Public education voice june 2011

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PUBLIC EDUCATION VOICE JOURNAL OF THE AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION - ACT BRANCH • June 2011

SALARY OFFER

Not good enough

SCHOOL

CELEBRATING

Victorian Lessons

EDUCATION

AUTONOMY

40 Brisbane Ave Barton ACT 2600 • P (02) 6272 7900 • F (02) 6273 1828 • www.aeuact.asn.au


FEDERAL AND ACT BUDGETS NOTHING TO WRITE HOME ABOUT FOR TEACHERS’ SALARIES The recent ACT and Federal Budgets have not provided any reason for optimism that Government at either level will match its rhetoric about valuing and rewarding teachers with sufficient money to actually make that a reality.

to bridge the gaps between salaries paid in the ACT and those paid in NSW. It appears that Cabinet supported only one of the four proposals put forward by the Minister: the only additional funding for teacher-focussed initiatives in the Budget is for Accomplished & Leading Teacher, to be funded at $11.8m over 4 years under the Budget Initiative “Career Paths for Teachers and School Leaders”.

The Federal Government’s proposal to pay 10% of the nation’s ‘best’ teachers – as measured by NAPLAN results – a one-off bonus, somewhere between $5000$8000 starting in 2014 is completely underwhelming in its vision and its reach.

On a positive note, both the Territory and Federal Governments should be applauded for their support of mental health initiatives, and their support of special education. The public education system supports the majority of young people with disabilities and any increase in resources is welcome. But with so much left unfunded in both sectors, overall Budget week was a disappointment no matter who was delivering the address!

The Federal Government’s extension of the School Chaplaincy Program continues to undermine the secular nature of public education and bandaid the problem of an insufficient supply of qualified school counsellors. However admirable and remarkable some school chaplains might be, they are mostly unqualified to provide counselling support which is outside their brief – as it should be. The government must invest our tax dollars in qualified school counsellors to assist our students, and support real, long-term and sustainable programs to reward and recognise teacher excellence. These examples are poor policy, and worse still they’re lazy policy. If the Government was submitting an essay on these proposals, most teachers would ask them to re-submit. The ACT Government has not covered itself in Budget glory either. The Government is quick to trumpet the good news about the ACT’s strong economic position and bright economic outlook, but quick to cry “poor” when teachers ask it

The EA negotiations continue – see reports elsewhere in the journal about each of the 3 bargaining rounds as well as the latest e-bulletins on the AEU website. We’ve now seen the Government’s proposals. They are not acceptable, and the AEU has told both the Chief Minister and Education Minister this, as well as formally rejecting the proposals at the bargaining table. So it’s now time for all members to gather themselves for the forthcoming fight. The AEU goes into these negotiations with a strong base of membership support and the knowledge that the overwhelming number of teachers belong to the union. That makes you a powerful voice. When officers speak on your behalf, numbers count. The more AEU members, the stronger our voice, so if there’s anyone at your worksite who is not an AEU

member, now is the time to ask them to join us in the fight for a just EA outcome. It is in everybody’s interests to get involved in member recruitment. Finally, the AEU extends best wishes to retiring Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. While we have not always agreed with the Chief Minister’s decisions or the execution of them, AEU members will long remember the first EA of the Stanhope Government when ACT teachers were restored to salary levels competitive with NSW. The AEU wishes incoming Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr (who remains Education Minister) well in the challenges that lie ahead in their new roles. One such challenge will be the current Enterprise Bargaining round for teachers. It is time for the ACT Government to step up once again and restore competitive salaries for DET teachers, CIT teachers and school support staff. AEU members look forward to leadership from the front on this issue from Ms Gallagher and Mr Barr.

Penny Gilmour Branch Secretary

PAGE 2 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


EA NEGOTIATIONS FOR

SCHOOL TEACHERS By penny gilmour, branch secretary

The Schools Enterprise Agreement negotiation team continues to meet weekly with DET, despite the lack of settlement options evident in the ACT Budget. DET has flagged four key proposals it wishes to pursue in negotiations: 1: D uration of Agreement: a 4-year term is preferred 2: S alaries: 2.5%p.a. fully funded; any additional increase to be funded through identified productivity savings; no back pay unless in principle agreement reached by 30 June. 3: P ublic Education Reform: a grabbag that includes $11.8m to fund ‘career paths for teachers and school leaders’ - the introduction of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher classifications; accelerated progression; changing the DP salary rate relative to Principals & SLCs (no commitment to parity with NSW DP rates). Also reduced face-toface hours and better mentoring for beginning teachers (to be funded through productivity savings); fixed term contracts for DPs and Principals; including DPs in Principal classification; new principal salary model of single core salary plus advancements for complexity; increased school autonomy. 4: C ommon Terms and Conditions: where relevant, inclusion of common terms & conditions from agreed ACTPS common core. The DET shopping list is an ambitious agenda, notwithstanding the fluffy language in which the school autonomy nasties are couched. It must be disheartening having to front discussions

around salaries with insufficient funds in the kitty to do a deal, but that’s the task the ACT Budget has set for DET. AEU members have been unequivocal in their demand for a just and competitive salary outcome, and clear about their resolve not to accept another poor outcome. AEU Officers have been just as unequivocal with DET in communicating the members’ rejection of the offer as it currently stands. What are the gaps in the funding? A key priority for the AEU this bargaining round is DPs salaries. Even if addressing the DP salary gap was the only matter to which the $11.8m was directed, the amount of $11.8m over 4 years would not provide funding sufficient to lift ACT DP rates to NSW levels. The cost of DP salary parity is reckoned at just under $14m over a 3-year period; the cost in year one would be about $3.6m. Another initiative the AEU is keen to explore is the introduction of Accomplished/Leading Teacher. The only calculation of cost to date is based on a 2.5% salary increase. Assuming about 30% of eligible teachers at the top of the classroom teacher scale achieved Accomplished Teacher recognition, the cost for the first year alone is $20.5m! This is before the Leading Teacher category is even introduced, so it is safe to say that the total provision for both new classifications of $11.8m over 4 years is a complete farce. Compare $20.5m to the 2011-12 ACT Budget Allocation of just over $1.4m for the first year and yet again, the ACT Government is exposed as completely hypocritical in its rhetoric about genuine reward and recognition for teaching excellence. DET is also anxious to pursue greater school autonomy in this EA round.

This is code for shifting all of the responsibility away from Government and the Department and onto the school, but not providing any additional resources to support the shift. There is no money in the ACT Budget to support this initiative, and DET has stated repeatedly that there is no more money in the pot; if one school is financially advantaged out of school autonomy, another school in the system will be paying the cost. In every jurisdiction where school autonomy has been introduced, the story has been the same: increased workload, increased accountability, no increase in resources. The experience so far with proposals for continuous staffing mean that no school can ever be confident of staffing stability if DET achieves its proposed version of continuous recruitment. The sense of “system” is also at risk too, as those sites perceived as more desirable could harvest teachers at any time while those perceived as less desirable will be left to struggle on when their staff move and no replacements are available. Finally, a word on the Absence Records debacle. The AEU has pursued this matter with DET and the Minister. The Union Office shares members’ frustration about this over-the-top response to the small, recalcitrant group of employees who won’t/don’t submit leave forms. The AEU Office received a large return of the petition that was circulating in SubBranches about this matter. As we go to press, the petition has been presented to the Legislative Assembly. Keep an eye on the AEU’s website for updates about the EA and the Absence Records. www.aeuact.asn.au

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 3


SUB-BRANCH

NEWS By Schools’ Organisers

Transfer Entitlement for teachers not previously subject to ‘mobility’ provisions has caused some confusion with members recently. If you are such a teacher and were previously advised by letter that your end date was “January 2012” your situation is dealt with specifically in Sub-Clause 162.5 (g) of the current Teaching Staff Enterprise Agreement (EA). Any such letters have been superseded by current agreed arrangements. Depending on the outcome of the Annual Professional Discussion, you may not be required to apply for transfer until the transfer round in 2012. Of course you should be looking for attractive options in the vacancies advertised this year, bearing in mind that attractive options may not be guaranteed for next year when you may be required to transfer. You may request principal support in seeking an extension to your placement based on exceptional circumstances. An extension may be granted for one year at a time for a maximum of three years ie. The extension must be sought each year. Teacher Registration has begun and all teachers in the ACT must be registered to teach. Your school will be contacted and teachers will be required to register online. Teachers retiring this year but who are considering returning to do casual relief teaching must be registered with the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) so that you can teach next year. Three year trained teachers will be registered but you may find re-entry difficult should you ever allow their teacher registration to lapse. There will be no registration cost for teachers if you have been working in the system prior to 2011 as the registration fees will be paid by government for the first two years.

