Term 1 ACT Educator

Page 1






Read an update on our Occupational Violence negotiations.

Find out the detail on our big wins that will be rolled out in our workplaces over the next four years.

We’ve got some exciting changes in how we organise to make change.




INSIDE ON THE COVER Congratulations to Angela Burroughs who has been elected as the AEU ACT President for a two year term!



Andrew Wright explores the loneliness of Read about why it’s so important we a workplace injury and how it’s intensiovercome occupational violence and fied as a new educator. an update on the negotiations with the Education Directorate. OUR WORKLOAD PLAN 24 Pam Cording outlines the Workload Reduction plan at her school and talks about the difference it has made. JORDAN’S WISH 34 Peter Kent and Liz Baker-Matterson tell the story of Jordan’s gender transition and how her school supported her. STUDENT CHOICE 45 Damien Moloney discusses how the language of personal responsibility has infiltrated our education system.

THE REPORTS DISCLAIMER: The assertions and opinions expressed in

OUR ACT ELECTION WINS 18 In the 2016 ACT Election, we won some big commitments to public education. Learn about the promises and see how we’re going to keep track of their implementation. PUTTING OUR SUB-BRANCHES FIRST 38 Find out about our Sub-Branch leadership positions, the training that we’ll be running in Term 1 and our upcoming Executive elections.








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.














am honoured to be elected as the AEU ACT President. Over the next two years, I hope that my dual roles as classroom teacher and union representative will make a powerful difference for public education. As an individual, I see the tangible impact that I make on children’s lives. As a union member, our collective action can make systematic changes to address injustices. Systematic change is not easy. It takes years of coordinated effort. Our unrelenting determination and professionalism has created positive change in our workplaces, and this history of success sustains us as we seek to implement the priorities we identified at our October planning conference. One of these priorities is creating cultural change on workload, and it has so much at stake. While we are educators, we are also parents, partners and carers of others. Establishing a realistic workload means that we will have the time and energy to invest in the people we love and the activities we enjoy. It also means that, when we’re at work, we can dedicate our undivided attention to our students’ learning. An important first step was gaining Section Q of the School Teaching Staff Enterprise Agreement, which sets out what teachers are expected to do and, as importantly, what is not expected of teachers. In the School Assistants’ and CIT Teachers’ bargaining, we will work to define the core duties of these members as well. We are still grappling with how to best utilise this Section in our workplaces. This year, we will ensure that the improvements we have secured are retained, and capitalise on this Section’s potential for every member to deeply feel the benefits in their workplace and their home life. We will also make a stand against societal violence infiltrating our workplaces. Our workplaces will no longer accept violence as the norm and view victims of violence as a tragic inevitability. Instead, we will establish our schools as safe places for both educators and students, and set an example for our community. Finally, I want to acknowledge my predecessor. Lana has left some big shoes to fill. She has led our union with such grace, dignity and integrity. Under her watch, our union has become more organised and made big strides in ensuring that our education system remains one of the best in the world. I feel incredibly privileged to represent and lead our union, and I will continue to work with energy, enthusiasm and determination to implement our collective vision.

Angela Burroughs AEU ACT President




When you became an AEU member, you chose to become part of a vision for public education. In this vision, every child gains a world class education, educators are deeply valued as skilled professionals and educators - not politicians - lead any change to our sector.


claim the title of having one of the best education systems in the world when workers and students are secure in the knowledge that they will be safe in their learning spaces. Thirdly, we will ensure that Labor and the Greens implement the promises we won in the 2016 ACT Election. This includes 20 new school psychologists, $100 million in infrastructure spending (with an urgent priority on heating and cooling solutions), continuing the 2015 funding to support teacher workload reduction and a guarantee that at least 70% of public VET funding will go to CIT. I am so proud of what we achieved in the Election. Every member who participated in our campaign has improved our system for all educators and students. I want to give my warmest congratulations to Angela Burroughs, who our union has elected as the AEU ACT President. Angela comes to us with a wealth of experience. She entered our profession after working for over a decade in the public service and is now a primary teacher at Ainslie Primary School. On joining our union, Angela immediately became involved in our public education advocacy and rallied on broader issues that, at its heart, are about creating a more caring, compassionate society. Angela’s strategic thinking, policy experience and strength of character make me extremely confident that she will represent the 3,500 AEU educators with poise, passion and distinction.

This year, we have three priorities that build on this vision. Firstly, our CIT Teachers and School Assistants have entered their enterprise bargaining round. Collective bargaining is the cornerstone of our union. In this forum, we fight for fair wages and conditions, and secure clauses that raise the prestige of our profession.

I also want to thank Lana Read, who has served as President of our union for four years. She has played a vital role in our union’s move from a servicing model to an organising model. Under this model, we invest in the skills of our members so that we can all support one another in our immediate workplaces, organise to achieve collective outcomes and celebrate our successes.

Secondly, we will campaign to address Occupational Violence in our workplaces. For too long, our members and students have been exposed to unacceptable levels of risk. The problem has been individualised, and has left workers bereft of the support networks and resources to prevent and address violence.

This evolution for us is not yet complete, but the level of activism in our union has grown considerably. Through it all, Lana has been an exceptional steward – always calm, always strategic and always driven by what is best for our 3,500 members.

That’s why we initiated negotiations with the Education Directorate in September last year. Occupational Violence is not simply a school-based issue. This is a system responsibility. We can only


Glenn Fowler AEU ACT Secretary



2017 TERM 1 Upcoming Events RSVP at aeuact.org.au/events

BRANCH EXECUTIVE Tuesday, 28th February 5.30pm - 8.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton ACT NEW EDUCATORS’ CONFERENCE Thursday, 2nd March - Friday, 3rd March 9.00am - 4.00pm The Duxton, O’Connor (All new educators are invited & eligible to take industrial leave - see p.43)

WEEK 6 WEEK 1 SUB-BRANCH ELECTIONS Elections will be organised by your SubBranch and held at your workplace.

