on 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 www.aeuvic.asn.au email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au

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

Stay informed — Join the debate Keep up to date and have your say on the AEU’s campaign and social media sites.

Keep the promise (keepthepromise.com.au) Get the latest news regarding your EBA campaign from our dedicated website. Tell Ted to keep the promise. TAFE4All (tafe4all.org.au) Your starting point for the fight to save TAFE. Facebook www.facebook.com/aeuvic www.facebook.com/tafe4all www.facebook.com/myschoolneeds Twitter @marybluett, @aeuvictoria, and follow our campaigns at @tafe4all and @myschoolneeds.

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aeu news |december 2012

cover story

Farewell, Mary and Brian

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As Mary Bluett and Brian Henderson say goodbye to 31 years at the head of the union, AEU News looks back.

features

12 14 20

Dixon’s Prescription

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COVER: Peter Lambropoulos

Rolling on Great turn-outs at our regional rallies have put Coalition MPs on notice to start standing up for their local schools.

The human cost Baillieu’s cuts may be numbers to the Treasurer but they damage real lives — both students and teachers.

Men on a (low budget) mission Treasurer Kim Wells asked the questions; now Martin Dixon provides the answers on school autonomy. Who needs a debate?

Reps report

Sub-branch reps are the lifeblood of the AEU. But what makes a good union rep?

regulars

3 president’s report 4 letters 9 rep of the month 24 AEU training 25 on the phones

27 27 28 30 31

women’s focus safety matters classifieds culture giveaways

contacts

editorial enquiries Nic Barnard tel (03) 9418 4841 fax (03) 9415 8975 email nic.barnard@aeuvic.asn.au

advertising enquiries Lyn Baird tel (03) 9418 4879 fax (03) 9415 8975 email lyn.baird@aeuvic.asn.au

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

Printed on ReArt Matt 100% recycled paper

AEU NEWS

Contents


president’s report

Baillieu gets an F

Sometimes a report card really needs comments. Two years in, this is my verdict on Ted Baillieu.

A

S THE schools EBA dispute intensifies with our rolling stoppages and ban on written comments on reports, the Baillieu Government has passed the halfway mark in its four-year term. Time for a mid-term report — with comments. This government’s record on public education is one of cuts, broken promises and, when it comes to TAFE, outright vandalism. They promised to make Victorian teachers the highest paid in the nation; they lied — Fail. They promised to continue Labor’s school rebuilding program; they haven’t — Fail. They promised to invest in schools; they have cut funding to VCAL, VET, EMA, Reading Recovery, literacy, numeracy, and Koorie coaches — Fail. They promised to reign in the market and reinvest in TAFE; then they ripped out $345 million because of rorting by some private providers — Fail. The cuts have squeezed schools further by significantly raising the cost of VET; some schools are now cutting VET/VCAL programs — Fail. At the same time, they have increased funding to non-government schools and enhanced incentives for private providers to enter the apprenticeship market. Level 3/432 St Kilda Road,soMelbourne This government promised much to get3004 elected andus thenatbetrayed the electorate. And the Visit www.retirevic.com.au electorate is, unsurprisingly, not impressed.

The Premier’s disapproval rating at this stage and a 24 hour statewide stoppage on February 14. of government is unprecedented in recent history Valentine’s Day will hold no love for this government. — 52% with only 31% approving. The news for AEU members’ resolve is strong, as the rolling the Coalition is equally dismal: two-party preferred half-day stoppages show. Stay strong — we will win. polling of 45% for the Coalition and 55% for Labor. A Herald Sun correspondent noted: “The halving Thank you of the (National’s) vote … suggests budget cuts to Branch secretary Brian Henderson and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all AEU members TAFE are biting in the regions.” This is testimony to for your support over 31 years. You have given us our TAFE4All campaign. the enormous honour of advocating on behalf of He goes on: “Labor insiders are convinced the public education and those wonderful people who AEU’s campaign over teacher pay is also not just work so hard to deliver for our students. hurting the Government; it’s a major reason Mr We are proud to leave the union with a memberBaillieu’s personal approval rating is tanking. … ship which has grown under our leadership, not only The promise to make Victoria’s teachers the best in PROVIDERS terms of numbers (from 22,000 members to paid in the country is oneAEU voters identify with him PREFERRED over 53,000) but as a campaigning union. personally.” We are strong. You can be proud of your efforts in shaping We depart knowing that our deputies, presidentpublic opinion and opposition to this government’s elect Meredith Peace and secretary-elect Gillian cuts. The Victorian public supports you. Robertson, will provide strong leadership to our wonderful union. They are supported by a strong Next year leadership and staff. AEU members are well served. We face another big year; the schools EBA, TAFE Again, thank you for your support. � and early childhood reforms are all challenges. Our modified salary offer gave the Government an opportunity to resolve this dispute following some movement on contract levels for teachers and ES. It Retirement is the AEU’s preferred provider financial and retirement planning services to members. is clearlyVictoria incapable of negotiating in ofgood faith. Retirement Victoria Pty Ltd is an authorised representative of Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Lts AFSL 244252 AEU Vic branch president Consequently it faces a 38-hour week campaign

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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 aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au. Letters should be no more than 250 words and must include name, workplace and contact details of the writer. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Next deadline: 31 January, 2013.

The freedom to disagree I

N REPLY to Brian Henderson’s criticisms of the stopwork rally (‘Rod Laver’s longest rally’, AEU News, November), the rally was too long partly because it took over an hour to get started on the debates and partly because some speakers could have made their points briefer. I don’t think there is a need to change the speaking times; some issues take time to explain and if you make your point quickly and concisely

Need for proper debate BRIAN Henderson has suggested that amendments and motions put to stopwork meetings should first be approved by AEU council. I challenge Brian to debate this and how stopwork meetings could be more engaging and less alienating in AEU News. There are many factors, which all members need to know about, and the letters page cannot provide adequate space for all these issues to be clearly explained. — Mary Merkenich CRT, AEU councillor elect A teacher is a teacher AMES teachers read with concern in the latest AEU News about the progress of the school teachers’ rally because we are teachers and we support their campaign to have education and teachers truly valued. We follow the situation of the TAFE teachers because we are teachers in the TAFE sector. We understand the long-time struggle for recognition and equal conditions for the teachers of the disability sector and kindergarten teachers because we are teachers in the minority sectors. Mary Bluett said “a teacher is a teacher is a teacher” and yet time and again we don’t see the evidence of this, particularly in our AEU magazine.

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aeu news |december 2012

requires two elected members to do so on their behalf. Finally, a stopwork meeting is about the serious business of discussing our industrial action. Democracy is the right to free speech but also the tolerance to listen to those with whom we disagree. — Steven Adams Hallam Senior College

you will be more successful anyway. There is no rule that between Branch Council and a stopwork meeting you can’t think of an amendment or change your mind. Situations can change and even leadership can add amendments and are not bound by the decision of Council. The votes of 15,000 members who turned up to the stopwork supersede the 100 or so at branch council anyway.

It is illogical to argue that because I voted a certain way the other members of Teachers and ES Alliance, even those not on Branch Council, should not have moved an amendment. The idea that an amendment be submitted to the AEU executive or sector council for approval is undemocratic. A regular member has no authority to move or speak to a motion at either of these forums and

We are qualified teachers, have extra qualifications and we are AEU members but how many of you are aware of us or our struggle for parity in pay and conditions? Ten years ago we rightly shared the same teaching conditions. Now we are still teachers but we get about $12,000 less. We get three days (rather than five) without a medical certificate, lunch breaks are rare, and our workload has continued to rise dramatically. Those of us in the higherpaid bracket are expendable and staff at “targeted” sites were offered voluntary or targeted packages. The union successfully fought this through Fair Work Australia yet there is still no mention of us. Please: a teacher is a teacher is a teacher! — Julie Holland Adult Multicultural Education Service

all actions suggested — except for one. It is very unfair to put a ban on school camps next year because of the serious financial impact this will have on so many camp owners and staff. Although the ban makes a strong point about working to hours, I find it unethical to destroy other people’s businesses, many of which are struggling. I think this aspect needs to be properly thought out and considered. I don’t believe it is fair or just. I will advocate for our school to ignore the ban on camps and that we attend all camps planned for next year. Union members need to think about this aspect as it is not just about us. This ban could be catastrophic for those who own and run camps and it is just not good enough. — Lynne Pearce The Patch PS

access to part-time leadership work and that this be available only to female teachers. Is this union policy or is she speaking in her usual anti-male crusade? Maybe it is time the women’s officer position was abolished as it has outlived its usefulness. We now have over 50% of principal class positions occupied by females and this will increase rapidly as the vast majority of leading teachers are females and this is generally where the next wave of principals are appointed from. The overwhelming majority of teachers (especially in primary and preschools) are female. It may eventuate that a men’s officer is needed to ensure that male teachers are given a fair opportunity in their teaching careers. — Ian Bennett Jan Juc

Camp bans unfair AS A long-serving member of the union (39 years), I have supported all the recent stopworks and rallies in order to make a stand against the serious issues we face as a teaching profession. I commend the AEU on the way the campaign has been run and promoted and will continue to support

A man writes… THE article in November AEU News by the women’s officer concerns me and others I’m sure. She says the lack of applicants for principal positions “could be reduced if women had access to part-time leadership work”. Basically she is saying that males should not have

Editor’s note: Access to part-time leadership roles for women does not preclude similar access for men, nor did the article suggest this. The AEU supports parental rights including flexible work options for all parents. Women make up 74% of teachers but only 51% of principals.


news

Valentine’s Day rally is on Schools urged to prepare for 38-hour week and February 14 rally after talks break down. Nic Barnard AEU News

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ROSPECTS of a Schools Agreement now lie in the Baillieu Government’s hands after its abject failure to respond to attempts by the AEU to reach a settlement. As AEU News went to press, preparations were being made for a Valentine’s Day statewide stopwork rally on February 14 and school sub-branches were urged to meet to discuss next term’s 38-hour week. It took three weeks for Education Department negotiators to respond to the AEU’s revised offer — by saying the Baillieu Government had given them “no new instructions”. That prompted the AEU’s walkout. Branch president Mary Bluett said the union would not return to the table until she received a call saying the Government had something new to offer. This month sees the second anniversary of the AEU serving its log of claims on the then-newly elected Baillieu Government and Minister for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall. And while EBA negotiations with the Bracks and Brumby Governments also led to strike action, this dispute has now dragged out far longer. The AEU has booked a venue for February 14 and will be looking to match its record-breaking turnout of September 5. Rolling stopworks around the state have shown a hardening mood among members over the Government’s failure to negotiate. Deputy president — and AEU president-elect — Meredith Peace said: “When we come back in late January, we will be moving straight into preparations for another stopwork and into the 38-hour week.

“The ban on unpaid overtime will finally drive home once and for all the immense amount of work that our members do every day and every week in their own time without a cent of recompense. “Members are so used to running out-of-hours activities and doing their marking and preparation at home that it may prove a challenging ban, so it’s

Time to turn off the phone A

EU members are saying a long goodbye to AEU branch president Mary Bluett and branch secretary Brian Henderson as the year ends. The pair said goodbye to councillors at the year’s final council meeting on December 7 and were this week due to be farewelled by several hundred colleagues and comrades past and present at a reception at Abbotsford Convent. What comes next is a refreshingly empty diary and a chance to finally turn off the mobile phone. “No plans!” is Mary’s response to all questions. “We’re taking a break for three months and then we’ll see what happens from there.” Brian says his only plan is to plant a new vegetable garden after the couple moved house last year. A visit by the couple to see Henderson’s daughter in Barcelona later in the year is also pencilled in. “I’m going to sleep in without the phone going off at 6 o’clock every morning. Then after I’ve had a rest I’ll work out what comes next because neither Mary nor I have had more than a couple of weeks’ break in 31 years.” While the future may be an open book, Mary says there is one date fixed in her diary: “I know where I’ll be on February 14.” �

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important that members discuss it before they break up this month so they all know the plan when they return in January.” Advice on the 38-hour week will be posted on the AEU website before the end of term and distributed to sub-branch reps. Materials for the February 14 stopwork will be distributed early in the new year. �

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news

AMES teachers resist cuts Nic Barnard AEU News

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AIR Work Australia has blocked attempts by management of the Adult Multicultural Education Service to “rewrite” the agreement to shed its most experienced teachers. AMES has been struggling with serious budget shortfalls and this year offered voluntary ­redundancies — but only to teachers at the top of the pay scale. In a traumatic year for staff, management also cancelled new contracts, throwing into turmoil some teachers who were getting close to eligibility for ongoing positions. The service has since converted a number of teachers. The AEU has voiced concerns that AMES has been attempting to implement significant changes without meaningful consultation or negotiations. The changes have prompted more than a dozen individual dispute cases, some of which are still outstanding after more than six months. AEU organiser Michael Hill said: “These teachers deal with very vulnerable students — people who have moved here with a wide range of difficult and traumatic backgrounds. They do a fantastic job but they just feel let down by management. “They’re trying to be supportive, consistent and caring for their students who have had a pretty hard road and they had hoped that management would have their backs, but that hope has been dashed.”