Absence Records have been trialled in several schools across the ACT and members have provided substantial feedback to the union office. Many feel that it is a time consuming activity that needs to be streamlined in order to decrease the workload for those responsible for staffing returns. Responses and petitions from members regarding absence records have been collated by the AEU and will be relayed to DET and the Minister, who has shown an interest in this matter. It is in everybody’s interests for administrative burdens to be kept to a minimum so that people can focus on core business – for a teacher that is teaching. The AEU has emphasised this point in ongoing EA negotiations and is raising the matter of the absence records specifically. Terms two and three tend to be periods of increased employee absenteeism through illness. Keep a record of your absences and take care not to take more than your entitlement of 7 days of uncertificated leave in any calendar year. If you have taken more than this it is unauthorised leave and is treated as an overpayment and the department will recover salary paid. Electronic Media is an interesting issue for teachers and students. Remember: ‘What goes on the net stays on the net’. Teachers and students are rapidly learning more and more about the implications of what is said in email, text and facebook messaging. Twitter has tripped up many a celebrity or public figure of late. Cyberspace has become a vehicle for bullying, intimidation and harassment. As professionals we need to remind ourselves that the Teachers’ Code of Professional Practice also applies to the use of electronic media. What starts as a private conversation on facebook or

as a text message may become a public one. Use electronic media with care and it can serve you well. Workload is still a major concern for all teachers. Teachers are constantly asked to participate in additional meetings and administrative tasks within their working hours as well as a number of activities outside usual hours. All work that involves supervising students outside school hours is deemed to be voluntary. Any additional workload should be negotiated with staff at staff meetings where all are present. The school Workload Committee (or process) should be up and running and concerns about workload should be dealt with through that as the first port of call. If your school does not have a Workload Committee then this should be rectified ASAP. AEU officers are always more than happy to advise in such matters. Public Education Week was a showcase for the wonderful work of public schools and TAFE in the ACT. Civic and Woden Libraries were a delight to visit with the displays of creative work of artistic students. City Walk was a hub of entertainment with a variety of performances from public schools and the Instrumental Music Program. The community were enthralled by the talent of the students performing in bands, choirs and dance groups. A huge thank you to the schools and individual teachers who worked with and encouraged their students to contribute to the art displays and the performances during Public Education Week. See pages 8 and 9 for photos Public Education: For Our Future.

Sue Amundsen, Bill Book & Glenn Fowler - Schools’ Organisers

PAGE 4 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


EDUCATION

SUPPORT OFFICERS ASSISTANTS, YOUTH WORKERS AND ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER EDUCATION OFFICERS. ACT union membership is on the increase despite every other jurisdiction experiencing a minor decline over the past 12 months in union membership. Here union density increased by 2% across all industries with a strong uptake in the private sector. However, recruitment remains a key focus of every union including the AEU and in the next few months your membership and the unity of our members will be of critical importance. There are a few calls to the AEU Office every term from non-members seeking advice on incidents they have experienced, on the promise that they intend to join the union right after they get the advice. But, membership does not work that way and as with any service, the AEU does not offer retrospective coverage to prospective members. The question people should be asking is, “How can I afford NOT to belong to the union?” Not only are there the standard services of legal and financial representation available but there are shopping services, professional and industrial advocacy, training opportunities and Journey Cover insurance. The latter alone is good reason to join because without the protection of that insurance provided for members by the AEU, a person injured on their way to or from work will be home recovering without pay once their personal leave expires. That means that those who express their decision as a choice to not belong are in fact reaping the benefit of better salaries and conditions without contributing to the cost of bargaining or collective action. But some have never been approached by their colleagues to join up and when

they are, they do! The membership applications are available in the back of every journal and online at the AEU website [www.aeuact.asn.au]. Joining the Union is vital, as the AEU officers are in the process of negotiating three agreements for our members: the DET teachers, CIT teachers and Education Support Officers. Ask your colleagues to join the AEU. All LSAs, preschool assistants, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education Officers and Youth Workers can benefit from Our Education Union – the AEU. Regular meetings have been held with the Chief Minister’s Department since February to progress negotiations over the common core conditions that apply to all ACT public servants including ESOs. These conditions are contained in Part 1 to Part 6 of the current DET Staff Enterprise Agreement (EA). Fortnightly meetings with DET will commence on 31 May to negotiate changes to the conditions that apply specifically to ESOs and administrative staff. The outcome of the EA negotiations for ESOs to date are that the ACT government has: • B udgeted a salary increase of 2.5% per annum for two years. • Agreed to withdraw its claim to remove important conditions from the agreement provided we accept the 2.5% Our Branch Council, which has representatives from every school, has unanimously rejected the government offer. It has done so because:

• T his offer is less than the anticipated national inflation figures of 3% and well below the actual and projected CPI for the ACT of at least 4.0% • W e are tired of the government rhetoric about economic stress when recent history shows projected budget deficits become surpluses • A EU members should not have to bear the brunt of the government decision to not adequately fund public education Your active involvement as AEU members is vital as we prepare for what could be a long and difficult campaign for a just enterprise agreement outcome. As part of this campaign it is critical that the Labor Government, the Liberal Opposition and the ACT Greens understand the strength of our member’s feeling on this matter. All ESOs are welcome to provide feedback to the AEU office about how you would like to be involved in this campaign. You are encouraged to send a message to every Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly letting them know that the 2011-12 Budget will not lead to a settlement of a new DET Staff EA. Keep it polite, to the point, and professional. It’s preferable you send emails from a home address but if you are using a DET computer please remember your obligations under the Acceptable Use of IT Policy. Email: • barr@act.gov.au; • gallagher@act.gov.au; • doszpot@parliament.act.gov.au; • hunter@parliament.act.gov.au; and cc to the AEU at: • priority1@aeuact.asn.au

ACT Teacher • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 5


Phil Rasmus - University of Canberra Senior Secondary College, Lake Ginninderra

Members will be rightly disappointed in the ACT Government’s insulting offer of a 2.5% pay rise, insufficient to even keep up with the inflation rate. Branch Council totally rejected this offer as not addressing our claim in any serious way. Negotiations continue, but we are in for a long battle to secure acceptable salaries and conditions. Let alone salaries for teachers and support staff, the ACT Budget did not even fund an appropriate rise for our Deputies, surely the most hard done by of all our members in any salary comparison with our NSW neighbours (16% gap). I urge you to contact members of the Assembly to make it quite clear to them how insulted you feel about this miserable pay offer. It’s important to also mobilise your parent community to voice their support for their kids’ teachers. On the issue of our forthcoming industrial campaign, May Council heard a detailed report from an industrial lawyer on the options we have under the federal Labor Government’s Fair Work legislation. Suffice it to say that the picture is very depressing and it is challenging to see any significant differences between the Fair Work Act and the dreaded Work Choices legislation of the unlamented Howard government. Your union officials must carefully plan our forthcoming industrial campaign to avoid the many potential penalties contained in the legislation. You will have heard in the media recently the sorry tale of what seems

to be an increasing drift of ACT enrolments to the non-government sector, particularly in the secondary years. Each of you will have your own theories about the reasons behind this, but don’t forget that ACT Labor Governments have presided over this situation for at least the last ten years, and now seem to think it appropriate to call for “quality teachers” to fix this problem. Physician, heal thyself. Reforms in the secondary school sector have been announced by the Minister, with the details going to the media before notifying your union, school principals or the P&C Council. It remains to be seen what impact these will have on members working conditions, should any of it get off the ground. Moves to merge the University of Canberra and the CIT should also be of concern to our all members, especially those at CIT. Their working conditions and rights must be protected in any such move. On the brighter side, Public Education Week was an opportunity to showcase the excellent contribution made by staff in our schools in support of students, despite chronic underresourcing and ever increasing demands on what’s left of our goodwill.

2011 BRANCH COUNCIL MEETING DATES: Branch Council meets on the following Saturdays in 2011 at J Block Theatre, Reid Campus CIT from 9:00am - 12 noon. Please arrive by 9:00am as a quorum must be present by 9:30am or the meeting lapses. Papers are available from 8:45am. Tea and coffee is also provided but please bring a mug. • 18 June • 13 August • 17 September • 22 October • 19 November For the information of new Councillors, Business Papers are forwarded through the Union’s maildrop via Sub-Branch Secretaries at least 1 week prior to the meeting.

CIL N U O C DER N I M RE

urday t a S 9am e 18 Jun eid CIT R

Please don’t hesitate to contact the AEU Office if there is any matter on which you need assistance.

Phil Rasmus Telephone: 6205-7125 phil.rasmus@ed.act.edu.au

Journal Deadlines: 22 August / 24 October. Contributions to the journal can be sent to: priority1@aeuact.asn.au

PAGE 6 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


DISPELLING SOME MYTHS

COMCARE GEOFF WILSON, MAURICE BLACKBURN

Geoff Wilson is a Special Counsel with Maurice Blackburn with expertise in Comcare matters and Administrative Appeals Tribunal proceedings. There are some common misconceptions about workers compensation claims lodged and determined under the Safety, Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 1988, also known as the Comcare scheme. These misconceptions generally arise as the Comcare scheme is dissimilar to workers compensation schemes that most employees, and perhaps even their doctors and lawyers are familiar with. The following points may better assist your understanding of the Comcare scheme, how it is intended to work, and advice about what to do when you receive adverse decisions. • “ I can lodge a workers compensation claim for ‘stress’.” “Stress” will not readily be accepted as a recognised injury or disease. The Comcare scheme does provide for compensation and rehabilitation assistance where employees have suffered psychological or psychiatric conditions, or aggravations of such conditions. However, an employee must have some condition that is outside the boundaries of normal mental functioning and behaviour (e.g. adjustment disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder etc). If you suffer such a condition and wish to claim compensation under the Comcare scheme, then ensure your doctor includes a diagnosis on certificates which does more than refer to “stress” or an unspecified “medical condition”. • “ My claim has been closed by Comcare, I can’t claim anything else.” This is not true. If at any point you have had initial liability accepted under the Comcare scheme then you remain able to claim benefits whilst that injury continues to

exist. For example, if you now reasonably require medical treatment for an injury for which Comcare has accepted liability then you are able to claim such treatment be paid by Comcare. Your entitlement to receive required medical treatment for an accepted injury exists for the length of your life and is not extinguished merely because you have not claimed medical treatment from Comcare for some time. Similarly, if your accepted injury is ongoing and results in a permanent impairment then you are able to claim, and may be entitled to, payment of lump sum compensation. The receipt of such lump sum compensation does not affect your continuing ability to claim other benefits such as medical treatment or incapacity payments. • “My permanent impairment claim was knocked back so I can’t claim again.” This is not true. If you have lodged an unsuccessful permanent impairment claim in the past then you are still able to lodge a further permanent impairment claim in the future. You would be advised to do so if the resulting impairment from your accepted injury has worsened since your last claim. The Full Federal Court has also recently found that many parts of Comcare’s permanent impairment guide are not applicable as they do not contain the proper percentage ratings. If you have had a permanent impairment claim denied in the past then you should seek legal advice about whether you may now be entitled to lump sum compensation under the Comcare scheme.

