ACT Educator Term 1 2021

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ACT EDUCATOR TERM 1 2021


ACT EDUCATOR | TERM 1 | 2021

ON THE COVER

Our 2020 Anna Stewart Memorial Project recipient, Stephanie O'Neill.

OUR STORIES

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A SMALL PRICE FOR HUGE GAINS STEPHANIE O'NEILL

Our 2020 Anna Stewart Memorial Project recipient reflects on the importance of being an AEU member as a young educator.

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YOUR 2021 EA IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

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I'M A TEACHER TOO

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OUT OF MANY, ONE

They may not work in your school every day, but a little understanding goes a long way for casual teachers, writes one of our relief teacher members.

SEAN VAN DER HEIDE

Your EA Implementation Plans will be negotiated this term. Here are our simple tips for success!

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BE A LEADER IN YOUR SUB-BRANCH

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THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THE TAFE SYSTEM

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Being a sub-branch representative is an incredibly rewarding way to play an active role in your union.

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ALISON PENNINGTON

Despite chronic underfunding and failed marketled VET policies, Australia’s historic investment in the TAFE system continues to generate an enormous and ongoing dividend to the Australian economy.

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AN INFINITE GAME GRAHAM MOLONEY

The outgoing Queensland Teachers' Union Secretary looks to our union's future.

DISCLAIMER: The assertions and opinions expressed in articles reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the AEU. We do, however, think that these issues are worthy of discussion in our union.

CLIVE HAGGAR

What happens when political and other interests seek to undermine the common interests of a united workforce?

A CHAPTER ENDS

One of our longest-standing members leaves the profession this term.

THE GROWING DIVIDE TREVOR COBBOLD

The funding gap between public and private schools will accelerate over the next decade.

THE REGULARS PRESIDENT'S REPORT

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UPCOMING EVENTS

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SECRETARY'S REPORT

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The ACT Educator is your magazine, so if there's a story or a feature you'd like to see included, let us know! Email us at aeuact@aeuact.org.au



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President's Report Listening can be an act of transformative power provided it is done right Ambelin Kwaymullina, Listening, 2020 One of the pleasures of the summer period for me is catching up on a backlog of reading. Ambelin Kwaymullina’s Living on Stolen Land is a slim volumed treasure that I read over and over this holiday season. Described as a ‘prose-style manifesto…a guide to action…a must-read for anyone interested in decolonising Australia’, it has become my handbook for the work I do within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, and it is just as applicable to how we operate at the AEU office. In a section called ‘the long con’, Kwaymullina names her poems ‘bias’, ‘behaviours’ and ‘the artificial context’, before offering us guidance in the final chapter, ‘pathways’, that describe ‘humility’, ‘listening’, and learning to ‘ask how not what’ as necessary for creating just futures. Although written as a guide to respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, these messages are equally applicable for our members now as school EA Implementation Plans are negotiated, as conversations continue with government over the implementation of election commitments, or simply in regard to the operation of sub-branches and Council. We are extremely fortunate in the ACT to have excellent working relationships with our minister and our employer. These are based on mutual respect and a commitment to consultation and cooperation – to work with us. However, education policy and processes remain a complex mix of local jurisdictional actions and Commonwealth oversight. At the national level, the government, for the most part, has not expressed any interest in listening to the voice of public education workers through its union representatives. Think funding, phonics, and NAPLAN, for example. Some inroads had started to emerge, but with a new federal education minister recently installed, the process starts again. As we enter the new year, I hope for a national education scene that is less combative, that avoids lazily slumping into so-called class warfare debates and instead considers what can be achieved when we work together with grace, guts and drive. In other words, when we show solidarity not only to our members but to the community such as teacher unions did across the country in supporting and managing the huge transition to and from remote learning. As Sally McManus articulated in her National Press Club address in December, one of the things that happened during 2020 was that the union movement had its national role restored as a ‘trusted social partner for governments and businesses’. My hope for 2021 is that this willingness to engage with and listen to the experiences and perspectives of workers, through their representative unions, is not limited to a crisis response but becomes a recognised way of doing business better. After all, as McManus reminds us, ‘a union is a group of people coming together to pool their resources and capacity, believing that what we can do together will always be more than we can do alone’. The conditions we enjoy in the ACT are because we have come together to achieve better outcomes for ACT public education. In ending, I am drawing inspiration from Kwaymullina’s final entry entitled ‘futures’ in which she speaks of places where different worlds meet as places of connection, enrichment and transformation. Our members are from all parts of the system – early career educators, principals, executive staff, longstanding classroom teachers and learning support staff as well as education support office workers. For me, the ACT Branch of the AEU is a place of connection, enrichment and transformation. I trust it is for you too and I look forward to connecting with you in 2021.

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2021 TERM 1 Upcoming Events WEEK 1

BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 3 February 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton

WEEK 2

BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 13 February 9.00am - 12.00pm Boiler House Lecture Theatre University of Canberra

WEEK 4

NEW EDUCATOR CONFERENCE Thurs 25 - Fri 26 February

WEEK 6

BRANCH EXECUTIVE Wednesday 10 March 5.00pm - 8.30pm AEU Office, 40 Brisbane Ave, Barton INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY TRIVIA NIGHT Thursday 11 March 6.00pm - 9.00pm Kingston Hotel

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WEEK 7 SCHOOL ASSISTANT NETWORK MEETING Wednesday 17 March 3.30pm - 4.00pm Online BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday 20 March 9.00am - 12.00pm Boiler House Lecture Theatre University of Canberra

WEEK 8

INDUSTRIAL RETREAT Thurs 25 - Fri 26 March


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INDUSTRIAL

RETREAT MARCH 25-26

2021

build your UNION SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE APPLY FOR PAID INDUSTRIAL LEAVE TO ATTEND NO COST TO YOU: ACCOMMODATION, transport & all FOOD INCLUDED


Secretary's Report This time last year, we were celebrating the spectacular year 2019, when the ACT's public school teachers became the best paid in the country and we signed a number of outstanding enterprise agreements. Now is a good time to acknowledge our collective survival in 2020, a year memorable for mostly the wrong reasons. One of my proudest moments as a unionist was to see our union work with government at the height of the pandemic to deliver the best possible working arrangements for our members - the right to work from home if they chose. Income maintenance for all of our members, including casual and temporary employees, was an equally important accomplishment. We saw the first EA Implementation Plans signed off. Together we somehow managed to work around teacher shortages, largely brought about by the surge in public school enrolment at the start of what I believe will be a golden age for ACT public education. Your work is highly valued by our community. There is, however, no rest for the wicked.

Before we know it we will be negotiating your next enterprise agreement. Bargaining for our School Assistant and CIT teacher members will take place through 2021, so those members should expect to be activated shortly. In Term 4, our school teacher and school leader members will be contemplating the union's EA discussion paper and a draft log of claims. In a year's time, in early 2022, we will serve our finalised log of claims on the employer and bargaining will commence in earnest. As always, you will be intimately attached to the process as our union democracy does what it does best. Colleagues, we are connected to each other by the work we collectively and proudly do. And only one thing can defeat us: a lack of solidarity. It is my privilege to lead you once again into a year of struggle for what is right and fair. The struggle never ends.

