Public Education Voice March 2013

Page 1




40 Brisbane Ave Barton ACT 2600 • P (02) 6272 7900 • F (02) 6273 1828 •

CONTENTS From the Secretary

Sub-Branch News


Gonski Factsheet


President’s Report


2012 Branch Council Meeting Dates Franklin Early Childhood School: Page 8


We are the AEU - The AEU is us: Teacher Librarians in the ACT


Frankin Early Childhood School


Industrial Report


School Support Staff

School Support Staff: Page 10



Statement of Financial Performance


TAFE Works


TAFE VP Report


Penny Gilmour Farewell and Thankyou 16


New Educator Happenings


O H & S

Pedagogy: The Power of Perception 20 Member Profile


New Educator Happenings: Page 18

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 1



A series of successful campaigns over the last eighteen months has made our Union as strong, or indeed stronger, than ever. Membership of the ACT Branch’s General Division rose by 6.3% to 30 June 2012, which was the greatest increase of any AEU Branch for that twelve-month period. This has been helped by a strong Schools EA campaign which achieved among other things nationally competitive salaries; a schools funding campaign that has so far produced the historic Gonski report along with a federal Government bill to transform the Report’s recommendations into law; and the Union’s efforts in supporting its members through a challenging time at CIT.

However, it wouldn’t be public education if threats (mostly of the neo-liberal variety) weren’t looming. Plans to devolve school budgets to the local level must be interrogated at every turn and, where appropriate, opposed. Indeed, such a strategy is being advised by ETD’s own “critical friends” and advisors, Canadian Michael Fullan and Brit Dylan Wiliam. Based on statements made by Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne, along with the damage being caused by Liberal state governments with respect to public education and its workforce, we can made educated guesses as to what the Liberal Party has in mind for us if elected. As always, and with a bias only against bad policy, we will make clear to our members and the broader electorate the choice that they have at the 14 September federal election. As well as threats there are opportunities, such as new schools funding arrangements based on student need, improved provision for

the ACT’s EALD students, accelerated incremental progression for newer teachers, and the filling of more than twenty Executive Teacher (Professional Practice) positions in schools. 2013 is a time of rejuvenation in the AEU office. Increased membership revenue (thanks for your recruitment efforts!) has given us the relative luxury of including an extra (seventh) industrial position as part of a recent office restructure. Peter Malone has retired after first joining the AEU staff in 1996. Cathy Smith has moved on to the AEU’s WA Branch after a decade with us. And, after twelve years, the inimitable Bill Book will take well-earned long-term leave at the end of this term and will retire thereafter. Each has made an immense contribution to the AEU and the working lives of its members. To help fill the void, we recently employed Garrett Purtill as Industrial Officer. Garrett’s impressive credentials appear later in this issue. We have also welcomed Wanniassa School teacher Kate Reynolds to the role of Schools Organiser for Term 1. In coming weeks, we will fill the new roles of Lead Organiser and Professional/Women’s Officer, as well as the long-term Schools Organiser positions which have been occupied by Bill Book and myself. I thank you for your support during this period of transition, and I know you will continue to fulfil small but essential union-building and campaign tasks as together we defend and advance public education.

Glenn Fowler Branch Secretary

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




JAN’S 2012

TOP 10 TIPS 4. A ccept that teaching is a collaborative, sharing profession.

Jan Bentley was asked by her colleagues to prepare her top ten tips for teaching prior to her recent retirement. Here they are!

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, or to share someone else’s idea - but don’t claim it as your own!

Jan’s Top 10 Tips

Be comfortable in sharing your ideas, materials ….. It’s the only way to survive! 1. K now WHY you decided to be a teacher.

Don’t let the politicians turn teaching into a competitive environment.

Hopefully it involves something to do with learning and young people. Know that teaching is a joy. It may not feel like it to start with, but looking back, all those little moments string together to make one long joyful teaching experience.

Don’t be afraid to say to others, including students, “I’m not sure, but I’ll find out” – then DO. It’s not about being liked, but being respected because you KNOW. Don’t make “like” your focus - “like” will happen.

2. U nderstand WHAT teaching is about. It’s really about learning – your own and your students’. Learning doesn’t have to be about great resources, gizmos and gadgets. It’s about relationships and making connections, about thinking – yours and the students.

6. A s you feel comfortable with these 1 – 5, start to “spread yourself” and begin to understand the bigger picture: other areas, cross-school, system, ……. and become involved in something other than your classroom stuff.

3. K now your strengths and weaknesses as a person and as a teacher. Work to overcome your weaknesses, take advantage of your strengths. Don’t let being a vertically challenged female be a disadvantage - even when all your students are bigger than you!.

5. K now you pedagogy and content, continue to develop and learn.

8. E ncourage others to give you feedback about what you do and how you do it. Consider advice – think of it as helpful, no matter what the advice is.

9. W hen you get time to come up for air in your classroom, and its associated demands, get to know your students as people – but be careful about the “rules” we work under and the perceptions of others.

10. F igure out what work / life balance is for you and how it can be managed. It will be different for everyone – different stages of your life will have the “balance” swinging in different directions.

Bonus Tip Teachers always want to see the best for their students – the best resources, opportunities, courses….. Having the best teachers work under the best conditions can make this happen.

7. F igure out what assessment and reporting is all about. Not every student will get 100% despite your very best efforts. Don’t get depressed; reflect a while, contemplate the possibilities, then move on.

As a teacher be part of your Education Union, and lend YOUR voice to the collective voice of teachers to make this happen.

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


NEWS By Schools Organisers

It’s a busy time for everyone and in that context it is easy to overlook some essential requirements of schools in regard to New Educators and Contract Teachers. In each case you should have a panel set by now and should have met with that panel to set the parameters of your contract assessment or probationary period. Know your mentors and if there are any issues that occur that may require clarification or guidance, ask immediately. Remember that your assessment report will be run past you toward the end of each term and you are required to meet with your panel to discuss the report/s to assist in your development as a teacher. New educators, first year out, in primary schools, have a maximum teaching load of 20 hours per week face-to-face to provide an additional 60 hours per year for you to receive additional support/ mentoring/coaching. In the secondary sector you have a maximum of 18 hours per week, an additional 40 hours per year of direct support. This is in addition to the 6 days of professional learning/ support/development allocated to you in your first year and in addition to the 5 days of professional learning mandated to all teachers. Plan your days early and discuss the options with your principal and mentor. They are YOUR days and you should use them wisely to your benefit. The Organisers have had a few calls from longer term members concerned about the need to register with TQI this year, and pay. While some of you are protesting the fact that you have to pay for registration you should think about the fact that in the UK there is an

increasing encroachment of unqualified paraprofessional teachers undertaking the full teaching role. The real value in having the registration is found in the protection it provides the profession. It is a legislated arrangement that has finally arrived in the ACT and if people want to teach here they must be registered. There is nothing this office is able to do to assist you to avoid registering or paying. Payment was deferred for the past 2 years for teachers already in the service but that arrangement has concluded. Similarly with the Working With Vulnerable People [WWVP] legislation requiring all teachers, assistants, volunteers working with children in schools to register through the Office of Regulatory Services [ORS] The Directorate has agreed to cover the initial costs of registration [$71.00 per person per 3 years] for current teachers. But it is law and you are required to register by November 7 this year. If you want to teach in the ACT you have to register and the ORS is prepared to come to your school to assist you in a bulk registration session so arrange that early as a school if you can rather than waiting.

