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Help amidst the ruins The bushfires have highlighted the central role that schools play in their communities — and as members rally to help their students and families, the AEU is here to help you. Mary Bluett branch president


HE bushfires have hit many of our communities directly — and have touched us all. It is times like these that highlight the role schools play in helping students (and often their families) come to terms with difficult and traumatic events. You will continue to play that role — for some in the most affected communities this will be a long process. Three schools — Strathewen Primary School, Middle Kinglake PS and Marysville PS — have been burnt to the ground and many more schools were closed for some time. Communities have suffered loss of life and homes.

Tragically AEU members were among those killed and many others are homeless. AEU support The AEU has released an emergency assistance package for affected schools and members. For details see — look for the fire relief logo above. The package includes: • Immediate financial assistance of up to $5000 for members who have lost their homes • Interest-free loans to assist while insurance claims are finalised. The union will also provide $5000 for those schools burnt down and

$1000 for other schools in communities affected. Our credit unions and Teachers Federation Health have provided practical support and are to be commended for their quick response. Our legal firm Holding Redlich is providing legal assistance by phone and on the ground. Union to union, member to member, student to student In addition to our own membership and school assistance, the Federal AEU and state and territory branches have sent not only messages of condolence and support but also financial contributions (see below). On Friday February 20, every AEU

branch across Australia supported a casual dress day fundraiser to raise money for students affected by the bushfires. Monies raised will go to the Victorian State Schools’ Relief Committee Bushfire Appeal 2009. At the time of writing, we have also received many other messages of support including from the ACTU and education unions across the world — the Shizuoka Teachers Union (Japan), National Union of Teachers (England and Wales), the New Zealand Education Institute and the Ghana National Association of Teachers. The union motto — Touch One, Touch All — says it all. ◆

Members aided by emergency fire fund Brian Henderson branch secretary


INCE the AEU announced its emergency fire relief package for members who lost property in the bushfires, we have assisted 47 members and four sub-branches and paid out nearly $200,000 in emergency relief to members. We expect that number will grow as more members get access to their devastated properties. In addition the AEU ran a barbeque

lunch for staff and students at Whittlesea Secondary College, which has been at the centre of the bushfire relief effort as well as coping with the death of staff members and students who perished and the loss of property in the Kinglake fires. The AEU emergency relief effort has also been supported by our colleagues in other states and territories. AEU branches in South Australia and Tasmania have each donated $5000 while the ACT and Northern Territory

Victorian Branch’s funds have gone branches donated $2000 each. The directly to supporting members who AEU Federal Office, the New South have been affected by this terrible Wales Teachers Federation, the State tragedy. ◆ School Teachers’ Union of Western Australia and the Queensland Teachers Union also put in $5000 each. The AEU has also received a $200 donation from the Epping SC sub-branch. All of these donations together with the AEU AEU puts on a bbq at Whittlesea Secondary College

A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : u v i c . a s n . a u

Out of balance

Targeted early years funding is working — but must be extended to upper primary and secondary education if Victoria is to have a more balanced system. Ann Taylor deputy president

as a means of improving literacy and numeracy. The nature and scale of these programs need to be HE Australian Education Union has called on the State sustained throughout primary and secondary and expanded in areas of need. Government to increase investment in upper primary Given the current financial climate and rising unemand secondary education, in line with the latest Auditor General’s Report on Literacy and Numeracy Achievement. ployment rates, student retention could also be improved if the recommendations of the report are adopted. If The report noted improvements by students in their early years, but found these gains were not sustained as we are to achieve the Bracks target of a 90% student retention rate by 2010, then we must improve support they progressed through school. programs and reduce class sizes in secondary schools. Targeted funding for students and a reduction in The AEU’s position is that it is irresponsible to class sizes in the early years have been effective, the report said, highlighting the need to sustain this support invest in the early years alone without sustaining this support throughout a child’s schooling. The AEU’s state throughout upper primary and secondary — something budget submission reflects these demands. Members can the AEU has been calling for. The report also confirmed the importance of focusing read the submission in the professional issues area of funding on low achieving and low socio-economic schools our website ( ◆