Assuming there is no significant resurgence of the virus in the ACT and we don't need to trigger our agreed COVID plan, there remains plenty to keep us occupied. The favourable ACT election result, which our energetic campaign helped bring about, has left a number of exciting election commitments, which we will be closely monitoring: an overdue end to NAPLAN, tens of millions on upgrades and infrastructure projects, an end to exceptions to class size maximums, new teacher librarians and improved library databases for our students. Further, we are committed early this year to convincing the ACT Government, in light of ASIC's damning report, to get the big commercial banks out of our schools. In first semester, my team and I will be negotiating around a range of human resources matters, like the implications of the new staffing model, reviewing the ratings system, the appointment of school leaders and better ways to ensure relief teachers are available so "split classes" become a thing of the past. 9


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WHEN NATURE CALLS... PATRICK JUDGE Senior Industrial Officer

“I’ve been rostered on for five hours straight,” said James.1 “They won’t even let me have any time to go to the toilet!”

Justice Logan found that there were multiple contraventions of the Fair Work Act and awarded compensation to the worker concerned.

Disputes over these sorts of matters in our schools are rare, but they do occur. In June 2020, the Federal Court was called on to answer this very question. Workers at a McDonald’s in Brisbane, represented by their union, claimed that their employer had misled them about their entitlement to go to the toilet or get a drink during their shift.

What does this mean for James and other teachers/LSAs?

Tantex, the employer, had asserted in a message to all staff that a ten-minute drink break would be “the only time you would ever be permitted to have a drink or go to the toilet.” The workers, through their union, argued that the work safety laws allowed them to take toilet breaks or get drinks outside of rostered breaks. The Federal Court agreed with the union, noting: “Denial of access as needed to toilet facilities could… have adverse health and safety ramifications” and “facilities are not accessible if they are only available during breaks”. Of course, there are limits to this right. For example, it would not be reasonable for a staff member to leave Big Macs grilling or French fries frying unsupervised while they popped around the corner for a drink. They would need to wait until it was safe to leave or have another staff member take over.

You can go to the toilet whenever you need to, so long as you make reasonable provision for the safe care of your class. This might involve asking a colleague to look after the class for a moment. If your managers do not make provision for you to be able to access the bathroom, they may be in breach of work health and safety laws. You are required to give the best notice you can of an absence on personal leave, but you cannot be required to give that notice by any particular time of day. Finally, it is worth noting that, unlike McDonald's restaurants, schools are professional workplaces predominantly staffed by degree-qualified adults. No school should be in the position of being compared to McDonald's as a work environment. If a dispute over matters as trivial as toilet breaks has come up, all parties may want to reflect on Justice Logan’s advice that: “in relations between employer and employee, the reasonable conduct of one tends to engender the reasonable conduct of the other”.

The judgment also considered a representation that employees needed to notify their supervisor if they were unwell at 10pm the night before an “open” (morning) shift. This, too, was incorrect. While you should provide as much notice as you can of an unanticipated absence on personal leave, employees may become unwell late in the morning or even during their shift.

A real query to the AEU office, but not the member’s real name.

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A SMALL PRICE FOR HUGE GAINS Our 2020 Anna Stewart Memorial Project recipient, STEPHANIE O'NEILL reflects on the importance of union membership as a young educator.

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I have been a primary school teacher for five years. I spent a year as a relief teacher in North West London and four years here in Canberra as a classroom teacher. I joined the AEU during my first week as a new educator, and throughout my time teaching, I have had various opportunities to become more active and involved in the union. During term 4 in 2020, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have two days work experience in the AEU office, witnessing all the work that goes on behind the scenes, through the Anna Stewart Memorial Project. I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on how I got involved with the AEU and why I believe it is essential for young people to join and continue the movement. Growing up, I had only a vague interest in politics. I realised quite quickly, however, that politics are everywhere, and if I wanted to have any kind of say, voice or opinion about issues that matter to me, then I had better start paying attention. My interest became much larger when I discovered The Chaser’s War on Everything, a satirical current affairs show. As a teenager I found their sketches hilarious, and the controversial publicity stunts not only clever, but that it opened my mind to societal issues beyond my young schooling life. It is important for people to have some kind of political attitude and an interest in what is going on around them. I have always felt strongly about fairness and human rights. So, as the union is a decision-making body where you get to have a say over your working conditions and entitlements, joining was a no-brainer for me. I have attended the New Educator Conferences as a union member over the past few years and have found them very beneficial.

I highly recommend them to anyone who is a New Educator (or in their first 5 years of teaching) and hasn’t yet been. The program is set out nicely and you know exactly what to expect, that is, apart from the guest speakers they have, who just might inspire you more than you are anticipating! I would like to acknowledge and appreciate just how much of an impact the two speakers I saw, Jane Caro and Gabbie Stroud, had on me. It is comforting to be able to relate to another’s views and in some cases, difficulties. Learning something new and being inspired can help you tap into your inner potential and help you in your journey through your career. Not only does the New Educator Conferences have interesting and motivational speakers, I have also gained knowledge in all sorts of areas. This includes tips and tricks for making it through your first few years of teaching, rights and entitlements, your enterprise agreement, mentoring relationships, teachers code of conduct, superannuation, avoiding burnout, occupational violence, industrial leave and much more. It is so important for educators to have access to this information, as we all know how hard teachers work (I mean, contrary to popular belief, we don’t actually finish work for the day at 3pm, and head home to relax, right?!). It is a relief to have people and programs like this to turn to. Unfortunately, union membership is declining in Western countries. It doesn’t seem uncommon for younger people to not know much about unions, or what they do. Sometimes they are only going off what they hear in the media. It is important that we ensure young people know the reality and the power of being union.

The recruitment of members is significant. So, what can you do? You can bring people in your community into the conversation. Create dialogue with the people around you. Tell them that there is a big history in the union movement in Australia. Tell them that we welcome opinions that are different from our own, as this can be an amazing chance to grow. Tell them about all the wins the union has had over many, many years. Wins like paid leave, maternity leave, weekends, superannuation, pay rises, workers compensation, eight-hour working days, the list goes on. These wins happen because workers stand together and support each other. These rights haven’t always existed and it’s a great time to stop and reflect back on what has been done for us that we take for granted. As Glennon Doyle says, ‘We cannot let the fact that we can’t do everything, stop us from doing something.” Tell them that we are in it together, and if you join your union, you will always have someone to help you out along the way, if you ever need it. This can range from big industrial cases, to just having a friendly chat with someone on the phone and feel like you are being heard. Being a member of the AEU has been a great way of building up my networking in education. The more involved I have become, the more I have found that they cater to many other interests I have beyond teaching, such as women’s rights and environmental sustainability. I think the teaching community here in Canberra is a great community to be part of. When I stop and think about how much I personally have got out of being a member, it’s safe to say that the less than 1% of my pay going to union fees has been money well spent.

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YOUR EA IMPLEMENTATION PLAN:

SIMPLE TIPS FOR SUCCESS!

EA Implementation Plans are due to be completed this term. AEU Organiser SEAN van der HEIDE shares some tips to make the process run smoothly.

One of the many achievements in the last round of enterprise bargaining was the introduction of the Enterprise Agreement Implementation Plan (EAIP). Each school has their own EAIP, which is agreed annually through negotiation between school leadership and the sub-branch. Through this process, sub-branches have a clear view on how the rights in their enterprise agreement are made real in their workplace. As the plan replaces workload committees, the EAIP is also a document that identifies any local or system initiatives or issues that could create workload pressures and how these can be mitigated. If you are a sub-branch rep in 2021, or thinking about putting your hand up, here's a few simple considerations that will help to make the process easier and ensure your sub-branch is ready to sign off on your EAIP before the end of term 1.