Vale Geoff Reid

T

he AEU has paid tribute to former teachers’ leader Geoff Reid, who died last month. Dr Reid was president of the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association from 1971–75. AEU president Mary Bluett said Dr Reid had been “a strong supporter and advocate for public education and those that worked in it”. �

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aeu news |december 2012

The AEU took the service to Fair Work over its voluntary redundancy packages which would have effectively redefined teachers at the top of the pay scale as a separate class of teacher. The packages were offered to staff only at centres in Oakleigh, Flagstaff and Noble Park. The changes have been exacerbated by a management reorganisation that has piled extra work

onto senior teachers. Hill said: “The positive side is the resolve of members and the collegiality and support they’ve been showing each other. The performance of our reps on the AMES teacher consultative committee despite a very heavy workload has been outstanding. They’ve really held together.” �

Dixon sees red … again

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CHOOLS Minister Martin Dixon chose the wrong day to visit Boronia K-12 College in Melbourne’s outer east. He arrived for an event just hours after EBA negotiations with the Government broke down. Dixon’s car was directed to the rear entrance of the recentlymerged school’s Boronia Heights campus, only to be greeted by the familiar sight of protestors from not only Boronia K-12 but

schools around the region. Members in red from Upwey High School, Lilydale HS, Fairhills HS and Mooroolbark College were among those who joined their Boronia colleagues. Visits by Coalition MPs are banned under the AEU’s industrial campaign for a fair agreement for teachers, principals and ES staff. Branch president Mary Bluett said: “It’s entirely inappropriate

for Coalition MPs to try to use public schools for photo opportunities at a time when they are refusing to value the work of school staff. “Today, the Education Minister has received another reminder that public school staff are committed to getting a fair deal and will campaign for as long as it takes.” �


news

Gonski finally gets going In the dying days of the parliamentary year Julia Gillard tables a bill to create a fairer school funding system. Sian Watkins AEU News

Peter Garrett at the AEU Geelong forum.

The bill follows the David Gonski-led review of school funding, which found the current model to be inequitable and recommended a system that would divert more money to disadvantaged students, most of whom attend government schools. The additional cost of the model would be $6.5bn a year. The school improvement plan would cover teacher, principal and curriculum quality, increased autonomy for schools and making school performance more transparent and its leaders more accountable. Ms Gillard hopes to make a deal on implementation with the states, territories and independent school sectors early next year. The bill will be updated to reflect their agreements and, if passed, come into effect at the start of 2014, when the existing funding system expires. Few of the states or territories (most with conservative governments) support the bill. Their governments don’t like being told how to run their education systems or the prospect of having to spend more on them. State Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews — who met Gonski campaigners from the AEU last month — says Labor would support the legislation if it wins the next state election in 2014. Federal education spokesman Christopher Pyne says a federal Coalition government would extend the existing funding model for two years to allow the public to decide at a 2016 election which party’s policy it supported. Last month also saw Federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett address an AEU public forum in Geelong to preview the Government’s Gonski legislation. �

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OBBYING efforts of AEU members for a fairer school funding system are paying off, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard moving late last month to “eradicate the great moral wrong which sees some Australian children denied the transformative power of a great education”. The Government’s long-awaited Australian Education Bill, presented to Parliament on November 27, seeks to: • Enshrine Australian children’s right to a quality education • Set goals for Australia to be ranked as a top five country in the world in reading, science and mathematics by 2025 and be top-five in delivering an equitable, high-quality education system • Set out a national school improvement plan that states and non-government school sectors must support to receive federal funding. • Establish a new funding system with a set amount of money for all students and extra money allocated to disadvantaged and disabled students. The bill does not define how the loadings for disadvantage will be calculated, how the funding system will be indexed, or what percentage states and territories must contribute to the extra $6.5 billion a year to be spent on schools. There is an expectation that the Federal Government will put up 70% of the extra money to be spent.

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news

From woah to go

Jan Hare jumped in at the deep end when she organised a new school’s sustainability program. Sian Watkins AEU News

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AN Hare gulped when asked by her principal to oversee sustainability programs at Epping Views Primary soon after it opened five years ago. With little experience in living greener, Hare turned to the guidelines issued by the ResourceSmart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) managed by Sustainability Victoria. Hare, a 40-year teaching veteran, was last month named the ResourceSmart primary teacher of the year for her sustainability efforts. Epping Views also collected three other awards: ResourceSmart school of the year and the waste and water school of the year. Epping Views opened on a large block of rocky clay amid a handful of remnant river red gums in Melbourne’s outer north-east. Its student population has grown from 30 to 580 and will rise to 700 next year (it now has seven portable classrooms). Amid the heaving human impact on the surrounding landscape, the school has done much in that time to ameliorate its water and energy consumption, reduce the amount of waste it generates and ­revegetate a site stripped bare. And importantly, its students, like those at the many schools trying to leave lighter footprints, are returning home to apply what they’re learning or to Gifts that change lives

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PHEDA, the Australian union movement’s aid charity, has launched its festive season range of gifts and cards. Send a message of solidarity to workers and their families in developing countries with APHEDA Christmas cards, available in packs of 10 for $10. You can also give “Gifts that Change Lives” and help empower communities to fight their way out of poverty by gaining skills and knowledge, and organising for fair and decent work. Donate on behalf of friends or family and you’ll receive a gift card to present, showing what the gift is achieving. Find out more or order gifts and cards at apheda.org.au/ getinvolved/. �

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aeu news |december 2012

sensory garden. Older students teach younger students about sustainability and every classroom has four bins — one each for paper, recyclables, food scraps and waste. Only nude food is allowed in the playground; water from 11 tanks waters the oval and flushes toilets and a 10-megawatt solar power system has helped offset the extra energy demand from a fast-growing school. Seven chickens living in Cluckingham Palace eat the school’s food scraps and lay about six eggs a day, sold to staff with the revenue and earnings from aluminium can collections going towards Jan Hare (centre rear) with sustainability student leaders and teacher leaders sustainability projects. John Longley, Sharon Taylor, Melanie Rowley and Safa Chebbou. Last year Epping Views reduced its landfill Photo: Angela Bailey waste by 65% (saving it $1,089) and cut its paper consumption by 67%, saving $1,910. challenge household practices. Teachers Sarah Hillsley and Brooke Layton said Hare says the school’s efforts have been in nominating Hare for the ResourceSmart award successful because school principal Pauline Kubat that she was the “driving force behind our school’s was “passionate about it”, because everyone five-star sustainabilty certification and she continues — students, teachers and support staff — was to inspire a passion for sustainability at Epping involved and because initiatives were embedded in Views”. daily school life. Bentleigh Secondary College also did well in the Action teams on waste, water, biodiversity and energy are made up of students and teachers. They awards. It has a wetland, vegetable garden, a solar power system and a soccer pitch with sub-surface set goals, identify actions and plan or participate in irrigation. Category winners are listed at activities such as Clean Up Australia, tree planting www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au. � and working bees. One project underway is a

Teacher education survey

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DEAKIN University-led research team invites principals and new educators to take part in a national longitudinal study into the effectiveness of teacher education. The online survey is part of two studies: the Australian Research Council-funded study, Studying the Effectiveness of Teacher Education, and the National Longitudinal Teacher Education Workforce Study funded through the federal Teacher Quality National Partnership. The second of three principal surveys is now open. If you completed the first survey in March to May, please go to tinyurl. com/9xg2ffc. The closing date for responses is December 14. The success of the research rests upon the involvement of principals. For more information, email jodie.kline@deakin.edu.au or pauline.ho@deakin.edu.au. �

REGISTER FOR Close the Gap Day 2013

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XFAM invites schools to join National Close the Gap day on March 21. This year, 65,000 students — like those at Kooweerup College —were among more than 130,000 Australians who helped make NCTGD 2012 the most successful so far and Close the Gap the biggest Indigenous health campaign in Australia’s history. Despite significant improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant and child mortality rates in recent times, Australia still has a long way to go to close the 10 to 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2030. Close the Gap classroom resources are aligned to the Australian Curriculum cross-curricular priority, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. They can be used in subjects such as

society and environment, health, English, history, geography and food technology. The schools pack this year includes more materials such as tattoos and stickers, a shorter DVD and new online links and resources. To register your school go to www.oxfam.org.au. �


news

TAFE cuts hit school choices

The Auditor-General confirms school leaders’ frustrations about VCAL and VETiS cuts and the lack of support for disengaged students. Sian Watkins AEU News

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CHOOL leaders’ anger over the removal of VCAL coordinator funding last year has been vindicated by an Auditor-General report which found that the Education Department provided little evidence for its decision nor considered the impact it would have on schools. The report makes similar criticisms of the department’s VET in schools (VETiS) funding, which has risen only 1% in the past three years despite big increases in VET delivery costs. These costs will rise further next year as TAFEs begin charging more for delivering and auspicing VET in schools in response to their budgets being cut by $300 million. The Victorian Auditor-General’s report said the department had failed to significantly improve school completion rates in the past 10 years. Completion rates for non-metropolitan and disadvantaged students have deteriorated and the Year 12 completion rate of 19-year-olds (80%) had not improved since 2008. The report reinforces what school leaders and TAFE employees having been saying for months — that the government’s big cuts to TAFE, VCAL, EMA and VETiS funding are a disgrace, hurting the secondary-aged students who need the most help and making a mockery of government school completion targets. Principals say that TAFE fee hikes and course cuts threaten to further derail completion rates among the 40,000 secondary students taking the VCAL vocational certificate. Students must take a VET subject to complete VCAL but course cuts and big fee increases are deterring them from starting or completing courses, principals say. TAFEs charge an auspicing fee for overseeing delivery of VET in schools where the school is not registered as a training organisation. But while those fees spiral, VETiS funding next year has been capped at 2012 levels. Schools will also have to cover increasing course gap fees that they cannot pass on to students. Point Cook Senior Secondary College and four other senior schools in the Hobsons Bay network expect their auspicing bill from Victoria University TAFE to increase by tens of thousands of dollars next year. Point Cook Senior principal Greg Sperling said 10 out of 20 of his students would not complete their Certificate II in building and construction next year because the TAFE fee was doubling from $540 to $1000.

The gap for students contemplating electro-technology will rise from $420 to $1300. “So much for breaking down barriers to VET,” Mr Sperling said. “VCAL students require a VET subject to gain their certificate but we know of many instances where students are not starting or going on to complete their VET certificates because of the fee increases. “We are having to find something for them internally which may not really be what they want to do.” Hampton Park SC principal David Finnerty said the TAFE funding cuts were having significant consequences for the many secondary students for whom affordable and accessible VET was critical. Nearly 200 students were yet to return VET application forms for next year, he said. “Course closures (at Chisholm Institute) and very big fee increases are having a major impact (on students). The big impediments to VET for many students are cost and travel.” The range of courses being offered by TAFEs is declining. Funding cuts of $23m have forced Box Hill TAFE to cut nine of its 27 VET programs for secondary students, including certificates in engineering, sport and recreation, and hospitality.

Labor launches new tafe policy

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tate Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says Labor will rescind at least part of the TAFE cuts should it win government in 2014. “Under our plan, students in country towns, people from low socio-economic backgrounds or those who require literacy and numeracy help will all have access to affordable high quality training,” he said. Mr Andrews said that funding TAFE would be “Labor’s first budget priority, with additional funding coming from savings obtained from the crack down on unscrupulous providers”. The AEU welcomed the policy but will press Labor to pledge to return further resources to TAFE.