WEEK 2 BRANCH EXECUTIVE Tuesday, 7th February 5.30pm - 8.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton

WEEK 3 SUB-BRANCH LEADERS TRAINING Thursday, 16th February 12.00pm - 4.00pm AEU Boardroom, Barton (Sub-Branch Presidents, Vice-Presidents & Secretaries are invited & eligible to take industrial leave - see p.43) BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday, 18th February 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid

WEEK 4 LEARN HOW COUNCIL WORKS Wednesday, 22nd February 3.45pm - 5.00pm Lyneham Primary School TAFE COUNCIL Friday, 24th February 1.30pm - 4.00pm Rooms E12 A & B, CIT Reid Learning Centre

WOMEN’S NETWORK Tuesday, 7th March 4.30pm - 5.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton RAINBOW NETWORK Thursday, 9th March 4.30pm - 5.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton

WEEK 7 ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER NETWORK Tuesday, 14th March 4.30pm - 5.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton SCHOOL ASSISTANTS’ NETWORK Thursday, 16th March 4.30pm - 5.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton

WEEK 8 BRANCH EXECUTIVE Tuesday, 21st March 5.30pm - 8.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton BIRRIGAI INDUSTRIAL TRAINING Friday, 24th March - Saturday, 25th March 9.00am Friday to 2.00pm Saturday Birrigai Outdoor School (All members are invited & eligible to take industrial leave, overnight accomodation provided - see p.43)






BRANCH EXECUTIVE Tuesday, 4th April 5.30pm - 8.30pm AEU Boardroom, Barton

AEU FILM NIGHT Wednesday, 5th April 5.00pm - 9.00pm Palace Electric Cinema, New Acton

TAFE COUNCIL Friday, 31st March 1.30pm - 4.00pm Rooms E12 A & B, CIT Reid Learning Centre

AEU FRIDAYS Friday, 7th April Wear your AEU T-shirt to work & hold a Sub-Branch morning tea

BRANCH COUNCIL Saturday, 1st April 9.00am - 12.00pm J Block Theatre, CIT Reid

IMAGE: The AEU ACT contingent at the Refugee Rally in Civic Square, 30 October 2016



IMAGE: Jacqui, Karl-Erik, Gian and Roger handing out for Gonski on the 2016 Federal election day.




EVERY WORKER HAS A RIGHT TO COME HOME SAFE FROM WORK Occupational Violence has negative impacts on both workers and students. This year, we are campaigning to make sure you and your students are safe in our schools.



“Occupational violence (also referred to as workplace violence) is defined as ‘any accident, incident or behaviour that departs from reasonable conduct in which a person is assaulted, threatened, harmed, injured in the course of, or as a direct result of, his or her work.” ACT Government definition






he right of a worker to be safe from injury in his or her workplace is

as fundamental as the right of every child to an education. This right to return home to our family, free from a workplace-imposed injury, is shared by all workers, irrespective of whether they work in a school or in a hospital, in a restaurant or on a construction site.


While it can be difficult for our profession, where we give so much of ourselves to others, our own safety is paramount if we are going to be successful educators.

long process of learning new skills. Unfortunately, some workers leave our profession as a direct consequence of workplace violence.

Some of our colleagues have sustained workplace injuries. Some of these injuries will heal with time and some won’t. Some workers have been confined to a hospital ward. Others must re-arrange their personal lives to accommodate their now restricted abilities.

If we are going to be one of the best education systems in the world, we cannot allow more of our colleagues’ lives to be turned upside-down and redefined because of occupational violence. Instead, we must address occupational violence as a system. When we individualise this problem, we will fail. For this shift to be possible, it is essential that the employer elevates workplace safety to its rightful prominence.

For these workers, their whole world must change. When they are with their families, what they can do with their children, is limited and sometimes painful. When they return to work, they must constantly assess whether they are able to teach how they used to and make adjustments to accommodate their injuries, Some workers need to change their roles and go through the

The change we are campaigning for cannot just be policies, procedures, protocols and matters we can depend on. There must also be a tangible cultural shift in our workplaces, and additional resources to support this change.


In the midst of finding solutions for this complex issue, there are two things we must not do. Firstly, we cannot let this issue divide us. For too long, our members have been exposed to unacceptable levels of risk. Whether you are a teacher, a school assistant, a school leader or you are currently working in the Education Support area of the Directorate, occupational violence exists in our system and employees at all levels are currently exposed to it. When one worker is harmed at work, we all must carry the burden and the mantle for change. Secondly, we must resist the temptation to offer an explanation about why occupational violence is occurring. While violence is confronting and challenging, and an explanation is an attempt to create reason amongst chaos, it also carries the suggestion that the victim of violence somehow provoked, antagonised or brought it on. We do not blame the victims of violence. Every AEU member must offer their support and organise to make sure every worker can come home safe. This campaign is also about stopping violence infecting our children’s lives. In our broader society, violence is a major issue. Each year, young men in particular are rushed to emergency after being victims of alcohol-fueled violence. One in six women and one in twenty men will experience domestic violence. In Australia, 17% of women and 4% of men have experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.* We are not miracle workers and we cannot guarantee that all our young people will not be exposed to violence. We can, however, stop violence from coming

into our schools. We can decide what happens in our classrooms, hallways and playgrounds. We will not normalise violence. We will push back against this societal violence and change children’s lives for the better. At this time, the education system, by its own admission, has serious work to do. Some of our

the beginning of the year to an anxious, obviously scared child who literally clings to her mother and cannot enter her own learning space.” While physical violence often takes prominence, verbal violence is also deeply damaging. I spoke to a school assistant who told me about a student who

“I worry that I am allowing children to witness things that warp their judgement about relationships and respect towards others, that they are beginning to adjust to the normality of violence.” members and fellow professionals who have experienced occupational violence have submitted their stories to WorkSafe. These stories are a stark reminder that the way we approach occupational violence matters for everyone in our school environments. One member writes, “I worry that I am allowing children to witness things that warp their judgement about relationships and respect towards others, that they are beginning to adjust to the normality of violence. In particular, I think about the look of fear on an eight-year-old’s face as he watched me get punched in the nose, and the way he clung by my side for the days that followed to make sure I was alright – to make sure he was alright.” Another member says, “I have worked in a classroom where young girls were told to ‘ignore’ boys being violent towards them. I have shamefully followed direction and told these girls to ignore it too. I have witnessed the demise of one girl, from a confident, articulate young girl at

threatened to sexually assault her with words too graphic to relay here. She felt deeply shamed and embarrassed, and could not bring herself to report the abuse. Verbal violence is a central reason why we must create the language that’s appropriate for a school environment. When children come to school, they arrive with the language of their homes. We must work together to teach children that words can be harmful and equip them with a language that is appropriate in public spaces - both for our colleagues and for the future of that child. Safe workplaces are also the best learning spaces. These are two sides of the same coin. For both our colleagues and our students, we will not accept the emotional, physical and psychological harm of experiencing or witnessing violence in our schools. * Both statistics were results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2012 Personal Safety Survey.





NEGOTIATIONS COMMENCED The AEU presented the Survey’s findings to the employer and began fortnightly negotiation meetings.

AEU SURVEY LAUNCH The Occupational Violence Survey demonstrated chronic under-reporting, regular use of personal leave for workplace injuries, and a lack of training about WHS rights and obligations.

