AEU ACT Educator Term 3 2015

Page 1




mem fox speaks out for public education

Term 3 2015

✓ 28

Dean Ashenden A New ‘Grammar’ of Schooling?



Peter Blunt The Reef, The Union and You

Paid Parental Leave Under Attack



Term 3 2015


Roger Amey Wins the 2015 AEU Public Education Award even new ts adv s onli ice ne



HAAS Program Continues to Put Students At Risk

Features HAAS Program Continues To Put Students At Risk Mem Fox: Why I’m A Fan Of Public Education 2015 Public Education Award – Roger Amey 2015 Friend of Public Education Award – Viv Pearce 2015 Reconciliation Award – Anne O’Neill Peter Blunt: The Reef, The Union And You Dean Ashenden: Rocketship’s Questions Eleanor Sautelle: Being A School Psychologist School Assistants and the AEU: One Member’s Journey Paid Parental Leave Under Attack

Mem Fox: Why I’m a Fan of Public Education

Regulars 9 12 18 20 20 22 28 32 37 42

Upcoming Events President’s Report: Your New Executive Training & Information Sessions News In Brief Secretary’s Report: An EA Outcome We Can Be Proud Of School Assistant News Women’s Focus Executive Resolutions of Note Council Resolutions of Note

4 4 5 6 10 36 40 43 44 Fi us onnd

MORE INFO Feedback and Contributions Send feedback or share a story about your school. Please contact Tom Greenwell in the AEU ACT office (6272 7900, The content deadline for our next edition is August 25.

Contact us Phone: (02) 6272 7900 Fax: (02) 6273 1828 Email: Web: Facebook: Twitter: Address: PO Box 3042 Manuka 2603 Visit: 40 Brisbane Ave Barton ACT 2600

Advertising Enquiries Contact: Tom Greenwell Phone: (02) 6272 7900 Email: Materials deadline for our next edition is August 25 Design Spectrum Graphics, Print Paragon Printers,

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


President’s Report Term 3

Upcoming Events Rsvp and find out more at

Week 1 Applying in the Transfer Round Wednesday July 22 Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Branch Council Saturday July 25 9am – 12pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid 37 Constitution Ave, Reid

Week 2

School Assistant Week Celebration

Tuesday July 28 5.30 – 8.30pm United Voice boardroom 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

WILD - Women in Leadership Development Friday July 31 8.45 – 4.30pm Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Week 3 Retirement Planning Session Wednesday August 5 4 – 6pm Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Workplace Bullying and Harrassment: What you need to know Thursday August 6 With Kylie Edwards from WorkSafe 4 – 6pm Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Week 6 Branch Executive Tuesday August 25 5.30 – 8.30pm United Voice boardroom 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

Cool Australia’s EnviroWeek Aug 30 to Sept 5

Branch Council Saturday Sept 5 9am – 12pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid 37 Constitution Ave, Reid

Week 8 Recruitment Conversations Wednesday Sept 9 Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Women in Superannuation Thursday September 10 4 – 5.30pm Centre for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling

Week 9 Branch Executive Tuesday Sept 15 5.30 – 8.30pm United Voice boardroom 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

AEU Behaviour Management Conference

Week 4 NSW Teachers Federation Women’s Conference Saturday August 15 37 Reservoir St, Surry Hills

Friday Sept 18 All day CPSU Training Room 40 Brisbane Avenue, Barton

Week 5 National School Support Staff Week August 17 - 21


AEU ACT President, Lana Read

Wednesday August 19 3.30pm & 5.30pm Tilley’s Café, Brigalow & Wattle St Lyneham

Week 7

Branch Executive

Your New Executive I’d like to congratulate the successful candidates for the 8 General Membership Representative positions on Branch Executive. The 8 successful candidates are: • Angela Burroughs (Ainslie School) • Emma Cox (Red Hill Primary) • Fiona Stevenson (Namadgi School) • Phillipa O’Shea (Erindale College) • Sam Delaney (Lanyon High School)* • Shane Gorman (Wanniassa School) • Suki Dorras-Walker (Campbell High School) • Theresa Carroll (Canberra College) * Since his election, Sam has been appointed Business Manager in the AEU office. Consequently, he has resigned from Executive and a call for nominations to fill the vacancy will be issued early in Term 3. The newly elected General Membership Representatives began their two-year term on Executive on July 1. They joined myself as President along with Glenn Fowler (Branch Secretary) and Roger Amey (Vice President); Nina Leuning (Vice President) and Karen Noble (TAFE Vice-President). Congratulations to each and every nominee for Executive. It was an incredibly strong field and it is unfortunate some people had to miss out. It was also pleasing to see so many members vote in the ballot. The democracy of our union is what makes it so strong. Through Executive, Council and many other forums, our union ensures educators participate in the decisions that shape our schools and TAFEs. For this reason, I’d particularly like to acknowledge everybody who has served on Executive over the last two years. It is a big commitment to give up 14 Tuesday nights and 8 Saturday mornings each year but your time, energy and thoughtful leadership have made a real difference in the lives of your colleagues and students. Thank you particularly to departing members of Executive: Aaron Kingma; Julie Sherd; Karl-erik Paasonen; Murray Chisholm; Patrick Judge; and Peter Curtis. //

Lana Read ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Term 3 Training, Information Sessions and events Applying In the Transfer Round

Wednesday July 22 Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling Will you be entering the 2015 transfer round? This session will provide attendees with strategies on how to navigate the transfer round, including writing one page applications. Please RSVP by July 17.

NSW Teachers Federation Women’s Conference

Saturday August 15 – 37 Reservoir St, Surry Hills Keynote speaker: Clementine Ford, freelance writer, broadcaster, public speaker. This is great opportunity for AEU Women members. Join your NSW counterparts in Sydney to get a broader perspective on what is happening for women in our union, in education and beyond. Please submit applications by July 27. School Assistant Week Celebration

WILD - Women in Leadership Development

Friday July 31 / 8.45 – 4.30pm Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling Ged Kearney and Yvette Berry, along with other women in prominent leadership roles, will share their experiences and insights. What is our shared vision for women and for education and how can we work together to make positive change? Learn more about your rights, and programs and policies that support women in the workplace. Be part of the change! Industrial Leave is available to attend this workshop. Contact AEU Women’s Officer, Sue Amundsen (Sue. 6272 7900) for more information. Please RSVP by July 24. Retirement Planning Session

Wednesday August 5 / 4pm - 6pm Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling If you are over 45 and thinking ahead to your retirement, there are some planning issues it’s prudent to consider now. Includes Q & A. Partners of AEU members are welcome. The session will be conducted by Paul Larkin from State Super Financial Services. Workplace Bullying and Harassment: What You Need To Know

Thursday August 6 With Kylie Edwards from WorkSafe Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling How to respond to bullying, what options are available at the individual level, what the law requires and what actions we can take personally to prevent bullying occurring. Please RSVP by August 3.

Wednesday August 19 / 3.30pm & 5.30pm Tilley’s Café. Brigalow & Wattle St Lyneham Come along and celebrate with other school assistants. Coffee and cake are on us! Cool Australia’s EnviroWeek

August 30 to September 5 – Students take action and see the impact of positive everyday choices for them, their school or centre, and our environment. Last year, more than 182,000 joined in. Enviroweek gives schools and students the chance to have fun, connect with our environment and win prizes. Recruitment Conversations

Wednesday September 9 / 4 – 6pm Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling The main reason why people don’t join unions is that they’ve never been asked. AEU ACT Organiser, Jacqui Agius, will provide a range of tips on having effective recruitment conversations with non-members. Women in Superannuation

Thursday September 10 / 4 – 5.30pm Cntr for Teaching & Learning 51 Fremantle Dr, Stirling Get straightforward answers to questions about superannuation like the following. How much will I need to retire? How can I grow my super? Superannuation gender gap – what can I do? What is salary sacrifice? Can I get a co-contribution from the Government? Can I draw income from my super if I’m still working? AEU Behaviour Management Conference

Friday September 18 / All day CPSU Training Rm, L2, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton This one day conference is designed to address challenges around behaviour management in our schools. It will range from workshops to enhance your own practice to debate and discussion on reforms to improve how our system works.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


News in Brief The 2015 Budget confirmed the Abbott Government is abandoning Gonski.

Minister Burch has abolished the Government Schools Education Council.

Congratulations newly elected Members of Branch Executive The following members have been elected as General Membership Representatives on Branch Executive: Angela Burroughs (Ainslie School); Emma Cox (Red Hill Primary); Fiona Stevenson (Namadgi School); Phillipa O’Shea (Erindale College); Sam Delaney (Lanyon High School); Shane Gorman (Wanniassa

Burch Abolishes Government Schools Education Council The ACT Legislative Assembly has voted to abolish the Government Schools Education Council (GSEC), which has for many years advised the Minister for Education on matters relating to public education in the ACT. The Council will be replaced by an advisory committee on both Government and Non-Government schools, which will meet if and when the Minister likes. Whereas GSEC was representative of our system and included AEU representatives, the new committee will comprise of whomever the Minister chooses. The AEU repeatedly advised Minister Burch over more than twelve months that this would be a retrograde step. The AEU is pleased that the Canberra Liberals voted against the amendment to the Education Act abolishing GSEC, and is disappointed that the Greens have gone along with this unnecessary and potentially damaging exercise.

School); Suki Dorras-Walker (Campbell High School); Theresa Carroll (Canberra College). Congratulations not only to the successful candidates but to everyone who nominated and voted. The high degree of participation in this election is testimony to the vitality of our union.

Win on Preschool Funding In a win for parents and educators who have campaigned with the AEU to ensure that all children get the benefits of access to pre-school, the Commonwealth Government will fund 15 hours of pre-school for four-year-olds in 2016 and 2017. The Abbott Government had been refusing to commit to continue the funding but sustained community pressure – including over 500 postcards from the ACT Branch alone! – proved decisive. The AEU is now calling for the funding to be made permanent. AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe, said: “The AEU has been campaigning strongly on this issue, because we know parents feel strongly about the value of quality pre-school to prepare children for school. This decision is a relief, but it does not deliver the long-term certainty that we need to establish high quality early childhood education for all four-year olds.”

ACT Budget Fails to Deliver on Promise to Refurbish Older Public Schools The ACT Budget, delivered on June 2, included a number of welcome initiatives, including the allocation of funding for a specialist Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Centre at Caroline Chisholm High School, and significant new investment in Belconnen High (although $8 million less than was promised in 2012). Despite these positive initiatives, the budget represents yet another failure by the ACT


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Government to deliver on its 2012 election commitment to invest $70m of new money in school infrastructure. In the lead-up the 2012 election, ACT Labor committed to spend ‘$70m to create the best learning environments for students and teachers in our older public schools.’ Glenn Fowler has written to the Chief Minister calling for the full funding commitment to be honoured.

ACTU President, Ged Kearney, is leading the Build A Better Future campaign.

Our campaign helped maintain preschool funding for another two years.

Same Delaney is returning to the AEU ACT office as Acting Business Manager.

2015 ACTU Congress Launches Build a Better Future Campaign In late May, around a thousand union delegates from around the country attended the triennial Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Delegates debated and voted on the policies that will shape the union movement’s agenda for the next three years. Our branch was represented by Glenn Fowler, Lana Read, Patrick Judge and Suki DorrasWalker. Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, endorsed Congress’ resolution calling on domestic violence leave for all Australian workers. Having access to domestic violence leave means victims have time to attend court appearances and related appointments,

seek legal advice and make relocation arrangements. While we now have a right to Domestic Violence Leave under our Enterprise Agreement, many other workers don’t. Congress also resolved to work together with business to combat attempts by the Abbott Government to strip away paid parental leave from 80,000 Australian families. Of central importance to AEU members, the ACTU Congress endorsed an education policy that positions the union movement firmly behind Gonski in the lead-up to the next Federal election.