The State Government has told principals to “shop around” among private providers if TAFE fees are too high. The Government has saved $12m a year by cutting VCAL coordinator funding. This timeconsuming job involves intensive contact with VCAL students, organising placements, career counselling and liaising with local job and industry networks. Rosebud SC assistant principal Felix Patton said the job at his school was now being done by a teacher and “lots of the load has fallen to ES members, who help support its administration”. The Auditor-General’s report said the department, in justifying the VCAL cut, ignored commissioned research and did not consult schools about the likely effect of the cut. It did not examine schools’ VCAL running costs and “did not consult with schools to understand these costs”. It said the department also failed to monitor or evaluate programs for disadvantaged, at-risk students to gauge whether or not they were helping improve completion rates. � Download the Auditor-General’s report, Student Completion Rates, at tinyurl.com/d224lqp.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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news

Preschool workload deters and discourages

Extra work created by well-meaning reforms mean many see no future in the sector. Sian Watkins AEU News

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HE State Government’s continuing failure to improve early childhood educators’ pay and working conditions will prevent it from achieving nationally-agreed reforms in the sector, the AEU warns. The AEU’s Early Childhood Wellbeing Survey confirms that excessive workloads — expected to increase when 4-year-old kindergarten programs are extended by four-plus hours a week next year as part of universal access reforms — are deterring graduates and driving people out of the profession. Nearly 91% of 355 respondents said their workload had increased, or increased a lot, in the past 12 months. This is on top of greatly increased workloads reported in last year’s AEU Early Childhood Workload Survey. Nearly 73% of respondents this

year said they were considering leaving the profession because of heavy workloads exacerbated by work involved in implementing national reforms designed to improve the quantity and quality of preschool education. Just over half (52%) of this group anticipate leaving within three years. One respondent considering leaving said she would return to the profession only if “conditions improved and the expectations, support and remuneration were realistically balanced with expectations and responsibilities”. AEU vice president Shayne Quinn said: “Teachers and co-educators make it clear that, without respite from ever-increasing workload demands, they will leave the sector.” From next year, Australian kindergartens and childcare centres must deliver a 15-hour 4-year-old

kinder program, up from 10.75 hours. Victorian preschools can defer for up to a year if they have insufficient space or resources or if the move would mean sacrificing programs for 3-year-olds. The survey suggests almost three-quarters of services (73%) will introduce the 15-hour week next year while one in five (19%) will move

Moonya pulls back from brink A

DULT disability service Moonya has rescinded a threat to close its day support program after a change of leadership at the Gippsland provider. Moonya Community Services acting CEO Jodie Baker met the AEU at Fair Work Australia and committed to consultation with the union and a review of the Wonthaggi provider’s options and financial situation. She said that moves to terminate Moonya day services and transfer them to another Gippsland provider had been only a proposal. She will revisit options and seek independent advice on the centre’s parlous finances. AEU vice president Greg Barclay said: “This was a positive discussion with the acting CEO and we are confident that this will continue over the coming weeks. “I’m heartened by the fact that Ms Baker came to Melbourne to meet us. She could have taken part by telephone but decided that she wanted to attend the discussions in person.”

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The AEU turned to Fair Work Australia over concerns that the Moonya board was breaching its agreement in apparently deciding unilaterally to terminate the program. The Moonya Agreement requires the employer to notify staff as soon as possible of any decision with potentially significant effects. FWA deputy president Reg Hamilton told both parties to end the blame game and focus on saving the program, addressing the morale, stress and health and safety issues at the centre and striking a new agreement. Barclay said: “We have a shared interest in supporting the acting CEO’s efforts to stabilise and improve the climate of the organisation. Without that there can be no hope that the day service will continue, as we wish it to.” �

— Nic Barnard AEU News

towards it. Only 8% will continue to deliver 10.75 hours. Programs must be delivered by qualified preschool teachers by 2014 and staff-child ratios lowered by 2016. But with nearly 75% of respondents aged between 40 and 59, against 5% aged 20–29, those targets are at risk. Some 46% of teachers and nearly 62% of co-educators who responded to the survey are five to 10 years from retirement, far outnumbering new entrants to the profession who are themselves disillusioned. “Alarm bells must be ringing,” Ms Quinn said. Of the respondents who anticipate leaving the sector because of workload, 53% say they will look for a different job. Only one in five would retire. The seriousness of the workload issue is compounded by the relatively stable and committed nature of the workforce, with 60% of respondents working for the same employer for more than six years and 37% for more than 10. Ms Quinn said the AEU’s nearly decade-long campaign for recognition of the importance of early childhood educators’ work had been won. But governments now had to back this up with money and resources to keep people in the profession. Of respondents to this year’s survey, 77% were teachers, 20% co-educators and 3% “other”, such as assistants, preschool field officers or activity group leaders. �


news

Feast &famine

Much-delayed government figures show shortages persist despite an explosion in teacher training enrolments. Sian Watkins AEU News SOUTH AUSTRALIA AEU members have voted 96% in favour of a new agreement with the SA Government which gives them pay rises of 3% a year for three years with no loss of conditions. The proposed agreement covers schools, TAFE and early childhood sectors and had been unanimously endorsed by branch council. The deal follows eight months of intensive negotiations. Paid maternity leave rises to 20 weeks by June 2014. The deal also includes a new structure and incentives to attract and retain leaders in schools and preschools, and improved local decisionmaking processes. QUEENSLAND A NEW agreement has also been endorsed by 95% of Queensland Teachers’ Union members. The deal gives them 2.7% a year with conditions maintained. The union was keen to retain conditions including class size targets, incentives for educators in remote areas, and transfer and relocation processes. NEW SOUTH WALES THE AEU in NSW is in dispute over a lack of consultation in almost every TAFE institute in the state as the sector embarks on cuts to courses and staff. The NSW Teachers Federation has accused the O’Farrell State Government of privatisation by stealth by restricting access to publicly-funded vocational education “on an unprecedented scale”. At the Sydney Institute, some teachers were pulled out of classes to be told they had 11 days to make a “business case” to keep their jobs. Proposed changes to the institute were handed to union leaders 30 minutes before a “vodcast” to staff. �

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igger-than-anticipated demand for teacher training will result in oversupplies of primary and secondary teachers in the next three years while preschool teachers’ wages will need to rise to meet the higher demand for qualified early childhood teachers following reforms to the sector, a State Government report has found. The 2011-2012 Teacher Supply and Demand report, the release of which was continually delayed by the Government this year, also confirms the increased proportion of teachers employed on contracts in recent years — 19% in 2010—11. Shortages of teachers persist in some rural regions and for teachers of maths, science (physics and chemistry) and languages, while 29% of teachers are teaching outside their area of expertise. The report says that final-year enrolments in undergraduate teaching courses totalled 5,662 last year, a 10-year high. First-year teacher training enrolments jumped 29% last year following the removal of caps on government funding of undergraduate courses. Enrolments are understood to have risen a further 12% this year. The report predicts a small surplus of primary school teachers (140 a year) and a larger surplus (580) of secondary teachers over the next three years. In June last year, 114,928 people were registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching to teach. Some of these are casual relief teachers but their number is not known. The number of teachers employed in Victorian schools was 72,521 in 2010 (43,290 in government schools, 15,847 in Catholic schools and 13,384 in independent schools). In 2010 nearly 80% of graduate-entry teaching course graduates were employed as teachers compared with 68% of undergraduate teaching course graduates.

The growth in teacher numbers in Victoria in the past 10 years has matched growth in student numbers (39,614). The number of Victorian primary students is expected to increase by 66,700 between 2010-20. Big growth in secondary numbers is predicted from 2016 on. The increased proportion of Victorian teachers working in independent schools in the past 10 years (from 15% to 18%) corresponds with the increase in non-government school enrolments. The proportion of students in government schools was 63% in mid-2010. The report refers briefly to a “continuing difficulty in balancing practicum supply and demand”. This means that finding enough schools to accept the huge growth in student teacher numbers is proving more difficult than usual. Some education experts say there are too many teacher training providers training too many people. Women make up about 70% of the teaching workforce. Amid a public debate about teacher quality, the report says it is unclear how lower ATAR scores of student teachers “might predict university performance or influence graduate teacher quality”. � Download the report at tinyurl.com/avv7vuh (PDF).

Our Awesome videos T

AFE4ALL’s inaugural short video competition has been won by 18-year-old building and construction students Brad Parsons and Nick Daykin for their video “T.A.F.E. = The Alternative for Everyone?” TAFE4All received several moving and thought-provoking entries to the competition, which asked students to produce original short videos on the theme of “Why TAFE is awesome”. The winning video, based on “likes” on the competition’s Facebook

page, depicts Parson’s transition from being down and out on the streets of Ballarat to a happy and productive student at TAFE. “The transition from high school to TAFE was probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Brad said. “Without TAFE I wouldn’t have the education I have today. Now ask yourself: where are next year’s students going to be with these cuts?” Taylor Horrocks’ video, which came a close second, celebrated the

inclusiveness of TAFE, while third prize was won by Year 5 Spring Gully Primary student Tomi Rodoni, who plans to donate half of her $500 prize money to her school and half to the Refugee Art Project, whose volunteers give art classes in refugee detention centres. “I’m so glad someone liked it — other than my family,” Tomi said. “I can’t wait to tell my teacher, Mr Staley, tomorrow. I think he’ll be proud of me.” �

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ROM Mildura to Mornington, Colac to Keilor, AEU members have painted their towns red at the EBA campaign’s rolling regional stopworks. The half-day rallies stopped for the duration of the VCE exams, but began again on November 27 with a rally at MP Peter Crisp’s office in Mildura followed by a noisy gathering outside Schools Minister Martin Dixon’s office in McCrae. Here are some of our favourite pictures of the rallies to date. You can find more pictures from every event on our campaign website keepthepromise.com.au — and don’t forget to share your own pictures on the AEU Vic page on Facebook. �

Photo: SUNRAYSIA DAILY

campaign

Stopworks

COLAC

COLAC

HAMILTON

HAMILTON

BENTLEIGH EAST

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WARRNAMBOOL


campaign

ROSANNA

NORTHCOTE

Rolling on! WONTHAGGI

MILDURA

McCrae

BENTLEIGH EAST

FRANKSTON

SALE

Photo: Gippsland Times

WARRNAMBOOL

KEILOR www.aeuvic.asn.au

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feature

The human Co While Baillieu’s ministers play a numbers game, people’s lives are being affected.

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n its last Budget, the State Government’s cuts to education topped $500 million while funding for non-government schools rose by $100 million. The cuts predominately affect public schools, which educate the lion’s share of disadvantaged students. Cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), vocational education and training in schools (VETiS) and coordination of the vocational

VCAL certificate are prime examples of the Government’s disregard of Victoria’s most vulnerable students. The VETiS cuts are compounded by the parallel cuts to the TAFE system — $300m stripped from institutes through the loss of student support funding and the slashing of course subsidies, some to an unfeasible $1.50 an hour. The result has been fee hikes, course and

campus closures and the loss of thousands of jobs. The human cost is made clear in the stories told here by parent Melanie Barkla and retrenched TAFE teacher Neil Hauxwell, who has devoted his career to helping disadvantaged students. It can also be found in the responses to our survey of school principals. �

Executing a redundancy

Neil Hauxwell GippsTAFE

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HE GippsTAFE boardroom has a flash table about four metres long and a bit under two wide. A narrow slot runs down the long axis, perhaps in anticipation of a media event that requires microphones. The table has round ends and the sort of thickness that says “quality” in an understated sort of way. But those of us who have felt its underside in moments of meeting tedium know that its hidden structural detail does not match its nicely lacquered surface. The room and its table have been arranged with great precision. There are fewer chairs, lending an air of exclusivity to proceedings. On entering, it’s apparent that the head of the table is reserved; the chair is pulled out slightly, just like in expensive restaurants. This produces a moment of uncertainty for me — it’s the chairman’s chair surely, but there’s nowhere else to sit. Then the reality dawns: this meeting is about me.  The two men seated either side of the table rise. I shake the proffered hand of one. We sit. I make a quip about attaching electrodes but it vanishes without trace. I observe a plain round coaster and glass of water before me. The glass is concentric with its coaster. The men on either side have set their chairs to the exact angle to face me. Their distance from me has been set to “personal space: formal” (+/50mm). They are both named David and I’m the focal point of their proceedings. The left David begins. He outlines the procedure. I’m reminded of the lesson plan advice in TAFE teacher training years ago: You tell ‘em what you’re gunna tell them, then ya tell ‘em, then ya tell ‘em what ya told ‘em. I’m the only one with a glass of

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water. Only one dry mouth was anticipated. I swallow a mouthful. They were right: my mouth is dry. It’s the right David’s turn. He’s mastered his lines quite splendidly. They flow; a steady, measured stream of verbiage, rich in corporate cliché: The actions we must unfortunately take in no way reflect on your performance in your role. My mind wanders. I recall my sometimes heated

responses to proposals. I remember my visible frustration at decisions never explained. I think of times when I have insisted on the right to state an opinion. My demerit points were always high and this year they were higher.  I hear the word “redeployment”. I’d better pay attention to this bit. The word is wrapped in qualifiers so I interrupt a little rudely to ask who will be looking out for redeployment opportunities on my behalf? The names are many and match my betting list of likely hatchet wielders.