NOVEMBER 2016 ACT MINISTER DISCUSSIONS The AEU commenced discussions with the incoming Education and Industrial Relations Ministers.



EU officers have been negotiating with EDU to ensure

that we have rigorous and well-supported processes

Our negotiations are informed by the feedback we have received from AEU members. The AEU and the Education Directorate are working to develop draft policy templates and negotiate resources for workplaces to best support workers’ safety.

addressed as part of a systemic approach that will simultaneously protect staff and ensure that every student gets access to the best possible education. Some of the issues currently being considered by the negotiating teams include:

Members experiencing or re-

• Exploring options for alternative settings;

challenges are:

• Training and induction processes;

in place that will ensure the sponding to occupational violence tell us that the biggest health and safety of AEU members in their workplace.

• Knowing what occupational violence is; • Having a clear understanding of what is a reasonable response to an incident of occupational violence; • Being able to know what will occur after reporting occupational violence; and • Having clear communication and consultation after an incident has occurred. The negotiation process continues to uncover new factors that must be considered and


• Clear communication of roles and responsibilities in relation to occupational violence; • Ensuring that all work groups, including relief staff, school assistants, new educators, staff in specialist settings, school psychologists, NSET members, network leaders and school leaders receive training appropriate to their needs, roles and responsibilities; • The role of centralised services such as the Health, Safety and Wellbeing section;


MARCH 2017 AEU CONSULTATION The AEU will discuss the negotiations’ outcomes with members at Branch Council, the Birrigai Industrial Training and at Sub-Branch Meetings, and incorporate feedback into the final negotiations.

• Guidance to staff on what to do if they are concerned about an unsafe work environment; and • Clear service standards that articulate the behaviours expected of students, parents, carers and community members.

31ST MARCH 2017 THE EMPLOYER’S CONSULTATION DRAFT WILL BE RELEASED The AEU and the employer has agreed that the results of the negotiations will be released on this date for a three month consultation period.

Prior to the finalisation of negotiations, there will be a period for both the employer and the AEU to consult with their members, and feedback and suggestions on these matters are welcome. If you are interested in getting involved in the AEU Occupational Violence Working Group, contact the AEU Office at aeuact@aeuact.org.au. AEU ACT BRANCH



THE ISOLATION OF A WORKPLACE INJURY Andrew Wright, High School Teacher


t’s just a joke. Where’s your sense of humour? We didn’t mean anything

by it.

We’ve heard these excuses proffered about sexism, racism, and comments on sexualities, but what about the male teacher whose female students make comments about his genitals, his sexuality, or his masculinity?

colleague, but you might notice them taking extra time in the bathroom before classes or avoidance of contact with parents.

What happens when he is told by male students to go f^€k himself twice in one day? What happens when stress and anxiety are triggered by attending the classes where these students will be?

It’s like an insidious beast that grows within, stalling work and relationships within the staff room. It leads to withdrawal from socialising, and to unusual mistakes.

I can tell you that one possibility is a breakdown. Under that umbrella come terms like anxiety, stress, heart palpitations, nauseated, fear, and instability.

That teacher is unlikely to tell you what’s going on, even if you ask, RUOK? Why? Shame. Pride. Pain. Maybe all of these.

A breakdown may not be obvious at first. It may show itself initially in the time it takes that teacher to get in their car, or in the time it takes them to get out after parking in the car park. You may not see that from your struggling


Whatever that teacher’s tell, if you take notice, you’ll find it.

Many of us became teachers because we are sensitive, intuitive people. These qualities make us the people, and teachers, we are. It makes sense then that those sensitivities would make some of us both targets and susceptible to psychological injuries.


Being a man, being a father, being older than many graduates, is no defence against the dark arts of teenage rebellion. None of those attributes is necessarily helpful in understanding the mean spirited nature of others. None are necessarily accepted by the students as resources to be tapped, but rather are often seen as weaknesses to be attacked. And when these attacks wound, the effects can be crippling to the victim, whilst going unnoticed by those around about them, until that victim quietly slips below the waves and is gone. They say that’s how people drown; they say the Hollywood depiction of someone drowning is usually far more active and violent than the fact. That’s why lifeguards are trained to spot the silent drowner. Perhaps, along with the many hours of PL that we do, some of us should be trained as teacher lifeguards. Perhaps, as well as the psychologists, we need to have someone in each staff room who is trained to read their colleagues, and given the time to respond to crises. Because schools are such busy places; because teachers and executives are so busy all of the time; because we do not necessarily know ourselves where the breaking point is, perhaps we need for another person to say, “You need time out. Come and sit down and tell me about your life as a teacher.” A gesture as simple, and as deep, as this might be the one that saves a colleague from the abyss. In particular, our current environment and expectations are not conducive to the success or wellbeing of many new educators, and that this is one of the

reasons we lose so many in their beginning years. Perhaps it is time we took a leaf from the book of Scandinavian teaching and placed our new educators under the safe and sure guidance of experts, rather than teaching swimming as my grandfather did, throwing me into the deep end until I learned

imperative. It is not enough to assume everything is going ok because the new educator has not reported a problem. Senior staff can actively support the new educator in transferring skills to them that can only be gained with time. Like the example of drowning used above, we know that we

They say that’s how people drown; they say the Hollywood depiction of someone drowning is usually far more active and violent than the fact. That’s why lifeguards are trained to spot the silent drowner. to survive. I did learn to keep my head above the water, but I am still not a confident, proficient swimmer, able to teach others. Procedures in a school are another important foundation stone for the new educator, just as they should be for the experienced teacher and the administrator alike. The thing about procedures is, they only work when everyone is following them. A new educator might have read the book on classroom management, read the tome provided to them that lists the different responses to student behaviours, and even understood most of it, but implementing those policies and procedures is a completely different ballgame. Understanding the machinations of the system is another vital aspect of surviving the teaching experience. They can be armour against much that students throw at them. In this case, mentoring and monitoring of the successes and failures of the new educator is

cannot throw a new swimmer into the pool, or ocean, without constantly, actively, supervising them until they have shown they are a competent swimmer. Yet, in our schools, there are always demands on our attention. There are always fires to be fought. There are always interruptions to the moments when you think you might make that call, write that note, or send that email. Life in a school is always hectic. This is a problem. It’s a problem for morale. It’s a problem for communication. It’s a problem for new educators who say they’re fine and there’s no time to keep an eye out for what’s not being said. It is time we made a greater effort in keeping new swimmers close enough to grab should they lose their footing on the hidden obstacles and sink before our eyes.