Proposed Changes to Student Reporting

Welcome Back Sam Delaney

As we go to print, the results of ETD consultation on the Draft Student Reporting Policy and new report templates have not been made public. ETD has been provided with the resolution of May 9 Council calling for significantly greater consultation with educators, prior to the introduction of any changes. We also made a submission calling, amongst other things, for greater consultation; no A-E grading in Kindergarten; voluntary adoption of new report templates and increased provision of centralised support.

Many AEU members already know Sam Delaney. Apart from being a colleague and an active AEU Councillor, Sam did a stint as an Organiser in Semester 1 of 2014. We’re excited that Sam is coming back into the office to fill in for our Business Manager, Lauren McKee, when she goes on maternity leave. All the best for life with the new bub Lauren! As Sam has taken a position in the office, he has resigned from Branch Executive. Keep an eye out for the call for nominations for candidates to fill the resulting vacancy.

Federal Budget Hurts Students in Public Schools The 2015 Federal Budget failed to deliver a funding loading for students with disability, despite the Coalition promising to introduce it at the start of this year. This means 100,000 students with disability in Australian schools will continue to receive no targeted funding to support their education. As well as failing students with disability, the Budget also confirmed the Abbott

Government will abandon Gonski if it is re-elected. The Budget made clear they will not deliver the final two years of Gonski funding in 2018 and 2019, ripping two thirds of the additional Gonski resources from Australian schools. Approximately $3.8 billion will be cut from schools in 2019 and 2020. For public schools alone this is the equivalent of cutting 20,000 educators.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


BUILDING A GENERATION OF SOLUTIONARIES Take action. Be part of the solution. Across Australia schools are taking action and connecting students to their positive everyday choices for their school and our environment.


Enviroweek is a fully integrated flexible and adaptable national schools event offering resources and prizes to engage and connect Aussie kids from 3-18 years.


Visit to see the Enviroweek 2015 video.




315,381 ACTIONS

EDUCATORS GET: • Free-to-access How To Guides and curriculum resources for secondary, primary and early childhood.

Enviroweek’s fun and easy actions provide students with the knowledge of their positive everyday impact and how that contributes to bigger change.

• Cool Prize draws.

Students taking up the waste-free lunch action discover that in a year their packaged lunch waste fills a 240-litre wheelie bin. Multiply that by their class, school and all Enviroweek schools and the impact is both real and big.

• Youth Advisors for secondary schools.

Port Fairy Consolidated School teacher Tracey Gray said, “Students care greatly about wildlife and our planet, but feel powerless to make an impact. Enviroweek shows them they hold power for good through their choices and actions.

• A profile page to connect with others, share tips, showcase stories and photos and engage your community. • Direct links to online professional development that support the implementation of Enviroweek and are aligned to the Australian Curriculum and EYLF. • Optional: People’s Choice Awards. Top 10 Awards for student leaders, teams and educators.


“When Enviroweek Waste Warriors measure their waste and do the maths, they learn that they have the power for positive change.” Bin it

Edible garden


Waste-free lunch

Gardening for biodiversity

Take action: From now to September 5 educators and students choose from 14 easy actions, create online profiles for their team, connect with other schools, share ideas and watch their impact grow.

Swap it

Garden care

Up cycle

Vertical and mobile gardens

Trash nest

Wonky veg

Switch off

Move and groove

Celebrate: For Enviroweek, August 30 - September 5, teams showcase their action, celebrate with their community and join the People’s Choice Award and the Top 10 student leaders, teams and educators.

Nature classroom Sit spot


HAAS Program Continues to Put Students at Risk The Health Access At School (HAAS) pilot program is currently operating in two specialist schools and a number of mainstream schools across the ACT public education system. The program involves making educators, rather than appropriately trained nurses, responsible for the provision of healthcare, over and above the kind of care covered in the Education and Training Directorate’s (ETD) First Aid Policy.

Previously these tasks were carried out by nurses in Specialist Schools. ETD and the Health Directorate have now determined that these tasks can be carried out by school staff. This means teachers and Learning Support Assistants.

What is HAAS?

The AEU is profoundly concerned by the HAAS program. First and foremost, we believe this program could put vulnerable students at risk because their healthcare needs are being attended to by educators, not by appropriately trained health professionals. The additional workload being placed on educators, without any corresponding compensation, is plainly unreasonable. Proper remuneration and training is not being provided to educators currently carrying out HAAS procedures. Imposing responsibility for the provision of healthcare, including during class time, is highly likely to undermine our ability to manage behaviour and promote student learning. Additionally, significant additional pressure is being placed on school leaders who have responsibility for nominating staff to carry out procedures, staffing and budgeting for the program and managing its delivery.

The AEU understands that tasks currently being carried out by educators under the HAAS program include; • Feeding via a gastronomy/jejunostomy (peg) • Use of gastronomy feed pumps • Medication via gastronomy • Care of gastronomy site (cleaning and dressing) • Nasogastric tube flush and feeding • Wound dressing • Blood glucose level check • Responding to hypoglycaemia/ hyperglycaemia • Giving an insulin injection • Assisting students to attend to their own catheterisation • Oral suctioning • Tracheostomy tube suctioning • Changing between devices on a trachesostomy-speaking valve, humidification item • Tracheostomy stoma cleaning and dressing • Tracheostomy tie change • Tracheostomy tube emergency management • Management of oxygen via concentrator at school • Management of oxygen via portable cylinder at school • Oxygen saturation check

What’s wrong with HAAS?

What can we do about it? Member activism has already minimised the worst impacts of HAAS. As part of HAAS, two full-time nurses were withdrawn from Black Mountain School, a special school with students who have complex high needs. AEU members successfully lobbied for the return of nurses to their school. However, even in this instance, the nurses now have a limited role in comparison to before (providing care to 13 Students who are deemed to be HAAS students rather than the whole student body). Largely as a result of AEU agitation, a review of HAAS was instigated by the Legislative Assembly in May. The review, being conducted by the Health and Education and Training Directorates, will report in August. The AEU is actively participating in the review. We have also launched a survey to ascertain member sentiment on this matter, in case we need to employ other avenues to ensure all our students receive healthcare from appropriately trained professionals. //

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch



APHEDA NEPAL APPEAL With over 8,600 people confirmed dead, and over a million children said to be ‘severely affected’, Nepal needs our help.

lives. Many of the world heritage buildings have been reduced to rubble. This is a huge disaster for one of the poorest nations which was already struggling to improve the living standards of the poorest of the poor.

Nepali unions are organising immediate assistance and are calling for global union support.

Your support is very much needed at this time. Whether large or small, every contribution counts in the effort to rebuild the lives of people in Nepal.

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is working with the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) and Union Network Nepal Liaison Council (UNI NLC) to provide the following immediate support:

“The situation is really tough - no milk for the children, no water, very limited food and medicine. The rebuilding process of Nepal is going to be long and difficult. So many basic facilities are gone - homes are gone, schools are gone, our hospitals are overwhelmed.”

• Medical treatment for injured • Temporary tent and housing • Water and food supply A major 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25th 2015 causing unprecedented destruction of infrastructure and homes, as well as loss of thousands of

UNI Asia and Pacific Director, Rajendra Acharya

SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY GIVE GENEROUSLY TODAY I want to support I want to do more, I want to become a

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE GLOBAL JUSTICEAPPEAL PARTNER I PLEDGE THE FOLLOWING EACH MONTH: $10 $25 $50 $100 My own amount $_____ ( min.$10 ) YES, I would like free membership of Union Aid Abroad for the life of my donation and agree to be bound by the rules of the Association.

METHOD OF PAYMENT: MasterCard Card no |

Expiry Date | m | m |–| y | y |















Fin. Inst. Branch

b] Cheque made payable to “APHEDA Inc” c] Direct Debit (Only available for monthly pledges)

Name on account

First name

BSB no |

Last name

Acc no |

Address State




Title Ms Mr Mrs Miss Dr (please circle)

Your Union


Card holder name or or

Phone: (w)



OR, I WISH TO MAKE A ONE OFF DONATION: $30 $50 $100 $250 Other amount $_____ Other

a] Credit Card




| |


| |


| |

| |

| |



| Date

By signing this Direct Debit request you acknowledge having read and endorsed the terms and conditions governing the debit arrangements between you and APHEDA Inc. as set out in our Direct Debit Request Service Agreement overleaf.

I would like some information about wills & bequests


I would like to subscribe to Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA’s email bulletin

Donations to Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA are tax deductible.

DONATIONS FREECALL 1800 888 674 or 02 9264 9343 Please complete this form and post to: Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, Level 3, 377-383 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000 office use only dm pl ap


Secretary’s Report AEU ACT Branch Secretary, Glenn Fowler

An EA Outcome we can be Proud of On July 2, a special meeting of Branch Council voted to accept the ACT Government’s third offer. The government has finally recognised the problem of excessive workload; how it is diminishing what we can deliver as educators; and how it is unreasonably impinging on our personal lives. The first offer, in October 2014, essentially dismissed this problem entirely. The second offer in April of this year delivered a meaningful set of protocols around the core role of a teacher. These words specify a list of tasks we will be no longer required to perform, and an additional list of tasks where our involvement will only extend as far as educational expertise is required.

The 3% pay increase per annum is a strong result. It has been won in a low inflation environment which means it will amount to an increase in real pay. It exceeds anything else won by other ACT public servants in recent times. It happened that on the same day news broke that Council had extended in-principle acceptance of the pay offer, another news story told of a Commonwealth department that had accepted a new agreement with pay increases of just 1.5%. There is no escaping the reality that the brutal negotiating environment faced by Commonwealth public servants undermined our ability to campaign for more. Equally, the $1 billion imposition on the ACT Budget caused by Mr Fluffy changed the dynamics profoundly. However, it is important that members – and non-members - appreciate a number of points about the pay increases we achieved. It would be naïve to imagine that an offer of 3% per annum pay increases would have been made in this environment if our union was not as strong as it is - in membership, in activism, and in its historical record. Secondly, the strong pay result is a direct consequence of the ACT Government signing up to growing its education budget as part of the Gonski agreements.

“That will mean each school will have between 500 and 900 hours of additional administrative support each year.” The third offer delivered $7 million of resources to employ additional school assistants to perform the tasks no longer required of us. As a result of our perseverance we will have almost 60 new administrative positions across the system to free teachers up from non-teaching work. That will mean each school will have between 500 and 900 hours of additional administrative support each year. This is a meaningful step in the right direction. The employer has committed in writing to ensuring we are allowed to focus exclusively on educating our students. We intend to hold the employer to its word, and they will report to us every three months.