Nominate! As each workplace's EAIP is signed off by the school principal and the sub-branch president, it is important that your sub-branch fills the executive committee positions as soon as you can. If you are thinking about taking on this role for the first time, don't worry - you'll get all the training and support from your organiser that you'll need! Not only will you receive your very own subbranch leader's handbook, but you're also strongly encouraged to attend our term 1 Industrial Retreat, where we walk you through the details of your subbranch position. Sub-branches will receive 2021nomination forms during the first week of the new school year. Make sure you get in touch with your organiser if you haven't received anything by the start of week 2!

Invite your colleagues to join in There will no doubt be a few new faces around your sub-branch in the new year. New staff who are already AEU members will surely be keen to attend discussions about what the EAIP looks like in your school. If any new staff are not yet AEU members, ask them to join. The EAIP discussions are an excellent illustration of the value of membership, demonstrating how members can have a voice directly in their workplace. It's easy to join! Just point new members to the link on our website at aeuact.org.au.

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Start early While most of us will be glad to leave 2020 in the rearview mirror, last year's EAIP is a logical starting place for considering the 2021 plan. The bulk of the conditions outlined through the EAIP will be easy to confirm and tick off. For example, it should be simple to verify that all teachers are teaching within their maximum face-to-face teaching hours, or that every new educator has a support plan. The experience of the process last year showed that most sub-branches only needed to have longer discussions around one or two items from the plan.

Take a collaborative approach While it is the sub-branch president who will eventually sign the EAIP on behalf of members, they won't be able to reach this point without the support and input of their sub-branch and fellow executive committee members. When it comes to negotiating the finer points of the plan with the school leadership, it's important that the sub-branch is represented in these discussions by more than one member of the sub-branch executive committee. Not only does this spread the load amongst the sub-branch leaders, but it also ensures that all parties leave with a shared understanding of what was discussed and agreed. Similarly, it's vital that the sub-branch is kept up to date throughout the process, which is made easier when the sub-branch executive committee work together to keep members informed.

Pictured: Mount Stromlo High School principal Peter Radford and AEU sub-branch representative Prue Gill signing off last year's Plan.

We're here to help! If you're a sub-branch executive committee member and need any support, please don't hesitate to get in touch with your school's organiser. Whether you need help running your first sub-branch consultation meeting or require advice for untangling a complex point of negotiation, your organisers know how the EAIP works and have training materials to help you succeed. Remember, we're only ever a phone call (or email) away! 15


BE A LEADER IN YOUR SUB-BRANCH IN 2021!

Being a sub-branch representative is an incredibly rewarding way to play an active role in your union. If you have the drive to make positive change in your workplace, read about the roles to find out which might best suit you, and talk your 2020 sub-branch leaders! Every member has a different relationship with their union. For some, it’s a deep and involved connection from the day they join, while some might go their entire career without ever really diving in. Most are probably somewhere in between.

Have you considered whether you will nominate for a position this year? Maybe you’ve been to an AEU morning tea and briefly considered becoming more involved, but worried that it seemed too daunting to take on.

And that’s understandable! Until you get involved, it may seem like ‘the union’ is some nebulous entity, far-removed from you and only vaguely relevant to your day-to-day work. Sometimes you’ll hear people refer to “the union” when they actually mean “the union office”. It can’t be stressed enough: we are all “the union”.

Maybe you’ve never considered it at all, figuring it was only for dyed-in-the-wool unionists – and that’s just not you.

Your sub-branch is the AEU at your worksite. Each year, all the members of each sub-branch choose their representatives. Last year’s sub-branch reps will call a meeting early in term one to conduct the election process. They will have nomination forms for the positions that need to be filled, and we’ll send out all the information about how to run the process.

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But take a second to answer these questions: Are you passionate about public education? Do you care about the conditions under which you and your colleagues work and your students learn? In your opinion, should public educators be respected and compensated fairly for their work? Are you committed to equity and fairness, and to making our education system – and our wider community – the best it can be? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are an ideal candidate for a role representing your sub-branch!


It’s true that being a sub-branch rep will take up some of your time. Some roles take up more time than others. But this is time spent with like-minded, dedicated individuals, committed to our profession. It’s your chance to be a real force for good in your workplace. Together, we really do make a difference. And don’t forget that under our Enterprise Agreement, each sub-branch is entitled to 40 hours of paid time for its representatives to do their important work. If you’re worried you don’t know how to be a subbranch rep, we’re always here to help. During term one, we’ll be holding our annual industrial retreat. You can join us for two days to learn how to lead and strengthen your sub-branch. We provide transport, accommodation and all your meals – and you can access paid industrial leave to attend. If you’re thinking of putting your hand up for a role in your sub-branch, which role would best suit you? Here’s what’s involved in each of them:

President

The president is the captain of the sub-branch: they steer the ship and keep things on course. They have responsibility for arranging sub-branch events and meetings, engaging members in the activities of the union and of being the key liaison with the AEU office through their organiser. Sub-branch presidents now also have the important task of signing off their site’s EA Implementation Plan with their principal at the beginning of each year.

Deputy President

The deputy president carries out the responsibilities of the president in their absence. The deputy president should also help the president support colleagues who encounter any issues in your workplace.

Secretary

Are your organisational skills legendary in your workplace? Is your personal library alphabetised and your stationery stash colour-coordinated? You might just be perfect for sub-branch secretary! The secretary will schedule sub-branch meetings, circulate any papers and talk to sub-branch members to ensure the meetings are capturing the interests of the sub-branch. The secretary also has the very important role of liaising with the AEU office to ensure that the list of members in your sub-branch is up to date.

Councillor

Branch Council is the ultimate decision-making body of our union. It’s made up of representatives from every sub-branch around the ACT, and it meets eight times a year. If you’re ready to take a big bite out of the union pie, this is the role for you. Councillors are ambassadors of their sub-branch at Council, representing the interests and concerns of the members at their site and reporting back to them about Council discussions and decision. They are elected by their fellow members to vote on the important decisions Council makes. The number of Councillors your sub-branch has will depend on its size.

If you like the idea of being a Councillor but you’re not sure you can commit to all eight meetings, you might consider nominating as an Alternate Councillor to fill in when needed. Filling all the Councillor and Alternate positions your sub-branch is allocated and ensuring that one of these members attends each Council meeting is vitally important to the running of our union.

New Educator Contact Officer

The first few years of a teaching career is an exciting and sometimes daunting time. The role of the New Educator Contact Officer is to ensure the new educators in their sub-branch know (and receive) their entitlements and rights, including reduced face-to-face hours and New Educator Support Days. New Educator Contact Officers should also talk to new colleagues about joining our union and spread the word about the great opportunities to get involved and access support from the office, like our New Educator Conference held in term one and the New Educator Network that meets throughout the year. If you think you can be a supportive influence to your newest colleagues, this could be the role for you!

Women’s Contact Officer

If you’re passionate about promoting women’s rights and issues that face our women members, you could be an amazing Women’s Contact Officer for your subbranch. The holder of this role also encourages the involvement of women in leading our union. Women’s Contact Officers are supported through our Women’s Network meetings, which are held throughout the year, and our AEU office Women’s Officer, Malisa Lengyel.