As a member of the 2016-2020 ACT Legislative Assembly,

I PLEDGE TO Work to ensure that over the life of the Assembly at least 15 new psychologists are delivered for the public school system, in addition to allied health professionals, in implementing the recommendations of the Schools For All report; Push for a guarantee that at least 70% of public VET funding will go to CIT and therefore that contestability is capped at 30%; Work to ensure sustainable teacher workloads and high quality learning environments through continuation of the funding provided in 2015 to support school teacher workload reduction and capping of public school class sizes at 22 for Preschool, 21 in Years K-3, 30 in Years 4-6, 32 in Years 7-9, 30 in Year 10, and 25 in Years 11-12, or equivalent; Ensure delivery of promised school infrastructure upgrades by the government with heating and cooling solutions as an urgent priority; Advocate actively for full federal funding under the National Education Reform (Gonski) Agreement; Recognise that when it comes to education at all levels, any government’s primary obligation must be to public education. NAME DATE SIGNATURE AEU ACT BRANCH


OUR BIG ACT ELECTION WINS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION This is our AEU Election Pledge. Every ACT Greens candidate signed it, and ACT Labor stated that they will commit to the majority of points. The Canberra Liberals committed to fund infrastructure upgrades. AEU ACT BRANCH




Glenn Fowler, AEU ACT Secretary


lections are important This is especially powerful for our points in time to campaign for change. In

our representative democracy, it is the one moment where all politicians feel vulnerable to the electoral might of its citizens.

union, where one in every 100 Australian adults is an AEU member. For the other 99 adults, they are our family, friends, parents of our students, current students and past students. If we organise and focus on our issues that have clear, tangible benefits for our community, we can make an enormous impact on who forms government. If we leverage this power, we can win some of the hardest battles to improve our public education system. I am proud that so many of our members engaged in our 2016 ACT Election campaign. It is a direct result of your commitment to a fairer, more equitable education sector that we will see marked improvements in our workplaces over the next four years.


At the heart of our campaign was ensuring that the political parties made education commitments in line with our six-point AEU Election pledge (see p.18). That’s why we approached the ACT Greens, ACT Labor and the Canberra Liberals to sign our pledge. The Greens fully committed to our pledge, and every candidate signed it at our Branch Council. I commend Shane Rattenbury, the former ACT Education Minister, for taking a lead on and setting the standard for education policies in the election. ACT Labor committed to the majority of our pledge, with the exception of guaranteeing at least 70% of public VET funding will continue to go to CIT and capping school class sizes. Labor excelled in their commitment to employ 20 new school-based psychologists, which means we will near the ratio of one psychol-



In 2016, the ACT Government committed to delivering 20 new school psychologists, continuing the 2015 funding provided for teacher workload reduction, and investing $100 million in school infrastructure upgrades, with an urgent focus on heating and cooling. Over the next four years, we will keep track on the implementation of these commitments to make sure the Government delivers on its promises.

TIMELINE PROVIDED (f ive every year over four years)



ogist to every 500 students by 2020. The Canberra Liberals committed to funding school infrastructure upgrades, but would not commit to any of our other pledge points. To show the might of our union, we made sure that we rewarded positive policy commitments. Unlike the Federal Government, the ACT Government is elected by the hare-clark system, where a candidate’s name recognition is incredibly important. That’s why we hit the streets in key electorates to show our support for a select number of Greens and Labor candidates. We also ran radio and social media advertisements, which highlighted that Labor and the Greens will advocate for the full Gonski funding, and the Canberra Liberals will not. This is not the case in other states and territories, where some state-based Liberal politicians support funding Gonski in full. This final push for Gonski funding is so important because the fifth and sixth years are when the real funding kicks in. This injection of funds will mean that every ACT public school is substantially better off. Unfortunately, right as we finish the fourth year of funding, the Federal Government has proposed another model that would redirect a considerable proportion of public funds to private schools. This model is not sector-blind, and it is not based on need.


ed towards young people and students, and they will develop traffic management plans for every school. ACT Labor stated that they will fund the Safe Schools program to counteract the withdrawn Federal Government funding, provide every high school student with a tablet computer, build a new school in Molonglo and expand two others in Gungahlin, and station lollipop traffic controllers at twenty high-risk schools.

Now, our union must pivot to holding the ACT Government to account. The commitments to invest in and protect our public schools sit among dozens of other promises. We must ensure the commitments we won are not lost amongst the noise.

This final push for Gonski funding is so important because the fifth and sixth years are when the real funding kicks in. The Canberra Liberals promised to give an additional $17.5 million to non-government schools for children with special needs, set aside land for a new Catholic school at Molonglo and a non-government school in Belconnen’s west, and install flashing lights outside schools. Following an election result where Labor won 12 seats, the Liberals won 11 seats, and the Greens won 2 seats, Labor and the Greens have now reformed the ACT Government.

Outside of our pledge commitments, the parties made a number of other promises.

Yvette Berry is now Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Rachel Stephen-Smith is Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Meegan Fitzharris continues as Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research. All three MLAs are members of ACT Labor.

The Greens stated that they will fund counselling services in the community that are target-

As part of forming Government, Labor and the Greens created a parliamentary agreement


that outlines their agenda over the next four years (p.23). This agreement is layered on top of the election commitments we gained, and reinforces many of these promises.

To ensure that the promises made to our union are delivered, we will do two things. First, we will closely track the progress of the commitments’ implementation. Our thermometers on page 21 will be included in every Educator until the promises for more psychologists, workload reduction resources, and school infrastructure investment are delivered in full. Second, for the commitments that are harder to measure in dollars and cents, we will monitor and put a spotlight on any meetings, announcements or policies that relate to the other promises we won. An important yardstick for us will always be whether the ACT Government is fulfilling its primary obligation to public education. Our universal system will never play second fiddle to non-government schools and VET businesses that operate on the fundamental premise that some students will always be excluded.



1 Will continue to strongly advocate for the Commonwealth Government to honour the original six year Gonski funding agreement, in full, because the Gonski model of needsbased schools funding is the best chance for every Canberra child, attending a public, independent or Catholic school, to reach their full potential

3 Agree that the Government will employ an additional 20 school psychologists over the term to strengthen mental health and wellbeing support in our schools, strengthen community based counselling services for children and young people, and implement a streamlined referral process that can be utilised by all schools

5 Continue social and emotional learning programs in schools to enhance the skills of children and young people to engage in respectful relationships, including to prevent violence and sexual assault

2 Recognise that the Canberra Institute of Technology should remain the primary provider of high-quality vocational training in the ACT, and commit to maintain the CIT under public ownership. The Government will continue to directly fund CIT to a minimum of 70% of total ACT Government funding for VET

4 Employ an additional four senior teachers with expertise in pedagogy, learning difficulties, and literacy and numeracy programming, to implement a coaching and mentoring model to build teaching capacity; and conduct a trial of innovative teaching methods

6 Implement measures to improve road safety around schools, including the development of individual traffic management plans for every school.






t is not unusual to hear teachers from schools across Canberra lament

over what seems to be an ever increasing workload. Malkara Specialist School is no exception. Therefore, winning the additional resources that address this issue in the latest Enterprise Agreement was extremely welcome.