unavailable to anyone until they have completed 3 years of employment with the ETD. Read the agreement [Annexe C from page 142] to determine whether you are eligible and whether there is a ready category of leave for you to access. You are allocated 18 days personal leave each year and that accumulates. However, keep close track of the leave you use to avoid running into issues of overpayment. Keep copies of all leave forms and certificates you submit for your personal records. I am going on leave from the end of Term 1 and am unlikely to return to this position. I have enjoyed working with all of you and wish you well as we build toward the next EA Campaign. Apologies for any mistakes I may have made; accolades for any achievements you might like to recall! BB Kate Reynolds has stepped up into the Organiser’s position for the moment and is adapting to her new role with relative ease Bill Book/Kate Reynolds Schools’ Organisers

Careful when posting messages and photos on facebook because there are potentially millions of viewers and not all of those are your friends. Check the Directorate’s policy on use of Social Media [HR Advice No: 01/2012] before you put your next message up or your next tweet. You can save yourself and your organisers considerable grief if you read the policy and adopt the precautionary principle in this regard. Remember this also: Leave Without Pay [LWOP] is not an entitlement. It is

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



Why governments must act on Gonski Schools across the nation would benefit The Gonski Review found Australia is investing far too little in schools and that the way the money is currently being distributed to schools is inefficient, ineffective and unfair. It recommended $6.5 billion a year in additional funding be targeted towards addressing student needs. The biggest beneficiaries would be public schools, which would get at least 75 per cent of the money.

More funding would make a difference in the classroom Funding increases would vary school-by-school according to need, but the average increase in public schools would be over $1,500 per student per year. That’s enough to pay for 7 extra teachers in a school with 500 students. More teachers would mean smaller class sizes and more individual attention for students. Funding could also be used for new programs, teacher training and to better assist students with disabilities or special needs.

The need for change is urgent Funding shortfalls are stopping too many students getting the education they deserve. Half of all principals say that resource shortages are affecting the teaching of the basics such as reading, maths and science. These can be a lack of appropriately trained teachers, a lack of textbooks or library books, or even calculators. Too many students are at risk of falling behind.

What now? State and territory leaders are yet to sign up – help us make sure they do! The Federal Government is onboard with Gonski but all governments must commit to paying their share of the extra money. A deal needs to be done by April this year so new funding arrangements can start in 2014. You can make a difference. The support of tens of thousands of teachers and parents across Australia helped convince the Federal Government to act on Gonski. We need to keep the pressure up until all our political leaders (Labor and Liberal) are onboard.

Register your support for better funding today at _____________________________________________________________________________________


Hello everyone. It is with great pleasure that I write my first column as the new President of the ACT Branch. I have kicked off my term in the role by attending the annual AEU Federal Conference, in Melbourne. There were many guest speakers, local, national and international, sharing their stories and current educational issues and drawing many comparisons to the state of education here in Australia. Of particular interest was the frightening trend towards privatization of previously public schools, with the growth of ‘free schools’ in the UK and Charter Schools in both the US and New Zealand. This is a trend for us to be very wary of indeed, considering our government’s historic tendencies to follow in the footsteps of overseas educational policies, regardless of possible detrimental outcomes. Of course there was much to celebrate, as we reviewed the year just past, and acknowledged the amazing efforts of every member, every organizer and every office bearer, in raising the profile (and complex needs) of public education across the nation, through the ‘I Give a Gonski’ campaign. Never before has there been such momentum and overt public support for one educational cause, and the result (thus far) is a credit to each and every one of our members. Of course, the battle is not over yet, and I urge you to continue to support the public campaign, especially in the months leading up to the federal election. One key highlight, for me, was being given the opportunity for a personal conversation with our Prime Minister, the honorable Julia Gillard. As a

principal in a National Partnerships school. I was able to share with Ms Gillard, the positive outcomes our school is achieving, due to the targeted funding we have received to help raise literacy and numeracy results. But we still have a long way to go, and the funding must be built into a recurrent funding model that truly takes into account the diversity of our schools and the needs of every student. My message was simple; targeted funding and appropriate resourcing really works, and is essential for every school, if we are going to counteract (and ultimately alleviate) disadvantage in our nation. Too many public schools have bared the brunt of inequity for too long, and our children deserve so much more. We owe it to them to get this right. I urged the Prime Minister to do what is fair and what is just....not what is easy: Fund the Gonski reforms, in their entirety.

2013 BRANCH COUNCIL MEETING DATES: Branch Council meets on the following Saturdays in 2012 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. • 23 March • 25 May • 22 June • 17 August • 21 September • 26 October • 23 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. This is your chance to have your say!

Yours in education Lana

Lana Read Branch President

CIL COUN ER ND REMI urday t a S 9am rch 23 Ma eid CIT R

Next Journal Deadline:

27 May 2013. Contributions to the journal can be sent to:

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



What is a Teacher Librarian (TL)? A qualified TL has two qualifications - a teaching degree and a Masters in Teacher Librarianship or a degree in Information Science with a postgraduate teaching qualification. Teacher Librarians are both teachers and information specialists. Late in 2011, ACT teacher librarians who were AEU members joined in with stop work action along with the rest of our AEU colleagues. However, we didn’t quite realise that we were on the cusp of a major advocacy effort ourselves. We’d like to share our experiences in the hope that others may benefit.

So, next we had a meeting of just TLs to identify and select goals. We settled on one: to have at least one full time (or fulltime equivalent) dual-qualified TL at each school site.

Within the context at that time of declining teacher librarian (TL) numbers worldwide, there was hope among TLs about the 2010 senate inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians and concern that the resulting report had not yet been tabled in parliament. One of the speeches at a stop work rally mentioned TLs and was met with a positive roar from the crowd. This seemed to be a spark for the ACT’s TL community (i.e. “our colleagues support us”). Suddenly questions, and perhaps anger, were voiced that issues regarding TL staffing were not part of the AEU’s EBA negotiations. A sub-branch motion was put forward asking for TL issues to be introduced to the EBA process. This was rejected by the Branch Executive because it was too late in EBA process; however an AEU officer contacted a TL representative directly to suggest a meeting of TL AEU members with AEU staff. This meeting was our first major step forward because we realised that we

are the AEU and the AEU is us. In other words, if we, as members, would like the AEU officers to do something, we have to tell them and work with them! It seems obvious to say that now, but at the time, many TLs were feeling “wronged” by the fact that TL issues were not being addressed. Concerns facing individuals and the profession as a whole were shared at that meeting and the need to articulate clear goals became obvious.

What followed that year is briefly outlined below. All of these things happened through effective, collaborative effort amongst ourselves with the support and advice of AEU officers. • T wo TL representatives attended a meeting with an AEU officer with Gai Brodtmann, local federal member for parliament. (The meeting was very positive, and the senate inquiry report was tabled shortly after). • I nformative handouts were prepared outlining what a dual-qualified TL does, why this role is so important in 21st Century schools, and what our core goals are.

Australian School Library Association about the impact TLs have on student learning and our own data about current TL employment rates in the ACT. • A n advocacy committee comprising local TLs was established to spearhead future lobbying activities. • O ngoing AEU TL meetings happened as needed to brainstorm strategies and create goals with AEU officers. • A CT Labor election promises specifically tied ICT funding grants with the employment of a TL at the school. • A n article highlighting TL issues was published in the opinion section of The Canberra Times • A presentation was delivered for all ACT Principals outlining the importance of the work that TLs do. Where to from here? There is still much work to be done toward achieving our goal. What is certain is that we would not have made this progress as individuals or even as a group without the support and guidance from the AEU. We now have a sense of positive momentum that we will be looking to continue in 2013.