When we receive our pay increases every six months, colleagues who are not members of our union need to be reminded that they would not be occurring except for the sacrifice and commitment of all of us who are members. On that note, I would like to say congratulations and thank you to each and every AEU member for helping us achieve this result together. The participation in sub-branches, from initial consultation on the formulation of our claim in late 2013 to the rapid responses as offers came out, has been impressive. I hope all members will also join with me in thanking Sub-branch leaders and Councillors whose commitment to this campaign has been extraordinary. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the wise and selfless leadership of Branch Executive. The work of our union never ceases. I look forward to working with all members as the agreement is implemented over coming months and we ensure the gains won on paper are translated into practice. //

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Mem Fox: Why I’m a Fan of Public Education Mem Fox is a teacher and the author of over forty books for children, including the best-selling Possum Magic. She is a tireless advocate for literacy and literature. Mem shared her passion for public education at the 2015 Public Education Dinner at the National Press Club in May. Thank you for that kind introduction. I’m thrilled to be here tonight, and incredibly honoured to have been asked. In mid-February I was in country Victoria working in a severely disadvantaged public school community, speaking to parents about the importance and fun of reading regularly to their pre-school children, and reading to the children themselves. The key teacher who’d invited me, a passionate, experienced, dedicated woman in her early sixties, told me they couldn’t afford a librarian in the school, in spite of the fact that a trained librarian would have made a massive difference to the children’s literacy and attitude to reading, and therefore to their entire futures, because their funding model allowed them to have either a counsellor or a librarian: they couldn’t afford both. She told me also that on the occasions when she has to visit children’s homes for one distressing reason or another she copes very well during the visits themselves. But after she leaves she drives a few kilometres down the road, pulls off the road, stops the car, puts her head on the steering wheel and says aloud: ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God.’ She has to educate these children. She has no choice. She teaches in a public school that has to take in everyone who comes a-knockin’. Choice? Don’t talk to me about ‘choice’. When it comes to schooling, vast numbers of children and parents don’t have the privilege or the luxury of ‘choice’.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

“Choice? Don’t talk to me about ‘choice’. When it comes to schooling, vast numbers of children and parents don’t have the privilege or the luxury of ‘choice’.” Two weeks ago I was working in a similar way in one of the disadvantaged suburbs on the furthest outskirts of Melbourne. On this occasion the invitation had come from a librarian at a new local library. The community was multi-cultural and struggling, with many children in the ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God’ category. The librarian told me they were doing their best to cater for these children’s screamingly obvious needs, to help them break out of the cycle of generational poverty and lack of education, but the public schools in the area were so lacking in funds that the cost of buses to and from the library was more than they could afford. They didn’t have a choice about whether or not to go to the library. Choice? Don’t talk to me about ‘choice’. This is our country and these are our heart-breaking children. Where’s the social justice in this fact: the federal government spends two-thirds of its school education dollars on the one-third of students in Australia who go to private schools. Where’s our national sense of shame at that statistic? I know it’s primarily state governments that fund public schools, but every year the Commonwealth continues to increase its share of the school funding pie. As new figures reveal, on the Save Our Schools website, disparities in funding are also being caused these days by both state and territory governments increasing their funding disproportionately, and enragingly to private schools. For heaven’s sake! Where’s the education revolution? What happened to that along the way? Do we need to start a real one? Look, I’m worn out by the argument that the state and federal governments need the private schools to do some of the work of educating our children because they couldn’t afford to do it all by themselves. The fact is they would have been able to once, if they’d made the ‘choice’ a couple of generations ago (in the Menzies era, 1962) not to be sucked in by Catholic schools in particular, arguing for a bigger slice of the funding pie than was equitable at the time, a funding model that’s developed to such an unfair extent that highly privileged private schools now hang around audaciously grasping for money from state and federal governments for second swimming pools and state of the art lighting for their already divine performance spaces when other children in this country can’t even borrow a book. Finland and Germany made the ‘choice’ not to have any private education system and yet manage to have maintained highly educated, cohesive populations. We could have done that once, and we blew it. Shame, Australia, shame.

“Where’s the social justice in this fact: the federal government spends two-thirds of its school education dollars on the one-third of students in Australia who go to private schools. Where’s our national sense of shame at that statistic?” I’m also worn out by the argument that people have a right to choose where their children are educated. My feeling is that if they’re vociferous enough and feeling entitled enough to want that ‘choice’ then, fine! We should allow those parents the ‘choice’ to pay more of the cost themselves; they shouldn’t be asking to be generously subsidized by cash-strapped governments that have no ‘choice’ but to educate every child lining up outside their public schools—schools that can’t even replace a broken blind or get the grass mown (a real school in the northern suburbs of Adelaide—I’ll be there on Monday), that can’t afford a school librarian or bus trips to a local library for kids who live in perpetually recurring poverty. ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


“Evidence-based research reveals that private schools do not educate children to a higher standard than state schools. Public school students achieve just as highly in life after school. Good grief! They even become prime ministers, high court judges and Nobel prize winners!” And the third thing that makes me weary beyond measure, and probably most furious of all, is the great confidence trick played on the community by private schools who claim to be able to educate children to a higher standard than state schools, as if rolling lawns and sensational amenities were keys to successful learning, rather than the fact that their clientele are often (although not always, I grant you) from educated, privileged families and are therefore somewhat easier to teach and get great results from. Inspired and effective leadership, together with good teaching achieves astonishing results in any school, not just in private schools. Evidence-based research reveals that private schools do not educate children to a higher standard than state schools. Public school students achieve just as highly in life after school. Good grief! They even become prime ministers, high court judges and Nobel prize winners! The fact that private schools confer no material or educational benefit in comparison to good public schools is becoming widely known and must be sending a shiver of panic down the spines of private school boards. Any minute now, surely, they’ll be sprung for false advertising.

In my experience as an Associate Professor in a university, students who’d graduated from public high schools had a particular kind of zestful self-reliance, self-assurance, and selfdiscipline. They came into tertiary education without a sense of entitlement, without needing to be held by the hand through every assignment. They were able do the work required by themselves! Astounding! If it’s good teaching we’re after in our schools—which it is: it’s the cornerstone contribution to children’s academic success—I can tell you first-hand, as a parent and a grandparent and as an academic who, for 24 years, taught teachers how to teach, that there are many brilliant, inspiring and dedicated teachers in both the public and private systems. I taught many myself at Flinders University. They made my heart sing. I also taught a few whose academic record was weak, whose teaching skills were merely adequate, and who were immediately employed on graduation by their own former private schools. ‘Good grief,’ I used to think. ‘Parents are paying for that guy to teach their kids? What a waste of money!’ As Waleed Aly said a few weeks ago on the Agony of School program on ABC TV, sending your kids to private school is like buying a band new BMW every year and driving it into a wall. On the same program, Dee Madigan pointed out that she had saved $300,000 by sending her two girls to public schools, and how nicely they had turned out. Which brings me to my own situation. I hope I have turned out nicely. I was born here but educated in what was then Southern Rhodesia and is now Zimbabwe. It was a public school, in Bulawayo, all girls, all white, in the racist manner of that time. My father was the missionary director of an African teachers’ college, a deep thinker and a passionate educator, politically active, the quintessence of social justice in action. He’d been educated at Scotch in Adelaide in the 1920s, and when we had a daughter of our own, in Australia, he threatened to disinherit


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

us if we attempted to educate her in a manner similar to his. ‘Memzi,’ my father used to say, ‘it’s the narrowness of thought that alarms me. At my time at Scotch we met only boys like us, from families like ours, as if people unlike us didn’t exist, or were beneath our attention. We put on that ultra-smart, expensive uniform and thought uniformly. We lived in a uniform way. We had uniform expectations of the kinds of rights our uniformed education would bestow on us. It took immense courage to stand out from the crowd, to voice a different opinion, to present the possibility that there were other ways of looking at the world and other ways of running it more fairly. Don’t be tempted to trammel Chloë with a private education. Let her experience the fullness of life in public schools.’ So we did. Our state school graduate is now 44. Did we, her parents, make the wrong decision? All will be revealed. Suffice to say, at this point in my ranting, that Chloë’s five-year old son is the only

grandchild we will ever have, so his future happiness and success mean everything to us. We wouldn’t want to take any risks. He’s in Reception at a public school, where he has two hours of music a week, two hours of French and two hours of physical education. Public education, people! Brilliant! And 95% of the children who go to his state primary school choose to go on to the excellent public high school in the same suburb. 95%! Their parents make the public school choice when a good proportion of them could afford a private education instead. Clearly they’re not taken in by all the expensive bus-stop advertisements currently on display in our area, with a ‘thumbsup’ claiming that such and such a private school has ‘the edge.’ It’s true that our Chloë started out in a Catholic school. My husband was a teacher there at the time, so it was convenient, but by the time she was in Year Two in 1977 there were fortytwo children in her class, and she was being taught by an overworked, run-ragged nun. The following year, and until she finished high school, she was in smaller, more comfortable classes, at nearby state schools. And the education was free. There was a debatable return, we felt, on private school fees. We believed that since schooling could never provide all the education our child would require, the fees might be better spent on travel, on books and special events, instead of school fees. To the Adelaide Establishment, which always educates its children privately because it’s the tribal custom—which we

“‘Memzi,’ my father used to say, ‘it’s the narrowness of thought that alarms me. At my time at Scotch we met only boys like us, from families like ours, as if people unlike us didn’t exist, or were beneath our attention.” ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


“ I also taught a few whose academic record was weak, whose teaching skills were merely adequate, and who were immediately employed on graduation by their own former private schools. ‘Good grief,’ I used to think. ‘Parents are paying for that guy to teach their kids? What a waste of money!” respect, even though it puzzles us—our decision was not only incomprehensible, it was irresponsible. We were frequently offered, by our private school friends, the private-school excuse that the discipline is excellent. I was always intrigued by the insecurity inherent in this excuse. Had the authority of the home been so undermined that parents had now to rely on external discipline? Discipline? Bah, humbug. We had enough confidence and love to provide our own. Uniforms provided another excuse. They look so nice, don’t they? Except that they’re the beginning of a convergent way of dressing, of behaving, of thinking; the beginning of a fear of being different, of standing out, of standing up alone to be counted. Much like the sudden childish wearing of blue ties by federal Liberal MPs. For heaven’s sake, boys, grow up! It’s parliament, now, OK? Not

school. Break out! Australian business, science, and engineering is begging for lateral thinkers, daring thinkers. We long for our leaders, state and federal, Liberal and Labor, to be more divergent, more creative, more bold and courageous, not hidebound by a narrow uniformity of thinking. Another private school excuse that was rammed down our throats was that of better teachers. As I’ve already said, that’s a laugh, as anyone who’s ever attended or taught in a private school knows only too well. A good education has everything to do with good teachers undoubtedly, but let me continue with my mantra: there are highly effective, fantastic teachers in both systems. ‘What about peer-group pressure?’ we were asked. It’s common knowledge that substance abuse occurs in both private and public schools, but I confess to being amazed when our child managed not to smoke. Anything. Much. When I asked, many years later, how she’d resisted the peer-group pressure she said: ‘I was the pressure.’ I was stunned, pleased, over the moon, beside myself. We hadn’t expected a school to provide her with a moral framework. We’d done it ourselves. It had been our private education and had cost nothing. ‘But what about her friends?’ our private school pals would cry. Indeed, an important consideration. But we knew very well that in any school, like attracts like. We did, it’s true, make the conscious choice to live in a pleasant hippie-esque Hills neighbourhood in Adelaide, because of its good public schools and the diverse kinds of children who attended them.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

The Chaser’s Craig Reucassel MCing at the Public Education Dinner. Bearing in mind that no school can provide an entirely adequate education we spent most of our income, and borrowed more, to travel. Travel was Chloë’s private education. It was a much cheaper education in the end and more effective than any private school would have been. When Chloë was six we spent Christmas in Iran and went to Persepolis to visit the tomb of Darius, the king who sent Daniel to the lion’s den. Private education, unavailable at private schools. In Egypt, Iran, India Zimbabwe, South Africa, and even New York, this child brought up in security and comfort, was forced to come face to face with poverty and degradation. We shared these experiences. We had the good times too. After many visits and an exchange to France Chloë’s French became fluent. It was a private education of incalculable value. We’ve seen the effect of the cliché about travel broadening the mind so our message of encouragement to parents who are in two minds about their children’s education is to pay Qantas rather than St Trinian’s, so that they can have fun too. There’s an excellence possible and available in public schools, which would astound those who adhere to the belief that goodness, truth, and light are available only in the very expensive, lie-awake-at-nightworrying-about-the-fees private system. So what did happen to Chloë and her close circle of Year Twelve, female, state school friends? One of them won major prizes in law at Adelaide Uni and is now a high-ranking member of our diplomatic corps in Thailand. Another friend completed her Ph.D. in English at Sydney University, earning her own way handsomely by writing scripts for ‘Home and Away.’ She’s now a well-known chick-lit novelist and lecturing in English at Sydney Uni. Yet another friend is a prosecuting lawyer in London.