Teachers were quickly canvassed regarding workload concerns, a Workload Committee was formed and the Malkara Specialist School Workload Reduction Plan 2016-2017 was developed and introduced in Term 1, 2016. Jane Sandeman was redeployed from a classroom based LSA3 to become our Workload Reduction Assistant, and very quickly and efficiently embraced this role. The prioritised tasks identified in our Workload Reduction Plan are creating resources for new programs, supporting the individual needs of students, and ensuring that we collect and evaluate data to see whether we have been successful. Creating resources for new programs The introduction across our school of both the Four Blocks


Literacy program and the augmented communication tool Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Displays (PODD) has great benefits for our students’ literacy and communication skills. The individual nature of our students, however, places demand on staff to continually create, review, adapt and adjust the specialist resources that we require to teach every unique student in our school. Instead of teachers spending many hours meeting the extra workload this demands, Jane now: • constructs new PODDs; • makes adaptations for visually impaired students; • repairs, replaces, laminates, binds and creates new communication cells as required;


• develops and maintains literacy resources for ‘Guided Reading’, ‘Word Walls’, ‘Signing In’, and ‘Writing’ by scanning, enlarging and laminating books; and • makes PPT and Clicker books for T drive, including taking photos as required. Jane has also adopted a central role in the Fresh Tastes program, which was introduced in Term 1, 2016. Jane supports teachers by: • shopping and maintaining stock; • developing and coordinating teacher and student support materials; and • making sign, posters and support stories. Supporting the individual needs of students It is always time consuming to

develop the visual resources to support individual learning styles and behaviour as part of the Boardmaker program. Visual supports need to be regularly updated to meet the changing needs of our students’ and to meet the needs of the new students who enroll at our school. This is particularly demanding for new teachers.

and managing extremely complex behaviours, teachers at Malkara write a minimum of three complex and comprehensive reports each year for each student. This year, Jane has relieved teachers of the administrative component associated with preparing these reports by carrying out the tasks of initial report and conditional formatting.

Early in Term 1, priority was given for Jane to:

Creating individual support for students is also important for safety procedures. For instance, at Malkara we require individually developed visual supports and schedules for fire and lock-down drills. These assist students to understand what is happening during these drills, and enables them to follow expectations in an orderly and safe manner. Once again, Jane has played a crucial role by working to develop visual resources for teachers to use to support the students.

• consult with beginning and new teachers to determine needs and create resources for their use; and • provide ongoing assistance to all teachers for the maintenance and development of such visuals. In addition to writing programs that address all areas of the Australian Curriculum, planning to meet individual teaching styles



The Data Collection and Evaluation Process Jane liaises closely with the Workload Committee to ensure that the determined workload priorities are addressed. Within the priority guidelines, teachers make written requests for Jane to address. A ‘Workload Reduction Suggestion Box’ is also provided in our staff room, which the Workload Committee then reviews and tries to incorporate. The data collection and evaluation process developed by the Malkara Workload Committee has two areas of focus. The first area is the time spent by the Workload School Assistant on tasks identified in Key Actions. For each school term, Jane provides the Committee with a breakdown of the workload reduction tasks she has completed in her allocated 75% of ‘workload reduction’ time. This information was provided to teachers before the first of two teacher surveys.



The second area is teachers’ attitudes to the current initiative and prioritisation of workload suggestions. The first of two surveys occurred during a teacher meeting early in Term 3. Priority was given to the need for this to be quick and not provide teachers with yet another task. Questions were: 1) Has the introduction of the Workload LSA made a positive impact on your workload? 2) Do you feel that teacher suggestions are addressed in a satisfactory manner by the Workload Committee? Answers to both questions were positive. Examples of teacher comments received: “Jane’s work helps enormously. I was so delighted to find all the preliminary work to reports done. She has also created a number of resources for my room”.

“Jane’s assistance with making resources for my literacy and communication programs has given me adequate time to plan and prepare lessons as well as assess student achievements”. “The meetings at Malkara are very effective, well managed and requests are heard and acted upon”. “Jane’s professional work with making a PODD for each member of staff as well as adding extra cells to support a curriculum focus has been such a fantastic help”. The provision of additional funding to reduce teacher workload has already made a huge difference in my school. The tasks Jane performs will not go away at the end of the two year funding. We must ensure the Government delivers its commitment to continue the 2015 workload reduction funding so that teachers are not once again left to ‘carry the load’.



Do first year teachers have maximum face-to-face teaching hours of 20 hours per week in primary schools and 18 hours per week in high schools and colleges? (EA P5.1-3) Are new educators using the 15 days of New Educator Support over their first three years of teaching? (EA P5.4-8) Are teachers other than first year teachers limited to face-to-face teaching hours no greater that 21 hrs 30 mins for primary classroom teachers, 19 hrs for secondary classroom teachers, 16 hrs for primary executive teachers, 12 hrs for secondary executive teachers and 8 hrs for deputy principals? (EA Q4 and Q5) Does the school’s Workload Committee meet regularly and make recomendations to the school’s principal and/or executive team? (EA Q8.1-3) Does the school have a Workload Reduction Plan that is making a positive impact on teacher workload? (EA Q9.1-2) Do staff members know what the additional resource attached the Workload Reduction Plan is tasked with? (EA Q9.2) Is the purpose of all staff meetings clear and do all staff meetings assist staff to perform their core role? (EA Q8.4 (a)-(c)) Is the need for each of the various staff meetings reviewed at least annually? (EA Q8.4 (d)) Do teachers have a break of at least 30 minutes (other than release time) every day in which no duties are expected of them? (EA Q1.5) Are playground duty expectations reasonable and equitable? Are hours of attendance at the school negotiated on a collective or individual basis? (EA Q1.3) Are links between the school’s annual professional learning program (or PLC) and TQI requirements maximised? (EA P6) Are all classes in line with the AEU Class Sizes Policy and, if not, have steps been taken by relevant staff in line with Attachment A of that policy? (AEU Class Sizes, endorsed 19 March 2016) Has there been effective consultation with all staff about workload matters by the Workload Committee? (EA G1, Q8) AEU ACT BRANCH

In your first term, develop a plan with your supervisor to provide structure for your first year. Include new education days in your plan. New educators should negotiate this plan with their supervisor during Term 1. (2014-2018 Teaching Staff Agreement, p. 124, clause P5)