• M otions from school sub-branches were put forward, discussed and passed at Branch Council to make our goal part of AEU policy. • F ive TL representatives met with then new ACT Education Minister, Dr. Chris Bourke. We brought our handouts and also came armed with data from the

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


CHILDHOOD SCHOOL TITLE HERE Giam, consecte doloborpero deliquat. Landipit ad tismod delestin velisi endre core tiscinis atet eros nullupt atinit prat. Ut lore ming et vendrem nisi.

Franklin Early Childhood School opened its doors and welcomed children and their families to their new school on February 4, 2013. However Principal Julie Cooper began working on the vision and planning for this Early Childhood School in May 2012 from an office located at Harrison School. During Term 3 she engaged the local Franklin community in consultation, holding a number of community “Cuppa and Chat” meetings and met with the architect, Shoba Cole, the designers and the building company, Joss Constructions to establish a deeper understanding of the new building’s design and purpose. Getting to know the community throughout the early development stages of Franklin Early Childhood School was an invaluable process that enabled staff to make solid connections with the 85 families and each of the children who are now enrolled at the school and provided all stakeholders with a jointly created vision and school values. The Principal and Deputy, Robyn Strangward met with each and every family and during these 30 minute meetings were able to gain invaluable knowledge about the children’s interests and the aspirations and expectations of their families. The school values, “Respect, Excellence and Resilience” are three dimensional, for students, staff and parents with the children’s motto at Franklin Early Childhood School being, “Learn, Play, Grow” and for all to be “Engaged in Learning, Achieving Success, and having Pride in our School. The staff and Principal at Franklin expressed their high level of excitement to be working together to start a new school from scratch as this is something that is a rare experience for anyone who has a career in education. Having the opportunity to stop, think about and plan how the school would operate, focusing on the type of culture and community to be developed from the very beginning was a special experience for a new Leadership team and for school staff members. The challenges of working in a newly built (and still being built) school include the physical logistics of managing a school amongst a worksite. However the staff at Franklin Early Childhood School are definitely managing things well and having fun throughout this exciting journey and opportunity. The school looks and feels great! With an obvious focus on Early Childhood best practices and a quality learning environment the children and their families no doubt appreciate all of the work that has been put into getting this school up and running. The team at Franklin Early Childhood School is focussed on building a connected community of learners and the next 12 months, and beyond will be busy. Amidst all of the happenings the team at Franklin are clear about one important thing; Franklin Early Childhood School is , for the staff, students and parents: “Our place of Learning”.

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



This year, the enterprise agreement covering the Schools Assistants and Youth Workers expires on 30 June. In preparation for this effort, the AEU has surveyed our members and the results are clear and unambiguous. This is an area overdue for attention and address. Clearly, School Assistants feel that their workload has been changing and increasing over recent times and that they are feeling increasingly powerless to control their work life. It goes without saying that a corollary is that they feel under paid for the work they do. Over time, the role of School Assistants has evolved from being simply a support position, to a position filled by people who have skills and capabilities upon which the school community not only depend but cannot do without. The needs of teachers and students are complex, schools are communities of diversity, and the role of School Assistants and Youth Workers has been transformed in the process. The most obvious effect has been that Teachers and School Assistants work in teams, the productivity of which is assumed but not acknowledged in a remunerated sense. While there is much supportive anecdotal recognition of their worth and contribution by Teachers, there is little in the enterprise agreement that does so. So 2013 looks like being the year when our work steps up into a campaign for proper recognition of School Assistants and Youth Workers. Just to add to the mix, the ACT Government negotiators have recently put a proposal to the Unions to consider restructuring the Enterprise Agreements along occupational lines. In the education sector, the proposal would involve teachers and non-teachers being in the one agreement. This proposal is under consideration by the AEU. The CIT EBA also expires on 30 June and the membership surveyed. The major issues are workload and remuneration, both exacerbated by what seems to be an under

employment of teaching staff at CIT. Clearly, teaching staff feel they are increasingly time poor in the face of conflicting demands of preparation and administration time on the one hand and teaching on the other. This conflict is compounded by what appears to be a practice by CIT management of benign neglect. We have been informed that CIT management are considering a workload survey of staff but to date we have not seen anything issued. There are also a number of matters outstanding from the current agreement which the AEU has submitted to CIT for verification so we can determine our recommendation to members. CIT has been through a tough year following the Worksafe ACT Report and PIN re bullying and hopefully some of the resultant learnings will flow through into a more consultative and willing engagement by CIT management with staff. The Teachers EBA doesn’t come up for re negotiation until mid next year but in the interim the AEU has been active on the EBA Implementation Committee ensuring that matters agreed between the parties for further discussion and implementation during the life of the EBA are actually dealt with. This work is no small exercise but so far the AEU and ETD have worked cooperatively to constructively engage with and resolve the issues in contention. As a result, we are nearing an end to this project.

Engine drivers & Firemen’s Union prior to moving to the Sydney National Office to working as advocate and negotiator in the mining industry. With the successful completion of the merger of unions into the CFMEU in the mid-nineties, he joined the National Office of the Finance Sector Union in Sydney as an advocate and negotiator representing that Union in the banking and insurance sectors. Following his move to Canberra in the early 2000’s, Garrett worked for a period at the ANU after which he commenced his tour in the Assembly.

Calling nominations for the following awards AEU ACT Branch Public Education Award AEU ACT Branch Friend of Public Education Award AEU ACT Branch Reconciliation Award These awards acknowledge and foster the work of our AEU members and other individuals in promoting Public Education and Reconciliation within schools/ TAFE, the wider community and in their personal lives. The nomination process is simple!

Introducing our new AEU ACT Branch Industrial Officer: Garrett Purtill

Recognise the positive contributions of your colleagues today.

Garrett has recently joined us to take over where Peter Malone has left off. Garrett has spent the last nine and a half years working in the ACT Assembly as industrial relations policy adviser to the Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, from 2003 to 2011, and to Minister Chris Bourke, from 2011 to Nov 2012.

Visit the AEU Website for further information and nomination forms.

Garrett began his union career in Queensland as an industrial officer for the Federated

Nominations close Friday 10 May, 4.30pm and should be sent to Sascha Colley at the AEU Office: or fax 6273 1828 or Ground Floor, 40 Brisbane Avenue, Barton.

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



National School Assistants’ Day organised by the AEU and Principals’ Association ran successfully across the ACT on November 9, 2012. Schools approached the day in different ways but there were lavish morning teas served to assistants at many sites and people actually got time to enjoy a break with colleagues. The AEU has represented School Assistants since 2007. We are very proud to do so, recognising the crucial role they play in the operation of our schools and the education of tens of thousands of children and young people across the Territory. At the beginning of 2013 AEU Officers had a great day at the School Assistants Induction Day, meeting a lot of new assistants and others. Our membership numbers increased significantly and as we continue to grow our voice at the negotiating table becomes stronger. Bear in mind the fact that recruitment has to happen outside this office and we are all responsible for ensuring that our colleagues are made aware of the benefits of belonging to the AEU. Invite them to become members and

either download the application form from the AEU website to fax it in [62731828] or go to the back of this journal to find the form and fax/mail it in. We represent the interests of workers in education and have a clear understanding of the issues confronting assistants, liaison officers, youth workers, across the full range of ETD employees. Let’s build our voice together! In term 4 last year we conducted a survey of all assistants regardless of their membership status to provide us with some direction in formulating our claim. Remember that your current agreement expires on June 30 this year and we are looking to lodge the claim by late April. We will be calling meetings of all assistants in the various clusters to discuss the claim before it is lodged and to ensure that we have identified all those issues that are important to you. Your attendance at those meetings is vital to ensure that you are heard and can hear the proposals and consider the value of each of them. We met with the Youth Workers last term also to listen to them identify issues of their greatest concerns. Those include workload matters and the sometimes unrealistic expectations of their contribution and role at their schools by the school community.