Back to David left. We’re drilling down to nuts and bolts and exploring finer detail in the interests of clarity and understanding. He begins a patient explanation of the contents of a glossy white folder. I recall a conference from the 1980s for literacy tutors: “Providing reading support doesn’t mean reading for students.” I’m having my documents read to me. I reach and read it myself. I comment on the redundancy process at GippsTAFE and being called to a meeting days or more ahead whose purpose “cannot be disclosed”. I suggest that the process is unnecessarily stressful and adds to the climate of uncertainty, which is no good for anyone. A “f…” or two escapes. I am angry. The right David “hears what I am saying”. I’m directed to the meeting room opposite and a bright and helpful woman who will assist me in my new, exciting quests. Seventy per cent of my working life has involved GippsTAFE — contract, sessional, full-time and part-time work. I’m too grumpy to respond to empathy and reflective listening. The bright and helpful woman has a lot of work in regional TAFEs. Her company has sent her all over Victoria since the Government’s funding cuts. She’s a redundancy support expert. The State Government is trying to close the windows of Victorian TAFE. If it succeeds there will be many losers, people stuck in unemployment or in dying industries, but there will be a few winners. The bright and helpful woman showed me this. � Neil Hauxwell has worked in many fields of technical and further education at Central Gippsland TAFE including adult literacy, general education, sustainability and youth and workplace education.


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ost Melanie Barkla and her daughters photo: Angela Bailey

Losing on all fronts

Sian Watkins AEU News

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HOULD Melanie Barkla begin working in community services in 2014 she will have a $13,500 student debt to repay for completing a VET diploma. She will also have a car debt. The engine in her 19-year-old car recently blew up. One compensation for being carless is the money she will save. And she and her daughters, aged 11 and 13, have a bus stop near home. A sole parent whose former partner pays no child support, she gets $1200 a fortnight from Centrelink, from which she deducts $600 for two weeks’ rent. From January her income will fall to $1,080 a fortnight when the Federal Government moves single parents to the Newstart allowance. Melanie completed a Certificate IV in community services work last year and is now one year into a two-year community services diploma at Chisholm Institute in Dandenong. The TAFE diploma cost her $5000 this year, payment of which she has deferred. Next year’s fees are expected to increase by 70% as a result of the Baillieu Government’s $300 million cut to TAFE funding. The same government has cut Melanie’s Education Maintenance Allowance, which means that from next year her daughters’ schools will, between them, lose $300 a year that would otherwise have

subsidised the cost of the girls’ education. Schools spend their EMA payments on books, IT, camps, excursions and welfare programs. Until now the EMA payment has been split between parents and schools, with many parents, like Melanie, signing their component over to the school. Melanie’s daughters’ schools received over $700 this year in EMA payments (the primary school got $243 and the high school got $470). Next year they get nothing and Melanie will get $400. With the Newstart cut, Melanie doesn’t think she will be able to give it to the school. “I had to tell my 13-year-old that I won’t be able to send her on next year’s camp as I won’t have the money,” Melanie says.  She “can’t see the logic” in the change. “If the schools have lost a lot of EMA money then they will be asking me for more money to pay for stuff. A lot of families won’t be able to pay. Once the school starts to suffer, then the student will.” This year, 108,369 primary students and 55,031 secondary students received the EMA at Victoria’s 1,537 government schools. This equates to about one in three primary students and one in four secondary students. Halving the EMA benefit will take $14m a year out of Victoria’s government schools. Victoria already spends 12% less than the average spent per primary student by all the states and territories and 8.4% less than the secondary student average.

The State Government claims that schools with high proportions of students from low SES backgrounds will be compensated with extra funding but, under the new funding criteria, many schools will be tens of thousands of dollars worse off. Melanie’s eldest daughter’s school, Hampton Park Secondary, is one of the fortunate ones. It will be $2000 better off under the new funding system. This is not quite enough to service a photocopying machine, says principal David Finnerty wryly. Melanie’s younger daughter requires before and after-primary school care, the cost of which will increase by about $30 a week next year — a 900% increase on the subsidised fee she now pays. After rent, this will leave Melanie with $220 a week to cover the living expenses of three people. “Why do they punish the people who need the most help?” she says. When told her income would drop by $120 a fortnight in the switch to Newstart, Melanie was advised by a well-meaning Centrelink employee to “make use of local welfare agencies”. Meanwhile, Scotch College parents are being urged to make a donation to help pay for the new replacement — direct from Hamburg — of the college’s “ageing” Steinway Model D Concert Grand, a $200,000-plus purchase made all the more enticing by favourable exchange rates. Scotch receives about $4m a year in government grants. �

Principals’ views T

he AEU surveyed primary and secondary school principals about the impact of funding cuts. We received responses from 234 principals and they undermine Government claims that services will not be affected.

Education Maintenance Allowance Next year, schools will no longer receive their component of the EMA — $117 per eligible primary student and $235 per secondary. Half of the savings from these cuts will be redirected to schools eligible for equity funding in the Student Resource Package (SRP). There are gross savings of $14m. Our survey found that more than two-thirds of government schools are likely to be worse off despite some SRP compensation. Several will lose more

than $50,000. Projected rising unemployment means that the Government has understated the likely savings while costs to schools supporting struggling families will be greater. One secondary school principal explained why EMA funding was so important: We have already observed an increase in families struggling to pay for food for the family and cutting back on excursions and camps. In the past two years we have gone from approximately 95% attendance on camps to less than 70% at some year levels. This is despite support from some community agencies. Principals said excursions and camps (77%) and classroom materials and books (77%) were the areas most likely to be affected by the EMA cuts. continued on page 21 � www.aeuvic.asn.au

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feature photo: Meredith O’Shea

“Serving it up to government, that’s my bread and butter” Mary Bluett and Brian Henderson have seen governments and education ministers come and go. After 31 years of representing members, they are bowing out. Nic Barnard reports.

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eptember 5, the Rod Laver Arena. Mary Bluett takes to the stage in front of 15,000 teachers, principals and support staff, to receive what The Age describes as a rock-star welcome. What most of the crowd do not know is that when nominations for AEU leadership elections closed two days earlier Bluett’s name — nor that of branch secretary Brian Henderson — was not among them. After 31 years of elected leadership, the pair were bowing out. A formal announcement was made a few days later. Fronting campaigns is where Bluett and Henderson have appeared happiest in their union careers. They established a friendship at university in the 1970s that resulted

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in marriage in 1997. They were elected in 1981 to the leadership of the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association, in a takeover by the Left caucus. Henderson became VSTA president and Bluett vice (and later deputy) president. Both were already seasoned activists. Henderson, a history and politics teacher who’d grown up in a staunch Labor unionist family in Melbourne’s north-east (Kennett would later close his old school, Watsonia High), had been among a group at Preston Girls High School in 1978 who had refused to grade students, handing out only descriptive reports. It was an exercise in staff democracy — teachers had voted on the policy 50 to 7 only to see it overturned by the principal.

“There had never been a strike at Refusal to obey the principal’s “lawful Camberwell. What radicalised [staff] instruction” resulted in 18 teachers, was that they loaded up first-year including Henderson, being dragged teachers. I was teaching 27 out of 30 before a tribunal and fined. periods and sometimes getting two Meanwhile Bluett, the eldest of 13 or three extras a week, and getting children from a family in Upwey, had no time off for preparation and in only her first year of teaching led correction. staff at Camberwell High School out on strike for the first time over the high number of extras new Mary Bluett and teachers were given. Brian Henderson have made a gargantuan She arrived at Camberwell contribution to public education, teacher in 1974 as a first-year maths, unionism and the broader union movement. Their science and biology teacher. commitment and dedication to the cause has been She recalls the school as “very second to none. They will be missed. conservative. The dress code On behalf of the AEU, I salute you. [for women] was no slacks — until they became fashionable with the blue-rinse set and ANGELO GAVRIELATOS then they were allowed. AEU federal president


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When you meet Mary Bluett it does not take too long for the conversation to turn to education because that is her absolute passion. Mary knows and believes that the stronger the public education system is the greater are the chances for all young people to succeed in life, especially the disadvantaged kids who need extra support. While her primary role was to secure decent employment conditions for teachers she has always known that a high quality teacher is the bedrock of educational excellence. As an internationally respected union leader Mary acquired a deep knowledge of the characteristics of quality education systems, but at her core she always came back to the need for public investment in a universal public system because that is the only way to guarantee no child misses out. I was fortunate to work with Mary. The relationship between government and unions can sometimes be testy (especially at EBA times) but I never doubted that Mary was driven by social justice values and I gained a deep respect for her. Mary can be assured that while she will be missed her legacy will continue to inspire those who share her genuine commitment. Bronwyn Pike ALP Education Minister, 2007–10

“In the end it became an issue of wanting to be the best teacher I could. I was at school from 8 o’clock in the morning and getting home at 6 o’clock at night — I’d have a nap, have my dinner and work another couple of hours and work at the weekends. “So it was a professional as much as an industrial issue to me.” The VSTA allowed only one extra a week although this was not enshrined in a formal industrial agreement. Her revolt at Camberwell in part led to the VSTA leadership inviting Bluett to stand for council in 1975 — although she later switched to the then-tiny Left caucus. It was also International Women’s Year and Bluett says the VSTA was keen to temper its male-dominated image. Henderson followed her onto council in 1977. The pair were already

friends, having met during uni years through Bluett’s then boyfriend Brian Boyd (now Trades Hall secretary). When the Left took over the union in a razor-wire ballot, leadership were still elected by council. Rank-and-file elections were introduced the next year, and the leadership appointed the first women’s officer two years later. Henderson had left the classroom but Bluett continued teaching until the juggling of work and a young family — she had married Boyd in 1979 — became too onerous. It was an intensely political era. Most activists had been blooded in the Vietnam protests of the early ’70s and women, more of whom were working, were demanding better treatment. Women teachers did not get equal pay until 1968 and married women teachers could not join the super fund

photo: Meredith O’Shea

until 1975. The VSTA, the Victorian Teachers Union (primary schools) and the Technical Teachers Union of Victoria negotiated the first statewide agreements with the John Cain-led Labor government elected in 1982. VSTA elections were initially held annually, while the first agreements were also negotiated yearly. The government school system was then in upheaval. Technical schools were being closed and the VCE was introduced. The demise of technical schools remains controversial but Bluett regards it as one of Labor’s achievements in the 1980s. Previously, children “at the end of Grade 6 were consigned to the trades”, she says. Teachers were also in short supply — Bluett recalls “plane-loads of semi-qualified teachers coming in from the US and Canada” — and unions could negotiate on matters that they cannot today, such as demanding government employ more teachers or mandate class sizes. Bluett describes the union’s relationship with the Education Department under Cain and Joan Kirner as “close … it became testy towards the end because of the difficult financial straits they found themselves in, which they (Labor) put down to in part the ‘outrageous’ claims in our agreement. “That wasn’t the case but they found us unyielding in our demands. We were prepared to be pretty hard-nosed.” Close relationship or not, the short cycles of agreements and elections meant perpetual campaigning and industrial action; it perhaps accounts for Bluett and Henderson’s trademark take-no-prisoners approach. But this combative period was nothing compared with what lay in store. The election of Liberal leader Jeff Kennett in October 1992 changed everything. He imposed savage cuts on public services, sacked thousands of teachers and closed hundreds of schools. Unions were not only locked out of negotiations; Kennett tried to destroy them. On Christmas Eve, Kennett banned payroll deduction of union fees for government employees. “We woke up on Christmas Day to a financial membership of just over 2000 [out of 14,500],” Bluett says.