is not true. While such an opinion is a helpful step in obtaining a positive liability decision, the Comcare scheme contains a number of exclusions where an injured employee’s claim is required to be disallowed under the legislation. The most commonly seen exclusion arises where an employee’s injury is contributed to by a number of work-related factors. If the evidence identifies an employee’s injury as having been significantly contributed to by “reasonable administrative action taken in a reasonable manner in respect of the employee’s employment” then the claim will be denied, even if the injury is clearly work-related and may also be significantly contributed to by factors which are clearly covered by workers compensation.

• “I have been paid permanent impairment compensation in the past so I can’t claim again.” This is not true. If the permanent impairment resulting from your accepted injury has worsened to a particular degree then you will be entitled to an additional payment of lump sum compensation. Again, you should seek legal advice if this is the case.

• “ I can’t afford to challenge a Comcare decision as it would cost too much money.” Depending on your circumstances this is unlikely to be true. If Comcare makes a decision denying any claim then your options are to do nothing, or within 30 days ask Comcare to reconsider the decision. When Comcare makes a reconsideration your options are to do nothing, or within 60 days file an Application for Review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (“AAT”). There is no cost involved in requesting a reconsideration or filing an AAT Application. If you are unsuccessful in the AAT you will not be liable to pay Comcare’s costs. If you are successful in the AAT you will be able to claim 75% of Federal Court scale costs from Comcare. You may wish to seek legal advice when deciding whether to request a reconsideration or file an AAT Application.

• “My doctor says my injury is work-related so they have to accept my claim.” This

Call the AEU on 6272 7900 if you need legal advice.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 7


CELEBRATING Public Education Week, 23 - 27 May, 2011 was a celebration of the achievements of public schools and TAFE. Public Education Week provided an opportunity to highlight the excellent work of teachers, students, parents, support staff, departmental officers and the wider community. Congratulations to all public schools and TAFEs!

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PHOTOS: 1) Penny Gilmour, Secretary, AEU-ACT Branch; Tom Greenwell, Dickson College, recipient of the AEU Public Education Award; John Hood, nominated Tom. 2) L-R: Steve Gunn (sponsor); Melissa Dinn, recipient of the CIT Public Vocational Education and Training Teacher Award; Adrian Marron (CIT Chief Executive) 3) Dr Jim Watterston, Director General, Education and Training Directorate 4) Kate Bolton, Stromlo High School; Lyle Swan, Telopea Park School, recipient of the DET Outstanding Leadership in Aboriginal a nd Torres Strait Islander Education; Minister Barr. 5) Arilia King, Amaroo School, DET Outstanding New Educator; Patricia Torres, O’Connor Cooperative School; Minister Barr; Taylor Hayes (sponsor) 6) Caitlin Hanby, Connect10 Northern, recipient DET Secondary Teacher of the Year; Karen Rockawin, Dickson College; Evie Kollas, Dickson College; Dr Jim Watterston; Taylor Hayes. 7) all recipients, finalists, presenters and sponsors of all awards.

PAGE 8 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


PUBLIC

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PHOTOS: 1) Duncan Smith 2) Calwell High School 3) Forrest Primary School Bucket Band 4) Calwell High School 5) Latham Primary School choir 6) Latham Primary School choir with Lyndal Andrew 7) Calwell High School.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 9


Walking the Talk - Bringing Reconciliation to Life!

As we reflect on another successful National Reconciliation Week (27 May - 3 June), Vicki Lucas, AEU member, challenges us to make Reconciliation a core part of our work as educators, as union members and in our personal lives. For many AEU members, ensuring that schools are places where the multiple histories and realities of experience within the Australian context is their core business. For some members the process of Reconciliation is central to such work. But Reconciliation is more than putting up posters during National Reconciliation Week each year or ticking off an item in a school improvement report. Too many AEU members, in my opinion, consider this social justice agenda to be outside their daily work. At the 2010 AEU Indigenous Education Seminar, AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos challenged AEU members to avoid stagnating in their commitment to

improving outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and their respective communities. Having the same once-a-year conversations about making a difference year after year is not actually going to make a difference. Achieving important educational and social change requires both a professional and personal commitment in the first instance. Reconciliation also requires professional and personal action so that this commitment is more than status quo maintaining rhetoric. Reconciliation Australia as an organisation can provide us with considerable guidance in this regard. Their suggested format for a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), for example, has three areas: respect; relationships; and opportunities. Go to www.reconciliation.org.au. Many school communities have embraced the RAP approach as it defines targets

and reporting structures. ACT DET has a Reconciliation Action Plan to which all employees are indirect signatories but how many of us have actually seen a copy in our schools or read it, agreed to it and become part of the actions and targets included within it? Real change requires more than good intention and tidy paperwork signed on our behalf. Reconciliation in the school setting should not be driven by political correctness or a bureaucratic need to collect and report on data. Systemic change is critical to bring about more equitable life outcomes, of course. However a printed document that sits inactive and unread on a shelf will not educate or mobilise anyone to bring about changes to practice or outcomes. So regardless of whether our school community has a Reconciliation Action Plan that obviously guides school practice or not, we can develop our own way of thinking, acting and reflecting both as educators and as Australian citizens to move closer to genuine Reconciliation. The following questions could be useful to challenge the level of our personal commitment to the process of Reconciliation and the efficacy of our actions to generate change and improvement. Respect • D oes your school have a Reconciliation Action Plan? If so, how are you contributing to the goals contained within it? If not, when are you going to start the conversations to develop one? • D oes your school fly the three gazetted Australian flags? If not, why not? Do you have them on display on your

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classroom? Have you explored their meanings with the children or young people you teach? • D oes your school website include an Acknowledgement of Country? Who acknowledges Country at significant events in your school? When was the last time you performed this important protocol when leading a whole-ofschool event? Relationships • D o you know who the Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander children/young people are in your school setting? How are you contributing to their educational success? • W hen was the last time you gave flyers about programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (eg. the Koori Preschool Program) to the families of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in your class groups? Opportunities • H ow much do you know about traditional Aboriginal cultures? Do you know who the traditional owners are of the land on which cities or towns in which you have lived are built? What do you know about Torres Strait Islander histories, beliefs and practices? If you know very little, ask yourself why. • W hen was the last time you read “The Koori Mail” or the “National Indigenous Times”? How do you utilise the “Deadly Vibe” publication (probably sitting in the corner of your library somewhere) in your teaching and learning?

The first step on the road to Reconciliation is to examine the possibilities for our role in the process. Sitting passively and wondering why change is not happening is as unproductive as actively doing nothing. Policy makers and curriculum writers are not going to make change at the classroom level, despite their best intentions. Only we must consciously differentiate our classroom pedagogy to more effectively engage our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners. One incomplete cross-curriculum strand in a national curriculum will not raise non-Indigenous learners’ knowledge of alternate world views. It is up to us to actively seek ways to challenge young learners to find multiple ways of thinking, knowing and feeling about the world around them. We have an obligation to continue our own learning about the Indigenous past, present and future of the land on which we teach and live; saying we don’t know enough is not good enough. Above all else, remember that Reconciliation is a journey. Stand still and you will find yourself in the same place next time. Keep moving towards change and change will happen. Vicki Lucas is a member of the Early Years Learning Sub-Branch and has previously worked in the Indigenous Education section and numerous preschool settings. Vicki has presented and facilitated countless professional development programs for a range of participants on Indigenous Education, cross-cultural awareness and early childhood education. She was born and raised in Yuin country (NSW south coast), moved to Canberra to study and happily forgot to leave.

AEU

RECONCILIATION AWARD Congratulations to Patrick Chapman, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer, Melba Copland Secondary School, who is the 2011 recipient of the AEU Reconciliation Award!

Certificates of Commendation went to: Vivien Palmer, Principal, Richardson Primary School; Giralang Primary School staff and students; Kate Waite, Teacher, Alfred Deakin High School; Jodie White, Teacher, Gilmore Primary School.