It is our intention to address these issues through the bargaining period and in the course of the current year. The Organisers have received calls from preschool teachers and assistants inquiring about the planning time assistants are required to be allocated “ assist the teacher with preparation and programming that relate to educational outcomes for students.” [Clause N1.4, p98] If you are not receiving that time you and the teacher should negotiate with your principal to ensure that the agreed conditions are upheld. Many of you are working a physical job and need to take care of yourselves when lifting and managing students. Make sure that you are provided with manual handling training and if you are injured in any way, don’t just ignore the injury no matter how insignificant it may seem. Injuries and incidents seem to have an accumulative impact and what is insignificant today may be highly significant tomorrow. Complete an Accident and Incident report and send it in. It is a legal requirement and will assist you if you have to lodge a Comcare claim. Take care and we’ll see you around the Sub-Branches.

Bill Book / Kate Reynolds School’s Organisers

Black Mountain School Assistants and AEU members Maree Hume, Silvia Kaul, Claudia Turner, Judy Margo, Julie Peat and Robyn Fidge discuss with AEU ACT Branch Industrial Officer Garret Purtill ideas they would like included in their new Enterprise Agreement Log of Claims.

PAGE 10 • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • Public Education Voice

Lyndal Preuss (assistant) Amy O’Connor (assistant) Arlene Buckley (assistant) at the Campbell High School morning tea.

Tom Griffith and Nick Maniatis (teachers at Campbell High School) find out what it is really like to be behind the front office desk on School Assistants Day 2012.

Campbell Primary School school support staff members Kerrie Jonas, Libby Gerner, Andrea King, Vicki McDonald, Lina Macor and Donna Hewitt enjoyed an afternoon tea provided by their Colleagues at Campbell Primary School to show their appreciation for all of their hard work throughout the year.

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 11

STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE ACT Branch Committee 2011 $ INCOME of Management Statement 1,728,345 subscriptions Giam, consecte doloborpero deliquat. Landipit ad tismod delestinMembers velisi endre core tiscinis atet eros 48,894 nullupt atinit prat. Ut lore ming et vendrem nisi.

2012 $ 1,879,058

Interest on investments



Other income



Rent received






Affiliation fees & ITF Subscriptions



Amortisation - leasehold buildings


[a] t he financial statements and notes comply with the Australian Accounting Standards;


Arbitration & campaign expenses



Audit & accounting costs


[b] t he financial statements and notes comply with the reporting guidelines of the General Manager – Fair Work Commission;


Bank fees & merchant fees






Computer services & database costs






Donations - general






Meeting & conference expenses


On 12/2/2013 the Committee of Management of Australian Education Union – ACT Branch passed the following resolution in relation to the General Purpose Financial Report [GPFR] of the reporting unit for the financial year ended 31 December 2012. The Committee of Management declares in relation to the GPFR that in its opinion:

[c] t he financial statements and notes give a true and fair view of the financial performance, financial position and cash flows of the reporting unit for the financial year to which they relate; [d] t here are reasonable grounds to believe that the reporting unit will be able to pay its debts as and when they become due and payable;


Membership services, training & website costs


[e] d uring the financial year to which GPFR related and since the end of that year:


Members journey insurance



Federal capitation fees


[i] meetings of the Committee of Management were held in accordance with the Rules of the organisation including the Rules of the Branch concerned; and


Other Federal Office levies & contributions



Newsletter expenses





[ii] t he financial affairs of the reporting unit have been managed in accordance with the Rules of the organisation, including the Rules of the Branch concerned; and


Office equipment & leases



Legal - annual retainer



Legislation reports & awards


[iii] t he financial records of the reporting unit have been kept and maintained in accordance with the Fair Work [Registered Organisations] Act 2009 and the RO Regulations; and


Photocopying charges



Postage, staff recruitment & general expenses



Printing & stationery [including year planner]



Professional development & training



Provision for annual leave



Provision for long service leave



Rates, taxes and body corporate fees



Repairs, maintenance & replacements



Salaries - officers



Salaries - other employees



Superannuation - general staff



- officers



Telephone & internet costs






Vehicle/car allowances expenses



Women's Budget






Operating surplus for year


[iv] r eports done on a single reporting unit basis; and that the financial records of the reporting unit have been kept, as far as practicable, in a consistent manner to each of the other reporting units of the organisation; and [v] t here have been no requests by any member or the Registrar that required a report under Section 272 of the Fair Work [Registered Organisations] Act 2009; and [vi] n o orders have been made by the Commission under Section 273 of the RO schedule during the period; and [vii] t here were no recovery of wages activities during the financial year.

For Committee of Management Glenn Fowler, Branch Secretary

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


2012 $

Statement of Financial Position December

910,099nullupt atinitCash on Deposit prat. Ut lore ming et vendrem nisi.



Sundry Debtors and Prepayments




Members’ Welfare Loans





2011 $

asatet ateros 31 261,805Giam, consecte Cashdoloborpero at Bank 164,393 deliquat. Landipit ad tismod delestin velisi endre core tiscinis


Leasehold Property, Plant & Equipment






Sundry Creditors



Provision for Staff Entitlements - general staff



- officers



Subscriptions Paid in Advance






Provision for Staff Entitlements











Represented by: Members’ Funds 1,277,279

Balance as at 1 January 2012



Revaluation of Leasehold Land & Building Reserve



Add - Surplus/[Deficit] for Year





Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended 31 December 2011 2011 $


2012 $


Receipts from Members



Interest received



Receipts - other persons



Payments to suppliers & employees



Funds from/to other reporting Entities

(119, 924)




Cash Flow from Investing & Financing Activities (6,583)

Payments for Assets



Proceeds from Sale of Assets






Net Increase/(Decrease) in Cash Held



Cash at beginning of year






I have audited the General Purpose Financial Report which comprises the Statement of Financial Performance, Statement of Financial Position, Statement of the Change in Equity, Cash Flow Statement, the Committee of Management Statement and accompanying Notes of the Australian Education Union – ACT Branch in respect of the year ended 31 December, 2012 and have received all the information and explanations I required for the purposes of my audit. Scope: The Executive Committee is responsible for the preparation and presentation of the financial reports and the information contained therein. I have conducted an independent audit of the financial reports in order to express an opinion on them to the members. My audit has been conducted in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards to provide reasonable assurance as to whether the accounts are free of material misstatement. My procedures included examination, on a test basis, of evidence supporting the amounts and other disclosures in the accounts, and the evaluation of accounting policies and significant accounting estimates. These procedures have been undertaken to form an opinion as to whether, in all material respects, the accounts are presented fairly in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards and Statutory Requirements so as to present a view of the Australian Education Union - ACT Branch which is consistent with my understanding of its financial position and the results of its operations. The audit opinion expressed in this report has been formed on the above basis. In my opinion: [i] there were kept by the Organisation in respect of the year satisfactory accounting records detailing the sources and nature of the income of the Organisation [including income from members] and the nature and purpose of expenditure; [ii] the general purpose financial report is presented fairly in accordance with applicable Australian Accounting Standards and the requirements imposed by the Fair Work [Registered Organisations] Act 2009; and [iii] that the Branch has not being involved with recovery of wages activities during the year. Kim D Hanna FCA- Registered Company Auditor, McKay Gardens, Turner