In their first year, new educator classroom teachers in preschools and primary schools may be required to teach a maximum of 20 face-to-face hours per week. (2014-2018 Teaching Staff Agreement, p. 130, clause Q5)

In their first year, new educator classroom teachers in high schools and colleges may be required to teach a maximum of 18 face-to-face hours per week, averaged over the teaching year. (2014-2018 Teaching Staff Agreement, p. 130, clause Q5)

New Educators receive 15 days over three years for professional learning and support. Negotiate and plan these with your supervisor. They can be used for lesson observations, report writing, professional learning and mentor opportunities, providing you have negotiated in advance how you will use these days. (2014-2018 Teaching Staff Agreement p. 124, clause P5)

New Educators must have a ‘recruitment rating’ in order to receive a short-term contract, a

New Educator Support Plan

Primary Face-to-face Hours

Secondary Face-to-face Hours

New Educator Support Days


In your first three years of teaching, you can access a number of entitlements that aim to assist you in navigating the early years of entering the teaching workforce. These conditions and entitlements apply to all contract and permanent New Educators.


Teachers Quality Institute

Managers, Mentors and an AEU New Educator Contract

To work as a school teacher in the ACT, you are required to register with the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI), a regulatory body for school teacher registration. New educators will be provisionally registered when they begin teaching. If you have any questions relation to registration, contact TQI directly on 02 6205 8867.

AEU New Educator Contact – As an AEU member, your AEU Sub-Branch New Educator Contact can answer questions about your rights and entitlements. They can also provide you with assistance and support in negotiating difficult situations should they arise.

Mentors – Your mentor can assist you with questions relating to classroom practice.

Managers – Speak with your manager or supervisor if you have any questions relating to school processes. You will find their knowledge on matters such as behaviour management invaluable.

New educator supports:

R1 - Outstanding rated pre-service teachers who will subsequently be eligible R2 - Eligible for offers of permanency. R3 - Eligible for short and long term contracts (up to a year). R4 - Eligible for short term contracts (one term or below). R5 - Teachers currently approved for casual work.

long-term contract or permanent work. Depending on your rating, schools have limits on the type of vacancy they can offer a New Educator. (Procedures for Filling Classroom Teacher Vacancies, p. 4, ‘Section 3: Classroom Teacher Recruitment Pool’)





here is no guarantee that your pay and working conditions

will improve as time rolls on. Your only guarantee is that, by being a member of a union, we can collectively bargain for these improvements.


Glenise, Julie, Jodie and Jane at the 2016 School Assistant Conference, where we began to develop the Log of Claims


Every dollar, every day off, every protection, has been hard fought for through rounds of negotiations where dedicated union members throw all of their energy into a vision for a better life for all of us. We are all members of a union because, together, we have the powerful threat to collectively withdraw our labour. Equally, when an employer bargains in good faith, workers can come together and ensure the best outcomes in their workplace. In countries where unions have been attacked over time, industries where workers are alienated through small workplaces and unsociable working hours, and in societies where people’s education and skills are deeply unequal, workplace rights and protections barely exist or are not adhered to. In the United States, some work-

ers wake up every day without knowing whether they have a job. Every morning, some workers wait for a truck to roll up to see whether they will be selected for a days work. When these workers are undocumented, they cannot call upon the protections of the law. In Australia, the minimum wage for an adult worker is $17.70 an hour - a figure that unions fight to protect and improve. Last year, unions revealed the wage theft of workers at 7-Eleven, with some workers being paid as little as $5 an hour and working over 60 hours a week. Here, in ACT schools and at CIT, workers could be paid the award rate if our union had not collectively bargained for successive Enterprise Bargaining Agreements. The award details the minimum wages and conditions an employee in a particular in-


dustry is entitled to. These minimum standards have also been negotiated by unions to weave an additional safety net to protect workers against aggressive employers. In our ACT EBA, an entry level school assistant will earn $27.30 an hour. Under the related award, school assistants would earn only $18.30 an hour. This difference - this $9 - accumulates to an additional $14,654.50 every year. The story is the same for CIT teachers. Under the award, an entry level Vocational Education and Training (VET) teacher will earn $23.25 an hour. Under our CIT Agreement, this rate is $36.35 an hour. The difference is $25,034.10 a year. For school teachers, the minimum award rate is $23.67 an hour, and the comparable rate in our agreement is $32.92 an hour. The annual difference is $18,278.00. In all three awards and agreements, as workers move up the pay scales, the wage differences only become more stark. This comparison does not take into account the improved conditions

and workplace protections that have been won in our collective bargaining. This is why collective bargaining is the mainstay of our union. Everything else comes second to this. Individual workplace disputes, political campaigns to win additional funding to our sector and negotiating with the employer to implement new policies would mean very little if we did not collectively bargain.

The first union I joined was then called Actors Equity. That was in 1989 when I was first employed. My first employer, a community theatre group, told me I could not work unless I joined the union. This was a no brainer for me as I have come from a long line of proud union members. In all of my years as a union member I have never heard of a non-union member who has written to their employer and de-

In our ACT EBA, an entry level school assistant will earn $27.30 an hour. Under the related award, school assistants would earn only $18.30 an hour. When we win workplace rights and entitlements outside the bargaining round, as we succeeded in with the Health Access at School (HASS) program, it must be cemented through inserting clauses in our EBA.

manded to return the $14,654.50 (or whatever the figure would have been) that they earned above the award, or insisted on divvying this figure up amongst the union members in their workplace.

Occasionally, workers will say that they cannot afford to be a member of a union, or that they are a conscientious objector to unionism. I say I can’t afford not to be a member of my union.

Our union will always collectively bargain to achieve the best possible outcomes for us. Without it, we would not have the security in our lives that makes everything else possible.




CIT Teachers & School Assistants



First meeting of ACT Government and Unions involved in Enterprise Agreement Bargaining, 15 December 2016


We have received our Notification from the ACT Government to initiate bargaining for the next CIT Teaching Staff and Administrative and Related Classifications (School Assistant Enterprise Agreements. Both of these existing agreements are due to expire on 30 June 2017.

represented the AEU in the first meeting on 15 December. Our Secretary and organisers will be part of the bargaining team at different times. Bargaining meetings will occur fortnightly, and sub-committees drafting minor/ technical and preserved matters will meet in the interim week.

In late 2016, we developed the claims by consulting with the AEU members who are covered by each agreement. The two log of claims were then endorsed by our Council and Executive.

Members who are covered by the agreements will receive regular email updates. You can also get involved through the School Assistant Network and TAFE Council (see page 7 for meeting dates).