ACT Teacher • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 11


INDUSTRIAL

REPORT To assist members to understand the industrial context in which the current Enterprise Agreement negotiations are occurring this article will explain some key aspects of the Fair Work Act (FW Act). The information has been provided by the legal firm Maurice Blackburn (incorporating Pamela Coward Higgins). What is Industrial Action? The definition of “Industrial Action” is the same in Labor’s FW Act as it was in the old “WorkChoices” legislation of John Howard’s Liberal government. In general it is very broad and includes any action taken by an employee to disrupt the performance of work. This can include taking strike action; imposing limited bans; and performing work in a manner different to how it is customarily performed. It can also be the lockout of employees from their employment by their employer. Industrial action in Australia is now heavily regulated and “Unprotected Industrial Action” can be the subject of punitive penalties. ACT teachers are well aware of this as we were all threatened with draconian fines when we challenged the government’s use of NAPLAN data in 2010. “Protected Industrial Action”, however, is immune to legal remedies that would normally be available – with some exclusions (relating to damage to personal property) which are very unlikely to apply to ACT teachers. What is “Employee Claim Action”? Employee claim action is the new name assigned to circumstances where employees, during bargaining,

take protected industrial action. It must be organised or engaged in by a bargaining representative (the AEU) or by employees who are included on a protected action ballot order and it must be for the purpose of supporting or advancing claims in relation to a proposed agreement that is about or reasonably believed to be about permitted matters. “Permitted matters” is quite broad and can be about anything ‘pertaining to the relationship between employers and employees’ or ‘between an employer and a Union’ that will be covered by the Agreement. How do you take Protected Industrial Action? In order to take protected industrial action we must apply to Fair Work Australia (FWA) for a ballot of employees. The application must specify the group or groups of employees to be balloted; the question or questions to be put to the employees; the nature of the proposed industrial action; and the name of the Ballot agent (if we do not want to use the default Australian Electoral Commission). If we satisfy FWA that we are genuinely trying to reach agreement with the employer and have complied with certain process requirements, FWA will order a ballot of AEU members. In order to be successful, 50% of those eligible need to vote and of those 50%, a majority must approve the ballot questions. If successful, the AEC will declare the result and we will be free to take the action as notified. This action must commence within 30 days and we have

to give three days notice (unless longer is ordered by FWA). What happens if we take Protected Industrial Action? An employer cannot pay you for any time spent engaged in strikes or industrial action generally. The amount of pay withheld is calculated on the actual length of time for the protected industrial action (eg. 2 hour strike = 2 hours loss of pay; 5 minutes strike = 5 mins loss of pay). The 4 hours minimum deduction no longer applies. If workers impose partial work bans an employer can withhold (on notice) part of your wages. Exactly how much is withheld can become a dispute in itself. Normally it is based on the percentage of time that the work ban constitutes of your full-time work. Can FWA suspend or terminate action? FWA has powers under Sections 423426 of the FW Act to either suspend or terminate protected industrial action in certain circumstances: What happens if the Action is suspended or terminated? If the action is suspended then we cannot take any protected industrial action for the period of the suspension. If it is terminated then a post industrial action negotiating period starts. The parties have 21 days to reach agreement otherwise FWA will arbitrate and outcome.

Peter Malone Assistant Secretary - Industrial

PAGE 12 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


Work Safety Commissioner to target Public Sector

as reasonably practicable. People may be both individually and collectively liable for non-compliance/negligence and there are potentially stiff penalties available to the Commissioner to apply to the noncompliant.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe, addressed the Occupational Health, Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Committee [OHSRAC] in early May. The Committee comprises representatives from all government agencies and unions and provides policy advice to the Work Safety Policy Committee and the government. Commissioner McCabe commenced his presentation with the advice that he is tired of waiting for the ACT Public Service (which includes DET and CIT) to take work safety seriously and that he is going to begin to focus on the various agencies now to ensure their compliance with the Work Safety Act 2008 and Regulations 2009. He explained that there are steps in a process to ensure compliance beginning with education, informing the agencies of the law and their duties under the law. He is of the view that education has taken place over the past 2 years and that work safety is still regarded as an optional issue for far too many public sector work sites. The next step is to commence inspections of work sites and provision of a Record of Inspection to the person/s in control of the site (principals and managers). Such a record identifies safety issues at a site and provides a time frame within which the site must make the improvements. If those identified hazards have not been addressed the next step is an improvement notice with a tighter compliance time frame. Then comes a report to the Minister and the latter is obliged to report to the Legislative Assembly so the issue becomes a public matter. Under the Act every party has specific duties to perform to maintain a physically and psychologically safe workplace as far

While the ‘Shield of the Crown’ will be with us until 1 January 2012 now, to fit in with the harmonised national work safety legislation, there are duties that you are already required to perform that are not optional. For example, everyone is obliged to fill in official Accident & Incident Reports and forward them to Shared Services and Injury Prevention and Management. Go to the Shared Services portal or at www.cmd.act.gov. au/governance /public/wpsafety. It is important for you to complete forms for accidents (whether you have time off or not), near misses, verbal or physical abuse and psychological injuries (workrelated stress and anxiety). They are each part of a paper trail that may assist your workplace to address a risk effectively and they could be important if, in future, you decide to lodge a claim. Have you undertaken a Risk Assessment at your workplace and do you have a Risk Management Plan to assist you to manage risks effectively? How much Work Safety information have you received so far this year? A report by the Work Safety representative should be a standard inclusion on your Staff Meeting agenda because you really do have to be aware of your own and others’ responsibilities. For those of you who have not completed the Safety Check at your site it is a good time to assess the process you have applied previously and to ensure that you are addressing work safety concerns in a timely and effective manner. Make sure that you have a Hazard/Risk Register

that is maintained and monitored so that you are able to identify the action required and the level of risk posed. The data recorded in the checks should be reflected in the register. A Comcare spokesperson also reported to OHSRAC on a range of issues from premiums to recent legislative changes. The latter is of interest because of an amendment to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988/Amendment Bill 2011 to re-instate coverage for claims arising from off-site recess injuries. That means that if you go off-site at recess or lunchtime and are injured on that journey you will again be covered by Comcare (this was withdrawn a few years ago). There are also new guidelines on preventing workplace bullying for employers and employees available at www.comcare.gov.au/bullying. Work Safety: Not just a good idea; it’s the law!

Bill Book - Schools’ Organiser Ph. 6272 7900 bbook@aeuact.asn.au

OH & S Forum Your Personal Well-Being and Safety Thursday 16 June, 9am - 12pm, MR 5-6, CTL Presenters: Heart Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Om Shanti College Register NOW on 6272 7900.

ACT Teacher • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 13


NSW TEACHERS FEDERATION WOMEN’S

CONFERENCE

Where to Next? Celebrating the Centenary of International Women’s Day

The NSW Teachers Federation Women’s Conference provided a wonderful opportunity for AEU women to get more involved in the union, hear inspiring speakers, attend worthwhile workshops and meet women from across the ACT and New South Wales. The ACT Branch sent 4 delegates to Sydney on the weekend of 2 and 3 April and all accommodation and meals were generously funded by Teachers Credit Union. The delegates were Lieta Sauiluma-Duggan (North Ainslie School), Mary Murphy (Turner School), Sue Amundsen (AEU Schools Organiser) and Cathy Smith (ACT Branch Women’s Officer). Participants heard fantastic speakers such as the key note speaker Eva Cox, a highly respected feminist, academic, and activist, whose work has informed and inspired a generation of women. Eva had the task of challenging us to think about what the future of feminism might look like. Nina Funnell, an inspirational young woman and a passionate feminist also spoke to the conference. Nina is currently studying for her PhD, lecturing at the University of NSW, is a freelance journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, an Anti-Violence campaigner, NSW Young Australian of the year, a board member NSW Rape Crisis Centre. Sue, Lieta and Mary report on the highlights of the conference.

What does feminism mean to women today? By Sue Amundsen According to Eva Cox, women have become complacent because many now think that they have what they set out to achieve. They no longer relate to the term ‘feminism’ and see it as challenging the household structures but not the society structure. The connection isn’t being adequately made for feminism as a cause for the better change in society and the way society perceives women. Eva emphasised the need to put society back on the agenda. The focus on what society we want to live in has disappeared and been replaced with a focus on what sort of economy we want to live in. A good society has social policies, quality of care and collective risk sharing. Nina Funnell discussed the young women of today and their lack of knowledge on the positive changes that have come through the feminist movement. This, combined with social networking, is placing young women at risk. Women in particular now need social awareness skilling to deal with the use of social networking devices such as Facebook and mobile phones. Nina believes the Education syllabus should not only include feminism but also include the teaching of ethics to support this. Plenary Session Passes 16 Recommendations. By Mary Murphy At the woman’s conference we attended a Plenary session, a term often used in conferences to define the part of the day when all members come together to debate recommendations. Not being NSW unionists we were unable to vote but I was very interested in the proposed amendments and struggles to achieve

working conditions which we in the ACT may take for granted. Two differences that stood out for me were that School Leader C’s do not have any more release time than their level one counterparts and carry full teaching loads. In NSW teachers who are breastfeeding do not have designated breast feeding areas as well as conditions that support mothers by giving them time to breast feed. In total, sixteen recommendations were successfully passed, which reflected the high participation rate of delegates. A new experience for a new AEU member. By Lieta Sauiluma-Duggan The Women’s Conference was a great experience for me. Being a new member of the AEU, there are many issues that I am unaware of and also curious to find out information about. It was interesting to share ideas and experiences, hear guest speakers and learn of wonderful work by alot of women for developing countries. I found Nina Funnell’s talk on women and violence particularly interesting because of my cultural background and experiences. I had a brief talk with her during a break, where I suggested the possibility of having her work translated into different languages to ensure it is accessed by many more women. She has since emailed me about her interest in the idea and she will keep me posted on the progress of her work so we can work out how to further target an effective outcome for translation. I found one of the workshops was particularly interesting as I found out important information regarding different conditions that I did not know existed for contract, relief and casual teaching.