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the Australian Education Union • PAGE 13


CIT’s obligations to report to WorkSafe ACT in relation to the Improvement Notices served in April 2012 expired late in 2012. Similarly, the obligation for CIT to report to the Minister in relation to the Improvement Notice ceased as of the 30th January 2013. These actions attest to CIT’s compliance with the administrative requirements outlined in the Improvement Notices and instructions of the previous Minister for Education, Chris Bourke. The ACT Government State of the Service Report 2012 identified that some 57 complaints, predominantly from CIT teachers, remain under investigation. Many members still await the finalisation of these investigations. The Commissioner for Public Administration has confirmed that the generic (non-specific) findings of the investigations will be included in a report which will be accessible by the public. Some of the generic findings have already been incorporated in the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct (September 2012). The AEU distributed this Code of Conduct to members at CIT when it became apparent that they had not received a copy nor had been informed of the relevance of the Code by their employer. Sadly, the AEU can confirm that a number of allegations of bullying and harassment at CIT have emerged already in 2013 and have been forwarded in a formal manner to CIT and the Commissioner for WorkSafe ACT and the Chief Minister’s Directorate via Accident and Incident Reports. Despite the intense and prolonged public exposure of an inappropriate management culture at CIT for dealing with bullying allegations, it seems that the change of culture across the Institute will likely require more than the dissemination of Respect, Equity and Diversity training and amended policies. Attitudinal change may take a significant period of time to effect. CIT TEACHER WORKLOAD ASSESSEMENT CIT has recognised that workplace stress factor is primarily due to unsustainable

workloads of teachers. Accordingly, in late December 2012, CIT has undertaken to implement an assessment of teacher workload and scope across the Institute. The AEU has requested, in the interests of transparency, that this workload assessment be a joint process with the AEU, be performed by an independent assessor with the agreement of the parties on the assessment tools and measurements to be employed in the process, that the assessment include scope of work, teacher level roles and responsibilities, measurement of variation in work across the Institute and the development of an agreed definition of teaching work. The AEU also sought to implement any agreed recommendations from this assessment to amendment to teacher workloads which would be incorporated into the new Teachers Enterprise Agreement (EA) which is soon to be negotiated. To date the AEU has received no communication from CIT to discuss joint engagement in this workload assessment process. The AEU is concerned that delays in the implementation of a transparent workload assessment for teachers will diminish the opportunity for incorporation of necessary changes and clauses to support sustainable workloads for teachers through the new EA. The AEU seeks to grasp every opportunity to work with CIT to address workplace stress and excessive teacher workloads which have been identified as contributing to the alleged errant workplace culture currently under investigation. ACT EFFICIENCY DIVIDENDS AND UNDERFUNDING A key driver for the evolution of unsustainable teacher workloads has been the failure of successive ACT and Federal Governments to appropriately fund CIT training delivery. These agencies have placed unfettered

increased demand for workplace efficiencies on CIT teachers since 1997. These efficiency dividends remain in place in the current financial year. Apparently, governments still refuse to acknowledge the link between gross underfunding, unsustainable workloads and deterioration of workplace culture. What will it take to convince them of this link? Apparently 57 complaints of bullying and harassment are insufficient to stimulate self-reflection by the Governments on the appropriateness of the current policies attacking public education funding. So too is the increased premium for Comcare from $30 million some years ago to $70 million pa in 2012-13 in response to the spike in Comcare claims across the ACT Public Sector. A WIN / WIN SOLUTION The AEU contests that the $40 million per annum increased Comcare premium would be more prudently spent by investing it into the CIT each year. It is well documented that each dollar invested in VET education conservatively yields $6 in the local economy. Investment of the increased Comcare premium of $40 million into CIT funding would therefore reinstate CIT funding in real terms to 2000 values, enhance public education for the VET sector in the ACT, create a safe and healthy work environment at CIT, eventually restore the ACT Comcare premium to reasonable levels and yield some $240 million per annum to the local economy in the long term. Everyone’s a winner! NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FUNDING The federal allocation of $26 million through National Partnerships to the ACT VET sector, over 4 years, has stalled. Enquiries by the AEU suggest that the delay in release of these funds is due to the failure of the Education and Training Directorate to develop appropriate policies and mechanisms to release these funds. The AEU requests that

Continued next page

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



the ACT government intervene in this process and implement the immediate release of these funds to CIT as the principal public provider of VET in the ACT CIT TEACHERS ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT The CIT Teachers Enterprise Agreement 2011- 2013 (EA) expires on the 30th June 2013. The AEU log of claims for the new EA is currently being finalised. The prime longstanding concern of CIT members is the need for assessment and review of teacher workloads which need to be amended to deliver sustainable, equitable and achievable workloads to classroom teachers and their managers. The AEU negotiation team will include Garrett Purtill, AEU Industrial officer, Mike Fitzgerald, AEU Organiser, and AEU TAFE Vice President with additional senior officers from time to time. It is crucial that the negotiators have accurate and timely feedback on the matters under negotiation during the 2013 negotiations. TAFE Council is the chief agency for provision of this information and advice to negotiators. Hence, it is crucial that teachers from each Centre/ Sub Branch have representatives at TAFE Council in 2013 and that they function as conduits of information to and from the members in their Sub Branch. Nominations for Sub Branch and TAFE Council representatives have been called for and you are invited to contact Mike Fitzgerald, AEU Organiser, on 62727900, to discuss such roles and responsibilities. UNITED WE NEGOTIATE, DIVIDED WE BEG! Please discuss AEU membership with your colleagues and casual colleagues across CIT.

Of course we all want a respectful safe workplace free from bullying and harassment. There has been much focus on this of late, in the media and in the government. What does it mean? It means we should all be able to come to work with confidence, pride, and a sense that we are respected, important, valued members of our organisation. It means we can expect to be treated decently, not harassed or shouted at, or humiliated or embarrassed. Governments and courts and commissions are all agreed: this is a right that we all have in Australian workplaces.

CIT has set up two groups:

You may be wondering what the report into bullying at CIT is about. Some members have felt their workplace was not as described above and have brought claims and complaints to CIT which they feel were not appropriately dealt with. The AEU brought this matter to the attention of WorkSafe ACT and a report resulted. This can be accessed from the website:

So that’s an attempt to provide some background and summarise. It’s wonderful to see how effective the AEU can be, and a great opportunity for us all to realise the goal of a respectful safe workplace. view/1312/title/investigation-into-bullyingat-the-cit The report was served on CIT on 11 April 2012 along with an Improvement Notice with 10 ministerial directives to CIT to address policies and practices in relation to complaints of the kind mentioned. The report was tabled by the Education Minister, Chris Bourke. At the moment the matters have been referred to the Commissioner for Public Administration to complete investigations.

1. C IT Improvement Action Group (IAG) of Adrian Marron, Nicole Stenlake, Shane Kay, Michele DeLaine and Carolyn Grayson, with Meg Brighton. The IAG’s role is to oversee the development of a plan for CIT to comply with the directives. 2. W orksafe Improvement Consultation Group, (the WICG) a consultative group with AEU participation. The AEU’s Peter Malone and Mike Fitzgerald are on this one. The WICG’s role is to ensure consultation with members is maintained.

We all also need to know how to deal with bullying. For the future the CIT and AEU have agreed that: “complaints may be forwarded to the Deputy CE Governance (currently Carolyn Grayson). In circumstances where the complainant may perceive a conflict of interest or express limited faith in this process then the matter could be referred directly to the CPA.” (Commissioner of Public Administration). Please contact the AEU if you need more information, and read Mike’s article in this journal.