Health and Safety Representative

If you’re naturally vigilant about the condition of your workplace and want to ensure you and your colleagues are working in the safest environment possible, you could be your workplace’s new HSR! Essentially, the job is to monitor your site to ensure it is a safe environment – physically and mentally – and to pursue any issues that arise. HSRs are entitled to training to ensure they are able to perform their role effectively. Note that although it’s customary for the HSR to be appointed through the same process as other sub-branch roles, the HSR does not have to be an AEU member. If any of these roles spark your interest, why not have a chat to last year’s rep from your sub-branch to find out more? You can also get in touch with the AEU ACT office if you have any questions. Make 2021 the year you find your place in your union. Put your hand up for a role in your sub-branch, come along to our Industrial Retreat in term one, and make a real difference in your workplace.

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APR

MAR APR

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Easter Monday

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6

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12

30

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29

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9

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Canberra Day Int’l Women’s Day

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1

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Australia Day

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25

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School Assistant Network

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Branch Executive

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Branch Executive

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27

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15

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F

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Good Friday

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Union Industrial Retreat

25

18

Int’l Women’s Day Trivia Night

11

4

New Educator Conference

25

18

11

4

28

TERM 1

17

Easter Saturday

27

Council

20

13

6

27

20

Council

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6

30

S

18

11

Easter Sunday

4

28

21

14

7

28

21

14

7

31

S

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JUN JUL

JUN

MAY JUN

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APR MAY

APR

MONTH

10

9

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Queen’s Birthday

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Reconciliation Day

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ANZAC Day Holiday

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2021 T

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Branch Executive

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2

School Assistant Network

26

Branch Executive

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New Educator Network

12

5

28

Branch Executive

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T

8

1

24

17

10

3

27

20

13

Women’s Network

6

29

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TERM 2

9

2

25

18

11

4

Public Education Celebratory Dinner

28

21

14

7

30

23

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10

3

26

19

12

Council

5

29

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15

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Council

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24

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11

4

27

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13

6

30

23

16

9

2

ANZAC Day

25

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21

20

8

1

2

25

3

26

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NOV DEC

NOV

OCT NOV

OCT

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1

25

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M Labour Day

4

3

2

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WEEK

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W

22

15

Branch Executive

8

1

School Assistant Network

24

17

Branch Executive

10

3

New Educator Network

27

Women’s Network

20

13

Branch Executive

6

23

16

9

2

25

18

11

4

28

21

14

7

TERM 4

24

17

10

3

26

19

12

5

29

22

15

8

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www.aeuact.org.au

(02) 6272 7900

40 Brisbane Ave Barton ACT 2600

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Christmas Boxing Day Day

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Council

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Council

facebook.com/AEUACT

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School & Public Holidays

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For events held during working hours, you are eligible to apply for industrial leave. If you’d like more information about industrial leave, speak to your sub-branch reps or contact the AEU Office .

School Assistant Network

Federal Women’s Conference

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24

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11

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Father’s Day

29

22

15

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25

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Women’s Network

30

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Council

28

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14

7

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Council

24

17

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New Educator Conference & Network

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22

15

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Branch Executive

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Advanced Training

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30

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Fundamentals Training

School Assistant Workshop

12

5

29

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18

11

New Educator Network

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28

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Branch Executive

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Public Education Week

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14

13

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Branch Executive Anna Stewart Memorial Project

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Industrial Events

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WEEK

TERM 3

Branch Council, TAFE Council & Executive

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THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THE TAFE SYSTEM Last year, the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute launched the first national study into the economic and social benefits of TAFE. ALISON PENNINGTON takes us through its findings. Despite chronic underfunding and failed marketled VET policies, Australia's historic investment in the TAFE system continues to generate an enormous and ongoing divident to the Australian economy. benefits

TAFE’s economic footprint

The direct operation of TAFE institutes results in over $3 billion in additional economic activity in Australia each year, including around $2.3 billion in wages, salaries and other employment benefits paid annually. Purchases and supply chain inputs associated with TAFEs extend and multiply this impact on the broader national and regional economies, generating another $1.6 billion per year in ‘upstream’ economic benefits. Counting indirect jobs in the TAFE supply chain, a total of $3 billion in employment incomes is generated by TAFE institutes each year. In turn, that income translates into an additional $1.5 billion in incremental consumer spending on Australian-made goods and services. Including the direct and ‘downstream’ consumer spending impacts, we estimate that a total of over $6 billion in economic activity, supporting 48,000 positions (directly and indirectly) is generated by the presence and activity of Australia’s TAFE institutes.

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Increased earnings and productivity

Students who complete VET qualifications with TAFE institutes move into the labour force with skills that generate higher earnings compared to the earnings of workers without post-school qualifications. Employees and owner-managers with VET qualifications (including Certificate I/II/ III/IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma) receive a wage premium of 39% compared with those whose highest educational attainment is Year 12 or below.


In addition, a more skilled workforce yields significant productivity benefits to employers, as well as higher tax revenues for government. The total annual benefit that the TAFE system generates thanks to its accumulated contribution to the skills of Australians is estimated at $84.9 billion. Some of this is paid in higher incomes to workers; some of it is captured in higher profits by employers. And some of it is paid in incremental taxation revenues to government, which we estimate are worth $25 billion per year – several times more than governments currently allocate to the cost of running the entire TAFE system.

TAFE increases employability and lowers unemployment

After training, TAFE graduates are more likely to be employed and less likely to be unemployed than workers with less training. Moreover, with increased access to skilled workers, industry can expand production and employ more people, increasing total output across the economy. We estimate the TAFE system has increased the employability of the VET-educated population, relative to those without post-school education, resulting in an increase in employment of around 486,000 positions.

Reduced social and healthcare spending

The TAFE system increases employability, thereby lowering unemployment and supporting a healthier workforce and society. An important consequence of this is reduced social assistance and public healthcare expenditures. We estimate the annual value of reduced social expenses at some $1.5 billion per year ($1.2 billion in reduced welfare and $289 million in reduced health costs).

Combined annual economic benefit

The total annual benefit (driven by the accumulated historic and current investment in the TAFE-trained workforce) is estimated at $92.5 billion. That represents around 4.5% of Australian GDP. Those benefits can be traced back to the extra employability, productivity and incomes (and associated savings on social benefit costs) demonstrated by the TAFE-educated workforce.

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Wider social benefits

The substantial economic benefits supported by the TAFE system do not tell the whole story about the importance of TAFEs to our all-round economic and social wellbeing. The TAFE system also underpins a wide range of broader social benefits that are harder to quantify. For example, TAFEs promote stronger economic and labour market outcomes in regional areas. They help ‘bridge’ access to further education and jobs pathways for special and at-risk groups of young Australians. They ensure greater social cohesion, and help to reduce crime. TAFE students are more likely to come from the lowest quintile of society according to socioeconomic disadvantage, more likely to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and more likely to identify as having a disability compared with students of private VET providers or universities. All these features confirm that TAFEs are critically important in addressing systemic inequality in Australia’s economy and society.

Modest running cost

Compared to the preceding inventory of direct and indirect economic and social benefits, the costs of operating the TAFE system are modest by any measure. The costs of operating the TAFE system accrue to governments, students and employers in the delivery of vocational education through TAFE institutes. We estimate the combined costs of the TAFE system – including government funding for training and administration, employer and student assistance, loans and income support payments, student fees and employer apprenticeship and traineeship training costs – at $5.7 billion per year. That represents only about 0.3% of Australia’s GDP.