Timeline 1953: Victorian Secondary Teachers Association established out of Victorian Secondary Masters’ Association. 1974: Mary Bluett begins teaching at Camberwell High School as biology, science and maths teacher. 1975: Bluett elected to VSTA council. 1977: Brian Henderson elected to VSTA council. 1981: Henderson elected president and Bluett vice president as Left caucus takes over VSTA. 1984: Permanent part-time work introduced; family leave for seven years achieved. 1987: Seniority replaced by Merit Based Promotion. 1992: Jeff Kennett becomes state premier and slashes government school funding, closes hundreds of schools and sacks thousands of staff. 1994: Bluett elected as first female president of the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association (VSTA). 1995: VSTA merges with FTUV and Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria to form Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union. Bluett becomes deputy president of the new AEU. 1997: Bluett elected president of the AEU Vic branch. 1999: Bracks ALP government elected. 2005: Brian Henderson succeeds Rob Glare as branch secretary. 2006: AEU campaign secures ALP election pledge to rebuild or modernise every school. AEU members make up biggest contingent at MCG rally against WorkChoices. 2007: EBA campaign sees two full-day strikes and rolling stopworks over stalled negotiations with Brumby Government. 2010: Baillieu Government elected, begins program of cuts to schools and TAFE. 2012: AEU part of group of unions that win equal pay for community workers. Membership tops 53,000 for first time as schools strike over EBA.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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feature AEU. The VTU and TTUV had merged in 1990 to become the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria and the unions already shared Trenerry Crescent. Now the FTUV, VSTA and Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria formed the Victorian branch of the AEU. The merger was approved by 95% of members. Henderson describes the negotiations to amalgamate as “very bitter”. He stepped down as president ahead of the merger, to take an industrial job at the federal AEU. “I hoped it would take the heat out of it, although it didn’t,” he recalls. The move allowed Bluett to become the VSTA’s first — and last — female president for nine months. It was, to say the least, a difficult merger. External strife was accompanied by internal strife. Bluett became AEU deputy president in the transition but failed to secure the position in the first rank-and-file election. She became vice president, secondary. Bluett says Trenerry Crescent — with different unions’ elected officers and staff learning to live together — was “a very uncomfortable place to be”. Mary Bluett has been a high-profile union official who has In 1997, she and former FTUV worked tirelessly in the interests of Victorian official Rob Glare led a “unity ticket” teachers. Through her commitment, tenacity and that united former FTUV and VSTA long-standing promotion of the interests of schools, members — and even former teachers and students, she has made a lasting factional opponents from within contribution to Australian education. the old VTU, such as Glare from the Right and the Left’s Ann Taylor. It swept the election and every Geoff Masters election since. CEO Australian Council for Educational Research “Rob Glare was from the old The other teacher unions took the same hit. Nearly their entire income had been cut overnight, prompting a frantic scramble by staff over the holidays and beyond to get members to effectively rejoin via direct debit. In such a viciously anti-union atmosphere this was not easy. By some calculations, it’s only in the past few years that the AEU has finally overtaken the combined membership of the unions in 1991. “Kennett exaggerated the depth of the financial crisis to justify his ideological attack on the public system,” Bluett says. “The attack wasn’t a surprise, but the severity of it … “It was a horrible time, a very dark period. People were shell-shocked. Certainly the department, on behalf of the government, had a very anti-union atmosphere. One-fifth were put on excess and there was a view that if you were union you’d be the first to go. We lost 8000 teachers.” The Kennett government’s ferocious attack provided the final impetus for the teacher unions to merge to form the

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aeu news | december 2012

Mary will be much relieved to escape being phoned at half past five in the morning to be hassled about getting to our studio so we can keep her waiting and chew through her precious time to worship at the altar of media narcissism and exchange barbs with the Education Minister for the Time Being whoever the hell that was anyway and all of whom she outlasted and out-campaigned and none of whom can hold their heads as high as she can as she sails off into the sunset. May you both enjoy every moment and I will be alert to talkback calls from Brian in Eltham or Mary in Research as they try to sneak onto the open line.

Jon Faine ABC 774 Mornings

VTU Right (a mortal enemy of the Left),” Bluett says. “But Rob was 100% union. He was old school but totally committed to the union and its members. He could be politically incorrect but he was a decent human being and 100% member-focused.” Bluett says this period of internal strife was her most difficult time, “the one that nearly pushed me over the edge. I was also separated and a

single mum. They were the darkest times.” In 1997 Henderson also returned as secondary-sector deputy VP and then vice president. By now, the couple were united romantically as well as politically.

continued on page 26 �

The VSTA team: President Brian Henderson, associate president Mary Bluett and VP Vic Zbar


feature

Member No. 1 A

MONG the memorabilia on Brian Henderson’s wall is a faded receipt: member number 1 of the Australian Teachers Union, Victorian Secondary branch. Dated February 6, 1984, it marks the foundation of what is now the federal AEU. Of the union leaders who signed up — all men — on a photo beside the ticket, only Henderson is still active. “I was on the committee that drew up the rules for the (then) Australian Teachers Union nationally and was a foundation member. It’s now grown into a really dynamic campaigning national union and I’m proud of the role I played in that,” Henderson says. The 1980s and 90s were Henderson’s day in the spotlight that’s now trained on Mary Bluett, compared to the behind-the-scenes role he has played since. Henderson says that’s the way he likes it. “I don’t miss that public scrutiny in terms of the media at all. Mary does a fantastic job — she must be the most recognisable union officer in Victoria and in fact she’s often called on by the media interstate to talk on union or education issues.” In another item on his office wall, a black-and-white photo of a younger Henderson accompanies a front page headline, “School strike is off”, from The Age of October 1991. The 1980s and early 90s were a more confrontational time he says, when members had more flexibility to act against injustice or unfair working conditions. “When we first got our industrial agreements, they were not part of any industrial relations framework — they were direct negotiations between the employer and the union, and we jointly enforced the agreement,” he recalls. It was only in the late 1980s that the education unions became subject to regulation by industrial bodies. When Kennett abolished the award in the 1990s, the AEU found itself under the federal industrial system, paving the way for the “straitjacket” of John Howard’s WorkChoices. Henderson admits he misses the freedom. “You could run a campaign where, once you’d exceeded the number of extras, or you were given more than 30 students in a class, you stopped work. No notice periods, no ballots, you could react immediately to what the employer did.” In the 1990s, Henderson memorably took the lead in the fight against selfgoverning schools. “I was travelling all across the state, debating department officials [at parents’ meetings] and in the end the department decided not to debate me

because we were successful in all those meetings. Parents would overwhelmingly vote against it and most of the school councils then decided not to proceed. Blackburn and Sandringham High Schools were the exception in going ahead. “We had fantastic support from our members in those schools. Blackburn went out for a week and Sandringham went out continuously over a long period of time. “We got self-governing schools in terms of public recognition polling into the 90s in a matter of months. Even on class sizes it took us years to get those figures.” He regards the surge in membership in the past five years as his other source of pride, in particular the controversial use of a recruitment company. “The outsourcing model dramatically boosted union membership to the point where now it’s the norm for people to join the union whereas before it wasn’t.” � Mary Bluett and Brian Henderson retiring? I am sure I am not alone in doubting this voracious rumour. But if it’s true then you have both earned an incredible retirement party. The VSTA, the AEU Vic branch and the AEU federal office — decades of contribution to teacher unionism, quality public education, rights and social justice. You have both seen Victoria through some of the worst attacks on teachers with jobs slashed, secure employment at risk and funding cuts that threatened quality education. The Howard years can be added to that with funding for TAFE and workers’ rights broadly in the sights of the Federal Government. Yet in leading the fight back you leave a legacy of union membership growth to be proud of. Enjoy a somewhat quieter life with more hours for netball Mary and that red wine collection Brian. You have certainly earned it. Sharan Burrow General secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and former ACTU and AEU federal president

www.aeuvic.asn.au

19


study

Men on a (low-budget) mission Treasurer Kim Wells asks the questions and Martin Dixon provides the answers. John Graham marvels at the Government’s efficient control of education.

M

use of “evidence” in its New Directions paper [see INISTERS are now jostling with each other to place school autonomy on the State previous AEU News] it was prudent to examine the Government’s “we really are doing something” minister’s argument. agenda. His single source is an OECD study (PISA in Treasurer Kim Wells has asked the Victorian Focus: School autonomy and accountability? Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) to 2011) that concludes there is “a clear relationinquire into school devolution and accountability ship between the degree of curricular autonomy a and to report back next June. The public was given school system offers its schools and the system’s a month to respond to an issues paper published by performance”. VCEC in late October. However, the study goes on to state that The AEU began writing its submission, all the this same relationship has not been established while noticing the clumsy overlap between the proposed inquiry and the Government’s previously released New Directions workforce paper. Then, on November 15, Education Minister Martin Dixon issued his own paper, Towards Victoria as a Learning Community, which answered all the questions raised by the VCEC. He described his document as a “position paper”, in other words, the Government’s position on school autonomy. There is no call for submissions on its contents and it makes no references to the VCEC inquiry. The most generous interpretation of all this is that it represents a layered approach to policy development in which overlapping statements and positions are issued by different (or the same) ministers while discussions in Cabinet continue. Towards Victoria as a Learning Community proposes: A less generous interpretation is that • More school autonomy in curriculum, reporting, it’s another sign of the muddle-headed behaviour management, workforce, funding, nature of this incompetent government infrastructure and governance where coherence is just a dim light on the • A “compact” between schools and the horizon. department Kim Wells told the VCEC that the inquiry • AusVELS curriculum less restrictive than VELS he sought into further school devolution had two purposes: • Core learning areas to be English, maths and …to identify whether there are areas and health/PE circumstances where more autonomy could • A Victorian baccalaureate improve how much and how fast students • School specialisation learn at school, or improve the efficiency • Greater flexibility in student reporting with of schools. options other than A-E “How much and how fast”! This is written by someone with a deep • Behaviour standards for parents and understanding of child and adolescent students as a condition of enrolment development. • Review of school governance models In its issues paper the VCEC asked • An online school performance “dashboard” for submissions on whether there for parents was evidence that greater autonomy • “Peer review” of schools by external improved school (student) perforprincipals. mance. Three weeks later Minister Dixon told the VCEC that, yes, there was and yes, it did, and his position paper proved it. Given the Government’s cavalier

Dixon’s prescription

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aeu news | december 2012

between student performance and other measures of autonomy such as staff hiring and firing, determining salary increases (performance pay) or setting school budgets. It also qualifies its conclusion about curricular autonomy by stating that if it is not accompanied by limits on school competition, school systems may show higher average performance but also comparatively large socio-economic inequalities. There are many other studies of the effects of increased school autonomy on student achievement that are not mentioned by the minister — and most find little, if any, impact. Dixon’s position paper includes a crude diagram (featuring a cloud and aspirational arrow) drawn from 2009 PISA reading performance results that shows that NSW’s far more centralised education system did better than Victoria’s decentralised system. Where to from here? Given Mr Dixon’s position paper, VCEC investigators may have to concentrate on the inquiry’s second (real?) purpose — improving “the efficiency” of schools. This generally means doing more with less. That fits with the Government’s cost-cutting fixation and its attitude towards public education. It also explains why an inquiry into school autonomy is being run by the unambiguously named Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission on the Treasurer’s orders. Mr Dixon assures us he knows how Victorian students can leapfrog competitors to join the global top tier. It consists of giving public schools more freedom in the areas of curriculum, reporting, behaviour management (parents and students), staffing, funding (more fetes?), infrastructure and governance. The fact that Victoria has had a long lead on other states in school autonomy but has trailed a number of them in student achievement in the past 15 years does not challenge the minister’s conviction. He claims schools have not made use of existing “flexibilities” and that more flexibility will encourage them to do so. Nowhere in his position paper does Mr Dixon mention providing more autonomous schools with more money. Nor does he discuss the implications of reducing regional and central support for schools. There is no recognition that the problem for Victorian achievement may just lie in the fact that our far more autonomous school system continues to be the lowest-funded in Australia. � John Graham is an AEU research officer.


feature

What I do for a living

What does an educator do? Briony Heneberry of Brentwood Secondary College has some answers.