Meg Brighton (Director, Continuous Improvement and Workers Compensation in ACT Chief Minister’s Department) has been appointed to oversee the implementation by CIT of the WorkSafe ACT Improvement Notices Directives, and

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 15


FAREWELL AND THANKYOU Penny Gilmour submitted her resignation as Branch Secretary on the 31st of September 2012 having decided it is time to move on and explore new life experiences.

be here for the good wishes I have received. Special thanks to Angelo Gavrielatos & Susan Hopgood for making the journey from the AEU Federal Office to share this occasion.

On behalf of the members of the AEU ACT Branch, students in our public schools and all who have had a chance to work with Penny we want to thank Penny for her never ending high level of support for all of us and the high quality of work she has done on our behalf.

It has been a privilege to work in the role of Branch Secretary since June 2008, and to work with the AEU-ACT Branch in the various positions I have occupied since I came to Canberra in October 2001. Over the last 11 years I have learned a great deal and enjoyed the challenges of the positions that I have held. Working with the Branch Executive, Council and the members has been very satisfying, and it’s great to see members with whom I’ve worked here this afternoon.

In recognition of her efforts and dedication Penny has been nominated for Life Membership of the AEU, this has been supported by representatives from other states and territories who also recognise Penny’s outstanding qualities. Penny is currently living and working in Hanoi where she has taken a year-long volunteer position with Union Aid Abroad APEHDA (the ACTU’s overseas aid arm) assisting with projects to strengthen the development of trade unions in Vietnam. Four weeks into the job, Penny reports that she is enjoying the challenge of the new work, enjoying the people and the lifestyle, coping with the traffic and pleased that she has started to take xe om (motorbike taxis) to get around! Penny thankyou and all the best for the future, we know that whatever you decide to do will always be done to a very high standard. A copy of Penny’s comments at her farewell on the 15th of November is provided below. FAREWELL FUNCTION – 15 NOVEMBER 2012: Penny’s speech Thank you to all of you for being here today, and thanks to those who couldn’t

Apart from AEU members, I was fortunate to have worked with many talented and committed people outside the AEU. I see some of those people here, and I thank you for coming along. I have benefitted from many opportunities over the years I’ve worked with the Branch, and appreciated the professional relationships I have enjoyed both within the AEU and with external individuals, groups and organisations. I thank the Branch for all of the opportunities and support that have been given to me, and for the respect, trust and confidence that I have experienced in my work as an AEU-ACT Branch official.

Over my years with the AEU I have also made many friendships that I will look back upon with pleasure. Thanks to Sue Billington and Janet Anderson with whom I worked especially closely in the office and who went above and beyond on many occasions. I have enjoyed working with Executive and Council over the years, and I acknowledge the support and friendship of Jan Day, Annamaria Zuffo, Phil Rasmus & Roger Amey with whom I have worked especially closely in their leadership roles. I don’t intend to single out other individuals or we’ll be here forever, but I sincerely thank all of you – both AEU and friends of the AEU - for your friendship and support over many years. My work with the AEU-ACT Branch has been a valuable experience, and I’m sure it will stand me in good stead as I move on to pursue other opportunities. Finally, I know only too well that events such as this function do not organise themselves, so I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in organising this afternoon’s activity. Thank you again for coming, and best wishes for the future.

On these occasions it’s important to say thank you. I particularly want to thank Clive Haggar for encouraging me to make a change from the NSW Teachers Federation and move to the ACT Branch all those years ago, and for his unstinting support, wise counsel, encouragement and friendship ever since!

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


Training must be provided as soon as possible after the election but within 3 months from the time the request for training is made. Training is provided by WorkWatch, 6249 1099] the H&S trainers at UnionsACT and paid for by the school [$750.00 for a 5 days course] Relief costs are covered by ETD. The same rules apply to the Deputy HSR

One month into the new year and there are questions being asked already about the role of the Health and Safety Representative[HSR] in schools. There shouldn’t be any confusion remaining at this point but as it happens there do appear to be instances at some sites where clarification is needed. The first thing to remember is that the role of the HSR originates in the ACT Work Health & Safety Act 2011. In Part 5 of that legislation, the role, and powers of the HSR are clearly mapped out. In summary, the HSR is a very important person with very important powers at every school site. While we are all motivated to be ‘health & safety conscious’ we also need someone to keep an extra eye out for us, both to ensure we work in a safe environment and to make sure we make our due contribution to that safety.

It is NOT the HSR’s role to draft the H&S or related policies for the Work Group. That is a role for the H&S Committee. The HSR may be on the committee and may even chair that committee but should not be burdened with the total responsibility of policy development.

The role is filled by an election coordinated by the AEU office every 3 years and managed by the Electoral Commission. This year, 2013, is not an election year for HSR positions. If an HSR transfers to a new site they do not carry their HSR status with them and will have to nominate to fill the next vacancy at their new site if they wish to continue. If your Work Group HSR was transferred at the end of last year and you need to fill the vacancy, you do that as a SubBranch/Work Group on the form provided in the Union mail drop delivered to schools on February 15 and also available on the AEU website.

The HSR must be provided with adequate time to fulfil the role. The functions are determined under the Act and the time required should be negotiated by the HSR, Deputy HSR, and the Principal. If there are safety issues raised with the HSR by members of the Work Group requiring inspection/investigation, the HSR/Deputy HSR must be provided with sufficient time to inspect and report to the principal and the work group. If the HSR is uncertain then they may request the assistance of any person. They should always accompany an external inspector who is called in to inspect the workplace and there are numerous other timetaking functions required of the HSR. Therefore, the position is NOT one that is manageable without a time allocation for the HSR and it is NOT acceptable to ask the HSR to fulfil their functions in their own time.

Where an untrained individual is elected by the Work Group to fill the role, the elected person should request training immediately through their principal.

Last point: it is NOT appropriate that a Principal or Deputy assume the role of HSR in the absence of any other member of staff nominating for the position. While

they are classified as workers under the Act, with management or control of the workplace, the former are also the delegates of the Directorate and would often be placed in situations of conflicting of interests. Members should recognise the importance of the role and the issue of time allocation should be taken to the Workload Committee to ensure that the position is not only filled but supported by the whole Work Group. One function for which HSRs receive some training is completing Risk Assessments. It is a requirement for the majority of teachers now to complete risk assessments for classes they teach, excursions they arrange and events they attend with their students. The lack of training for teachers in this area is a concern that has recently been raised by members and will be raised at the next WH&S Policy Committee meeting in March. There have been some very heavy rain storms through the ACT in January and February. You should report any leaks or water issues that have occurred immediately as a result of the rains and keep a close watch on any developments of mildew and mould. If you have suspicions that an area may be mouldy notify the HSR, Schools Capital Works, Injury Prevention and the AEU immediately. Mould is not a minor irritation in your workplace and should be treated immediately when discovered. We are available to assist HSRs and their Work Group through crises.

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



In November 2012, Schools Organiser Sascha Colley accompanied two funded AEU New Educator delegates, Ciaran Griffin (Latham Primary School) and Angela Cleland (Canberra High School), to the Federal New Educator’s Conference in Melbourne. This conference was a great opportunity for our two ACT delegates to engage in informative discussions on key national issues. Delegates attended a number of workshops on topics ranging from the national curriculum; national professional standards and teacher education; the Gonski campaign; behaviour management and career planning. Ciaran and Angela report below.

Gonski report and how this should be fully implemented. I was impressed by the knowledge and conviction with which people spoke, with the stand out being a passionate speech by AEU Federal president Angelo Gavrielatos.