PAGE 14 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


Photo: Natalie McAuley from sponsor, Teachers Credit Union, Cathy Smith (AEU), Mary Murphy (Turner School), Lieta Sauiluma-Duggan (North Ainslie Primary School) and Sue Amundsen (AEU).

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ACT Teacher • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 15


THE NEW EDUCATORS CONFERENCE IN

BUNDANOON From the evening of Friday 18 March until the afternoon of Sunday 20 March, eight New Educators (teachers in their first three years of service) from ACT public schools joined me, as well as more than 100 NSW teachers and a team of union officials, at the NSW Teachers Federation New Educators Conference in the picturesque Southern Highlands town of Bundanoon (90 minutes from Canberra). Workshops on lesson planning and preparation, Indigenous education, classroom management and national union campaigns were generic enough for our participants to join their interstate counterparts. The NSW-specific sessions were substituted for sessions with an ACT focus, such as ‘Your Rights and Entitlements at Work’, ‘Sticky Situations and How to Avoid Them’ and ‘How Your Union Works’. It is safe to say that our teachers will have emerged from the conference as more knowledgeable classroom practitioners and teacher unionists. We may have even helped to create a few activists at a time when we need as many as we can get! The social events were a lot of fun and I am pleased to report that your ACT representatives did you proud in the trivia competition, finishing second. Here are comments from the ACT participants: The new educator conference in Bundanoon was a great opportunity to meet some colleagues not only from our

local jurisdiction, but from across NSW. The ACT AEU sessions run by Glenn gave me a greater understanding of professional issues, and what the core beliefs of the union are. The session entitled ‘Sticky Situations and How to Avoid Them’ was also particularly poignant: as a young male teacher it is good to be kept aware of situations to avoid or how to deal with difficult things as they arise. It was also nice to get some insight into how NSW works and to appreciate the sheer size of it all. Stuart Mitchell, Canberra College

The conference gave me the opportunity to meet with other enthusiastic new educators from the ACT and NSW, share ideas and learn about our union. It was a great weekend and I hope the conference runs again next year! Kate Shorland, Alfred Deakin High School

The Bundanoon conference was a great opportunity to learn more about the structure of the union and understand more about our current campaigns. As a first year teacher, these sorts of events are so useful for furthering my professional development. Thanks AEU! Shannon Symons, Lanyon High School

The New Educators Conference was a wonderful experience that enabled us to network with other new teachers in the ACT, as well as more broadly with those from NSW. The conference gave valuable insights into the workings of the union and how it is relevant everyday for teachers in schools. There was a wonderful sense of connectedness between the conference participants, with the feeling being that we were all in the same boat – all of us new, talking about successes we’d had or

mistakes we’d made and learning from the experiences of each other. I’d highly recommend it to any new educators. Jennifer Lawrence, Stromlo High School

Bundanoon was an extremely worthwhile experience. A wide range of workshops and keynote speakers enabled me to gain awareness of our union’s role in assisting teachers across the ACT/NSW public education systems. In addition to the workshops and seminars, the informal activities provided by the conference such as the trivia night enabled me to network with a wide range of teachers across NSW and the ACT. I would definitely recommend attending this conference. Owen Sharp, Alfred Deakin High School

The New Educators conference gave me the opportunity to share ideas and views not only with ACT teachers but also NSW teachers. It is these networks that will continue to make the teaching profession a strong voice across Australia. Jane Barrett, Lanyon High School

The Bundanoon conference was an invaluable experience, as we were able to meet other new educators in a fun and inviting atmosphere. We learnt about what the AEU stands for and how our union can help New Educators, as well as some strategies to help us in the classroom. Emma Andrews, Canberra College

Although I am not strictly a New Educator, having taught in Singapore for about nine years, the conference really opened my eyes to a whole new world within the Department of Education and in the union. I highly recommend this conference to anyone who is new to teaching, as participants will acquire

PAGE 16 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


valuable information on a range of topics. Instead of groping around in the dark, go for it! Teachers will be pleasantly surprised at the new information they might gain. Deepa Ogbaji, Alfred Deakin High School

Even more spots are available to us at the early March event in 2012, so look out for our flyers closer to the time. We will be particularly keen to have some primary and early childhood school representation, but we encourage all New Educators to apply.

Glenn Fowler Schools Organiser / Assistant Secretary Industrial

me ACCOUNT WINNER

Photo: L-R: Shannon Symons, Owen Sharp, Stuart Mitchell, Deepa Ogbaji, Emma Andrews, Jennifer Lawrence, Jane Barrett, Kate Shorland.

Congratulations to Claudia Turner, Education Support Officer at Black Mountain School, who was the lucky recipient of an ME Bank Start-Up Account valued at $100. Claudia’s name was drawn from new AEU members who joined at the ESO Induction Day earlier in the year.

Photo: Claudia Turner receives her ME Start-Up account from Simon Milner of ME Bank. Photo: Schools organiser Glenn Fowler facilitates a discussion on matters of importance to New Educators.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 17


MEMBER

PROFILE Glenn Fowler of the AEU Office recently interviewed Canberra College Principal and proud AEU member John Stenhouse.

I value the formal and informal networks that support, affirm, inspire and guide my daily practice. I believe that the senior secondary system provides a multiplicity of relevant pathways for our students which is second to none in Australia.

John, what brought you to teaching and your current role as principal? I came to Canberra to study at the ANU where I completed a Master of Science in Astrophysics. Having fallen in love with Canberra and the surrounding countryside, I commenced teaching so that my wife and I could remain here. My first three years were spent at School Without Walls in the late seventies. These years were pivotal in developing my views on education. The freedom to be innovative in a supportive and non-hierarchical environment was an absolute joy. I never planned to be a principal. It just seemed to happen as a natural progression. I often hear teachers talk about their desire to remain in the classroom and I do respect this, but there is no doubt in my mind that you can make a bigger difference to a greater number of students as a principal. What are the best things about your job? The best thing about my job is the opportunity to work with young people who are open to new ideas and full of enthusiasm. I think it is unfortunate that our adolescents are much maligned and misunderstood by the media. For me, they embody all that we would hope for and expect in our future. The staff at Canberra College are great people to work with. It is a pleasure to come to work every day knowing

What could be provided to assist teachers and principals in maximising student outcomes in our public schools? that I can depend on our teachers and administration staff to go the extra mile for students and parents. Tell us about the great things happening at Canberra College. Essentially, at Canberra College, we believe that quality public education caters for all students irrespective of academic ability, interests, social background or ethnicity. For me, the key is to provide a range of programs to take our students to the next stage in their journey through life. As a college we offer the IB Diploma program, CC Cares (young parents), the Big Picture program, the Futures program (Special Needs), an International Students’ program, Australian School Based Apprenticeships and a wide range of T courses, A courses and vocational courses. Our state-of-the-art Performing Arts Centre is scheduled to begin construction soon and will add impetus to an already thriving arts area. What are the strengths of the ACT education system? The nature of the territory means that the opportunities to work with and learn from other professionals is quite unique.

We need attractive salaries and conditions to attract the best. The dearth of opportunities for subject based professional learning must be addressed. A decrease in face-to-face teaching hours would allow teachers to spend more time building virtual learning environments. What does AEU membership mean to you? My family background is one of strong involvement in the union movement, particularly the miners’ union in the UK. Both my grandfathers were miners and strong unionists. One of my grandfathers was a friend of James “Jimmy the Red” Maxton MP who was an inspirational leader of the Independent Labour Party. Gordon Brown has written an excellent biography on him which is worth a read. Maxton was a teacher before he became an MP. Both Maxton and Brown are products of the public education system in Scotland. I believe that it is vital for all workers to be part of their respective unions. I think that it is too easy to become complacent about the benefits that unions have delivered to the workforce. I often call the AEU office for assistance and advice and always find them very supportive.

PAGE 18 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


WHO R U IN

THE DIGITAL WORLD ? ACT STUDENT SUMMIT

prepared a presentation about activities and initiatives currently taking place in their schools designed to create awareness about online safety issues.