Jacqui, our Industrial Officer,


BARGAINING LOG OF CLAIMS Since our full log of claims has not been presented to the employer yet, we have just included the headings here. The full logs will be included in our next magazine. If you are covered by one of these agreements, you will have an email from 2016 with the Log that relates to your agreement.



1. Pay

1. Pay

2. Casual leave

2. Qualifications

3. Professional responsibilities

3. Pathway to teaching

4. Joint Selection Committees

4. Workload

5. Workplace health and safety

5. Superannuation

6. Consultation

6. Pre-school planning

7. Faculty load

7. LSAs in specialist schools

8. Currency

8. Professional learning

9. Overtime

9. Occupational violence

10. Online teaching

10. HASS








n Term 4 2015, the parents of Jordan (a biologically male Year 3 student) con-

tacted the school. Jordan wanted to attend school dressed as a girl, and so started the process at our school of accommodating, supporting and eventually accepting a transgender student. This article is written to tell the story of this process and hopefully provide some insights to others who may, in the future need to support similar students.


Evie, 10 years, by Emma Leslie Photography as part of the series Transcend - Portraits of Transgender & Gender Diverse Youth

Firstly, a little context. Jordan has always been a well-liked student within the school. She has a strong peer group predominately of girls. From time to time Jordan would come to school with ribbons in her hair, and in the past she has worn a ‘Frozen Princess’ dress to a school disco. According to Jordan’s parents, the only time Jordan dressed as a boy was at school. While it has little to do with her gender, Jordan has a significant hearing impairment for which the school made adjustments and provides personalised support. From the school’s perspective, Jordan’s wish was unexpected, but in hindsight not surprising. Upon hearing Jordan’s wish, all we focused on were future problems, predominately toilets and teasing. On the positive side, we never considered saying ‘No’. However, our ability to fully support, or even understand Jordan’s wish was low. “We can’t have anyone in a dress going into the boy’s toilets” - This was a statement made during one of the first internal conversations around Jordan’s wish, and there was unanimous agreement about it. In hindsight, focusing first on the place of toilets with-

in what was a complex gender identity issue, shows how much we did not understand. Acknowledging this reality we sought help, consulted widely and listened. Meetings were held that included the school leadership, the school psychologist, Jordan’s teacher and Jordan’s parents. A Senior Psychologist from within the Education Directorate was brought in who was able to further provide advice and link Jordan’s parents to a local private psychologist, who specialised in the transgender area. Other interstate professionals with expertise in these issues were consulted. A positive, knowledge-rich network was created. The consistent advice was that it was appropriate for Jordan to be able to explore her gender identity at school, presenting as both a boy and as a girl for a while. A key priority outlined in the advice was to allow Jordan to lead the process herself. This was to give her space to make up her own mind and not to put her in either gender role completely. This advice became central to our approach. A meeting was held with Jor-




dan’s parents prior to the beginning of the school year to discuss the arrangements that would be in place. On the toilet issue, Jordan was encouraged to access a non-gender specific toilet that was in the administrative building of the school.

is following the arrangements put in place. Jordan seems more than capable of making her own choices and leading in this matter. We considered asking Jordan, but decided that our curiosity was less important than her dignity.

A full staff briefing was given prior to the beginning of the school year so that staff members were aware of the situation and in a position to provide support. The support staff that worked with Jordan around her hearing impairment was given one-on-one briefings ensuring that they were well equipped to support Jordan. It was decided not to pre-emptively discuss the topic with students, rather just manage and discuss the situation as they arose. Attendance at an upcoming camp was discussed and it was agreed that Jordan would be placed within a boy’s cabin.

Camp was a learning experience for us. Jordan is not the type of

How has the matter proceeded so far this year? Generally – so far so good. On the surface, there has not been any real problems. Jordan’s teacher reported that after the first few weeks of school there had only been a couple of comments of the nature – “oh look, Jordan is wearing a dress”. This comment motivated more by surprise than an intention to tease. The teacher having been fully engaged with the situation was able to respond well. Jordan’s teacher has made a conscious effort to avoid the common techniques of organising children on the basis of gender. On the whole the classroom and the playground seem to be successful. On the toilet issue, we are happy to report that we don’t know where Jordan goes to the toilet, though we doubt that she


making, her transition from a boy to a girl. However, the real change that needed to occur was within the school, particularly the mindset of the adults at the school. Jordan’s wish has changed us. Her wish has made us look at the world from a different perspective, and in doing so Jordan’s wish has made us grow as well.

The real change that needed to occur was within the school, particularly the mindset of the adults at the school. student to complain, there was no incidents and the boys accepted her in their cabin, but it didn’t seem right. Jordan is a girl and just as it would be uncomfortable for a girl to be in a boys cabin, it was clear that at times Jordan was uncomfortable as well. Jordan would endeavour to time her showers; time the cleaning of her teeth, etc., to when no other students were around. Having noticed Jordan often ‘hovering’, waiting for the communal facilities to be free, the supervising teacher let Jordan use the teacher’s bathroom, a decision that prompted a visible sign of relief on Jordan’s face. Next year the school will make the arrangements that need to be made for Jordan to be in the girl’s cabin. In many respects camp was a revelation for the school. Up until that point, we had made arrangements to successfully accommodate and support Jordan’s wish. It was not until camp that we really started seeing Jordan as a girl. When Jordan made her wish known the school’s focus was on the change that Jordan was

Based on our experience what advice would we have for other primary schools when catering for transgender students? 1. Trust the students to lead the way and try not to catastrophize what might happen. 2. Develop a diverse network including psychologists, teachers, the parents, school leaders, and local support services. When you are operating from a low information base, the more perspectives that are taken into consideration, the better the decision making process. 3. Finally, as a self-reflective check, if you or your school sees the student as a boy dressing as a girl (or visa versa) rather than just a girl or a boy depending on the gender they choose, there is more ‘mindset’ work still to be done. We will leave the final word to Jordan’s mum – “I’m not sure any of us will ever know exactly what is the right thing to do in given situations, all we can do is be there to support and follow their lead.”



• Ensure the school has specific inclusive Gender Diverse policies and procedures regarding gender affirmation, before they need to be implemented. • Have communication options, strategies and options with parents, teachers and students already developed. • Ensure the privacy of the student. • Ensure that the process for gender affirmation is led by the student, with support from staff. • Professional Development: Ensure staff are trained in gender diversity and have appropriate resources. • Think about things such as bathroom use, uniforms, sport and camp room allocations etc before they become issues. Let the student lead you to a choice that is right for them. • Think about school documents and records and how they can be changed. • Reach out for support, information and training: Call A Gender Agenda on (02) 6162 1924 or email us at support@genderrights.org.au AEU ACT BRANCH




SUB BRANCH Every member belongs to a Sub-Branch . You can organise to make changes at your site, and pass motions to go to Council.