Adelaide Advertiser for three and a half years, then as a freelance journalist in Paris for three and half years, on the Arab desk at UNESCO, at Elle magazine, at Agence France Press. She came home, re-trained as a French teacher, taught for four years and was then elected to the South Australian parliament as a Labor politician. She became the Minister of Transport Services and the Minister assisting the Minister for the Arts. After eight years in politics she lost her seat in a re-distribution in the 2013 state election. She then took nine months off to recover from that experience and to re-acquaint herself with her then four-year old son. Right now she’s re-inventing herself yet again, via a Ph.D. at Flinders University in educational leadership. She’s one of that new breed of ex-politicians who doesn’t have a parliamentary pension to fall back on, so to keep the wolf from the door she’s teaching French half-time, and loving it, in a public high school in Adelaide. My dad would have been so proud. And finally, for her birthday this year, in her mid-forties and needing something good to read, she spent a book token on a fat new biography of Elizabeth I. Bit of a worry, this state education, don’t you think? Thank you for listening. //

After her Adelaide Uni BA, Chloë went to City University in London where she completed a Masters in international journalism at the age of 22. She worked as a journalist at the

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Roger Amey Wins the 2015 AEU Public Education Award Roger Amey was presented with the 2015 Public Education Award at the Public Education Dinner on May 29. Kevin King from TM Bank, who sponsored the award, made the presentation. AEU ACT President, Lana Read, gave the following citation. Roger with AEU ACT President Lana Read and TM Bank’s Kevin King.

Roger Amey is a frontline warrior in the struggle for public education. This is not a recent phase in Roger’s life. This is who Roger is. He embodies everything that is great and powerful in our struggle. Roger has occupied close to every elected position in our Branch. He has represented the AEU on countless committees and government bodies, as a valuable contributor to the strength of our public system, but also as a conscience to make sure nobody forgets what is really important. In our union, if anyone talks about education for more than ten minutes without mentioning students, Roger will intervene. It is impossible to overstate his sense of duty to Canberra’s children and young people, particularly our most vulnerable. There are plenty of tears with Roger, but never crocodile tears. He is disgusted by inequity and by the preservation of privilege. He will not rest unless every single student is given the resources she or he needs to achieve their potential. Education is a human right, not a commodity to be supersized if you’ve won the parental income lottery.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Roger can be a firebrand but he can also be a pragmatist. He reads the politics and he reads the membership. He has great respect for school leadership. Principals he works with do not fear him: they respect and admire him, and they seek his input. His knocks at the door are not met with groans, but with relish, because school leaders know Roger’s finger is on the pulse and that a way is about to be found to make the school better. Our Branch has changed significantly in recent times, and Roger has been an advocate for our growth strategy and organising approach. Change does not come easily, and only a small number of people will have a full appreciation of the quality of his stewardship whenever the waters have become choppy. For Roger, being a teacher, a leader, a political activist, a change-maker and a union member are indistinguishable. Thousands of educators, and thousands of students, have an improved life because of Roger Amey. He is a most worthy recipient of the Public Education Award. //

Who says banks can’t be ethical? For the second year running, Teachers Mutual Bank has been recognised as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.* We are one of three honourees in the National Banks category and one of only two Australian companies honoured overall.

Learn more or 13 12 21 If you work in the Australian education sector or you are a family member or partner of a TMB member – you may join TMB. *The World’s Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient™ (EQ) framework developed over years of research to provide a means to assess an organisation’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardised way. The Ethisphere® Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success. More information at: Honourees truly stand out when it comes to creating an ethical culture and developing world class policies and programs in ethics and corporate responsibility. They represent the best in their respective categories, and continue to elevate the behaviour and standards of their industries. Scores are generated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program (35%), corporate citizenship and responsibility (20%), culture of ethics (20%), governance (15%) and leadership, innovation and reputation (10%). Teachers Mutual Bank Limited ABN 30 087 650 459 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238981 | 00711P-CSR-0415-WME-PEV-297x210

2015 Friend of Public Education Award – Viv Pearce The winner of the 2015 Friend of Public Education Award was immediate past President of The ACT Council of Parents & Friends’ Association, Viv Pearce. Viv Pearce is a great friend of public education.

Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, Winner of the 2015 Friend of Public Education, Viv Pearce and AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe.

As an ex teacher and public school parent, Viv has had a long and active involvement in the promotion and development of public education for all. She has been involved with school and college P&C associations in the ACT for over 20 years, first at Giralang Primary School, then Kaleen High School and later at Lake Ginninderra College, whom she still represents as a delegate to the ACT Council of P&C Associations.

Viv joined the Executive Committee of the P&C Council in 2008 and held positions of Assistant Secretary, Vice President and President and is now the Immediate Past President and still serving on the Executive. Viv has contributed on a wide range of P&C committees, working groups and reference groups, including: • The ACT Election Working Group • The Canteen Working Group • The Communications & Social Media Committee • The Disability and special needs education working group • The Gifted & Talented Students Working Group • The Schools & Community in Partnership committee • The Sustainable Schools Team Viv has been one of the most active people in Canberra lobbying for implementation of the Gonski report recommendations and, earlier, on opposing public school closures. She has been a passionate supporter of improvements for special needs students, sustainable and safe schools, curriculum review and teacher standards. She has equally fought against the misuse of NAPLAN data and reductions in specialist teachers. Viv, congratulations on winning the 2015 AEU ACT Friend of Public Education Award and thank you for your service to public education. //

2015 Reconciliation Award – Anne O’Neill Anne O’Neill receives the 2015 Reconciliation Award from Jane Stower from Teachers’ Health Fund.

Anne O’Neill received the 2015 Reconciliation Award from Meredith McKinney, and Jane Stower from Teachers Health Fund. Anne O’Neill has a deep personal commitment to the education of Indigenous students and she consistently goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of her students. Anne works closely with Indigenous students to develop Personalised Learning Plans that help them define their goals and she runs fortnightly tutorials to provide additional academic support to Indigenous students at Belconnen High. Anne has invested considerable time in preparing and supporting students as they apply for Aspiration Initiative scholarships for years 11 and 12. The results speak for themselves: three Belconnen High students have been awarded scholarships in recent years. Anne has applied for numerous grants to help Indigenous students. This year the school was successful in getting a $5000 grant to resource tutoring. She has also initiated a mentoring process for Indigenous students at Belconnen High under the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) programme. Anne runs special assemblies every year, to celebrate Reconciliation Week, National Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week, which give Indigenous students the opportunity to share culture, stories and language with their school community. Anne O’Neill’s energy and commitment shows in the educational outcomes her students are achieving. As importantly, Anne is someone who students know they can talk to. They know Anne believes in them, and with her support, more and more students have started to acknowledge their Aboriginality. A very worthy recipient of the 2015 AEU ACT Reconciliation Award - Anne O’Neill. //


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

First State Super works as hard as you do We believe Australians who choose careers looking after others deserve a comfortable retirement. Join the super fund that puts members first. Call us on 1300 650 873 or visit

first & foremost for you


Consider our product disclosure statement before making a decision about First State Super. Call us or visit our website for a copy. ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch FSS Trustee Corporation ABN 11 118 202 672 AFSL 293340 is the trustee of the First State Superannuation Scheme ABN 53 226 460 365

The Reef The Union and You

Outdoor education teacher, Peter Blunt, reflects on the beauty and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef, the threat caused to it by global warming and what we can do about Excitement is at fever pitch as the boat pulls away from shore. Finally, after all the preparation at college, days of driving, food shopping, packing and unpacking the bus, and then more unpacking and packing the boat, the last leg of the long journey is upon us.

Peter Blunt talking deep educational pedagogy with Thomas Nielsen - integrating a curriculum of giving with outdoor education (Musgrave, 2013)


The first view of the island is fabulous. It’s the paradise island of all our imaginations. As the boat turns inside the outer reef and enters the lagoon, I am once again overcome with emotion - the colour of the water, 18 students’ eyes try to take it all in. They point and jump up and down and hug each other, not believing it can be true that they are here and about to spend a week on this island. A turtle swims off. It’s just stunning and overwhelming that a place could be so beautiful.

ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Nidibranch (photo T Didcock).

Thirteen times I’ve taken Lake Ginninderra College students to Lady Musgrave Island. Each time I have to pinch myself to know that the school (2 weeks away), the parents and students (costs about $1100) and the Directorate (Mandatory Procedures and Risk Management) are supportive of this excursion. We snorkel and scuba dive the reef, swimming on every dive with green turtles, searching for clown fish on bommies at the drop off and marvelling at the corals and diverse life forms. We’ve listened to whale song underwater, observed turtles mating in the shallows, frolicked in delighted frenzy with manta rays and seen reef sharks cruise the depths. Out of water, the island is an incredibly rich bird sanctuary. At sunset each day we have solitude, time on the beach, and write. At night the sky is brilliant as shooting stars blaze. At lucky times we lie still in the sand deep

“Students develop a deep love for the place and feel a strong sense of kinship with the other forms of life they share the island with. They begin to understand our Great Barrier Reef.” into the night and witness the struggle of turtle mothers as they drag themselves up the beach, dig their nest holes and finally sometimes lay their eggs. For the students, the whole experience is consistently the best thing they have ever done in their lives. They develop a deep love for the place and feel a strong sense of kinship with the other forms of life they share the island with. They begin to understand our Great Barrier Reef. As teachers we face a great dilemma in deciding how and when to educate about environmental issues. In my view it is a high-level intellectual and emotional process to have a deep attachment to a place without having some sort of direct connection. We may also not want to leave younger students feeling responsible for problems which they have little power to influence.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


The problems for The Reef are immense. At a recent symposium in Canberra on “The Future of Coral Reefs� Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, one of the principal authors of the IPCC Report on Climate Change summarised the current situation in 9 numbers. Sunset solitude (photo D Robertson).


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

the minimum number of species in a coral reef. the dollar value of the Great Barrier Reef in tourism and fishing to the QLD/Australian economy (every year).

14,000,000 the percentage of coral lost since the 1980s.

the number of recreational visitors annually to the Great Barrier Reef.

the number of main threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

the number of degrees of warming above the preindustrial average where most corals on the planet will suffer major bleaching

Water Quality


both of these have easy fixes - controlling development and having good management processes. 500 - the number of megatons more of CO2 we can put into the atmosphere before we reach catastrophe beyond 2 degrees warming.

the number of megatons of CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere each year.