On Friday 18 March 2011, the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, students, staff, facilitators, presenters, organisers and sponsors gathered at the National Convention Centre for a day of learning and interaction at the ACT Student Summit: Who R U in the Digital World? The summit was initiated by the ACT Safe Schools Taskforce, a Ministerial council consisting of representatives of key education and training stakeholders. A Reference Group established by the Department planned and coordinated the event with sponsorship support from the AFP and InTACT. The aims of the Summit were: • t o engage students in a day of learning and interaction in relation to online safety, • f or students to develop a school-based commitment to action to be enacted on return to school, and • f or all participating students to contribute to the student-generated declaration in relation to their understandings and intentions to ensure safe behaviour in the digital world All public, Catholic systemic and Independent schools in the ACT with Year 9 students were invited to nominate six students and a teacher to attend the event. Students and teacher representatives with influence within their school community and the capacity to implement actions and initiatives were identified by schools. Melba-Copland, Lyneham and Telopea Park Schools nominated to be involved in a presentation at the Summit called Student Voices in Action. Schools

Melba-Copland, Lyneham and Telopea Park, Wanniassa, Gold Creek and Canberra Girl’s Grammar Schools nominated to take part in the Pre-Summit Video Conference on 4 March involving a conversation between students located in their schools and the Minister. The Minister and participating students discussed issues such as online safety and protocols as well as the use of technology for learning both at school and at home. The Department engaged the Centre for Strategic Education to deliver the content of the Summit. This included the organisation of guest speakers and activities to ensure that the decisions made at the Summit were enacted back in local school environments. The Department was fortunate to secure the involvement of Robyn Moore (the voice of Blinky Bill) as MC, Agnes Shea and Kulture Break to open the event. Special guests included experts in the field of technology and student safety such as Steve Lacy and Bek Donders (Rising Generations), Professor Donna Cross (Edith Cowan University) and Robyn Treyvaud (Cyber Safe Kids). Minister Barr attended the afternoon session to address the Summit, receive the Studentgenerated Declaration and the individual school Commitments to Action.

the Department to allow participating teachers to discuss learning technologies and strategies currently in use at their schools. Special guests at the Teacher Summit were Lea Chapuis from Namadgi School and Alyson Whiteoak from Jervis Bay School. While teachers attended their own summit, students were supported by trained facilitators representing the University of Canberra, Australian Catholic University, AFP, InTACT and the Department. Students had the opportunity to interact informally during the lunch break and they were engaged by displays by Summit sponsors, the AFP and InTACT. Year 12 peer leaders from Melba-Copland School discussed the event with participants and recorded thoughts and issues. Principals of public schools involved in the Summit will work with participants of the Summit to ensure that the messages and commitments generated at the Summit are shared with the school community. These activities will complement existing policies, curriculum and Student Wellbeing and Learning Technologies programs currently in place in all public schools.

A popular feature of the Summit was the SMS communication, with students encouraged to text thoughts and opinions about issues being discussed to be displayed on the Summit screen. In addition to the Student Summit, a Teacher Summit was organised by

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 19


AEU LOG OF CLAIMS

Peter Malone, Assistant Secretary (Industrial), gives an update on CIT EA negotiations. In December 2010 the AEU presented to CIT our log of claims for the next enterprise agreement, as endorsed by your representatives on TAFE Council. This log includes: • T hat TB1.1 to TB1.4 be abolished and that all teachers currently on these pay points be moved to TB1.5 from 1 July 2011. • T hat the AST be increased to the same rate as the STP level from 1 July 2011. • T hat casual teachers receive payment for all scheduled classes, including if those scheduled classes are cancelled for reasons beyond the control of the casual teacher. • T hat all classifications (including casuals) be increased by 7% from 1 July 2011, 7% from 1 July 2012 and a further 7% from 1 July 2013. • T hat a joint CIT-AEU review panel be formed: • T o seek the views of staff on how to increase the quality of teaching delivery within CIT, with a view to making recommendations to the Chief Executive to address areas of concern. • T o examine recent individual cases of bullying and harassment, with a view to agreeing on strategies to be implemented to improve human resource management within CIT. • T hat the current Professional Development arrangements be

changed to strengthen the role of teachers as professionals and to facilitate and simplify access to the PD funds by individuals. • T hat the industrial implications of CIT teachers delivering Degree level courses be fully considered and appropriate conditions of employment be negotiated to reflect the complexity of this new responsibility. • T hat the streamlining provisions be reviewed to increase the ability of contract staff to be converted to permanency. • T hat the AEU and CIT reach agreement on the role of teaching co-ordinators across the Institute and the conditions that apply to these positions. • T hat an increase in the number of Teacher Band 2 positions be negotiated and that all TB2 vacancies be permanently filled no later than 12 months after becoming vacant. • T hat the AEU and CIT agree the method of recording and calculating leave for teachers. That appropriate conditions, including administrative support, be negotiated for Teacher Band 3 positions. Whole of Government Bargaining Parameters The Chief Minister’s Department (CMD) advised bargaining representatives on 4 March 2011 that the whole of Government offer was: (a) 2.5% per annum wage increase (b) an Agreement of 2 years duration, and (c) the removal of a range of conditions from Agreements and place them in either the Public Sector Management

Act (PSMA) or the Standards that provide more detail for implementation of PSMA provisions. On 25 March CMD advised in writing that the offer had changed to: (a) 2.5% per annum wage increase (b) an Agreement of 2 years duration, and (c) a ‘rollover’ of common terms and conditions and agency schedules for all general clerical agreements with plans to amend various elements of the agreements put aside. The offer was conditional on the AEU agreeing not to bring forward additional claims, either for common terms or through CIT negotiations. This position was confirmed through the ACT Budget on 3 May. Your representatives on the AEU Branch Council subsequently condemned the government for yet again failing to adequately fund public education and have rejected this offer. CIT Bargaining Regular meetings have been occurring with CIT negotiators since February. CIT has confirmed that any funding for salary increases or changes to conditions that falls outside the envelope of 2.5% per annum will need to be funded through productivity offsets. CIT has also provided a lengthy list of items that it wishes to discuss as part of the bargaining process. They have also rejected outright the need for a joint review to seek the views of staff on how to increase the quality of teaching delivery within CIT and improve human resource management within the Institute. Continued next page

PAGE 20 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


TAFE VP “MARRIAGE” BETWEEN CIT AND UC Members have heard all the sashaying around “best terminologies” to describe the possible unity between Canberra Institute of Technology [CIT] and University of Canberra [UC]. The concerns raised by members focus on how this merger may take place, the possible impact on job security, what educational levels will be expected of teaching staff and the affect on current employment conditions. CIT will need to stand firm if and when this merger takes place to ensure this is not an old-fashioned marriage where one party is given to the other as their property but a modern partnership where a joining of equals is respectfully acknowledged. The difficulty with this situation is evident with all recent mergers across Australia indicating one partner devaluing and consuming the other. There is not one example in this outcomes-driven environment of a merger

that has had positive, beneficial outcomes for the TAFE sector.

To date progress has been made on the following issues:

for members. However it is clear the ACT government does not see public education, either in the Schools sector or CIT, as a priority.

• • • • •

Payment to casual teachers Higher education delivery Streamlining provisions Calculating leave for teachers Overseas Commercial Allowance

However the salary offer remains completely unacceptable and, in return for a less than CPI increase, CIT is asking teachers to agree to a radical restructure of TB1 classifications, including the abolition of the AST position and the introduction of a new “hourly paid contract teacher”, which will serve only to promote the casualisation of teachers. The AEU will continue to bargain with CIT to achieve the best possible outcome

At a recent CIT award night, community leaders confirmed over and over again the positive and direct impact vocational education has on their industries with many of these community leaders beginning their own careers at the CIT. This confirmed to CIT teachers that they are highly valued in the lives of young adults, second or third chance learners and mature age students. This is what we all do well and as professional teachers in our own right there should not be pressure to conform to a short-sighted vision of a Learning Capital that is only constructed on higher education. We are fortunate to have strong AEU support at the CIT to push for equal weighting in this relationship, a mutual respect of differences, equality and respect for each partner’s contribution to the Learning

In this environment Branch Council has authorised the Union’s Executive to determine if it is necessary to seek a protected action ballot in order to progress the negotiations for our members. If we are to succeed in achieving a just and fair outcome it is vital that all members in CIT participate in this campaign. Members are encouraged to write/email Minister Barr and other members of the Legislative Assembly expressing their concerns about the inadequate budget allocation for CIT teachers. When you do, please use

Capital. With many modern marriages a pre-nuptial agreement is often considered a smart move to protect each party’s assets in the event of a marriage breakdown. Should CIT sign their ‘prenup’ now? Be assured, the AEU is keeping a close eye on any developments around this merger. The Education Minister has recently announced that Professor Denise Bradley will be chairing a review (to be completed in an inordinately short 8 weeks) into the CIT/UC relationship and the AEU will be making strong representations to this inquiry. We value your input so please direct any comments on this or other issues to your Branch Organiser, Bill Book [bbook@aeuact.asn.au] or me.