I

AM a teacher, but that isn’t what I do for a living. I provide opportunities for young people to experience success, to voice opinions and to feel secure about having a go. I’m the safety net that lets them be wrong, that assures them the more mistakes they make, the closer to being right they are. I am a smile in the morning and afternoon; I’m the person who uses a student’s name to remind them that they’re an individual who matters. I emphasise the importance of good-mornings and pleases and thank-yous. I impart cyber-ethics, cyber-responsibility, cybercitizenship to a generation that has an all-access pass to those things that we used hide behind counters and age restrictions. I’m the right and the wrong in a world where it’s easy to be faceless — but I’m not the cannot; I’m the should not and this is why. I’m a booster of self-esteem, a critical friend, and though I must grade against standards and assign numbers, my pen suggests ways that each student can improve. I’m the listener to woes too embarrassing and too frightening to be told to anyone else. I’m a counsellor backed by a code that helps me protect children, in circumstances where they may have nowhere else to turn. I’m the provider of lunch when lunch is forgotten. I’m the planning time, before and after school, the email after six, the recess and lunchtime sacrificed to give just a little more feedback. I’m the open-door office with a space for crashing, crying and creativity, because ideas cannot be contained by classrooms.

photo: Angela Bailey

I am honesty when the world is all too often about manipulation. I am a model of humility; I’ll admit when I’m wrong, because while I try, it’s important that students know that I’m not perfect and not being perfect is OK. My job is not simply to give knowledge, because life is bigger than 1+1 and how to write an essay. My job is to work in partnership with parents, to help cultivate and to inspire young people to grow into themselves and make the best of their potential. I make the best of my resources because the consequences of failing to do so are greater than

dealing with the musty smell of last year’s flooddamaged carpet. It’s my mission to ensure that each of my 27 students get the most out of the two minutes I can give them in each class. I liken teachers to Batman. We’re the heroes you need, not the ones you deserve. The public expects us to be all things for their children yet when we refuse to accept conditions that threaten what we value (their children) we’re no longer Batman — giving ourselves for the greater good — but his nemesis Bane, selfishly spurring chaos and dissent. �

�It’s my mission to ensure that each of my 27 students get the most out of the two minutes I can give them in each class.�

The human cost The principals’ view �continued from page 15 VETiS VETiS funding in 2013 will be capped at 2012 levels due to “higher than anticipated demand” according to Budget papers. This claim seems odd given that demand has been growing at a fairly stable 5% for the past five years. VETiS payments to schools in the second half of next year will be adjusted to ensure that statewide expenditure is less than in 2012. Schools will not know how much funding they will receive to cover the costs of VETiS — at a time when VET costs are rising. More than 90% of secondary principals

reported increased costs this year. The most popular courses, such as media, hospitality, business and community services, have had their subsidies slashed — some by more than 80%. Principals have been encouraged to “find a (VET) provider that will offer them a competitive price”. Some 86% of principals said they did not have time to shop around, a task made more difficult by the fact that many providers no longer offer courses that now attract much lower subsidies. The ultimate impact was neatly described by one principal: This will lead to an even further divide between middle-class families who can exercise choice and welfare/working poor families who do not have the resources …. This ultimately leads to further residualisation of what has been, in the past, a vibrant state education system. �

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inside the AEU

Reps report

They’re the lifeblood of the union. But what makes a good AEU rep? Sian Watkins reports.

R

EMOVE sub-branch representatives and the AEU would quickly become a dead duck. The union cannot exist without them, says AEU organiser Meaghan Flack. “They provide an integral link between the operation of the union and the practical realities of the workforce,” she says. They deliver prompt, practical, accessible advice to members and their knowledge and experiences “direct or redirect the work of the union”. Flack says that good reps often provide important contextual information for union organisers. “That perspective and context helps us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively, and often helps us nip problems in the bud.”

She says good reps have a tendency to be calm and measured and approach issues with a “balanced, common-sense perspective”. They discern, from among competing issues, where their sub-branch’s energy and resources are best directed and recognise when an issue requires external assessment or escalation. When caught in the middle of competing viewpoints, sub-branch reps need to be “fairly thick-skinned”, Flack says. “I think people become reps because they understand and value the importance of teachers and school staff maintaining some control over their pay and working conditions. It also provides very effective training for those with leadership aspirations. “The energy of our reps, their maturity and the wonderful work they do never ceases to amaze me,” Flack says. “They are remarkable and we organisers are very grateful for what they do.” �

What do sub-branches do? The sub-branch is the vital workplace arm of the AEU. It implements union policies‚ ensures local compliance with agreements and represents members at work. A successful sub-branch links members to their union and supports union campaigns. Sub-branch reps are often the first point of contact for AEU members. They: • Inform the AEU office of members’ issues and concerns • Recruit new members • Call union meetings and distribute materials • Are a contact point for AEU central office • Arrange visits from AEU officers.

Tips for reps � Attend the AEU Active training program The AEU Active training program gives reps and active members (teachers and ES staff) the knowledge, skills and confidence to deal with school-based issues and support AEU campaigns.

Issues covered include how to achieve good consultation arrangements in your school; entitlements, including those relating to contract employment; school processes; and when and where to ask the right questions.

� Read your weekly Reps Bulletin Emailed to reps every Wednesday, the bulletin contains vital campaign updates, union news and announcements, and training and regional meeting listings. Read and distribute or post on your AEU noticeboard.

22

� Take advantage of online support The AEU provides extensive printed and online information for reps. A dedicated area on the AEU’s website — www.aeuvic.asn.au/reps — includes tips on recruiting and running successful meetings, resources such as standing orders and AEU noticeboard logos, and forms to apply for sub-branch funding or update your sub-branch details.

The AEU meets the cost of your replacement while you attend the training — up to $285 a day for teachers and $190 a day for ES members.

� Many hands make light work The most effective sub-branches share the workload. Members can be allocated jobs such as distributing information, chairing meetings, taking and distributing minutes, attending regional meetings, briefing staff meetings, monitoring contract positions and organising social functions.

� Read the Rep’s Handbook The handbook is an essential guide. It includes a rundown on the union’s structure and services, and explains how to organise a sub-branch, how to implement the industrial agreement, raise the AEU’s profile and recruit members.

If you’re not getting the bulletin, we don’t know you’re a rep — so email melbourne@aeuvic.asn.au.

aeu news | december 2012

You’ll also find advice sheets, forms for reporting workplace incidents and advice on complaints and grievances.

� Get funded Every sub-branch is entitled to annual funding from the AEU to use for office supplies, campaign materials, social events and other AEU activities. The application form is in the reps’ area of the website.


Name: Debra Fischer, teacher-librarian and curriculum coordinator

School: Brighton Primary School Years teaching: 2

School: Rosebud Secondary College

AEU membership: 37 Active members: Everyone is interested to some degree.

Years teaching: 29

“U

Active members: Most have been actively involved in the EBA campaign.

AEU membership: 103

NTIL this year the sub-branch had become quite small due to high staff turnover. At the end of last year decisions were made here that affected teachers’ working conditions. I was interested in learning more about teachers’ rights at work and I contacted an AEU school organiser to find out more. Part of the advice I received was to restart the sub-branch to ensure that staff had a voice. With the support of AEU organiser John Handley we reformed the sub-branch. We have almost doubled our membership since the start of this year. I advise and support members who are experiencing difficulties and either encourage them to contact the union or do so on their behalf. On average I would spend about three hours a week on union-related tasks. I have had the most impact on my school’s consultative committee. Last year it met irregularly and few union-related issues were raised. However, this year, with the support of the sub-branch and John Handley, we have ensured that teachers’ working conditions have been discussed. At the beginning of the year, teachers were concerned about conditions such as class sizes, meeting times and the amount of teacher-release time. Since the implementation of industrial bans and stopwork days, staff have sought advice on what they are required to do to uphold the bans and how they will be affected by them. We have a number of teachers on contracts or in family-leave positions and, as they plan for next year, they have been asking about the process for obtaining a permanent position or the implications for their employment if the family leave position is no longer available. To establish a strong and effective sub-branch, I recommend forming an executive with a number of enthusiastic unionists to help the sub-branch representative. They should seek their AEU organiser’s advice when handling difficult issues. I also suggest scheduling regular meetings — with minutes accurately recorded.” �

Name: Ruth Moore, PE teacher School: Elsternwick PS Years teaching: 23 AEU membership: 35 Active members: 35

“I

’VE been a rep for 15 years. I was always an active member of the VTU, FTUV and AEU and attended regional meetings regularly. It’s a great way of keeping informed on all school issues. My role involves recruiting members, forwarding relevant information to members, attending regional meetings, calling sub-branch meetings, meeting with the principal, meeting with the AEU area organiser and attending consultative committee meetings. Sub-branch president Cheryl Clarke runs the

inside the AEU

Name: Claire Deery, teacher

“T

HIS is my first year as the rep at Rosebud SC. Previously I was the rep at Mornington SC for seven years and I’ve been on the union sub-branch executive at five schools. In each case I became a rep because the incumbent had retired and it’s an important role. I chair meetings, advocate for AEU members, deal with members’ concerns or their inquiries about working conditions, liaise with AEU organisers and recruit new members. I regularly speak to the principal and attend consultation committee meetings. Generally, a few hours a week covers the job but this year has been more intense. Most of the inquiries I get from members relate to pay and working conditions. Often this is when staff are applying for jobs or changing time fractions and they want to check their entitlements. I regard the most important part of my job as communicating information in a busy workplace and making sure that people understand what their working entitlements are. Establishing a strong and effective sub-branch requires positive recruitment, especially among new staff and graduates. Most staff at Rosebud are members, which means that everyone knows where they stand and there are few disputes. Educating staff about the AEU is also important. Some people have been exposed to anti-union views and often don’t understand what unions actually do and why it is important to be a member. Probably the most important issue for us in this EBA campaign is defending state education against funding cuts. We are overdue for a pay rise but most of our discussions revolve around the eroding of our ability to provide a quality education for our kids.” ���

meetings and I consult with her a great deal. Our treasurer, Sharon Meeking, organises the finances when we buy supplies like banners. On average I spend about an hour a week doing the job. People come to me seeking advice and help on workload issues, APT (assessment and preparation time), salary structure, leave entitlements, conditions, contracts, meeting schedules, future employment, job applications, yard duty, part-time working conditions, workforce planning — pretty much everything in the agreement. I believe the most important part of my job is keeping members informed, making sure they

have a voice and treating everyone fairly. I have had the most impact in making sure that workload issues, such as meeting schedules and APT, are in line with the agreement. I am most proud of having kept members informed on current issues. The reward for this has been the number of staff prepared to sacrifice their pay for stopworks this year because they believe so strongly in the cause. I recommend that new reps attend the AEU Active training course. It’s free and the union pays a CRT to cover your absence. I found these sessions incredibly helpful. Also, stay informed by attending regional meetings. They are a great way to network and talk to your area organiser. The most important issues for us in the EBA campaign are contract employment and performance pay. We want security for all our members and performance pay is so divisive. It takes a village to raise a child.” �

www.aeuvic.asn.au

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inside the AEU

AEU Training & PD Kim Daly and Rowena Matcott training officers

Diaries at the ready

Look out for our new training calendar in your mailboxes in the new year.

W

E ARE busy putting together the 2013 AEU Events Calendar — quite a task given the range of training and conferences we offer. The booklet will be in your letterbox early next year, so when school starts you can plan with other members and put events in diaries. We’re already updating our online training pages at www.aeuvic.asn.au/training. We will again hold hundreds of events in all corners of the state as well as at the AEU here in Melbourne. AEU Active Next year we’ll run regular one-day AEU Active courses for reps and other days for all schools members covering the new agreement — assuming the

Government eventually presents an offer worth accepting. These two one-day courses will generally run on consecutive days, so depending on school calendars and commitments, members can do them together or separately. Don’t forget that the AEU pays for CRT and support staff replacement for AEU Active. With a new agreement and the ever-likely roll out of new state government policies and programs, we recommend that every school is represented at some form of training. There are six AEU Active days for principal class members. Education support ES members are encouraged to

attend AEU Active with their teacher colleagues. There is a dedicated ES program of twilight meetings (followed by dinner) and we host conference dinners for business managers. The annual ES Conference in August concludes ES Recognition Month.

Early childhood Members in preschools should look out for three professional developments days during the year, held on Saturdays for your convenience, as well as workshops on validation. The theme of the very popular annual conference will be “wellbeing”.

Getting a job Look out for after-work forums on issues of importance to you including, returning to work and getting a job. We will expand Live and Online access for members who cannot attend in person. We will continue supporting current and aspiring leaders. We will also offer a significant program for student and graduate members.

And there’s more We will offer training in the workplace to members in disability services as well as programs for women and new educators. Our TAFE training program will complement next year’s negotiations on a new agreement. �

“Withadefinedbenefit,Iknow I’mprotected.AndIalways feelinsafehandstalkingto myeducationconsultanttoo.” That’s more than super. Fiona, Teacher, ESSSuper Member.