Ocean Acidification caused by the absorption of CO2 by the water causing changes to the ocean chemistry

Global Warming

14 - Ove’s last number (in 2014). If you divide 500 by 35 you get 14 which is now the number of years at present rate of CO2 output we have left. Only 14! To turn things round to save the Reef!

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


“Carbon offset your car, your house, your lifestyle using an organisation like Climate Friendly. Join the AEU campaign to divest from banks that fund fossil fuel mining, especially coal. Walk, cycle, take the bus etc. when you can.�

Snorkel team (photo P Blunt)


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch


Green Turtle and Dani (photo T Jacobsen) So as teachers what can we do? Go to the Reef yourself and build your own relationship with it. It’s hard to find the best places so here are a few starters. The Capricorn Bunker Group is the closest. Heron Island is the luxury option. Lady Eliot is a fly-in middle range resort. North West Island has camping with showers and some facilities, while Lady Musgrave is the classic coral cay island with just a composting toilet. In the Whitsundays, camp for a few days at Whitehaven Beach, Crayfish Bay, Maureens Cove or all three (accessed by water taxi). All these places are beautiful islands with wonderful underwater environments. Note that bookings can be difficult in Queensland holidays. Carbon offset your car, your house, your lifestyle using an organisation like Climate Friendly.

Corals and Jessie on SCUBA (photo P Blunt) Join the AEU campaign to divest from banks that fund fossil fuel mining, especially coal. Walk, cycle, take the bus etc. when you can. Finally, take your students to the Reef after you are familiar with it. Or take them to our own piece of ocean paradise: Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay, to start their rich firsthand experience of the ocean environment. Help older students calculate their carbon footprint on these excursions and offset it together as they learn to understand the connections between their actions and the environment. On our last day on the island, I gaze out across the lagoon in the late afternoon light. A turtle periscopes its head for air and a look around. It’s very hard not to anthropomorphise and wonder if s/he’s asking me a question. // -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ove Hoegh-Guldberg - one of the principal authors of the IPCC Report on Climate Change, presenter “The Future of Coral Reefs” symposium, Canberra, 3/7/14 Example carbon offset company - Climate Friendly Leading climate action organisation

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Rocketship’s Questions Dean Ashenden Dean Ashenden has been a teacher, teacher educator, and a consultant to school systems and authorities in all states and territories and at the national level. He writes on education and other issues for Inside Story http:// and a number of other outlets.

Leading education commentator, Dean Ashenden, argues that US charter school operator, Rocketship, poses urgent questions about how schools should organise teaching and learning to maximise the benefits of the digital revolution Rocketship, like any US charter school operator, is controversial. But what makes Rocketship really controversial is that it has changed the familiar ‘grammar’ of schooling – and it seems to work. Rocketship opened the first of its K-5 schools in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, eight years ago. The Valley is one of the wealthiest urban areas in the world, but from the start Rocketship targeted not the Porsche-driving geeks and venture-capitalists and start-up entrepreneurs but the Latinos who cook, clean, deliver for and wait on the Valley’s elect. It is founded on an almost missionary zeal to ‘close the gap’ between the educational attainments and prospects of the poor and the prosperous. That is not unusual among either charter schools or schools in the mainstream of the US public system, but what is unusual is the way Rocketship goes about the job. It was an early adopter of ‘blended’ learning, combining technology-delivered tuition with conventional classroom teaching. Rocketship began with a ‘rotational’ version of blending which sees students spending some of their day in the classroom, some in a computer lab working on maths and reading via ‘adaptive’ programs in which attainment on one task determines the nature and difficulty of the next.

“Rocketship began with a ‘rotational’ version of blending which sees students spending some of their day in the classroom, some in a computer lab working on maths and reading via ‘adaptive’ programs in which attainment on one task determines the nature and difficulty of the next.” 28

ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

But from 2013 Rocketship began a difficult transition to a ‘flex’ approach to blending. Two kinds of space, classroom and computer lab, are combined into a single large area so that teachers can ‘personalise’ learning. The idea is (as Rocketship puts it) to get the right students in the right groups for the right support at the right time.

Does it work? Much depends, of course, on what is meant by ‘work’. In California, home to most Rocketship schools at this stage, the same tests – in the literal sense of the term – are applied to charters as to mainstream schools. The first Rocketship school opened with scores around the 900 mark on a 200-1000 scale, a high number by any standards, let alone for a brand-new school starting with a full complement of kids, 85 per cent qualifying for free lunches and 68 per

These forms of blending and personalising learning change elements of schooling which have been taken for granted for 100 years or more: staffing mix, the student-curriculum relationship, space, the organisation of staff and student work, and resource allocation.

“These forms of blending and personalising learning change elements of schooling which have been taken for granted for 100 years or more: staffing mix, the student-curriculum relationship, space, the organisation of staff and student work, and resource allocation.” Rocketship employs fewer teachers and more support staff than mainstream schools (around three teachers to the typical four or more), and pays up to 30 per cent above standard salary rates. Teachers are recruited from the Teach for America program (just about as controversial as Rocketship) which puts bright young graduates through a short, intensive prep before placing them in disadvantaged schools. Rocketship’s novice teachers are closely supervised within a sustained workplace-based professional development program. Teachers’ work, which includes visits to every student’s home at least once a year, is exceptionally demanding. Attrition rates are high. The Rocketship curriculum offers just four broad areas of study, language arts, maths, science, and social studies. The progress of every student in each area of this stripped-down curriculum is closely monitored, and assessments of progress and problems are available for teacher diagnosis and prescription in real time. Teachers specialise; their lessons are honed and polished, and used over and again. ‘Community engagement’ is, as the home visiting program suggests, core to the whole educational idea. The familiar classroom appears to be on the way out. Budgets reflect all these differences. Like most other charter schools Rocketship meets its own start-up costs. It depends on philanthropy to buy or build its schools, notably frill-free, and constructed at around half the per square foot cost of mainstream public schools. Running costs are met from the public purse, and are, by most accounts, low. Rocketship spends a relatively high proportion of its recurrent income on equipment, support staff, and professional development.

cent from families in which English was a second language. The other test for charter schools is customer satisfaction. They compete (and none too genteely) with the mainstream schools for students. When Rocketship opened a second school in the Valley it began with 426 students, scored 872, filled its quota of 640, and soon had a waiting list of 400. From its beginnings with a single school only eight years ago, Rocketship has expanded to eight schools in San Franscisco’s Bay area with others recently opened or scheduled for Milwaukee, Nashville, and Washington DC. It has ambitious plans to continue rapid growth into the indefinite future. These are numbers and examples which show Rocketship to advantage, of course. There are claims that Rocketship’s scores overall have declined steadily since inception but that leaves open the question of how its scores compare with those of other schools with a similar clientele, not to mention the question of how the productivity equation pans out. By the standards set for them and

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


“Rocketship’s students come from families actively seeking high achievement in ‘the basics’, the critics argue, while established public schools are left with the rest and with a broader educational remit.” many other American schools, Rocketship does seem to produce more from less. Whether it is the right ‘more’, and whether it is achieved at a greater cost to a broad and broadening educational experience, are questions on which there is more opinion then evidence. So many charter schools have done no better than mainstream public schools that Rocketship’s apparent success poses a problem of explanation. Some critics argue that its apparent gains are ‘selection effects’. Rocketship’s students come from families actively seeking high achievement in ‘the basics’, the critics argue, while established public schools are left with the rest and with a broader educational remit. Other and related ‘effects’ may apply. For example, Rocketship’s students have so far come predominantly from immigrant (Latino) families and are beneficiaries of their parents’ desire to find a better life. Rocketship teachers are young, many of them highlymotivated graduates working in newly-established schools, perfect conditions for the Hawthorn effect. Whether Rocketship can sustain a ‘sense of urgency’ (as its CEO puts it) remains to be seen. One problem in trying to decide what to make of Rocketship is that it defies the usual categories. Founded by a Silicon Valley multi-millionaire (who, by the way, taught for three years in a hard-yards public school after he’d made his millions and before he established Rocketship), it serves those who are at or close to the bottom of the pile. A part of the public school system (it charges no fees), it uses the techniques and mindset of business to compete fiercely with other public schools. Its educational program combines child-centred progressivism and high tech with old-fashioned teacher-centred instruction and test-based accountability. From the point of view of teacher organisations, it is in some respects exactly what they would like to see: high salaries, strong professional development, rapid career advancement, ample support staff, a focus on the disadvantaged. But in other respects – performance pay, long working days, a narrowed curriculum, high student:teacher ratios, ‘time-tech swaps’, a non-union shop – Rocketship is all that they oppose.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Since there is no prospect of a Rocketship school popping up in an Australian suburb we do no have to decide for or against. Nor, unfortunately, can we decide for or against the ‘choice’ idea behind charter schools, given that ‘choice’ is more embedded, and even more toxic in its effects, in Australia than in the US. But we can take Rocketship as an opportunity to ponder how schooling is and will be done. • Most efforts at school reform in Australia and elsewhere attempt to improve the workings of the current grammar of schooling, ‘the regular structures and rules that organise the work of instruction’, as historians David Tyack and William Tobin put it. Is Rocketship onto something in suggesting that the grammar itself, the ‘standard organisational practices in dividing time and space, classifying students and allocating them to classrooms, and splintering knowledge into “subjects”’, needs to be changed as well? • What is the role of technology in schools, and what is its role (if any) in changing the grammar? Schools and school systems now spend substantial sums and a lot of effort on technology in and beyond the classroom. Few would argue that it has been a big success. Is that because technology has been seen as a supplement to the usual way of doing teaching and learning rather than (as in Rocketship) a substitute for some kinds of teaching effort? Is Rocketship a sign that schooling has now arrived at a point previously reached by one industry after another ever since the Industrial Revolution, the point at which machines can take over some human labour?

• Are conventional teacher education courses, with their long periods of study away from and before the assumption of responsibilities in the workplace, fundamentally misconceived? Does Rocketship (and TFA) suggest that a revamped and updated apprenticeshiplike approach will be more effective? • Is the general assumption that the professional ideal is a long career in or close to the classroom correct? Should we be trying to attract more graduates into spending relatively short, intensive periods working in schools?

• Can we have it all, in curriculum terms? To one critic, Rocketship schools are simply ‘schools for the poor’. To one Rocketship supporter, it is just a question of ‘how you spend precious student time’. • Can we have it all in resource terms? The long-run trend in Australia and other Western societies has been to assume that a better and more effective educational experience demands better resourcing. The Rocketship answer is not to spend more but to spend differently. • And if Rocketship is the wrong answer to questions such as these, what are the right answers? //

“From the point of view of teacher organisations, it is in some respects exactly what they would like to see: high salaries, strong professional development, rapid career advancement, ample support staff, a focus on the disadvantaged. But in other respects – performance pay, long working days, a narrowed curriculum, high student:teacher ratios, ‘time-tech swaps’, a non-union shop – Rocketship is all that they oppose.”