Ciaran Griffin writes.

Our long and informative day then led on to a casual evening of lawn bowls and a splendid BBQ put on by the Victorian branch. This was a great way to unwind and to network with established union organisers and those new educators who will make up the future face of the union.

On the weekend of the 17th -18th November I had the pleasure of travelling to Melbourne to take part in the Federal New Educators Conference. I travelled with another new educator, Angela Cleland, and we were accompanied by our AEU ACT Branch Schools Organiser Sascha Colley. We arrived on Friday night and were welcomed with a dinner, hosted by The Teachers Health Fund. This gave us a welcome opportunity to meet many of the organisers of the weekend and also a first chance to meet the other new educators that had made the trip. On Saturday we got down to the main business of the weekend; a selection of speeches and workshops at the Victorian Branch headquarters. The speeches took up the morning session and covered topics like the state of unionism in Australia today and the challenges it faces and also the central topic of the

For the afternoon session everyone broke into smaller working groups and took part in meetings focused on career planning, behaviour management and the Gonski campaign. These workshops were participatory in nature and gave us a chance to learn and share our classroom experiences with our peers. Glen Pearsall gave an especially enlightening and entertaining presentation on classroom management.

On Sunday morning it was back to the Vic branch headquarters where we again were treated to some interesting speeches on Union campaigning. After these we were split into smaller groups to discuss the everyday problems that educators were facing within their classrooms. This open forum allowed the more experienced union members to advise and consult with new members on ways to overcome these issues. Then it was time to head back to Canberra to get ready for another day in the classroom. Thanks to AEU ACT for giving me the opportunity to attend such an enjoyable and informative conference and a big thanks to the VIC branch for being such great hosts.

Angela Cleland writes After attending the AEU New Educator Conference in Melbourne last year I found it difficult to find time to write about my experience on the events that took place as I was in the middle of term 4. However, after having time to reflect on what I learnt from this conference I was able to identify why it truly had an impact in my career. The ability to socialise with new educators across Australia, including New Zealand and the United States allowed for some great memories and being able to broaden your understanding of education beyond your school, territory or even country. We were able to discuss issues of concern for the AEU and New Educators in particular, many of which were consistent for all. There were also opportunities to choose topics of your own interest. The most practical workshop, that has also impacted my teaching, was the Behaviour Management course which discussed strategies that I was able to use in class my first day back. There was also an opportunity to discuss lesson ideas with teachers in the same KLA. New South Wales Teachers Federation New Educators Conference – Bundanoon. Congratulations to the following new educators who have been selected to attend the annual NSW Teachers Federation New Educators Conference which will be held on the weekend of March 2-3: Roisin Lafferty, Elizabeth Pittard, Emma Smallmon, Angela Cleland, Sarah Southwick, Megan Reed, Natalie Darby, Patrick Judge, Ciaran Griffin, Karl-Erik Paasonen, Nicole Flegg and Emma Bounds.

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

WANTED STUDENT ARTWORKS FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY Promote the excellence of Public Education! Gather your students’ 2D and 3D artworks, ceramics, textiles, woodwork, metalwork from your students for display in public libraries and hospitals.

This year’s them: Public Education: Advancing Democratic Values. AEU Organisers have arranged for display spaces from 3-31 May inclusive at many locations across Canberra! Students’ artwork will be displayed on pin-boards, windows and in lockable cabinets. Please contact Bill or Sascha on 62727900 by Thursday 11 April, to indicate which display space you’d prefer.

Be quick, as bookings are filling fast.

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



Being someone who has spent many years teaching ultra bright students, I have certainly experienced the total, woeful distress of tearful adolescents upset about their coursework marks. On many of these occasions the mark in question is neither that important, nor is it really that bad. My ‘putting things into perspective’ talk then follows when I try to assure my tearful students that their unwanted marks will not unduly impact on the final outcome of their studies. It is at times like these when it is worth remembering that the real cause of my students’ distress lies not in the presence of a bad mark, but in their interpretation of what that mark means to them and to their future. And so it is with all of life. Life events do not make us happy or unhappy in themselves. Rather it is the perception and interpretation of life that creates our emotional reaction and guides our behaviour. When we see a student seemingly overreacting to a situation, we can be confident that they are reacting in line with their perception of the situation. And so it is for us adults. Some of you may see a disruptive class as a sign that you are a terrible teacher, and this understandably creates self doubt and distress. However, others of you may see the same situation as a sign that everyone is tired on Friday afternoons. This second, equally viable interpretation, enables you to maintain confidence in yourselves and your abilities. There is no single right or wrong way to see life, rather there are many valid perceptions and interpretations for any given situation. Some interpretations are healthy in that they result in a healthy emotional reaction and productive behaviour. Other interpretations are unhealthy in that they create disabling emotional reactions and unhelpful behaviour. This is not to say that we can or should always view events as ‘rose tinted’ or ‘silver

lined’. It is to state that sometimes ‘terrible’ events may more helpfully be interpreted as merely disappointing. When life is busy and overloaded it becomes easy to fall into the habit of perceiving life in unhelpful ways. Like my upset student, we are more likely to catastrophise. We are also more likely to attribute negative events to ourselves (we are more likely to blame ourselves for that class disruption) rather than accepting that the environment may also play a part (Students are tired on Friday afternoons). We are also more likely to focus on any single negative aspects of a situation (the parent who complained about your new approach to maths), as opposed to the many positive aspects (how much your students embraced your ideas in the classroom). We could easily liken these comments to the proverbial wine glass being half full as opposed to half empty. Yet, this is far more that a distinction between optimism and pessimism. It is about the interpretation of our vision in useful and helpful terms. At times the glass is half full and that is great. At other times is may appear half empty, but this does not mean we have to believe we will go thirsty or that life is against us. An unwanted situation does not have to signify absolute failure. Some of us are happily born with optimistic characters. Those of us who are more cautious can still effectively interpret life in healthy and helpful ways. The key to developing healthy perceptions is twofold. First, we need to embrace the idea that there is always more than one interpretation for any given situation. Reality is flexible, varied and only as true as we allow it to be. Second, we need to learn how to disengage with unhelpful perceptions before they take hold of our emotions and behaviour. This first challenge is simply a matter of knowing; the second is far more a matter of

practice. For example, we may understand that there is more than one way to perceive our failure to gain promotion, however, it can still very hard to stop thinking about this in wholly negative terms. In fact, as soon as we ‘try not to think’ about something, we actually increase our engagement with the very thought we are trying to rid ourselves of. A bit like trying NOT to think about pink elephants. If you try this, even for just a few seconds, it becomes almost impossible not to think about a flash of pink trunk or a large letter ‘E’… We can not ‘force away’ our unhelpful thoughts with sheer will power or dogged determination. Disengaging with unhelpful thoughts requires an attention shift to a healthier alternative. Rather than trying not to think about pink elephants, we need to think about blue hippos. Instead of trying not to think about what is wrong, we need to think about what is right. If we concentrate and develop the thoughts we want to embrace, the ones that are no good for us will dissipate on their own. To ensure that negative perceptions do not control you, your emotions and your behaviour, watch out for them when life is calm. This gives you the opportunity to divert your attention to more positive possibilities before you feel upset. Try placing stickers around your environment and then use them as a cue to check your thoughts. For example, if you notice a smiley face on the steering wheel as you drive home from work, check what you are thinking. If you are ruminating about how much your stressed out colleague appears to hate your every move,consider that they may be angry for reasons that are nothing to do with you. We cannot snap our fingers and change our mood, suddenly appear unflappable or care free. Yet, we really can learn to create a healthy perception of the world around us. Healthy perceptions help us to feel positive and to function well in every situation. Dr Helen Street is an applied social psychologist with a passion for education. She presents her work in books, articles and in seminars and workshops for schools.