Benefits far outweigh costs

The TAFE system has made a leading, decades-long contribution to training and skills in the Australian economy. On the basis of historical enrolment data, we estimate that 72.5% of Australian workers currently holding VET qualifications received their training through the TAFE system. Hence, Australia’s historic investment in quality public vocational education generates an enormous and ongoing dividend, in the form of the enhanced productivity, higher earnings, increased tax payments, and reduced social benefit costs associated with those workers. This is a valuable and continuing payoff to the funds that were invested in TAFEs, both now and in the past.

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There is no doubt that the benefits of TAFE education to individuals, employers, the government and wider society far outweigh the costs. As noted, the combined annual costs for operating the TAFE system’s 35 institutes last year were modest — $5.7 billion. In contrast, the annual economic benefits generated thanks to investments in TAFE-provided training were estimated at $92.5 billion. In other words, the flow of annual benefits resulting from the present and past operation of the TAFE system exceed the current annual costs of operating that system by a factor of 16 times. The increased tax revenue generated through the operation of TAFE is $25 billion annually, and this alone is more than four times its total cost.

"...the flow of annual benefits resulting from the present and past operation of the TAFE system exceed the current annual costs of operating that system by a factor of 16 times." Keep in mind that the flow of these economic benefits resulting from a better-skilled workforce is the legacy of Australia’s historic commitment to high-quality public vocational education. But that commitment has been undermined in recent years by reductions in fiscal support for public VET and failed policy experiments with privatised, marketdelivered, but publicly-subsidised VET programs. As a result, the flow of economic benefits generated by well-trained, better-paid VET graduates is in jeopardy today. Australia is not replacing its stock of high-quality TAFE graduates – which means that over time, that flow of economic benefits will inevitably decline. Reported problems encountered by many industries and employers in recruiting and retaining adequately-skilled workers in numerous occupations attests to the growing costs of Australia’s underinvestment in reliable, publicly-delivered VET. Imagine a well-built house: it generates value each year that someone lives in it. But if the house is not maintained and its structural integrity assured, then that flow of benefits will quickly erode.


TAFE as anchor of COVID recovery

As the economy staggers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global recession, we need expanded access to VET education, stronger pathways from training to work, and a more cohesive and coordinated post-school education system. Revitalised TAFE institutes, as the most reliable ‘anchors’ of vocational training, must be at the centre of that reconstruction process. After the Second World War, Australia launched a coordinated national training strategy, as a key part of a National Reconstruction Plan aimed at ensuring returning soldiers would have productive employment opportunities – and making sure the economy did not slip back into a stubborn depression. We need a similarly comprehensive national strategy for skills and training today, starting with the urgent restoration of public funds to the most experienced, reliable and high-quality, national-level, vocational training provider in Australia: the TAFE system.

Our findings demonstrate that there is strong economic rationale for strengthening and expanding VET access for young, at-risk groups, and for all workers who lack post-school qualifications. Australia will squander the demonstrated and ongoing economic benefits generated by our investments in TAFE institutes, and unduly limit our post-COVID reconstruction opportunities, if we do not act quickly to reinstate the funding and critical role that TAFE plays in Australia’s society and economy. The fully referenced report ‘An Investment in Productivity and Inclusion: The Economic and Social Benefits of the TAFE System’ by Alison Pennington, Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute can be found at https://www.futurework.org.au/

Unlock the Benefits

AEU ACT members (and their families) are eligible to join Teachers Health, Australia’s largest restricted access health fund.

Healthy lifestyle benefits

National eyecare and dental network

Teachers Healthcare Services

Member offers and discounts

Visit teachershealth.com.au/aeu Eligibility criteria and conditions apply. Teachers Federation Health Ltd ABN 86 097 030 414 trading as Teachers Health. A Registered Private Health Insurer. THF-AEU -12/20

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AN INFINITE GAME Outgoing Queensland Teachers' Union Secretary GRAHAM MOLONEY looks to the future of our union. Simon Sinek’s latest book is called The Infinite Game. Finite games, he says, are short-term, have a start and a finish, teams of players, a winner… and a history of organisation failure. Infinite games are never-ending with changing players. The idea of education or the work of the Union as an infinite game resonates with me. There are numerous short-term milestones in union work: each agreement made, each election fought, and each group of members recruited and organised. But it has no end while need continues. One generation after another of members and activists builds on the work of those who came before, but with no end yet in sight. I retire as Secretary of the QTU on 20 January. I have played my part as best I could. Now it is time for others to continue in the continuing struggle for better work and pay for educators, and for the best possible education for students in state schools, irrespective of their circumstances. With one last editorial to go, I thought I would write about the future and its challenges, rather than the past.

Professional status

To me, the biggest challenge facing teachers, principals and the Union, from which the others flow, is the status of the teaching profession and the recognition of teachers as professionals. Associated with this is the idea of professional autonomy that the AEU is again reasserting. According to the surveys, teachers are respected for their integrity – far more so than politicians (and union officials!).

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It is the expertise of teachers that is grossly underrated, disregarded and worse, denigrated. This is at the heart of lack of respect for the teaching profession, because professions before all else are about expertise in a discrete body of knowledge and its application.

Gaslighting the profession

Public respect for teachers and teaching seems in short supply. Teachers bear the brunt of tired old insults about school holidays and only working nine to three. Teachers and principals are gaslit by media, politicians, bureaucrats and consultants constantly bemoaning allegedly falling standards, and the failure to win international competitions like PISA. Somehow, it is all teachers’ fault. Schools are apparently responsible for all society’s ills, and the solution to every social problem is to add to the demands on schools. The social demands placed on schools, some reasonable and some not, divert resources from the business of education, whether narrowly or broadly defined. The teaching profession is becoming so intimidated in the face of these regular barrages that it feels constrained from asking for anything – even a little respite – for themselves. They can only ask for funding or resources if it’s for the kids. Yes, teaching conditions are learning conditions, but there is nothing wrong with asking for better teaching conditions for no other reason than teachers need and deserve better teaching conditions. It is like the profession has a giant inferiority complex!

At its maladjusted extreme, a sacrificial view of teaching is produced, in which the interests of educators are totally subjugated to the needs of the student.

Resourcing

Teachers work without the means to achieve the objectives set by politicians, bureaucracies and media. The first Gonski report in 2011 came up with the notion of the schooling resource standard (SRS) – the resources necessary to achieve the goals of schooling set in the then Melbourne Declaration endorsed by all the governments of Australia. In 2020, funding for education in public schools in Queensland is only 89 per cent of the SRS. That is very likely an overestimate, since it includes some creative accounting about depreciation and the like. As a nation, Australia’s spending on school education is about average by OECD standards, yet politicians want the best results in the world. Rationally, in this situation, resourcing must be increased or the goals reduced. Reason, unlike blame, is in short supply however.

Lack of consultation

Control of the work has increasingly been removed from educators. Some “futurists” try to sell an education system of scripted, standardised education (for an exorbitant fee, of course) without teacher “interference”.


More prosaically, policy decisions about education in Australia are increasingly being made remote from practicing educators – by the Education Council, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the Australian Institute for Teaching and Learning (AITSL), for example – as national funding agreements are used to impose change. For some proposed change, there is a veneer of consultation, but it is with very limited numbers, has little representative value and participants report that the outcomes are pre-determined. More than anything else, the failure to consult demonstrates the lack of respect for the profession, its expertise and commitment. The decision makers believe they know better than those who do the work every day. The role of educators is to follow orders, however absurd, however harmful.