What Works Now? How Should The Future Look? A great deal of innovation is occurring in ACT public schools and classrooms. We’d love to hear how you believe adoption of new technologies is benefitting your students. What are you and your school doing with new technologies that is working? How much do you feel you’ve already started to change what Dean calls the familiar grammar of schooling? If you’d like to share your experience in the next Educator, please get in touch with Tom Greenwell (

Sources • • • • • •

Richard Whitmire’s On the Rocketship (2014) is by far the most detailed account. For a sceptical review of Whitmire (a supporter of Rocketship and some other charter networks), see See also Study-Public_Impact.pdf and The authoritative study of the ‘performance’ of charter schools is Stanford University’s CREDO For criticisms of Rocketship, charter schools, and TFA, do a Google search on each, adding the word ‘criticism’. Wikipedia’s entries on ‘Charter schools in the United States’ and ‘Teach For America’ are useful guides to arguments for and against. Tyack and Tobin’s seminal essay on the ‘grammar’ of schooling was published in 1994

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Being A School Psychologist Eleanor Sautelle

Eleanor Sautelle is President of the AEU School Psychologist Sub-branch. As School Psychologists, we have found ourselves in the spotlight with the EA negotiations, with our claim to reduce the student to school psychologist ratio across the ACT. Throughout this process, and in fact my entire experience with the AEU, I have been overwhelmed by the support of my teacher colleagues. Whenever I have a conversation about the importance of our role and our issues, I am met with unwavering support and an encouraging amount of passion! It is obvious that teachers value the work that we do, and see the need for having more of us around. It has also become clear through these conversations,


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Today I’m at the high school. It’s a few minutes after 8 and I’ve just arrived at work. As I sit down at my desk with a cup of tea, the next 15 minutes are the calmest part of my day. I think about my priorities for the day, and wonder how I am going to fit it all in. I wonder what adolescent horrors were experienced over the weekend that will change all of my plans...

up for the evening I reflect on today - it was a good day. I was able to work with many students and saw positive outcomes. Other days can be taken up by just one. A student in so much pain that they wish to die, and then I do all I can to keep them alive. This involves sitting with them in their vulnerability and taking all the time that they need. This involves difficult conversations with parents and lots of negotiations with external service providers. This involves carefully considered conversations with the Principal. This involves a whole lot of paperwork, and a whole lot of hope. And through all this I am reminded that this job is a privilege. Students, teachers and families come to me vulnerable, seeking help or relief or simply a listening ear. I sit with them through darkness and angst and stress and grief and we problem solve together. It is days like those that I think, thank goodness I was here today and imagine if I wasn’t. I also think, imagine if I had more time to be proactive.

By lunchtime I’ve seen 4 students who have self-referred for a range of mental health issues. Another dropped in at recess to collect a referral to a GP that I had written the previous night. A colleague drops in to check I’ll still be able to assess a student the following day so they can phone him to make sure his carer brings him on time. Another student drops in over lunch, he’s seen a community mental health service and wants to check in; he’s struggling with his depression. The job’s about relationships so we chat. The last session I’m attending an ILP meeting for a student receiving support for an intellectual disability. I give recommendations and inevitably walk away with something to add to my to-do list. School’s over but the day hasn’t finished. For each student that I saw, I need to write case notes as a bare minimum. Most will require some other follow up - a phonecall to a parent or service provider, a conversation with a teacher or wellbeing staff, scoring of an assessment, writing of a letter, planning the next step in my intervention. As I pack

And tomorrow I will start all over again, in a new school with different priorities. I’ll be at the primary school so my calendar is filled with a heartbreaking conversation with parents about their child I am diagnosing with an intellectual disability that will affect them for life, a classroom observation of a student who is just not managing to stay on task despite lots of support and intervention from her teacher, the beginnings of a cognitive assessment offsite to investigate why a Preschool student is having so much trouble with his learning, a case conference with Care and Protection to determine the best options for support for a young family, and then after school I’m

“School’s over but the day hasn’t finished. For each student that I saw, I need to write case notes as a bare minimum.” that what our role entails is actually quite a mystery. Some of you may have had experience with us working with students from your classroom, others less so. And in pulling together this article, I have realised that in a way our role IS a mystery. No two days look the same, no two school settings are the same. Each of us brings our own expertise and interests, each school has different priorities and needs, and almost all of us work across a number of settings. And so, I asked a few of our School Psychologist members to give some insight into their experiences. The following is our attempt to describe a ‘typical’ day in the life of a school psychologist….

“Other days can be taken up by just one. A student in so much pain that they wish to die, and then I do all I can to keep them alive. This involves sitting with them in their vulnerability and taking all the time that they need.” ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


“What we do share though, is commitment to the wellbeing of children and young people….and an overwhelming sense that if only we had more time our students, schools and families would be so much better off...” running a PL for staff. Who knows whether that will go according to plan, but I do know that I will be busy, I will be making decisions, and I will be having a positive impact on students and families. There is no such thing as a typical day, and my school psychologist colleagues would all describe theirs differently. We all have different passions and areas of expertise, and work in very different schools. What we do share though, is commitment to the wellbeing of children and young people….and an overwhelming sense that if only we had more time our students, schools and families would be so much better off. So what has all of this got to do with our EA claim? Well, the crux of it is that we need more time. A recent coroner’s enquiry in NSW recommends a ratio of 1 school psychologist to 500 students. In response to this, NSW has moved to guarantee a maximum ratio of 1 to 750. We asked to match this. While the ACT Government was not prepared to go this far, it has committed to hiring four additional full-time equivalent school

psychologists for our system. This will give school psychologists more time to support teachers with challenging students; more time to support students struggling with learning or mental health difficulties; and more time to support students with a disability and their families. For many students, the school psychologist is the only way that they can access a mental health service, or an investigation into their learning needs. Psychologists in ACT schools are responsible for an enormous number of students. If you think about how many hours there are in a school day, there is no possible way that any school psychologist can provide a service to all the students that need it, we are simply spread too thin. And this means that students fall through the cracks, students who would really benefit from early intervention don’t receive it, students who are struggling with their learning where school staff can’t work out why will not have that investigated. While a lot of what we do is a mystery, this is not. We need more time, and every student in every school would be better off for it. //

AEU Behaviour Management Conference Friday September 18 CPSU Training Room 40 Brisbane Avenue, Barton An area of significant concern for the Union and its members is ensuring a safe environment for educators to perform their duties. On a daily basis AEU Members educate & support children and young adults who have a host of complex behavioural needs, and this often results in educators facing incidents of physical and verbal abuse as they undertake their duties. On the 18th September, we are running a special industrial relations training event on how to ensure your work environment is safe. This course is grounded in practical industrial strategies on how to exercise your rights both as an individual member but also collectively at AEU sub branch level.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Areas to be covered: • How to utilise the Enterprise Agreement to address an unsafe environment. • Effectively using Health and Safety regulations in your school. • What is the role of union democracy in supporting these processes? The day will also offer members the opportunities to share their expertise and develop policy on how the AEU should handle this challenging area in future. //

Every year 1,800 public school children from NSW and the ACT attend our safe haven next to Curl Curl Beach. Every year 1,800 public school children attend Stewart House at no cost to their parents or carers. During a 12 day stay they are provided with dental, optical, hearing and medical screening and treatment. Children participate in educational programs and excursions designed to develop their social and emotional skills, build self esteem and improve their overall well-being. All costs associated with the childrens’ stay are met from charitable donations.

Can you help? Would you miss $5 per pay to help us continue with our life-changing work?

Visit to make a donation or to set up your $5 per pay salary contribution. Call (02) 9938 3100 or email

WILD - Women in Leadership Development 8.30am – 4.30pm, Friday 31st July, Centre for Teaching & Learning, Stirling

An opportunity to meet with speakers and to participate in Q and A forums

Women across the directorate and CIT are invited to attend a full day program, including speakers and workshops, to celebrate the launch of the first AEU WILD program in the ACT.

Gain insights into: personal leadership journeys, the ACT vision for women, campaigns for women’s rights, gender equity, discrimination against women in the workplace, paid parental leave changes, domestic violence, mature age women in the workforce, the impact of forced migration and mandatory detention on women and girls, AEU and ETD programs, policies and agreed conditions for women.

Speakers include: • Ged Kearney – ACTU President • Yvette Berry – MLA, ACT Minister for Women • Rosemary Budavari - Canberra Community Law, Disability Discrimination Service • Boipelo Besele - UNHCR United Nations Human Rights Commission • Francis Crimmins - Executive Director of YWCA Canberra

It is important that women’s perspectives are heard and experiences acknowledged. Have your say on women’s issues during the workshop sessions.

• Patricia Cooper - OAM Medal of the Order of Australia - For service to primary education in the ACT

The program starts at 8.30am with coffee and croissants. Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP by 24th July through the AEU website. If you’d like any further information contact: Sue Amundsen on 6272 7900 or email

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


AEU School Assistant News AEU School Assistant Network Meetings Our Term 2 School Assistant meeting reviewed the continuing work on the School Assistant Review. We also decided that we should continue to conduct similar meetings once a term and call them AEU School Assistant Network Meetings. In Term 3, we’re meeting on Wednesday August 19 to celebrate National Support Staff Week. Come along to Tilley’s in Lyneham at 3.30pm. Coffee and cake are on us!:

New process for Industrial Support • When you contact the AEU ACT office, initial support will be provided by our Industrial Support Officers, Michael and Michelle. . • Even if you ask to speak to me directly, our Industrial Support Officers will ask you for details to establish if there is a pre-existing case or if they are able to answer your query.

Therese Tonna

Next Round of Bargaining • We need to start thinking about what we want in our next log of claims • Please look at the previous log of claims • What are the top issues that concern you as a School Assistant? Some of the concerns/issues discussed: • Supervision of students/transporting students • Moving staff into different positions at the same level • Staff being asked to complete tasks at a higher level • HASS – medical procedures • Implementation • Extra hours worked & time to discuss things with teacher/team • restrictions for some classifications as SA2 – ‘can’t move’ • School Assistants should be in our own EA or included in the teachers EA not the ACTPS Admin EA • Inequity – ‘them & us’ mentality in some schools • Who should be our Supervisor? • No transfer ability for School Assistants Many of these issues are already existing problems and we will continue to discuss and insist on clarification both throughout the review process and also outside of the review.

• The Industrial Support Officer will pass information on to the appropriate Organiser if necessary. They may ask you to send an email outlining your query or ask the Organiser to call you.

School Support Officer (SSO) Conference South Australia

School Assistant Review Update

Susan Thomson (Turner School), Loraine Bryant (Narrabundah College), Vicki McDonald (Allen Main Memorial Preschool), George Bulbrook (Alfred Deakin) and Gary Rodgers (Namadgi School) attended the conference on July 16 & 17. Look out for their articles in the next issue of the AEU ACT Educator Magazine. //

A period of direct consultation with School Assistants was undertaken in May through a questionnaire and this was followed up through small focus groups of School Assistants. The scheduled focus groups were initially cancelled and the AEU was able to negotiate the reinstatement of these groups, although they were much smaller. The feedback from both the questionnaire and focus groups has now been collated. and submitted to independent consultants, Mercer, by for work value assessment, which we estimate will take between 4 to 6 weeks. Mercer will compare the same type of work undertaken in other jurisdictions and provide any recommendations they find necessary. After the assessment has been completed the Working Party will review and discuss the results.


Thank to everyone who sent in an expression of interest to attend the SSO Conference in South Australia.

AEU National School Support Staff Week, August 17 – 21 Let’s celebrate the contribution of School Assistants to ACT education. School Assistant members are invited to join AEU Organiser Therese Tonna and School Assistant colleagues to celebrate and enjoy the opportunity to chat about the day-to-day issues we’re facing. Drop into Tilley’s at any time between 3.30pm & 5.30pm. The coffee and cake is on us! Actions for Sub-branches • Organise a special event to celebrate & recognise the valuable work of our AEU Support Staff • Invite an AEU Organiser to visit your school – call 6272 7900 • Send photos and stories about your activities to the AEU for publication in the AEU ACT Educator Magazine ( Talk to your Support Staff colleagues today about joining the AEU and becoming united with 3500 of their AEU colleagues.

ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

School Assistants and the AEU: One Member’s Journey Mandy Jackson is the Deputy Branch President (Support Staff) in the Tasmanian Branch of the AEU. She describes how she has become increasingly involved in our union over her career. Mandy Jackson, Deputy Branch President (Support Staff), AEU Tasmania Branch

I’m Mandy Jackson from Somerset near Burnie, in North West Tasmania. My ‘real’ job is as a laboratory technician at Hellyer College, a state senior secondary college with an enrolment of around 850 drawn from almost the entire western half of Tasmania. Our students can come from Burnie itself, the surrounding smaller towns or agricultural regions of the North West coast and Circular Head, the mining towns of the west coast or the tourism and aquaculture hub of Strahan or King Island in Bass Strait off the far nw tip of the state. Some board onsite in one of our two hostels while others choose for early starts and late afternoons to travel daily. Our college also supports the delivery of some year 11 & 12 courses at some of our feeder high schools in the more remote locations. The Burnie region has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the nation. Many of our larger employers have either downsized or moved offshore. There is also a significant problem of generational unemployment and poverty. All of this means our student population comes from a wide variation of socio-economic backgrounds and support bases.

My ‘passion’ is unionism and the importance of the collective to support individuals in the workplace. Whether it be protecting the rights of and individual in a workplace or ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for all. I’ve been a union member all my working life which is 38 years on June 7. Always a member does not equate to always an activist however. Activism came upon me gradually after taking on the role of workplace representative here at college in the mid-late 90s representing all AEU members, teachers and support staff alike. I enjoyed the WPR role for a few years and then attended a couple of Federal AEU Women’s Conferences and then was the first support staff participant in the Anna Stewart programme. Things snow-balled from there with a seat on our Branch Council, involvement as a community activist in the Your Rights at Work campaign in the targeted seat of Braddon prior to the 2007 Federal election. About 10 years ago I became Tasmanian Deputy Branch President (Support Staff) on our State Executive a role which I still hold today and for

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


several years now I have also been Branch Delegate to AEU Federal Conference. I continue my role as WPR in my college to this day. Tasmania was the first AEU Branch to welcome all support staff in schools as members. We actively promote our union as THE union for ALL education workers. For many years we employed a full-time dedicated organiser but more recently as a branch we have moved to a more team approach to organising but we do still have an organiser who is responsible for overseeing support staff issues. The support staff sector is second only to the teaching sector in the number of members of Tas branch but we do still a room for growth in member density. Pro-rata subs, seats on branch council and provision for our own sector council under our new branch rules will hopefully help with this growth along with a rise in member activism. My ‘pride’ is in the fact that my hubby and our three children are all committed unionists. Our daughter took on a WPR role in her very first term of teaching and has done so at each of the schools at which she has taught since. She too was an Anna Stewart participant and it is possible we are the first mother and daughter to do so. Our children as teenagers were as engaged in YRAW as we both were which I think has served them well in their diverse

careers enabling them to recognise injustice and promote fairness and equity in their workplaces and indeed in their communities. Unionism also fosters as a sense of social justice and empathy for those less fortunate which can only be a bonus. I have been privileged to have received quite a number of awards over the years but still the greatest satisfaction I get is welcoming a new member to the Australian Education Union or being thanked by a member for helping them sort an issue in the workplace. Go on. Give it a go. Get involved in YOUR union. In unity, Mandy Jackson, Workplace Rep, Branch Councillor, Deputy Branch President (Support Staff), AEU Tasmania Branch //

Reflecting on Sorry Day On May 26, I was honoured and humbled to be invited to speak at a Sorry Day afternoon tea hosted by the ACT Branch of the Australia Education Union for Educational staff. United Ngunnawal Elder, Aunty Jeanette Phillips, shared her life journey to a small and eager audience at the Headley Beare Centre of Teaching and Learning. Aunty Jeanette’s touching reflection was followed by a colleague who sharing her, so far futile, attempt to find her home as a descendant of child of the stolen generation.

Don Bemrose


Sorry Day will not end just because the phrase ‘sorry’ has been uttered on behalf of the Australian Governments past and present, in that historic speech in 2008 by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Sorry Day was first marked in 1998, a year after the pivotal Bringing them Home report was presented to federal parliament, highlighting the decades of ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

state-sanctioned family separations of the Aboriginal Stolen Generations. The Bringing Them Home report issued 54 recommendations of which very few have been actioned. In fact, the National Sorry Day committee found that these recommendations remain as relevant today as they were in 1997. Sorry Day remains a day to highlight the brutal atrocities that occurred and are occurring with the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from the land, communities and culture. If most of us continue or allow the superficial act of saying ‘sorry’ to remain at the forefront when people think of this day then the true meaning of the day will be diluted until it is meaningless. I applaud Jacqui Acquis hosting this event to give us a chance to again reflect on what this day is truly about. //

YOU’VE SERVED YOUR COUNTRY WELL. BUT WHO WILL SERVE YOU IN RETIREMENT? Like you, we’ve spent our careers working with the public sector. That’s why, since 1999, we’ve been specialists in helping Canberra’s public sector employees plan for retirement. Public sector superannuation schemes give you access to unique benefits, but they’re also complex. So to get the most out of your retirement benefits, it’s important you get the right advice. If you’re looking to retire, our public sector financial planning specialists are ready to help. And no one understands your specific needs better than we do. Book an obligation-free appointment or register for a pre-retirement seminar today.

Call 1800 620 305 or visit



City: 86-88 Northbourne Avenue, Braddon ACT 2612 Woden: Level 1, 10 Corinna Street, Phillip ACT 2606 ABN 86 003 742 756 | AFS Licence 238430

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Women’s Focus

Sisters are Doing it for Themselves A message from New AEU Federal Women’s Officer, Sally Thompson! It’s an exciting but also challenging time to be the AEU’s new Federal Women’s Officer. I came into the job on the 1st of June at a time when the Abbott government had launched a major assault against paid parental leave, referring to women who used the government’s hard won minimal scheme alongside their workplace scheme as rorters and double dippers. In fact, the Federal Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 states in its purpose “the financial support of this Act is intended to complement and supplement existing entitlements to paid or unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child.”

New AEU Federal Women’s Officer, Sally Thompson

Women’s Officers Meeting

I trained as a secondary teacher in Victoria in the mid-90’s just at the time that Jeff Kennet undertook his unprecedented attack on public education, closing schools, sacking support staff and redeploying staff. The year that I graduated the rolls were closed to new graduates so working as a teacher went from ‘very hard’ to ‘impossible’ overnight. My classmates and I went to the four winds, many moving overseas or interstate, others moving into whole new fields. My part time job in Disability Support Work suddenly became my career, and it was a number of years later that I got my first teaching job as an Adult Literacy teacher at the then Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.

The Women’s Officers from all states and territories met with our new Federal Women’s Officer, Sally Thompson, in Melbourne on 11th and 12th June. AEU Federal Secretary Susan Hopgood , AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe and Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward. They provided insights into the current political scene and what is and isn’t happening federally and internationally for women.

As an adult literacy teacher you have a unique perspective on the public education system. You see how systemic underfunding and lack of policy cohesion leads to entrenched, intergenerational educational disadvantage, but you also see how, when it works, education can provide a platform upon which other areas of social and economic progress can build. I’m excited to have joined the AEU team and look forward to working with members to build a public education system that we can be proud of, by removing the barriers to full participation and success experienced by women members.

Sally: The world health standards state that 26 weeks is an appropriate time for women to be off work to breastfeed.

Sally Thompson


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Some stand out comments:

Correna: The need for additional funding into public education is crucial. Only 1:6 students with a disability are currently funded. Susan: There are 250million illiterate adults in the world and over 50% of them are women. Globally, women need to be supported to ensure that they continue to access education.

Pat: Funding in the TAFE sector has been declining for 25years. We need to ensure that no public funding should go to for profit providers in the VET system. Common issues reported by the Women’s Officers included: • A growing aversion to part time work • Unsustainable workload • Access to maternity leave provisions on returning to work • High incidences of verbal and physical abuse towards school assistants and teachers Discrepancies with teacher registration was also a topic of interest between all the officers attending the meeting.

Women Rising The Victoria Women’s Conference, Women Rising, held on 13th June. I was able to attend the conference along with Melanie Baldwin, the Women’s Officer from the Northern Territory and Sally Thompson the new Federal Women’s Officer.

women are kept out of these fields’. Although Tania did not go so far as stating that the Labor Government will fund the 5th and 6th year of GONSKI she did state that, ‘GONSKI is our core’. I was inspired by a student from Fitzroy High School Feminist Collective who presented a workshop at the conference called Sisters are Doing it for Themselves. The students in the Collective felt that it was a place where women’s issues could be discussed, where they felt safe, respected and accepted. The students completed a survey and found that 1:5 girls thought that men should take control in a relationship and that 1:4 girls thought that it was normal that men can pressure women into sex. The collective, led and supported by their teachers, have created a program for schools and two posters: Sexism Stings and How Objectification Affects the Body. The units of work include lessons on gender equality, sexism and violence against women. The current resource is for secondary students but they are now working on a resource for primary students. It was a great day where everyone took something away with them either for their students or themselves. I particularly liked this one: When stressed and angry don’t press send. Sue Amundsen AEUACT Branch Women’s Officer //

The conference title was Women Rising and featured Tanya Plibersek as the keynote speaker. Key comments from Tania Plibersek’s speech included: ‘It is concerning that women are still under represented in the fields of maths and science and it is unacceptable that

Sally Thompson and Sue Amundsen at the AEU Federal Women’s Officers meeting in June.

Ever wondered what it’s like working in the AEU ACT office? Each year the AEU ACT Branch invites our women AEU members to step out of their school or workplace and participate in a work-shadowing program in our AEU office. We will be inviting applications from women members who are interested in doing the program in Term 4. The Anna Stewart Program seeks to give AEU women members a better understanding of the structure and operation of the AEU. Anna Stewart Officers are encouraged to pursue a range of activities over the period of one week, which could include: • shadowing union officers in their day to day work • assisting with union activities, campaigns and policy development • attending meetings with ETD

• attending school/sub-branch/ Executive/Council/ UnionsACT meetings • writing journal articles • researching issues of concern to women • conducting a project that would benefit AEU women AEU members are eligible to take industrial leave to participate in the Anna Stewart program. Please contact Sue on 62727900 or for more details.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Paid Parental Leave Under Attack This year’s Federal Budget included a nasty shock for women and families, including AEU members The budget outlined plans under which 80 000 new mothers across Australia will be prevented from accessing $11 500 available under the current Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme because they work for an employer with existing paid leave schemes. AEU women will be affected by this decision.

What is the current Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme?

Double Dippers, Rorts and Frauds

The current Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme, introduced in 2011 by the Labor Government, provides for 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage of $640.90 per week to primary care givers who meet the work test and receive an income of $150 000 or less a year.

Instead of understanding the complementary nature of the Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme, the Abbott Government has said that women who access both the federal scheme and an employer paid leave are “doubledipping”.

The Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme was never considered as a replacement for employer paid parental leave but rather a basic scheme for parents that would be complemented by employer paid parental leave schemes.

Worse, Federal Government commentary has called the scheme a ‘rort’ and those legally accessing the scheme “frauds”.