Tracey Dodimead - 6207-3137 tracey.dodimead@cit.act.edu.au

professional, polite language as you explain the impact of such a poor allocation. Write from either your home or work email address and make sure you identify yourself as an AEU member in your signature. • barr@act.gov.au • gallagher@act.gov.au • doszpot@parliament.act.gov. • hunter@parliament.act.gov. and cc: priority1@aeuact.asn.au Should you be contacted by the Institute about your message, please contact the AEU office for advice/assistance.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 21


E - SMART A whole - school approach to cyber safety

Developed by The Alannah and Madeline Foundation with RMIT School of Education, and with the input of a broad range of cybersafety and education experts, eSmart is an easy-to-use, evidence-based system to help Australian schools manage cybersafety and deal with bullying and cyberbullying. eSmart embraces the benefits of technology and focuses on the creation of caring, respectful school communities. eSmart provides a road map to guide schools in developing a sustainable, whole-school approach to fostering the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies, and promoting positive school culture. The eSmart system guides schools to: • c reate their own best-practice policies, practices and procedures; • g ain access to the best evidenceinformed resources and information; • s upport professional development of staff in the positive use of technology and the promotion of positive peerrelationships; and • r ecord, track and report on their progress in becoming eSmart. With funding from the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), eSmart was piloted in 2010 with more than 150 schools nationwide, across all sectors, with outstanding results: • 98 per cent of pilot schools said eSmart was appropriate to achieve cybersafety, and most said eSmart was

an improvement on what they were doing before • 9 6 per cent said they would recommend eSmart to other schools • M ost schools reported that eSmart prompted action in cybersafety and wellbeing that they would otherwise not have undertaken. Support to schools participating in eSmart: • L ogin to the eSmart website (see below), which provides a framework for schools to plan, implement and sustain their cybersafety and wellbeing activity; • A n online system to record, track and report on the completion of milestones achieved; • P rofessional learning in the use of the eSmart system, and the implementation of a whole-school approach to managing cybersafety and wellbeing;

• S tarter kit with detailed information on eSmart, and the journey to becoming eSmart; • H elp desk facility, accessible MondayFriday 8am-5pm to provide support in relation to understanding the framework and in using the website; • R egular e-newsletters during school term containing information about new cyber-risks, and new programs, resources and strategies for managing them; new technology applications for teaching and learning; and overview of media news items relevant to eSmart; • C ertificates and external signage, acknowledging the achievement of planning and implementation milestones in the eSmart journey. Calling for schools’ expressions of interest in eSmart The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is now seeking expressions of interest

PAGE 22 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice

Continued next page


Steve Provins presents his last AEU training session

from all Australian schools wishing to become eSmart. Visit www.esmart.org.au for further information or to fill out an expression of interest.

150 schools nationwide, across all sectors, took part in the eSmart national pilot in 2010. Here’s what some of them had to say. “The eSmart national pilot certainly raised our awareness and encouraged our progress towards becoming a knowledgeable and well-resourced cybersafe school. We have modified the way we plan for, teach and evaluate Information and Communication Technologies across the school. The whole project has been well-resourced and this has allowed our school to make positive gains … and we have learnt a lot along the way.” Darley Primary School “The national pilot assisted staff and students to become more aware of the need to be eSmart. We implemented new policy in regards to mobile phones, initiated monitoring of internet activity by students and improved staff awareness of

ebullying. Some of the highlights of the pilot included improving staff awareness of how ebullying occurs, seeing students respond and now reporting ebullying to staff members and being able to follow up and stop the bullying.” Denmark High School “Ferny Grove State High School had an existing anti-bullying policy and protocols to prevent bullying. One of the major impacts of the national pilot was to broaden the focus of the anti-bullying policy to incorporate cyberbullying as a specific entity. The national pilot was a catalyst to review the school anti-bullying policy by a consultation process involving staff, students, parents and the general community.” Ferny Grove State High School “We formed a steering committee comprised of a teacher, principal and two parents to drive the initiative and review current procedures. We now have a revised acceptable-use policy as well as revised behaviour management strategies, which now include references to cyberbullying. The pilot raised our awareness of the issues related to safe use of ICT, both at home and at school.” Lindisfarne North Primary School

Steve Provins will be known to many members through his long career in public schools and DET Staffing. He is also known to AEU members as he has presented two valued courses, Writing an Application for Transfer or Promotion and Preparing for a Job Interview, for the last 5 years. Many members have benefited from Steve’s knowledge, expertise and welcoming presentation style. We are sad to report that Steve presented his last course in May as he wishes to reduce his work hours and transition to retirement. We wish Steve all the very best for the future and thank him for his wonderful contribution to the AEU Training Program over many years. The AEU is pleased to inform members that we have been able to retain the services of Bob Ross to present these two courses into the future. Bob is an experienced teacher and principal, and recently has supported many aspiring leaders in public schools through the DET Leading to Leadership program. His experience and knowledge of the School Leader Capabilities and what makes a good application and job interview will be an asset to the AEU Training Program.

Go to www.aeuact.asn.au/ training/ for all upcoming AEU Training.

To register your school’s interest in participating in eSmart, simply complete an expression of interest form at www.esmart.org.au

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 23


STAMPING OUT

HOMOPHOBIA By Luke Willams

The ‘Stamp Out Homophobia in Schools’ Conference on May 17 was attended by over 170 staff, students and DET officers. Designed to be held on International Day Against Homophobia, it was surprising that the ACT has not held any similar consequential or substantial events such as this one before. Education Minister, and newly anointed Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr opened the conference with a touching, inspiring and personal speech, giving his own account of growing up gay in Canberra. Minister Barr talked about the lack of positive role models at the time and the challenges of coming out in a hostile community. He acknowledged that while society had progressed, there were still major challenges – and that schools continued to be “hotbeds” of homophobia. Minister Barr outlined his plan to tackle homophobia – the first being the holding of the conference – but he has also asked the Department to provide new training for pastoral care officers and counsellors and then move onto reforming ASHCO training. Barr then asked the conference to put forward ideas as to how the ACT could best tackle the issues outlined during the day. After the Minister’s speech there was a buzz in the room, a real sense of purpose seemed to be created from his words. Dr Lynne Hillier of LaTrobe University, followed up with a detailed account of the statistics that came out of the most recent Writing Themselves In project. Three national surveys have taken place since 1998, tracking the feelings and experiences of same-sex attracted young people. Dr Hillier cited the study’s findings that while more people felt better

about their sexuality and that personal activism was high, homophobic abuse and violence was widespread and that 80% of it was occurring in schools. The study found that sexuality education was regarded as very poor amongst students, and that victims of homophobic bullying and harassment were more likely to drop out of school. Toilets and PE change rooms continue to be places where young men and women feel the least safe. Read more about this study at: www.aeuact.asn.au/uploads/file/ebulletinNo9-9December2010.pdf The ACT Department of Education has no policy on homophobia. Only NSW and Victoria have made that progress and feedback from the conference participants was, unsurprisingly, that policy work in that area was urgent. Ms Jennie Yates then spoke about gender diversity and explained the diversity of humanity. (www.gendersanity.com.

au/diagram). She stated that more and more children are being born without a definitive sex (4%) and that as a community we need to move on from traditional concepts of gender. Ms Yates said that we need to create accepting communities whereby schools tell students that they welcome same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people. The next two sessions were run by Mr Daniel Witthaus, author of Beyond That’s So Gay. He ran a range of activities for the conference participants on reducing homophobic comments and harassment. Probably the most vital aspect of Mr Witthaus’ work is his experience in touring the nation’s schools. He has found that schools wait for students to ‘come out’ before providing any support. Yet the hardest and most critical time is before a young person discloses. Teachers, he said, need to be openly supportive and accepting of all young people, while

Photo: Daniel Witthaus, author of Beyond That’s So Gay.

PAGE 24 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice

Continued next page


schools needed to move past saying ‘There is no problem’ and ‘We can’t do anything’ to actively preventing homophobia.

2011 Award Recipients

Mr Witthaus provided ways staff can combat homophobia in the classroom. Ignoring comments like ‘That’s so gay’ is tantamount to ignoring overt discrimination – teachers must stop and question student use of language that is offensive to others. By letting it go or ignoring it, teachers are complicit in the underlying discrimination. The day ended with a panel of people with experience of growing up samesex attracted or gender questioning. They all reiterated the need for the education sector to provide more support for all students about sexuality, gender and health. It is critical that schools provide a ‘safe person’ to talk to and the environment in which the conversation is not only accepted, but welcomed, in order to improve the wellbeing of all students. At the conclusion to the conference, after table groups were asked to create action plans for their schools, that initial buzz that started in the early morning was still in the air. There was a real sense of achievement that so many people had participated in such a landmark event and that each person was going to try to make things better for all students. With targeted teacher training and enhanced student support, there was hope that the ACT could take the lead in identifying and eliminating homophobia from the classrooms and schools of Canberra.

Want to discuss these issues further?

Congratulations to all recipients of this year’s Public Education and Reconciliation Awards! AEU Public Education Award: Tom Greenwell, Dickson College. AEU Certificate of Commendation: Glenys Patulny, Lanyon High Scool. AEU Reconciliation Award: Patrick Chapman, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer, Melba Copland Secondary School. AEU Reconciliation Certificates of Commendation: Vivien Palmer, Principal, Richardson Primary School; Giralang Primary School staff and students; Kate Waite, Teacher, Alfred Deakin High School; Jodie White, Teacher, Gilmore Primary School. DET Primary Teacher of the Year: Glynis Steward, Florey Primary School. DET Secondary Teacher of the Year: Caitlin Hanby, University of Canberra Senior Secondary College, Lake Ginninderra Connect10 Northern. DET Outstanding Education Support: Kaye Browning, School Assistant, Kaleen Primary School DET Primary Principal of the Year: Liz Wallace, Isabella Plains Early Childhood School. DET Secondary Principal of the Year: Beth Mitchell, Dickson College. DET Outstanding New Educator: Arilia King, Amaroo School. DET Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: Lyle Swan, Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Telopea Park School and cluster schools. DET School Hero: Natalie Roberts, Defence School Transition Aide, Amaroo School. CIT Vocational Education Teacher: Melissa Dinn, Centre for Health, Community and Wellbeing. CIT Support Staff: Amy Holland, CIT Online Support, Centre for Education Excellence.