Manifestations

Out of these conditions come many of the issues the AEU is currently addressing. Excessive workload is a manifestation of unrealistic demands, under-resourcing, shifting the blame to teachers who, for whatever reason, internalise the responsibility. NAPLAN has little to do with identifying student need or disadvantage but much more with league tables, comparisons and vilification of schools and controlling the work of teachers. Job insecurity, number two in the issues of concern to QTU members, is justified by concerns about teacher quality but is actually about control and conditioning educators to conformity and obedience. Nationally, occupational violence is underreported and unaddressed because the needs of students are more important than the safety of educators.

Another view of teaching That is a bleak assessment. But I remain optimistic. The reality of teaching and of school leadership, including the experience of parents and others close to it, generates respect in spite of the gaslighting.

Teaching is difficult and complex work that can be infinitely extended in its scope and infinitely dissected in its analysis. Its complexity is exacerbated, unlike other professions, by working with 25 clients, of varying abilities, at one time for five hours per day. Teaching students to read, to calculate to understand their history and society, to appreciate art and music and more opens up opportunities for students beyond what family can do and circumstances allow. Australia has a teaching profession that is or should be the envy of most of the rest of the world. Teachers are all degree qualified and registered with commitments to continuing professional development. Those standards have been advanced and maintained by the profession through the AEU and the IEU. After the experience of remote learning this year, I think parents were generally happy, relieved and confident about students returning to school and their teachers with a new appreciation of the work teachers do.

The profession in change

“The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.” The external influences on the teaching profession will not magically disappear. They will continue for as long as they are allowed, until they are effectively opposed. A first step is to have pride in our profession. The negativity of those who do not know the job, or worse, those who have a vested interest in diminishing educators is wearing. We have to project that pride to the community. Another step will be to insist on no change without agreement. I’ve always liked the line before the American War of Independence about “no taxation without representation”.

Remote decision making by people who don’t have to implement the decisions they make is unacceptable. In the absence of proper consultation with the teachers and principals who will have to implement change, a consensus about the value of the change and the resources to implement it, the answer is “NO!” The third step is to build the union as the professional voice. United we bargain, divided we beg. The AEU has always regarded itself as the professional as well as the industrial voice of educators, because there is no magical demarcation between the two spheres. The Union is the natural vehicle through which to pursue proper recognition of the teaching profession. But we can do it better. How do we better collect the views of members on professional issues and develop consensus around policy positions to represent in state and national forums? Fourth, we need to re-establish notions of professional autonomy and judgement. How much of the work that teachers do now is to justify to others judgements that they are trained to make? I became a teacher because of my belief in the transformative power of education. I became an AEU member partly from predisposition to working collectively and partly for the difference it could make to working lives and students’ education. I sought to become a union officer to do that on a broader scale. I am retiring from work but not from those beliefs. I will see you at the barricades whenever I am needed. Graham Moloney has been General Secretary of the QTU (acting and substantively) since 2011, and was previously Deputy General Secretary since 1992. This is an edited version of his final editorial for the Queensland Teachers' Journal.

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I'M A TEACHER TOO They may not work in your school every day, but a little understanding goes a long way for casual teachers, writes one of our relief teacher members.

I walk amongst you, nameless, but not faceless. Some of you have seen me before. We pass each other in the corridors. Sometimes you smile and say hello to me. Sometimes you don’t. I don’t have a key. I can’t enter the places that you can enter. The students notice this. Mostly they wait patiently. The more perceptive amongst them call it out, and we have a laugh. Laughing and keeping other teachers’ students on task is what I do. Once a teacher yelled down a corridor writhing with bodies on their way to classes, ‘Hey, you!’ I didn’t respond. I kept walking. The teacher who came to unlock a storeroom one day carefully checked the lesson plan over my shoulder to verify the classroom teacher’s instructions. Perhaps communicating directly with me was too demeaning for her.

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Another staff member rolled his eyes at me as he opened a door for the second time that day and said, ‘I was at the other end of the school!’. And yet if I don’t have a key, I don’t have a key. It’s the students who require access, not me personally.

You’ll recognise me on playground duty. I’m the one carrying my bag. That’s right — no key. Even if I could lock my bag away, I don’t know when I will get it back again because I can’t unlock the doors in between. I may not know the students’ names in the playground, but I can usually give a really good description of the kids who walked out of the grounds at recess. All you have to do is ask me. And when the young male teacher on rover duty barrelled up to me in the playground and barked, ‘Where are you supposed to be and when?’, he was strangely embarrassed by my barked response, ‘Here, first half of lunch, which is now!’ Should I have reminded him that we weren’t doing basic training with the Defence Force?


I may be a middle-aged woman, but I understood my responsibilities and supervised students many years before he even dreamed of being a teacher. Innovations in technology do not change the basic function of teachers. We are registered with the same regulating authority that you are. We have the same qualifications you do. Some of us might even have more. We just haven’t been issued with a laptop. I once had a permanent teaching position too. But life has taken me to unexpected places and given me unimagined opportunities and experiences. I have made good choices in life and one of those choices is to teach. I just don’t do it every day.

Even if you don’t see me at your school every day, I don’t deserve to be a pariah. I am not incompetent. I am not over the hill. Have you considered that I might be a parent? Despite your suspicions, I assure you I was not invalided out of the teaching profession. No child was harmed in the making of my career in education.

I might be casual, but I am a teacher, just like you. So next time I come to your school, just smile and say hello. The only thing I will ask of you is that you unlock the classroom door for me. 27


AEU ACT HISTORY PROJECT

Former AEU ACT Secretary CLIVE HAGGAR is compiling a history of our branch in the leadup to its 50th anniversary.

OUT OF MANY, ONE

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The AEU ACT represents educators across levels and sectors, but what happens when political and other interests seek to undermine the common interests of a united workforce? More than ever before, today’s AEU ACT is an organisation dedicated to excellent, professional education delivery – and to creating the conditions needed to achieve that. It represents education practitioners at all levels of schooling and TAFE, support staff and school leaders, temporary and probationary teachers, part-time staff; teachers who move between worksites, and educators based in the Education Support Office. But how can any industrial organisation do all these things well? And what happens when some groups believe they might achieve a better outcome by representing their own interests separately? Or when political and other interests seek to undermine the professional and common interests of a united workforce? From the beginning, factionalism was discouraged in the AEU ACT (as was ‘special pleading’ by special interest groups), with all members encouraged to take an interest in the needs of the system and in the needs and rights of other members. For most members, this begins with participation in meetings of the AEU ACT sub-branch in their own workplace.

Direction-setting from the workplace

To set directions and to achieve outcomes for its members, the AEU ACT relies on the guidance and hard work of: • sub-branch members in every workplace • representatives on Branch Council • the AEU ACT Branch Executive • the elected Branch Secretary and President • the AEU ACT’s dedicated team of paid staff • the Executive and officers of the AEU at the national level.

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Mass meetings and stop-work meetings

From time to time in our history, members have been asked to take part in meetings of all AEU ACT members. Meetings held after hours (mass meetings) are voluntary and are often used to inform members about union actions and policies. The Executive and/or Council can also direct members to attend ‘stop-work’ meetings, which then have the power to direct the Executive and Council in actions including further industrial stoppages. (Since the 1990s, however, industrial action can only take place during a formal bargaining period, not in response to incidents or issues arising at other times.)