You’re in a great position with ESSSuper, because we know there’s more to your retirement than just a payout. We’re here for you to call on us during your career, in the lead up to retirement and beyond. So whatever it is you’d like to know about your super, feel free to get in touch with us today. And remember, we’re more than super. How much more is up to you.

ESS3298_(12/12)_AEU

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aeu news | december 2012


inside the AEU

On the PHONES Membership Services Unit — 1800 013 379

Excess in schools: your guide A

T THIS time of the year we receive many calls about the excess process for teachers and ES. It’s a legitimate process but must be managed according to Education Department (DEECD) guidelines. Based on many of the calls we are receiving it seems the process is not being carried out effectively or sensitively in many schools. Excess arises when a school has more employees than necessary ­— for example because of falling enrolments, staff returning from leave or curriculum changes. Excess does not apply to:

• Fixed-term employees, other than in exceptional cases • Casual employees • School council employees • Principal class • Employees still in their probationary period. Principals are responsible for identifying excess staff and managing the process. The DEECD is responsible for identifying and managing retrenchment. Clear procedures are set out in the Management of Excess Staff Guide on the DEECD website at tinyurl.com/ d9y3z7a. Principals must ensure fair treatment of affected staff and that

New Educators

NETWORK

Katherine McIntosh New Educators Network

Conference fare fortifies

Delegates left the new educators’ national conference well informed.

D

ELEGATES came from far and wide to hear speakers at the AEU’s New Educators Network national conference held at the AEU office in Abbotsford last month. Issues discussed included the national curriculum, professional standards for teachers and education in general, and inadequate funding for public schools. Federal AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos welcomed delegates and Victorian president Mary Bluett updated us on pay and funding negotiations. A major drawcard was Glen Pearsall’s behaviour management workshop. From my university experience, Pearsall’s repertoire of strategies has helped many teachers

and educators find their feet in the classroom and effectively manage a class of students. The lesson from Helen Rix’s workshop was: “Find a job you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life.” Her information and anecdotes helped every person in the room think about their present career position. The Gonski workshop involved an in-depth look at the campaign for better funding for government schools. Strategies for building support for it and generating activism among new teachers and educators were discussed. The structure and work of the AEU was explained and this was valuable for people new to the profession. �

the process is not used as a substitute for discipline procedures or for managing unsatisfactory performance. It is a requirement of the process that the AEU sub-branch be directly consulted to resolve the issue without the need to identify staff. Alternatives to declaring excess, such as reorganising duties, time-fraction reductions, leave or temporary transfers, should be explored first. The process The guide sets out the process as follows. Step 1. At least one week before discussions, the principal must give the sub-branch the reasons for excess, projected enrolments, the school’s preferred workforce plan and details of staff likely to be affected. Step 2. Over a “reasonable period” the principal must discuss the situation with the union sub-branch, looking at the number of staff affected, alternative strategies, and retraining and redeployment prospects. Step 3. The sub-branch should be given the opportunity to present its position to the principal before decisions are finalised. If this position is rejected, reasons should be given. If the excess remains unresolved, the principal should call for volunteers from affected areas. Should no one volunteer, staff in affected areas should be given the opportunity to explain in writing any “compelling personal compassionate grounds” why they should not be considered in excess. Once identification is completed the principal must advise the employee(s) concerned and the AEU sub-branch and the department. The advice must be in writing and issued without delay. Support for excess employees The DEECD’s Employee Assistance Program (1800 337 068) is available to help those declared in excess. The service is free and confidential. Once affected staff are advised

promptly and in writing, the principal should work with them to ensure they are ready to apply for new positions. The principal should find out the type of position, time fraction and/or location the employee is interested in. Training in the Recruitment Online (ROL) process, getting their CV up to date and any other training to enhance their redeployment prospects should be considered. The principal must ensure that excess employees have regular duties prior to redeployment; this could be teaching, team teaching, replacement classes or supervisory duties. The principal must take all reasonable steps to refer an excess employee to a suitable vacancy. The employee must also make all reasonable efforts to gain redeployment. During the redeployment period a school should continue to give the excess employee first consideration for opportunities in the school. Referral process The principal and employee should be checking ROL for suitable vacancies. The principal can refer an employee to an advertised vacancy up until the closing date for that vacancy. Consideration of excess staff applications Excess employees must be considered separately from other applicants. They must be considered solely on the basis of whether they satisfy the job’s selection criteria or could do so within a reasonable period. Reimbursement of expenses Should an excess employee need to travel to an interview as part of the process, they will have reasonable and necessary expenses reimbursed. If you have questions about how the excess process is being managed at your school, speak to your school’s AEU rep. Call us if more information and help is needed. �

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inside the AEU

“Serving it up to government...” � continued from page 18

Despite the internal strife, the union took the fight to the Kennett government. One of its early actions was imposing a public education levy on members — which was combined to engage public relations firm Essential Media Communications to run a campaign in the lead-up to the 1999 election. The union also produced its first “vision paper” articulating what the union believed was needed to rebuild public education in Victoria. The union learned under Kennett that if it cannot talk to the Government “you talk to the electorate”. It’s reapplying this lesson today. “By the time ’99 came round people identified with the problems we’d campaigned about,” Bluett says. “They felt we’d endured the pain for a long time, it was time to reinvest in health and education. “But the research also told us that people felt Kennett was a very strong man and they were powerless to change things. That gave us our theme: one million parents. I’m one of a million parents. I can change the way this state is run.” Kennett lost the 1999 election and Bluett says the AEU’s move to a new style of campaigning remains her proudest achievement. It continued to deliver dividends under Labor, exemplified by the ALP’s commitment in 2006 to rebuild or modernise every Victorian government school by 2016. That promise followed the AEU’s campaign on the parlous state of school infrastructure and the

release of its second vision paper, Education for Everyone’s Needs. “That (rebuilding pledge) was historic stuff, especially because we knew that significant numbers of parents were choosing to go non-government simply because of the run-down infrastructure; they weren’t even going into the schools to look at the programs,” Bluett says. Labor’s education policy at the 2010 election matched AEU policy even more closely — particularly the improvements sought under the union’s My School Needs campaign. But the public was not receptive and voted for change. Bluett says the Labor governments of Steve Bracks and John Brumby re-established a relationship with the union, though EBAs remained hard-fought. But it can’t talk to this government. “They won’t even have anything to do with the Victorian TAFE Association, the employers, because it’s supposedly ‘too politicised’,” Bluett says. That doesn’t cause her stress. “Serving it up to government, that’s my bread and butter.” Amid election cycles, government changes and EBA cycles, the union has kept growing. Henderson succeeded Glare as branch secretary in 2005, taking over the union’s internal management. The membership services unit was created in the 2000s and a graduate organiser hired to connect with student members and support new teachers. Final-year student membership topped 3000 this year and students have been visible at EBA rallies. It’s not only about schools. Preschool teachers

working under agreements negotiated by the AEU in 2008 have closed a 30% pay gap to achieve parity with school teachers. The AEU was part of the push for equal pay in adult disability services and is now fighting hard for TAFE staff and TAFEs’ survival. “Action is applied where it’s needed,” Bluett says. “TAFE is under siege so that’s where the resources are going. This is a union that fights for all members.” Baillieu’s failure to understand that negotiations require actual negotiating has given Bluett and Henderson the chance to embark on something of a farewell tour, addressing half-day stop-work rallies across the state. A recurring feature of these rallies has been the number of members wanting their photographs taken with Bluett. Saying goodbye “hurts”, she says. “But it has been gratifying. I’ve been meeting all these former students who’re coming up and saying ‘hi, you’re the reason I became a teacher’.” Now she and Henderson are looking forward to a well-earned break. He says that living and working together means “you never switch off, that’s the reality. We’ve lived and breathed work for our whole 31 years.” Bluett reflects that they were always close, even before marriage. “I’d got (Henderson’s first wife) Claire and Brian together. We lived near each other and took family holidays together. We were friends for a long time — and we were politically close. “We’re good as a team. We’ve always worked together as a team.” �

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aeu news | december 2012


Barb Jennings women’s officer

WILD women Next year will see an exciting opportunity next year for experienced union women members who want to become more involved in the AEU. We are developing a program, Women in Leadership Development, to mentor and develop union women leaders. These women may be interested in leadership within the AEU, seek jobs in the union or be more effective at the local level. The program will build on work done in the AEU’s South Australian branch and elsewhere. Keep an eye out for more details early in 2013. International Women’s Day Dinner Also look out for booking details in Term 1 for our annual International Women’s Day Dinner on March 5. Our guest speaker will be Nina Funnell on the scourge of teen sexting. Nina will also run a member workshop the following day. The IWD dinner always sells out quickly, so make sure you book early. �

W

E HAIL our health and safety representatives (HSRs) and acknowledge the significant difference they make in ensuring better, safer workplaces. During the year AEU organisers and Membership Services officers talk to many HSRs and sub-branch representatives about issues that affect the health and safety of their workgroup. These issues include heating and cooling, asbestos exposures, mould, work space, noise, occupational violence and challenging behaviours of students and occasionally parents. We provide information, legislative advice, practical advice and solutions. Statistics show that unionised workplaces are safer workplaces and that the presence of HSRs strengthens this. HSRs and their powers are sanctioned under the OHS Act (section 58). The benefits of an HSR are not always obvious. Sometimes their impact comes from asking questions from an OH&S perspective or challenging assumptions about the way things are done. HSRs often have to speak up about difficult or sensitive matters on behalf of their workgroup. They may need to follow up queries or requests with management. In our busy and resource-poor workplaces even enlightened management teams sometimes need prompting to keep OH&S a priority. HSRs encourage and foster OH&S communication and ideas in their workgroup and ensure that all staff are kept up to date with relevant and informative OH&S information. Sometimes HSRs have to issue provisional improvement notices (PINs) to management when they believe there has been a breach of the OHS Act or regulations in their workplace and talks have failed to resolve the problem. HSRs are chosen by their workgroup to represent them for up to three years. Make sure your workplace has an elected and trained HSR. Training for reps HSR training is an entitlement under the OHS Act (section 67) and HSRs can choose the course they wish to attend. The AEU recommends the Victorian Trades Hall Council training as the best and cheapest. The AEU will next year hold half-day HSR forums across Victoria. These bring together HSRs and subbranch reps to share information and skills. � HSR forums: preliminary dates for 2013 Bendigo

February 28

9am–11.30am

Ballarat

March 7

9am–11.30am

Melbourne

March 21

1.30pm–4pm

Metro South

April 24

1.30pm–4pm

Geelong

May 2

9am–11.30am

Benalla

May 8

9am–11.30am

Melbourne

July 25

1.30pm–4pm

Gippsland

August 1

9am–11.30am

Metro Eastern

August 15

1.30pm–4pm

Venues to be advised.

laims by some principals — that women seeking part-time roles when their children are young cannot maintain their full-time status — contravene state equal opportunity legislation, the federal Sex Discrimination Act and teachers’ workplace agreement, the AEU believes. The AEU is seeking legal advice on behalf of a number of members as to whether the Education Department’s tacit support of this claim breaches the acts on the basis of sex and parental responsibility. The consequences for women, who make up about 70% of the AEU’s Victorian membership, are potentially grave. The department’s stance would condemn a generation of women to low wages, little superannuation, no promotion opportunities and little say in school decision-making. The 1950s again, anyone? Such an interpretation runs counter to the intentions of state and federal equal opportunity legislation and, more recently, the provisions developed for the Fair Work Act and the National Employment Standards. Union women and men have worked long and hard to achieve protection and support for women who want (or need) to continue paid work when they have children. It is difficult to see why the DEECD would want to deny parents the flexibility to work fewer hours while their children are below school age. The business case is strong and well documented. Costs are enormous when highly skilled, experienced staff are lost to an organisation because of rigidity instead of flexibility. Many teachers remain in the profession for more than 30 years and require part-time status for a short time only. The AEU is a large, feminised union with a strong, proud history of leading advances for working women. We achieved equal pay in 1967, 12 weeks’ paid maternity leave in schools in 1975 (later lifted to 14) and seven years’ family leave in 1984. Many professions still dream of these entitlements.

Health and safety reps play a crucial part in the smooth-running of schools and workplaces.

Term 1

C

Thanks OH&S reps

Term 2

The department’s position on flexible work arrangements for new parents is at odds with equal opportunities legislation.