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

More individual attention could change a child’s life. Right now, the future funding of schools is being decided by state and federal governments. The Gonski Review on school funding made it clear that if we don’t invest in public schools urgently, more of our kids could get left behind. The additional investment recommended by Gonski could mean smaller class sizes, more literacy and numeracy teachers and, most importantly, greater individual attention for students. Our kids can’t wait any longer. Help convince the politicians to act on the Gonski recommendations. Register your support at Authorised by Susan Hopgood, Federal Secretary, Australian Education Union, 120 Clarendon Street, Southbank 3006.



Judy Magro is a long serving Learning Support Assistant at Black Mountain School. Judy recently joined the Australian Education Union and was generous enough to take some time to answer some questions posed by AEU Officer Sascha Colley.

Friday 24 May, 2013 AEU - ACT Branch Centenary Public Education Awards Dinner

Tell us about your career path and work experience as a School Assistant. I left school at the end of year 10 in 1969. I completed a public service secretarial course for 6 months and was then placed with the Department of Works. I was then promoted to a Secretarial position with the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and was secretary to the Head of the Bureau until I left at the end of 1980. LSA work was completely different to anything I had done before, I applied as a casual relief in the school system after having my two children. In the first week I was sent to Cranleigh with the words “you are a mum you will be fine”. I started working at Koomarri School (now Black Mountain School) 23 years ago. I saw it as a way of being able to go back to work while still having the school holidays to spend time with my own children. I very quickly grew to love the work hence I am still here! What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of the work you do? Working as an LSA at Black Mountain is rewarding and challenging at the same time. No two days are ever the same, even after all this time. Being around the students, seeing their smiles and helping them to make small or giant steps in their lives is a wonderful experience. Some days you go home exhausted but feel that

7pm at the National Press Club – Guest speaker Hon Michael Kirby somehow you have made a difference to their lives and your own. There is rarely a day goes by that is not filled with laughter and good times. What do you think are the most significant issues for LSAs that could be improved through the negotiation of the your next Enterprise Agreement? The biggest issue for LSAs are pay and workload. We are certainly expected to do more now than when I first joined. There is the issue of the difference between SA 2s, 2/3s and 3s, that is, you get to be a 3 after so many years. I know that 3’s have more experience but at the end of the day we are all doing the same amount of work and that matter needs to be addressed. What does being a member of the AEU mean to you? I joined the AEU because it is an education-focussed union. Having union staff with an education background supporting us gives them a greater understanding of our issues in schools. The AEU has the background knowledge and deep understanding of the ACT education system and how it works. School Assistants and support staff will be much stronger working united with the AEU towards achieving our goals.

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

Celebrate Public Education in Canberra’s centenary year. Gather together a table of members from your AEU Sub-Branch to enjoy a night of entertainment, including guest speaker the Hon Michael Kirby and presentation of the Public Education Awards.

Wednesday 29 May, 2013 AEU – ACT Branch Reconciliation Award 4.30pm at Narrabundah Early Childhood School All ETD staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents and Community Members are invited to attend the presentation of the 2013 AEU Reconciliation Award proudly hosted by Narrabundah Early Childhood School and 2012’s Reconciliation Award winner Meredith Regan.

Nominations for both awards are due COB Friday 10 May (see AEU website for details). More information for these events coming soon!

AEU Membership Application

ACT Branch

PO Box 3042 Manuka ACT 2603 Ph: 02 6272-7900

Application for Membership I hereby apply for membership of the ACT Branch of the Australian Education Union and if admitted agree to abide by the Rules of the Union. AEU Rules can be found at /about-us/ I agree to pay to the AEU fees owing in accordance with the Union’s schedule of subscriptions. I understand that my fees will be adjusted automatically in line with salary movements. I recognise that I must inform the Union of any other salary or status adjustments otherwise I will not be a fully financial member and may not be eligible for the full range of services. I understand that the Union’s Rules require me to give written notice of resignation.

PERSONAL DETAILS (Please complete all sections) Surname



CIT Centre & Campus

Given Names Home address

Current level


Gross Salary

Home phone

[Go to for the salary steps]

Mobile number Work Email

 Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?

 Do you identify as being from a Culturally or Linguistically Diverse Background?

SECTOR  Primary  Preschool  Secondary  TAFE  Associate* (Retired/Student Teachers) * Associate Members need only sign, date, attach payment or complete credit card details. Go straight to signature box.


 Permanent OR Contract   Permanent OR Contract  Load


 CASUAL (Schools) – Average days per week [tick ONE]  0-1  2-3  3+  CASUAL (TAFE) – Average hours per week [tick ONE]  0-6  7-14  15-20

CLASSIFICATION  Teacher  Assistant  Youth Worker  Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education Officer  Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education Worker  Other (please specify)_____________ I hereby authorise the Australian Education Union (ACT Branch) to access my salary and other employment details from the Education and Training Directorate for the purpose of updating AEU Membership records. Signature Date of application

Public Education Voice • Official Journal of the AEU - ACT Branch • PAGE 19 PLEASE MAKE SURE PAYMENT DETAILS ARE COMPLETED OVER PAGE

AEU Membership Application


 Monthly Direct Debit [Bank/Credit Union]

The AEU will not sell or provide any information regarding AEU – ACT Branch members to third parties. The AEU’s Privacy Policy may be viewed at and a copy is available from the AEU Office on request.

11th of each month or next business day I have completed the DDR Authority below to have my subscription deducted from my bank or credit union account. Direct Debit Request Form and Service Agreement Request for debiting amounts to accounts by the Bulk Electronic Clearing System (BECS)

Payment Details Please select ONE of the following: I am paying by… 

Fortnightly Payroll Deduction

(not available to Casual/Relief Teachers)

I authorise the AEU to contact ETD to commence fortnightly deductions at the appropriate rate as soon as possible. Name Signature AGS No

OR 

Monthly Credit Card 11th of each month or next business day

Please debit my credit card automatically Visa 

Bankcard 

I/We [Insert your name in full] [Surname or Company/Business Name] [Given Names or ACN/ARBN] request you, until further notice by me in writing, to debit my/our account described in the schedule below, any amounts which the Australian Education Union – ACT Branch [User ID No. 066127] may debit or charge me/us through the Bulk Electronic Clearing System. I/We understand and acknowledge that: 1. The Financial Institution may in its absolute discretion, determine the order of priority of payment by it of any moneys pursuant to this Request or any authority or mandate. 2. The Financial Institution may in its absolute discretion, at any time by notice in writing to me/us, terminate this Request as to future debits. 3. The User may, by prior arrangement and advice to me/us, vary the amount or frequency of future debits. 4. Any queries to be directed to the Debit User in the first instance. 5. It is the responsibility of the customer to have sufficient funds in the account by the due date to permit the payment by BECS or bank charges may apply. 6. I/We understand the information supplied will not be used for another purpose. 7. Statements will be issued upon request. Customer Signatures [joint signatures may be required]

MasterCard 

Cardholder’s name

Customer Address

Card Number


CSC: Turn over your credit card and look for the number printed on the signature panel. You are required to enter the last three digits.

Expiry Date

Manager [insert name & address of financial institution]


Cardholder’s signature

Amount $

The Schedule (Note: BECS is not available on the full range of accounts. If in doubt, please refer to your Financial Institution) Insert name of account which is to be debited


BSB [Bank/State/Branch No.] Account Number

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