‘The bosses versus the workers?’

Education is not like other professions: education and leadership research, our professional education and our shared values have encouraged us to see ‘educational leadership’ as the most significant role that principals and other school leaders can play. As a result, education practitioners in the ACT public school system – across all promotional levels – have always been willing to take up the fight, through union forums, for strong educational outcomes and good working conditions, and sub-branches have seen the active involvement of members at all levels of the teaching service.

Did you know? The phrase 'Out of many, one' was first used by Virgil in the first century BC, He was referring to a popular cheese spread blended with many herbs, but using it as a metaphor for civic life in Rome.


Most members active in the union have seen their activism as entirely compatible with leadership roles in their other professional associations and within the system. In fact, many have found that the system-wide experience and knowledge gained through participation in union affairs has led to career advancement in the education sector and beyond. However, this structure and approach has not been without its local challenges.

Putting our solidarity to the test

Sometimes, teachers in different sectors or at different promotional levels may perceive an advantage in forming a breakaway group to pursue their own special interests, and the government of the day may see disunity as a way of defeating education union claims.

'I don’t want to come back to a divided school’: ACT school principals and the CE(EP) Act

In 1982, the federal government under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser tried to defeat our union’s salary campaign by suspending some – but not all – teachers taking strike action in the ACT. Using the infamous CE(EP) Act, the Fraser Government acted to suspend teachers only in those schools scheduled to take part in that day’s rolling stoppages, locking them out of their workplaces. They threatened striking teachers with dismissal and promised rewards for disavowing union action.

Divisions on sectoral lines have not tended to last, and by 1984 the VTU, TTUV and VSTA had re-amalgamated to form the Teachers Federation of Victoria (TFV). This is now the AEU Victorian Branch.

‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul?’ Saying no to resource redistribution between sectors In 1986, prior to ACT self-government, federal government budget cuts were putting pressure on ACT school resourcing, and there was also a perception that more resources were needed in the ACT’s primary schools.

An internal report (the ‘Price report’) commissioned by the ACT Schools Authority recommended a redistribution of resources which would have significantly reduced the staff in secondary schools and transferred resources to the primary sector. The proposers may have assumed that the primary sector would support the proposed redistribution, splitting from their secondary colleagues out of self-interest. But the unity of ACTTF (now AEU) members across the primary and secondary divide was decisive. Primary school teacher Rosemary Richards (pictured below) – a candidate in that year’s Branch Secretary election – explicitly campaigned on a policy of opposing the redistribution of resources within the school system and was elected.

The response across the ACT was strong and immediate: teachers abandoned rolling stoppages and took unified action across all sectors on the same day. Importantly, most school principals encouraged unity in this action: they knew that the government’s action was designed to create fear and disunity, and that the most important thing of all was for their whole school team to return to the workplace with a sense of solidarity intact.

Breakaway groups

Solidarity between teachers has also been tested from time to time. The Victorian Secondary Masters Association (VSMA) broke away from the Victorian Teachers’ Union in 1948 and the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association (VSTA) was formed in 1954 after female members were admitted. Victorian preschool teachers formed the Kindergarten Teachers Association of Victoria (KTAV) in 1954 and in 1967 the Technical Teachers’ Association of Victoria (TTAV, later TTUV) also formed their own union.

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The combined membership of our union endorsed two lines of action: opposition to any redistribution of resources across the sectors, and commitment to a campaign to reduce class sizes in primary schools as its first priority. The Authority, under pressure from the united union membership and from the community, abandoned the proposal (although it did take until 2000 for the union to win the resources to significantly reduce primary class sizes).

Support for division is not always from the inside

Disunity does not always come solely from within union membership: it is often in the interests of the employer to offer incentives for division within the ranks of a strong union. In some cases, this has been supported by anti-union interest groups. In the early eighties, the National Civic Council (NCC), led by conservative political activist Bob Santamaria, funded the creation of the Teachers’ Association of Australia (TAA). This project was an explicit attempt to undermine the creation of what was to become the Australian Teachers Union (ATU) and of the Independent Teachers Union (ITU) – both seen as too progressive and, through their national unity, too influential. In the end, it attracted virtually no members. In the mid-1980s (at the peak of the NCC’s interference in teacher union issues nationally) a disgruntled ACT high school teacher attempted to establish an alternative classroom teachers’ union, and members actively handed out membership forms to teachers in ACT public schools. Known as the Professional Association of Classroom Teachers (PACT), it managed to recruit a total membership of less than 50 – many of whom also maintained their ACTTF membership – before the organisation faded away.

Principals bargaining separately

In the late 1990s, ACT Principals were approached by the then Victorian Principals’ Association (now the Australian Principals Federation), who were attempting to recruit members for what was hoped to be a national exclusively principals’ class union to operate independently of what was by now the Australian Education Union (AEU), the ATU having changed its name in 1993 to reflect its desire to cover education support workers as well as teachers.

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ACT principals rejected the overtures of the Victorians and insisted that their interests were better aligned with the AEU both locally and nationally (unlike many principals in Victoria and Western Australia). The ACT Government had also tried – but failed – to get principals to leave the AEU and to accept individual contracts of employment. However, the increasing demands of schoolbased management and associated increases in accountability and the complexity of leading multi-sector schools led some principals to believe they could do better on their own. They felt that their remuneration, status and conditions had been diminished by the outcomes of recent industrial determinations and agreements covering the teaching workforce and by the policies of the then Carnell Liberal Government in the ACT. Consequently, most AEU principal members (encouraged by their employer) sought a separate principals’ salary and conditions agreement between the AEU and the employer. The union’s senior officers, Executive and Council did not believe that it was in the long-term interests of principals or of the service as a whole. However, under sustained pressure from principal members, a school budget-based model of salaries – supposedly reflecting complexity and accountability levels – was negotiated by the AEU senior officers, replacing the previous sector-based model. It was accepted by principal members in a majority vote of just over 60%. Within months, an enterprise agreement covering the rest of the membership delivered (on average) higher salary outcomes and significant resources for professional development. By 2000, and with a change of government, principals requested a return to a single salary and conditions agreement with their teaching colleagues, which was negotiated in 2001. The experiment in going it alone had ended in reinforcing the message that unity was always the best policy. Our experience in the ACT over the decades – whether it has been as the ACTTF or as the ACT Branch of the AEU – has demonstrated that we are always stronger together in pursuing our common goals of improving conditions of employment and resources for the public education and training system.


When the 2021 school year starts at Torrens Primary School, it will be with one huge difference: for the first time since 1992, the library will be without teacher librarian Christine Hynes.

A CHAPTER ENDS

When the school year starts at Torrens Primary School, it will be with one huge difference: for the first time since 1992, the library will be without teacher librarian Christine Hynes. Christine has been part of the teaching profession since 1972. She won a three year scholarship to Goulburn Teachers College, but teacher shortages at the time saw her first appointment, as a classroom teacher at highly-disadvantaged Villawood Primary School in Western Sydney, coming after just two years. She worked there until the end of 1975, completing her Diploma of Teaching as an external student, and graduating dux of the College. In 1975, with her husband, Michael, Christine moved to Canberra and began teaching at Holder Primary School, She continued her studies externally, this time towards her Bachelor of Education. She achieved such high results that she was encouraged to complete a master’s degree, but with two young children in the picture, the timing wasn't right. However, in 1989, now on maternity leave with her third child, Christine did decide to complete further study. With her love of books and strong belief that libraries are pivotal to learning, a postgraduate diploma to become a teacher librarian was a perfect fit.