Come along to an AEU meeting! Wednesday 15 June, 4pm, Tilley’s Cafe, Lyneham Shops. RSVP to Cathy Smith, AEU Office on 6272 7900 or csmith@aeuact.asn.au Luke Williams is a teacher, AEU member and the AEU-ACT representative on the AEU Federal GLBTI Working Party.

Photo: Branch Secretary, Penny Gilmour (right) presents Glenys Patulny with the AEU Certification of Commendation.

Photo: Tom Greenwell, recipient of the 2011 AEU Public Education Award.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 25


TWO LABOR MPs DELIVER THEIR

MAIDEN SPEECHES The ACT has two new MPs representing our electorates in federal parliament. Below are excerpts from the maiden speeches of Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann and Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh, delivered in the House of Representatives on 18 October 2010. Gai Brodtmann: On education... “Canberra is home to the most highly educated population in the country, but it is also home to people battling disadvantage and disability.... My sisters and I went through a worldclass public school system.... My sisters and I had a great public education that set us up for life. That is why I am a strong defender of government schools and a staunch advocate of access to education and support through it, whatever your background. Education is the great empowerer, particularly when it encourages a quest for broad and continuous learning. Education builds self-esteem and confidence, and a great education cannot happen without great teachers—teachers like Chris Mithen, who at Springview Primary sowed my love of learning, a love that flourished at Donvale High through teachers who encouraged us to be bold, to believe in ourselves and to strive for excellence....

On the union movement... History shows us that if work is to be dignified workers need advocates, because workers rights did not fall from the sky. History shows that, without unions, workers were broken in what William Blake called dark satanic mills. He understood that change would not come without a fight, and the best weapon in the fight for workers rights is the trade union. This is why I am proud that the Labor Party was born in the fires of the union movement and fashioned on its anvils. It is something we should never seek to hide and something we should be proud of. Since I left high school, unions have protected me at work and this year worked to get me into this House. I am particularly grateful to the CFMEU, the NUW, the USU, the SDA and the CPSU. I will never forget what the unions have done for this country and as long as I am here I will staunchly defend your right to defend your members.... On the common good... I am not a blind partisan and have many friends of all political dispositions. But I am Labor to my bootstraps. We are in a battle of ideas and I believe it is desperately important that we win. When we win our prosperity is shared. When we win children get the chance of a world-class education. When we win Australia gets a country that supports the weak; a nation that uses its wealth to help the poor. When we win individuals are encouraged to excel but never at the expense of the common good....”

Andrew Leigh:

feels to be an outsider, and the importance of making our institutions as inclusive as possible. In the decades ahead, education will be the mainspring of Australia’s economic success. Great childcare, schools, technical colleges and universities are the most effective way to raise productivity and living standards. Improving education is also smart social policy. First-rate schooling is the best antipoverty vaccine we’ve yet invented. Great teachers can light a spark of vitality in children, a self-belief and passion for hard work, that will burn bright for the rest of their lives. On equality... As an economist, much of my research has been devoted to the vast challenges of reducing poverty and disadvantage. I believe that rising inequality strains the social fabric. Too much inequality cleaves us one from another: occupying different suburbs, using different services, and losing our sense of shared purpose. Anyone who believes in egalitarianism as the animating spirit of the Australian settlement should recoil at this vision of our future. To me, the Australian project is about encouraging economic growth, while ensuring that its benefits are shared across the community. It is about making sure that all Australians have great public services, regardless of ethnicity, income or postcode. And it is about recognising that governments have a role in expanding opportunities, because no child gets to choose the circumstances of their birth.”

On education... “... as I moved through seven different primary schools, I got a sense of how it

PAGE 26 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice

Continued next page


Commentary: Gai Brodtmann’s use of the word “public” before “education” is welcome. We hope that ALP parliamentarians follow her lead in emphasising the special place of public education in Australia’s social fabric. However, the Prime Minister and a few others in ALP ranks like to suggest that “the public/private debate is over”. Lyndsay Connors, in her Henry Parkes Oration of October 2010, argued that: “To fail to understand such differences [between public and private education], or to wilfully claim that there are none in

order to silence public debate, is to put the future of our democracy at risk. The fact that there may be a coalition of those willing to engage in collective dementia should not be confused with consensus.” (You can read the rest of this inspirational address at www.parkesfoundation.org. au/Projects_oration2010.htm) Polling tells us that the vast majority of Australians are supporters of greater investment in public education, including a majority of parents who send their children to private schools. Through the Schools Funding Review, public

education supporters seek to influence the creation of a new funding model that reflects the noble ideals regarding egalitarianism, equity, opportunity and inclusion that permeate the speeches of both Brodtmann and Leigh. AEU members should make contact with your local MP via email, letter, telephone or in person to ensure that these ideals come to be reflected in ALP policy.

Glenn FowlerSchools Organiser/Asst. Sec (Ind).

Union Members, You can be part of the biggest ever survey of workers in Australia’s history and be in the draw for $1,000.* The Working Australia Census is your opportunity to make your voice heard about the challenges you face in your workplace. This is your chance to have a say and tell us what you think about in relation to: • Job security • Cost of living • Work/life balance • The role of unions • Fairness in Australia. It’s important that we hear from you so that your voice can help shape the union movement’s policy agenda for the next decade. The Working Australia Census will be conducted across Australia and will involve workers from all industries and all ages. Tell us what you want and what you believe about a range of issues. Your voice is powerful in the campaign for better pay and conditions, a fairer workplace and the social benefits workers want. Be a part of this historic event and complete the census at www.workingaustralia.org.au. *Terms and conditions apply. Three prizes of $1000 or its equivalent are offered by the ACTU and will be drawn at its offices at noon on Wednesday, 20 July, and results published in The Australian on Monday, 25 July. Winners will also be personally notified by e-mail and telephone. The Working Australia Census opens on 2 May and closes on 1 July 2011. Union members aged 18+ are eligible to enter. ACT TP 11/01536.1 For full details, go to workingaustralia.org.au

© 2011 ACTU. All rights reserved.

ACT Teacher • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 27


SCHOOL

AUTONOMY A DIM View of the Victorian Experience Peter Curtis, President, Namadgi School AEU Sub-Branch, has recently transferred from Victoria where school autonomy is well-entrenched. If there is one story that exemplifies the damage that school autonomy and decentralisation can do to the ACT’s system it is the breaking up of the CTL Teacher Resource Centre. There was heartfelt distress when teachers heard about and then witnessed this act of costcutting of valued collective knowledge. Absent from this decision was any negotiation. It was a fait accompli. Breaking up the library across a number of schools makes it harder for teachers to access knowledge or build this resource. As someone who has taught in Victorian schools for a decade, it needs to be stated that autonomy is not intended to provide any of the independence that the word indicates. The education department progresses the interests of the ACT government. We need to remind the ACT government, Minister Barr, the department, and ourselves that schools are not commercial businesses. Students are not muffins to be binned if they are defective. Rather, it is our vocational responsibility to assist all of them to become questioning, powerful and knowledgeable human beings. School autonomy was first foisted on teachers in Victoria at the beginning of the 1990s by the reactionary Coalition government led by Geoff Kennett. Firstly the government sacked 8,000 teachers and shut 300 schools. Under the slogan ‘Schools of the Future’, it went on to enact the government’s vision of every

school becoming an independent business unit. This vision became doubly infamous after it came to light that the education minister Phil Gude, concocted the detail for the school autonomy plan over a bottle of scotch whiskey. This further fuelled community outrage at a time when parents and teachers were picketing to defend their schools and the public education system as a whole.

The priority for school executives shifts from assisting teachers to develop quality curriculum and innovative pedagogy to one of day-to-day trouble shooting. Market logic and corporate regulation focuses on resourcing and budgets and distracts attention from the needs of students and teachers. There is no place to maintain a professional body of knowledgeable practitioners. The Victorian situation provides many examples of how autonomy creates systemic disintegration. The priority for school executives shifts from assisting teachers to develop quality curriculum and innovative pedagogy to one of day-to-day trouble-shooting. Top of the principal’s daily tasks might be finding a replacement for a cleaner who just walked off the job for being underpaid. In Victoria, ‘school autonomy’ has worked against a responsible and reasonable spread of graduate and experienced teachers across the system. More graduates can be employed for the cost

of ‘expensive’ experienced staff. This is one result of averaging of wages across a school. When a school is handed a basket of dollars, the administration must decide how the loaves will be divided. Those teachers who are at the top of the pay scale find it very difficult to compete with ‘cheaper’ teachers. This is the logic of such an employment market. Teachers in Victoria must apply to individual schools rather than being appointed centrally and systemically. Systemic breakdown frustrates resourcing. Collectively won conditions are lost by introducing ‘flexibility’ at the local level through ‘negotiated’ agreements. Each school is required to have a Consultative Committee made up of a cross section of staff to ensure that each area has a voice to ‘influence’ the decisions of the principal. Well run or otherwise, a committee only adds to workload stress. School autonomy means that we would no longer work to make the ACT education system the best we can offer. Instead the interests of a school as an enterprise will compete against the rest. This is the government’s desired and logical consequence of the application of ‘school autonomy’. It is determined by the ideologically driven businessmarket model of training and instruction and replaces education as a humanistic endeavour. Improving conditions and resources for students and staff is where our needs and interests coincide. Our collective strength can only be undermined when we are deliberately divided by the decentralising of resource funding and working conditions. It is our collective ethos and strength that we must defend.

PAGE 28 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice


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