Janet Marshall OH&S organiser

Term 3

Breach of faith, breach of laws?

inside the AEU

Safety MATTERS

Women’s FOCUS

www.aeuvic.asn.au

27


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NOTICES CRT GUIDE Detailed and practical book to help primary teachers new to the role as a CRT. See details www.vjsalescom.au $24.95 Free postage. Experienced Housesitter Avaliable Melb area all dates 0413 615 051 FUNDRAISING with Little ‘smart’ Artists Let your kinder or school’s Little ‘smart’ Artists make you money. Kids can now have their artwork put on an Australian made T-shirt and your kinder/ school makes a percentage from every T-shirt sold. Requires minimal work on your behalf. Contact sales@littlesmartartists.com.au or 0431 995 165 (Meri) www.littlesmartartists.com.au Handyman/Maintenance All jobs, big & small + bathrooms/tiling. 25 yrs exp. Work in Eltham/Diamond Valley area. Phone Simon 0414 294 824. TOM – THE BALINESE DRIVER For $50 a day Tom will drive you to the best locations in Bali. Tom’s wife, Tari, is a primary school teacher. Tom speaks perfect English and loves kids. Email Tom at: made_nurita@ yahoo.com HOUSESITTERS Experienced country teacher couple seeks HOUSESITTING Melb Area. Jan Holidays 0428 626 557.

(MPS) Melbourne Property Solutions Vendor advocacy — selling your property? Take away the stress and engage an independent advocate and a former teacher and aeu member. There is no cost when using Melbourne Property Solutions, as the agent you select pays (MPS) a set percentage of the fee from their total commission. Mark Thompson, Licensed Estate Agent Melbourne Property Solutions. Buyer and Vendor Advocate Services. Ph 0409 958 720 Email: mark@mpsadvocates.com.au Website: www.mpsadvocates.com.au RETIREMENT VICTORIA Visit us at www.retirevic.com.au. RETIRING SOON? Volunteers for Isolated Students’ Education recruits retired teachers to assist families with their Distance Education Program. Travel and accommodation provided in return for six weeks teaching. Register at www.vise.org. au or George Murdoch 0421 790 334 Ken Weeks (03) 9876 2680. VISAS IMMIGRATION For the professional advice you need — contact Ray Brown. Phone (03) 5792 4056 or 0409 169 147. Email raybrown888@bigpond.com. Migration Agents Registration No. 0213358

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aeu news | december 2012


culture

WINE

Talking

Bottom of the class

A taxing business

T

Paddy Kendler

IT APPEARS the health lobby’s campaign for a volumetric rather than a price tax on wine has stalled. Those who would have us more hale and hearty have been pushing for something like a floor price on alcohol, that pre-GST taxes be based on the alcoholic content of a wine, not its wholesale price. The effect of this would be to treble the price of cheaper bottles and casks while greatly reducing the cost of Grange and Hill of Grace, etc. A two-litre cask of Yalumba would end up well north of $30 and my reliable weekday quaffer — Rumours Shiraz 2012, now $5 at Dan Murphy’s — would hit $15. Neither of the major parties seems ready to embrace the volumetric tax concept at present but after the election? Gird your loins! VILLA MARIA PRIVATE BIN SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 ($15): Yet another top vintage from one of the most dependable Kiwi producers. It’s a light and lively style featuring all the usual suspect sauvie characters: lychee, lemon, passionfruit and melon. TALTARNI T SERIES VICTORIA SHIRAZ 2009 ($17): A most enjoyable, medium-bodied red showing attractive berry and licorice aromas and flavours with a hint of chocolate. Ready to drink now and well suited to summer barbeques. DE BORTOLI WINDY PEAK HEATHCOTE SHIRAZ 2012 ($16): Given the modest price, a very impressive dry red. Not the typical Heathcote blockbuster shiraz but more like a gentle and generous Côtes du Rhône. Ideally suited to warmer weather occasions when most Victorian or SA shiraz would be too heavy. PRIMO ESTATE PINOT GRIGIO 2012 ($25): A dashing young thing and a true gem among an ocean of varietal rubbish. For my money, the best of its type made in this country. marketing@primoestate.com.au. �

eachers everywhere are looking tired, jaded and jagged. However, there is some relief for us compared with the usual end-ofyear scramble for time, energy and sleep — no reports. Before you pull out the champagne, start a conga line and embrace your nearest colleague, remember we are in the middle of industrial action and we are really trying to make an impact. The hours and hours of tapping away at your Education Department standard-issue laptop when energy (and tolerance) is at an all-time low signals that the end of the school year is nigh for Victorian teachers, but this semester, there will be no written comments. While this solves the issue of how best to write “Dino has sat on a chair in my class this year but has failed to produce anything of note, unless you count his contribution to the giant spit ball that is lodged on the ceiling of the science room” or “Ella is a self-absorbed gossip who never shuts up” in a politically correct manner, it is not the point. The point is that teachers everywhere work beyond the supposed 38-hour working week and it is high time this was recognised. How many times have we sat through an information night filled with speaker after speaker, a school production that needed more rehearsing, attended an excursion on a day that left behind no extras or helped a student after school? We all do these things yet Ted Baillieu doesn’t think we’re doing enough. Perhaps we should take home huge piles of marking and create units of work when the rest of our professional friends are enjoying the company of their friends and family (and, might I add, generally earning a damn sight more). Oh, that’s right. We already do. This Government has no understanding of

what it takes to be a teacher — we don’t work 8.30 till 3.30; when we go home we still have work to do and our holidays aren’t really holidays — we are still marking and preparing. So, while I can’t say I’m missing report writing, I would happily swap it for an agreement that honoured the roles of teachers and went some way to redressing Baillieu’s lie of making us the best paid teachers in Australia. I have written a report for Ted. Ted has difficulty paying attention in class and responding appropriately to teacher feedback. He has struggled to maintain commitments and promises and has shown little development in his contribution to collaborative work. Ted has, however, confidently presented to the class, despite limited preparation and a poorly argued contention. To improve, it is suggested that Ted works on his active listening skills and reviews all teacher feedback. Overall, a disappointing semester. � Teacher and comedian Christina Adams’ partner wants her to stop wearing red every day.

www.aeuvic.asn.au

29


culture

A lesson in social justice

A lesson pack based on SBS’s thought-provoking asylum seeker documentary takes the debate from the screen to the classroom. Cynthia Karena AEU News

S

BS, Amnesty International and the Refugee Council of Australia have created a free online education resource based on SBS’s award-winning show Go Back To Where You Came From. The second series, shown on SBS earlier this year, looks at the realities of life as an asylum seeker from the perspective of six prominent Australians. A school pack based on the second series has been distributed to every secondary school in Australia and can be downloaded online. The pack is designed to be used with school resources available on the Go Back To website. The website is jam-packed with great teaching and learning ideas, including clips from the show, curriculum-linked activities, fact sheets and an interactive simulation of an asylum seeker’s journey. “We designed the resources to be flexible and to suit a range of teaching styles,” says Bindi Newman, ELENA Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev Rating M, 109 mins Madman DVD

Reviews: NIC BARNARD

A

TALE of motherly love, a neo-noir, a study in domestic life, a parable of Putin’s Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Elena is a mesmerising multi-layered experience. Elena lives in an expensive apartment with Vladimir, a wealthy but ailing businessman; her layabout son and his family live in a tiny Soviet-era housing commission flat on the other side of town. Her surly grandson Sasha faces life in the army if he can’t bribe his way into college, but Vladimir is unwilling to help. Gorgeously shot, often in golden light and with an eye for the quotidian rhythms of life — the opening of curtains, the making of beds — Elena unfolds slowly but captivatingly in long takes and sparse dialogue. Zvyagintsev has a telling eye for details and for all its focus on domesticity it carries a strong emotional undertow. � — NB

30

aeu news | december 2012

outreach executive at SBS. “They’re not too prescriptive and can be used for a one-off lesson or for an entire workshop.” She says feedback from schools has been very positive. Teachers can read about other schools’ experiences and add their own voices in the “What Is Your School Doing?” section of the website. “We’re taking the discussion from the screen into the classroom,” says Newman. “We’ve provided resources that cut through the political nature of the debate. We’re giving the facts and human stories. It's not about taking sides; it's about increasing understanding and knowing the facts.” The 11-page school pack has activities that link human rights to a range of subject areas. The case studies of Mujtaba and Hussain, two teenage Afghan refugees, put a human face on the issues; and fact sheets, which include helpful statistics, give students information to challenge myths and misconceptions about asylum seekers and refugees.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan Rated: M, 151 mins Madman DVD IKE Elena, this tale of a night and day in the hunt for a murder victim’s body is a slow burner, visually impressive and atmospheric — and similarly feted at Cannes in 2011. Three police cars trawl the back blocks of the Turkish countryside with an prisoner, trying to identify the spot where he buried the body as night falls. The film is dominated by the windswept rolling landscape, thunder and cracks of lightning as the men pass the time in their tedious work, bantering and grumbling, telling tales. Seen principally through the eyes of a doctor brought along for the ride, the film never fails to captivate. A number of bravura sequences show a true filmmaker’s eye and the fragmented conversations accrue significance towards a thoughtful and unsettling finale. � — NB

L

Student activities on the website relate to three learning areas: You, Your Country, and Your Global Community. Series one resources are also available on the website. � More information: www.sbs.com.au/goback/schools Inquiries: schools@sbs.com.au

Giveaway AEU News has five copies of Go Back To Where You Came From series 2 on DVD to give away to AEU members, courtesy of Madman. For a chance to win, email giveaways@ aeuvic.asn.au before January 21 with “Go Back” in the subject line.

Summer competition What are you doing this summer? What do you wish you were doing this summer?

AEU News is launching its first summer writing competition. We’re inviting members to submit a short story or non-fiction piece on the loose theme of the summer break. Our judges will select one fiction and one ­ non-fiction piece. Each winner will win $500 and see their entry published in AEU News next year. Entries must be no longer than 1000 words, and be submitted by January 29 — so get writing! Email entries to aeunews@aeuvic.asn.au or post to AEU News, AEU Victorian Branch,

PO Box 363, Abbotsford 3067.


AEU News is giving members the opportunity to win a variety of Australian resources for their school libraries from our good friends at Ford Street Publishing, black dog books, HarperCollins and Madman. To enter, simply email us at giveaways@aeuvic.asn.au by 10am Tuesday, January 29, 2013. Include your name and school or workplace. Write “Win Teaching Resources” in the subject line. Prizes will be sent to the winner’s school or workplace with an inscription recognising the winner. Good luck!

Queen Victoria’s Christmas by Jackie French & Bruce Whatley A gloriously funny tribute to a little known corner of royal history — complete with Christmas chaos. What is that tree doing in Prince Albert’s study?  RRP $24.99, HarperCollins Australia The Downunder 12 Days of Christmas by Michael Salmon With surfing sharks, skiing snakes, dancing dingoes, leaping lizards and lots more. Aussie characters come to life in pictures and verse. Welcome to Christmas downunder!  RRP $19.95, Ford St Publishing

Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto is the third novel in the Halo trilogy. Bethany, an angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend Xavier have been to hell and back. But now their love will be put to its highest test yet, as they defy Heavenly law and marry. They don’t tell Beth’s archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, but the angels know soon enough, and punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, who are rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart, destroying Gabriel and Ivy, and darkening angelic power in the heavens.  RRP $24.99, HarperCollins Australia All Through the Night by Dean Jones Darkness is falling, and weary children everywhere are snuggling under their sheets. A small boy lays his head against his pillow and wakes to find himself rocking and rolling along through the night, onwards towards the morning. Soar with him beneath the stars in a magical journey on the midnight express. RRP $24.99, black dog books Together we will travel all through the night. Dirtgirlworld — Bugs and Go get grubby Full of bizarre insects, underground tunnels, vaudevillian trained chickens and performing stunt bugs, dirtgirlworld invites kids to a place where the real and unreal hang out together! Each DVD features six episodes from the hit show, encouraging kids to go outside, get grubby and learn to protect what we love along the way!  RRP $19.95, Madman

Congratulations to our winners from AEU News issue 7 Goodnight Mice — Eliza Ogden, Western Plains Mobile Preschool; Arkie Sparke: Treasure Hunter — Rod Durran, Herne Hill Primary School; Arkie Sparkle: Untold Gold — Rod Durran, Herne Hill Primary School; Guiness World Records 2013 — Yvonne Gillespie, Campbellfield Heights Primary School; The Adjusters — Lisa Brewer, Daylesford Secondary College; The Maximus Black Files — Paul Hiddle, Copperfield College Junior Campus.

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School’s out!

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AEU News Issue 8 2012