When Christine took up the role of teacher librarian at Torrens Primary, her first challenge was to reinvigorate and automate the library. Technology was still relatively new then – in fact, one of Christine’s assignments during her study at the time was on how to send an email! The contrast between that year and the final year of her career, when we relied on technology to a degree we had never before, is testament to the incredible span of her time as a teacher. So too is the fact that she has taught several wellknown Canberrans, including now Senator Katy Gallagher, MLA Chris Steel, and our very own Branch Secretary, Glenn Fowler. Always one to approach her work with dedication and a commitment to see tasks through, Christine has built a thriving library at Torrens, which has become an integral part of the school community. Christine has been a member of the AEU, either here in the ACT or interstate, since the very beginning of her career. In fact, with more than 45 years of membership under her belt, she is the third longest-standing member of the AEU ACT Branch. In that time, Christine has stood in solidarity with her fellow members to create so many positive changes in the working lives of educators, She will be hugely missed in the profession as she begins this new chapter.

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THE GROWING DIVIDE

The funding gap between public and private schools will accelerate over the next decade, writes TREVOR COBBOLD. Commonwealth Government funding of schools is now a complete schemozzle. The Morrison Government has abandoned public schools and blatantly favoured private schools with billion-dollar special deals. These deals will accelerate the funding gap between public schools and private schools over the next decade. Private schools are already much better resourced than public schools. In 2018, the total income of Independent schools was $23,029 per student and $16,401 per student in Catholic schools compared to $14,940 per student in public schools. Government funding increases favouring private schools have contributed significantly to the resource disparity. Since 2009, government (Commonwealth and state/territory) recurrent funding for Catholic schools increased by 56% per student and by 62% for Independent schools compared to 34% for public schools. After adjusting for inflation, the real increases were 21% for Catholic schools, 25% for Independent schools and just 3% for public schools. The resource disparity will widen even more over the next decade because of several special deals for private schools provided by the Morrison Government. Using official data provided by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Save Our Schools has estimated that Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools will be $19,732 per student by 2029 and $13,063 per student in Independent schools compared with only $4,882 for public schools [Chart 1].

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Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools will more than double between 2018 and 2029 with an increase of $10,373 per student, and funding for Independent schools will increase by $5,328, while public schools will only receive an increase of $1,962 per student. These figures assume no change in enrolments from 2018. However, the Commonwealth will provide additional funding for enrolment growth. Total Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools is due to increase by nearly $8 billion between 2018 and 2029 compared to $3.1 billion for Independent schools and $5.1 billion for public schools [Chart 2].

The increases comprise funding increases for private and public schools planned under the Turnbull Government’s Gonski 2.0 model and several special deals for private schools introduced by the Morrison Government. The aggregate increases convert to much smaller increases per student in public schools because enrolments in public schools are nearly double the enrolments in private schools.


Under the Turnbull Government plan, funding for Catholic schools was estimated to increase by $3.4 billion, $2.8 billion for Independent schools and $5.1 billion for public schools. The special funding deals for private schools introduced by the Morrison Government heavily favour Catholic schools over Independent schools. Catholic schools will receive over 90% of the increase – about $4.5 billion compared to $345 million for Independent schools. None of this funding is available to public schools. The huge increase in Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools is mainly due to the introduction of the new direct income measure of the capacity of families to contribute called Adjusted Taxable Income. Catholic schools will receive a funding increase of about $3.7 billion because of this change, while funding for Independent schools will be reduced by $218 million [Chart 3]. Catholic schools will receive about $719 million from the Choice and Affordability slush fund and Independent Schools will receive about $485 million.

Private schools also benefitted from several transition arrangements in 2019, including low growth funding, system-weighted average funding and census update funding. These special measures provided an additional $188 million for private schools - $128 million for Catholic schools and $60 million for Independent schools. In addition, Catholic schools in the ACT will receive $28 million in adjustment assistance between 2019 and 2023 while Independent schools will receive $6 million. Private schools will also receive an additional $30 million in funding in 2020 for drought and COVID-19 assistance.

The Morrison Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model begun by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments. The Abbott and Turnbull Governments ditched the large funding increase for 2018 and 2019 that was planned under the original Gonski funding model, an increase that would have mainly benefitted public schools. The Morrison Government followed up with a massive funding boost for private schools over the next decade and no additional funding for public schools. The massive funding boost for private schools is not based on need. Public schools enrol over 80% of disadvantaged students – low SES, Indigenous, disability and remote area students – and 85% of disadvantaged schools are public schools. Yet, public schools are destined to receive a much smaller increase in Commonwealth funding per student to 2029 than private schools. The Morrison Government claims that the large part of the funding increases for private schools is based on need because it uses a direct income measure of the capacity of families to contribute. However, the direct income measure is fundamentally flawed because it ignores many sources of family and school income and wealth. It ignores income received from grandparents to pay all or part of school fees and make other purchases, non-taxed income from capital gains, and non-disclosed income in Australia or in overseas bank accounts and tax havens. It ignores tax-free donations received by private schools, running into millions of dollars. It ignores family wealth. Assets such as shares, securities and other investments are just as much part of capacity to contribute as direct income. It also ignores the wealth of schools such as land, building and investments. As a result, the financial need of schools is overestimated, and they will receive more government funding than warranted. It will result in massive over-funding of Catholic and Independent schools. A new approach to school funding is essential to provide adequate funding for disadvantaged students and schools. Labor and the Greens must start preparing a genuine needs-based funding model that eliminates the vast over-funding of private schools under the current approach.

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Welcome to our union.

Congratulations to our recently joined and re-joined members! By joining your union, you're standing in solidarity with more than 4200 of your colleagues to fight for the best conditions for ACT public educators. Alison Moulang; Amanda Fleming; Angela Orellana; Annmaree Christian; Anthony Cowlishaw; Benjamin De Vos; Blake Hamilton; Breanna Toze; Callum Richens; Carole Santinon; Chloe Sheather; Christopher Pratt; Cindy McDiarmid; Darcy Malone; David Steel; Eleanor Cole; Ema Fazlic; Evan Croker; Fenella Glynn; Francine Edwards; Harpreet Kaur; Izabella Goodger; Jacob Burridge; James Westwood; Jarrah Marquardt; Jennifer Rosewarne; Jennifer Tully; Jessica Schroder; Jo-Anne Devine; Kamijah Blak; Kate Beattie; Katrina Wright; Kimberley Glavinic; Lachlan Skehan; Lauren Morley; Liam Downing; Lisa Parker; Lucas Hayden; Maria Handoko; Matthew Allan; Matthew Judge; Md Monjurul Islam; Megan Tomlins; Mikayla Birch; Natasha Zulfiqar; Nunzio Gambale; Penelope Fry; Peta Milne; Rebecca Atkins; Rebecca Osborne; Renee Gilbert; Sam Williams; Samuel Danaher; Simon Hone; Timothy Yap; Tracy Le Fevre; Trudy Grant; Vijay Sharma; Yuko Ryan; Emma Schremmer

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Don’t forget to let us know! Visit aeuact.org.au, phone us on 6272 7900 or email us at aeuact@aeuact.org.au.

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GLENN FOWLER

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PATRICK JUDGE

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JACOB DUNNE

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ANTOINETTE GARSIDE

Lead Organiser

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(02) 6272 7900

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