Why we need TAFE for all H

IGHER fees, student debts and fewer courses — these are the Brumby Government’s plans for technical and further education. The AEU and the entire TAFE community are strongly opposed to the Victorian Government’s skills reform program, which is being driven through at breakneck speed. This agenda is just a cost shedding strategy which will: • Increase student enrolment fees by as much as triple within the next three years from $877 to $2,500 per year • Only guarantee apprentice and trainee fees for the next three years • Progressively abolish concessionary status for enrolment fees (up from $55 to $2,500 per year) for Victoria’s most financially

disadvantaged people, who make up 40% of all TAFE enrolments • Introduce HECS into Victorian TAFEs, making this the only state with an income contingent loan scheme and saddling students with debt • Open up recurrent TAFE funding so that private providers will make profits at the expense of the public purse. From IT to building and engineering to nursing and childcare — students dreaming of a career will be hit by these reforms. On the Government’s own figures, the burden of course fees will shift onto students. The Government will cut its share of funding for diploma courses from 88% to 60%. The public will have to meet the rest. Private competition means many TAFE courses

are likely to close. Choice will be cut. TAFE is the key to solving the skills crisis. Almost 250,000 Victorians enrol each year — it’s a lifeline for many and a ladder into work and university for others. Victoria’s poorest will be hardest hit by these changes. Members in schools should be worried about what these changes mean for the students that they currently teach. You can be a part of the campaign by going to tafe4all/ and sending a message to the government that says you don’t support their crazy plans to gut the TAFE system. ◆

TERM 1 SEMINARS Current market conditions make it more important than ever to obtain comprehensive, personalised financial advice. RV will hold retirement seminars at the AEU building at 10am on the following days. Saturday 7 March Tuesday 7 April (School Holidays) Bookings: Call Rhonda Webley on (03) 9418 4844.

2009/10 GUIDE TO RETIREMENT The latest edition of our Guide to Retirement will be available early in Term 2


Secondary newsletter | february 2009



Rudd’s $14.7 billion schools building program is welcome, if long overdue. But a tight timetable for spending the money will create new challenges.

Justin Mullaly deputy vice president, secondary

Of the $14.7 billion earmarked for schools — to be rolled out over three years — 70% is to be directed to government schools. This represents a HE Rudd Government’s “Building the Education significant improvement on the Howard Government’s Revolution” plan will provide new and improved policy which saw the lion’s share of federal funding facilities for all secondary schools in Victoria. enter the coffers of non-government schools. Nationally, the AEU has long campaigned for Importantly, the Victorian Government has agreed increased spending on government school buildto abide by its commitment to rebuild or refurbish ings and infrastructure, as teachers and students every government school by 2017. The federal alike deserve high quality teaching and learning initiative will supplement the state money already ­environments. allocated. The AEU is actively lobbying the State We actively campaigned during the 2007 federal Government to bring forward its own program. election for all parties to commit to funding public Secondary schools nationwide are set to receive education properly. $1bn of the federal pot to build science laboratoAs recently as January the AEU called on the ries and language centres. Under the current plan, Government to increase funding on school infrastructure, pointing out that between 2002 and 2006 schools will be funded on a competitive basis with consideration given to need, readiness and capacity Australia spent on average $1000 less per student to complete construction by June 2010. than Britain and the USA on school buildings. The Federal and state governments will jointly Government’s plan delivers on the AEU’s call. develop a set of design templates to be used for Minor capital grants each project, unless a school has an existing design available and can School size (FTE students) Indicative funding cap demonstrate that the building process 1 to 50 students $50,000 can be achieved within the timeframe. 51 to 150 $75,000 Subject to further advice, projects 151 to 300 $125,000 will be assessed and approved by June 301 to 400 $150,000 this year. 401+ $200,000