In fact, the Federal Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 states its purpose as “the financial support of this Act is intended to complement and supplement existing entitlements to paid or unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child”. AEU members are entitled to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. The Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme supplements the negotiated employer paid leave arrangements and allows women to access the extra time necessary for proper bonding and breastfeeding as recommended by the World Health Organisation. The access to 26 weeks paid parental leave is backed by experts as optimal for the health and well-being of mothers, babies and families, and to support increased participation of mothers in the workforce to boost our economy.


ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Time to take a stand. Sign the petition Unions, including our own, have played a vital role in winning maternity leave and other vital conditions for women. The Prime Minister (also the ‘Minister for Women’) is intent on attacking these conditions. We are determined to stop him. // Please sign the ACTU petition which calls upon cross bench Senators to save the Federal Paid Parental Leave Scheme by voting against the Abbott Government’s savage cuts. www .aus pare tralianuni ntal_ o leave u _peti tion. / again s



paid p t cuts to aren leave tal

Executive Resolutions of Note Condemnation of Abolition of Government Schools Education Council Moved by Roger Amey, seconded by Shane Gorman. Resolved June 2, 2015. AEU ACT Branch Executive strongly condemns the decision of the ACT Government and Education Minister Joy Burch to amend the Education Act so that the Government Schools Education Council (GSEC) is abolished. The Minister ignored the advice given to her by the AEU, and by GSEC itself, that GSEC has in the past been a very useful instrument to provide specific advice to the Minister on matters pertaining specifically to public education.

Executive notes that the new advisory committee “may be established” at the whim of the Minister, whereas the Education Act previously required the Minister to appoint the Government Schools Education Council. Executive notes that the composition of the advisory committee is also at the whim of the Minister and there is absolutely no guarantee that the voice of the profession via the AEU will be heard through this committee. Indeed the Minister can appoint whomever he or she desires whenever he or she desires. This decision follows the Government’s decision to replace the CIT Council which included AEU representation with a CIT Board which now has no AEU representation. Decisions by the ACT Education Minister to replace representative bodies with so-called expert bodies mirrors that of Federal Coalition Minister Christopher Pyne who only this week omitted the AEU from the AITSL Board and replace it with so-called experts who largely support his ideological agenda. Executive notes the complicity of the ACT Greens in voting with the Government for this unnecessary and potentially harmful amendment, and notes that the Canberra Liberals spoke against the amendment based on similar misgivings to those held by the AEU. Executive encourages the Secretary to raise awareness of this retrograde step within the Canberra community via mainstream and social media, and to campaign for reinstatement of the AEU’s voice in Government committees.

Review of Teacher Quality Institute Act Moved by Patrick Judge, seconded by Roger Amey. Resolved April 28, 2015. AEU ACT Branch Executive confirms its support for the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) as an important contributor to the enhancement of the status of the teaching profession.

On the 5th anniversary of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010, AEU ACT Executive considers it timely that the TQI Act should be reviewed and accordingly calls on the ACT Government to approve and facilitate a review of the Act. The review should include a comparison of teacher registration requirements across all Australian jurisdictions in order to identify where ACT teachers sit in relation to their interstate counterparts. In addition, the review should look at: • The current requirement for part-time teachers to complete the same number of recognised PL hours (20 per year) as teachers employed on a full-time basis; • The current requirement for casual relief teachers to complete the same number of recognised PL hours (20 per year) as teachers employed on a full-time basis; and • The current requirement for some PL to be accredited as opposed to teacher-identified. The review should be completed by the end of 2015.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Council Resolutions of Note Acceptance of July 2 Enterprise Agreement Offer Moved by Stephen Hood, seconded by Jason Borton. Resolved on July 2, 2015.

Council accepts in principle the Government’s offer of July 2nd 2015 and authorises the Secretary to negotiate further on details as required.

On Enterprise Agreement Negotiations Resolved on June 13, 2015 Council acknowledges the continued progress in enterprise bargaining negotiations since its meeting on 9 May 2015. This progress has been detailed in AEU communications and also those of the employer. In particular, Council notes: • The reinstatement of back pay from 1 October 2014, which could only occur because Council rejected the Minister’s surprise offer of 28 April 2015;

Council welcomes this progress and congratulates the membership on its solidarity and determination to achieve the best possible outcome for teachers, principals and students in our schools. Council further notes that since its rejection in May of the April offer, the Directorate has agreed to provide “additional resources in every school to make sure teachers are able to do their core role as effectively as possible”. Again this is positive, but Council is not convinced that the resources proposed at this point are adequate.

• A central function to monitor workload and sustain workload reduction, which has been agreed since Council rejected the offer of 24 October 2014;

Council requests the AEU bargaining team to emphasise at the highest levels of Government that an offer will not be acceptable to AEU members until the resources provided to secure the workload reduction that teachers need to collaborate effectively are profound, tangible and clearly defined.

• A $5300 bonus payment for top of the scale teachers and Executive Teachers, which has increased by $2000 since Council’s rejection of earlier offers; and

Council notes the Canberra community’s strong support for a greater number of school psychologists in our system and asks the AEU negotiating team to raise this matter at the highest levels of Government until a satisfactory outcome is achieved.

• A new principal salary structure for principals to be designed and implemented on a set date during the life of the next agreement.

Council recognises the importance of maintaining pressure on the ACT Government at this crucial time in the bargaining and strongly recommends a YES vote to all members in the current protected industrial action ballot.

Rejection of April 28 Enterprise Agreement Offer Moved by Glenn Fowler, seconded by Roger Amey, May 9, 2015 Branch Council rejects the ACT Government offer of 28 April 2015 for school teachers and school leaders, and authorises the Secretary to commence the application process for a protected industrial action ballot of members.


Branch Council further requests the Secretary to convene regional meetings of members to discuss the current state of play in negotiations and to explore possibilities for protected industrial action by members. Branch Council authorises the Secretary and AEU negotiating team to continue to negotiate with ETD or the Government as it sees fit.

ACT Educator Magazine / AEU ACT Branch

Vote of No Confidence in Minister Burch Moved by Patrick Judge, seconded by Ben Godwin. Resolved on May 9, 2015.

AEU ACT Branch Council determines that it has no confidence in ACT Education & Training Minister Joy Burch. Council asks the Secretary to write to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to communicate this decision, to request a meeting with him as soon as possible, and to request that the AEU deal with him directly whilst Ms Burch retains the Education & Training portfolio, including on matters pertaining to the current EA negotiations.

Community Campaign on Enterprise Agreement Negotiations Moved by Glenn Fowler, seconded by Steve Ryan. Resolved on May 9, 2015.

At the appropriate time, at the determination of the Secretary, Branch Executive and Branch Council as required, the AEU will launch a positive public campaign directed at informing the Canberra community of the issues around the current EA and why teachers find the current offer by ETD to be unacceptable.

Draft ETD Student Reporting Policy Moved by Roger Amey, seconded by Ingrid Bean. Resolved on May 9, 2015.

Council asks the Secretary to communicate to ETD that the AEU is opposed to implementation of the proposed new student report system until such time that comprehensive consultation across the profession is completed to the AEU’s satisfaction. After consultation has occurred the details of the consultation are to be provided to the AEU.

School Psychologist to Student Ratio Moved by Glenn Fowler, seconded by Emily Squires. Resolved on May 9, 2015.

Branch Council asserts that there is currently one School Psychologist for every 1060 students in the ACT and demands that the ACT Government follows the lead of NSW in establishing, in the first instance, funding for a School Psychologist to student ratio of 1 to 750. Council requests that AEU negotiators place this matter back on the EA negotiating table.

ACT Educator Magazine \ AEU ACT Branch


Welcome 86 New Members Who Joined In Term 2! AEU ACT now has over 3500 members! Congratulations to everyone who joined (or rejoined) in the first seven weeks of Term 2. By joining our union, you’re helping us all win better pay and conditions as well as ensuring our students have the learning conditions they deserve.

Lachlan McGinness . Nicola Bottomley . Karina Davie . Clara Teniswood . Royce Saygin . Paul Kinsella . Claire Granata . Nicholas Crean . Daniel Woolley . Parthena Skountzos . Nicolette Bramley . Christine Paynter . Sarah Thompson . Michelle Wilson . Joanne Kirchner . Bernadette Wyatt . Philippa Needham . Yasmin Cusack . Jodie Graham . Brent Greer . Sarah Reddy . Eva Jarvoll . Emily Fisher . Rosie Phillips . Monique Sutherland . Amanda Thorpe . Jacinta Heather . Rebecca Charles . Rita Southwell . Sean Wheelahan . Jessica Crilly . Rebecca Gill . Joanna Wilson . Reece Jones . Molly Jones . Carley Love . Carolyn O’Rourke . Krystal Bullock . Michael Richards . Renee Waters . Jayne McDonald . Kate Mullins . Kyle Ratcliffe . Lindsay Stewart . Jane Stanier . Jodi Adams . Emma Fisher . Emma Wild . Stefan Radajewski . Judith Rouch . Barbara Roche . Linda Jakab . Tracy Hennessey . Amanda Tully . Helen Middleton . Rosemarie Donnelly . Emma Wood . Lisabeth Hemming . Sally Nicholls . Warren Simmons . Cynthia Steenkamp . Rita Prevato . Sarah Thomson . Yevette Reed . Elisabeth Kirwan . Jessica Shute . Kristy Buchanan . Kathleen Price-Barnes . Acacia Cooper . John Hood . Bruce Willett . Robert Sharp . Dawn-Maree Dunn . Julia Chere-Masopha . Katarina Azdajic . Jodie Stewart . Jean Connolly . David Tilley . Mark Schmidt . Invite a Jacinta Hunter . Alison Nilon . Claire Patron . Anne Glavimans . Susan Berresford . Nick Pitsonis

Don’t let your colleagues and friends miss out on the benefits of AEU membership. Invite them to join today!

colleagu e join tod to ay!


euact.o o

Challenge us to find YOU a better deal! Take advantage of Union Shopper’s collective buying power and be part of the savings! Union Shopper is all about ensuring members receive great value for money on a huge range of products and services. On average, members save between 9% and 13% off their best price on electrical goods!

BIG savings on a wide range of products & services!

1300 368 117



The AEU ACT office team

Fi us onnd


Jasmine Sawtell Reception

Michael Freilberg Industrial Support Officer

Michelle Kirby Industrial Support Officer

Sue Amundsen Organiser (North)

Jacqui Agius Organiser (Central)

Therese Tonna Organiser (South)

Tracey Govan Membership Co-ordinator

Tom Greenwell Communications & Research Officer

Sam Delaney Business Manager

Garrett Purtill Industrial Officer

Andy Jennings Lead Organiser

Glenn Fowler Branch Secretary

Phone: 6272 7900mail Web: Email:


Slater and Gordon is proud to partner with the AEU ACT Branch Our services include:

Slater and Gordon has partnered with unions and their members since 1935. We understand the legal challenges you face at work and everyday life.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Workers Compensation Industrial and Employment Law Motor Vehicle Claims Superannuation and TPD Claims Family Law Medical Negligence Claims Public Liability Claims Wills and Estate Conveyancing Other legal services

Benefits for AEU Members: AEU ACT Branch members are entitled to: + Initial obligation-free consultation





+ A Free Standard will*


+ 25% off Fixed Fee Conveyancing* + 10% off Family Law Fixed Fees* + Discounted rates for services


GET IN TOUCH AUSTRALIAN AEU ACT Branch office EDUCATION 02 6272 7900 UNION for a referral to Slater and Gordon

*Conditions apply. Standard wills may not be suitable for all estate types. Fixed Fees excluded disbursements which are charged at cost. See for details