The extremely short timeline will mean that schools which have ready plans for new facilities and upgrades will be in the box seat for funding. All schools are eligible to apply for $1.3bn available for minor capital works and maintenance projects such as the refurbishment of buildings, construction of shaded areas and outdoor learning spaces, works on sporting grounds and facilities, the installation of water tanks and insulation, and infrastructure for students with disabilities or special needs. At this stage the federal and state governments have agreed that funding will be divided into two rounds, with 60% of the funding allocated by March for projects to be completed by the end of 2009. Projects for the second round will be vetted by May with projects completed by February 2010. Funding will be capped based on a school’s enrolment (see table left); for example schools with less than 50 students will be eligible for up to $50,000 and those with more than 400 able to seek $200,000. The fact that the Obama stimulus package in the United States allocates approximately 11% of its ­total to education compared to 35% in Rudd’s shows how this investment is revolutionary. ◆


New certificate not job ready — yet Plans to recognise students’ skills in the workplace are welcome but still need some work. Justin Mullaly deputy vice president, ­secondary


ART of Labor’s pitch at government during the 2007 election campaign was an announcement to develop a Job Ready Certificate for students on vocational education programs that include job placements. The certificate, aimed at senior secondary students, would assess and report on a student’s readiness for employment, based on assessments made in the workplace. Labor proposed a national stand-alone certificate, additional to vocational education certificates such as VCAL. Last December, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations released a discussion paper which outlines a range of issues,

including what skills and attributes should be assessed and how, the scope of the certificate, and how it might be accommodated within existing programs. Among the skills and attributes to be assessed are communication, teamwork and problem-solving, punctuality, enthusiasm and reliability. It’s proposed that employers would be responsible for assessing students, with each work placement being a minimum of five days. Students would have to complete at least 20 days of work experience and be assessed at least four times. While such a record might be useful in helping school-leavers to improve their prospects of employment, a number of key questions remain. Not least is the impact this could have on the

Vale Barry Johnston T

HE AEU is just starting to find out the names of members who died in the recent bushfires. One of these was Barry Johnston. Barry was a long-term member and activist in the Victorian Teachers’ Union and then the Australian Education Union during his teaching career. Despite retiring in 2004, he retained his involvement in the AEU and was a delegate to Victorian Trades Hall Council and a member of our international committee. Barry was passionate about his students and the community and wanted to make the world a better place. He will be sadly missed by so many people whose lives he touched. Memorials to Barry and others who died will be in the next edition of AEU News. Individual responses to their deaths can also be seen on our website at ◆ — Ann Taylor deputy president

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workload of teachers who will be responsible for co-ordinating work placements, the capacity of employers to assess students and how such a certificate may fit into the work-related skills strand of the VCAL. Would the many students who participate in parttime employment that is not formally recognised be eligible for the certificate? The department is conducting a number of ­forums around the country and has invited the AEU to provide a written response to the discussion paper by mid-March. ◆

To read or comment on the DEEWR discussion paper, go to

Buy a Mac, save on iPod with the AEU


NTIL April 13, members can use the AEU’s exclusive Apple Online Store to take advantage of a Back to Uni offer giving a $179 rebate on an iPod nano or iPod touch when purchased with a Mac laptop, plus savings on printers. The store gives AEU members savings above the standard Apple education discounts. To access the AEU Apple Online Store or to take up the MacBook telesales offer, go to and click on the Apple offer heading. The Apple page is for members only and password protected — type in user name AEU member and password AppleAEU08. Both are case sensitive. ◆

Support fire relief through AEU Wine Club


HE AEU’s Wine Club partners Winebox Warehouse will donate $50 to the Red Cross fire relief fund for every case sold of its Unsung Heroes mixed dozen. The case costs $89 and celebrates the volunteers tackling the Victorian bushfires and supporting the victims. WINE For more details and to download the order form, go to CLUB ◆

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Secondary newsletter | february 2009

Secondary Sector Newsletter, Term 1, 2009  

secondary sector newsletter term 1 2009

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