We have approximately 3,500 financial members in the ACT across pre-schools, primary schools, high schools, colleges and TAFE (CIT).




This is the supreme policy making body. Councillors are elected annually by and from the financial members of their Sub-Branch.

Executive conducts branch affairs between Councils. They are biennially elected by and from the financial membership.


Delegates are elected biennally from the financial membership.




his year, we’re focusing on the small actions we can do every day in our schools and campuses. Our sub-branches are at the heart of this.




Our Sub-Branch

LEADERSHIP ROLES Do you think you could be a union leader? If you have the drive to make positive change in your workplace, read about the roles and talk to your 2016 SubBranch leaders. Our Sub-Branch elections are occuring throughout Week 0 and Week 1, and will be organised by your 2016 Sub-Branch.


Deputy President

The President presides over meetings, exercises a casting vote and makes sure the Sub-Branch’s actions are in keeping with the AEU Rules. As the leader of the SubBranch, the President will engage in our union’s campaigns and apply it to their SubBranch’s context. This year, these campaigns are on occupational violence, workload reduction and implementing the ACT Election wins.

In the President’s absence, the Deputy President performs the President’s duties. In addition, our union will train Deputy Presidents’ on how to act as the support person for a Sub-Branch member if the member is having a personal issue at work. This may involve sitting in meetings with the school/ CIT leadership to discuss a workplace issue.




Health and Safety Representative (HSR)

The Secretary organises the Sub-Branch. They 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 (e.g. if your site is experiencing occupational violence, organise a meeting that discusses the available supports at your site and how to get involved in the AEU campaign). The Secretary also keeps track of who are the financial members of the Sub-Branch.

The HSR conducts regular workplace inspections, reports any potential or current hazards to managers, encourages colleagues to have their input on WHS issues, and uses their considerable power under the WHS Act when necessary. If you are elected as the HSR, the employer is required to provide you with accredited training.


Women’s Officer

Councillors will attend Councils (there are eight in a year), bring motions from the Sub-Branch to Council, and report back to the Sub-Branch about Council decisions and discussions. Your Sub-Branch will have a different number of Councillor positions depending on its size.

The Women’s Officer engages in the Women’s Network and, in this Network, develops a campaign that tackles a gender inequality issue. The Women’s Officer will also encourage women to run for AEU leadership roles, engage in training, and raise issues or motions at meetings.

New Educator Contact

Workload Committee

The New Educator Contact talks to new educators about joining our union, supports new educators to access their workplace entitlements (see p.28), and encourages them to become involved in our democratic structures.

Representative This position is the Sub-Branch’s representative on the Workload Committee. They bring the Sub-Branch’s suggestions to Committee and report back to the Sub-Branch on any discussions or decisions.




Our Term 1

TRAINING SESSIONS This year, our union is focused on providing training and advice to our Sub-Branches so that you are empowered to organise for change in your workplace, can ensure our campaign successes are implemented at your site, know what your workplace rights are, and can participate in our democratic structures. SUB-BRANCH LEADERS WORKSHOP




The session will seek leaders’ input into our 2017 campaigns, focusing on the Term 1 occupational violence campaign, provide updates on our collective bargaining and train members on how to be a support person for a Sub-Branch member who is experiencing a workplace issue or dispute.

The conference will explain how to plan and access new educator conditions, issues for probationary teachers, practical professional workshops and consultations on the AEU occupational violence negotiations. Participants will also learn about the support and member services offered by our union.

This is open to Sub-Branch Presidents, Deputy Presidents and Secretaries, and they are eligible to take industrial leave.

This is open to educators in their first three years of employment and New Educator Contacts, and they are eligible to take industrial leave.

LEARN HOW COUNCIL WORKS 22 FEBRUARY The session will outline the Council rules, workshop how to write and pass a motion, and include a mock Council debate. This is open to all members, is recommended for new Councillors, and will be held outside of work hours.

If you have any questions about our training or suggestions about what we could do in the future, please contact the AEU Office at aeuact@ aeuact.org.au.


BIRRIGAI INDUSTRIAL TRAINING 24-25 MARCH This is the third year of our Birrigai Industrial Training. In the two-day conference, there will be guest speakers and a number of different sessions that you can choose to attend. These sessions will include workshops on our campaigns, updates on the school assistant and CIT teacher bargaining, knowing your industrial rights, and what to do if you have a problem and need to approach your manager,. This is open to all members, and you are eligible to take industrial leave.


HOW TO APPLY FOR INDUSTRIAL LEAVE To apply for industrial leave:


Submit an application for industrial leave in writing at least 14 days beforehand. This is in line with applying for other types of leave.


Complete a hardcopy of a leave form


Select type of leave ‘other’ and write ‘Industrial Leave’


Attach a copy of the course outline to the leave form


Submit the leave form to your manager/supervisor

If you require further assistance regarding industrial leave please contact the AEU Office on 6272 7900 or aeuact@aeuact.org.au.

Leave to attend industrial relations training is an entitlement set out in Clause G8 ‘Attendance at Industrial Relations Courses and Seminars’ in both the teaching staff EA and the ACTPS Admin & Staff related EA. This entitlement provides union members up to 15 days of paid industrial leave per year. The AEU & Education Directorate agree that where an employee has given reasonable notice and a clear need for the training is identified by the AEU notwithstanding the operational requirements of the school, the manager/supervisor will make every effort to facilitate employees attendance at industrial relations training.




Our 2017

EXECUTIVE ELECTIONS Our Branch Executive elections are coming up for the ten general members and two alternate members. The election will occur in May, and elected members will serve a two year term from July 2017 to June 2019. What does the Branch Executive do? The Branch Executive is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of our union. It has oversight over our finances, staffing, campaigns and collective bargaining. While the Branch Council is the supreme decision making body, the Branch Executive conducts our union’s operational affairs. What are the expectations of a Branch Executive member? Branch Executive members are expected to attend Branch Executive and Branch Council meetings, and review all relevant materials before making a decision. From this year, Executive members will also have two additional roles. Firstly, each Executive member will chair a Network or campaign working group. These Networks and groups will act as the think tanks on how we campaign for change, and will be open to the broader membership. Secondly, each Executive member will act as the Liaison Officer for a group of Sub-Branches. Sub-Branches will have a direct line to an Executive member to talk about how our campaigns are being rolled out and to seek support in bringing motions to Branch Council. The Liaison Officers will also look out for any trends in personal cases that may lead to a campaign, training or EA bargaining. What is the Branch Executive’s composition? There is a total of 15 members on the Branch Executive. The members are the President, Secretary, three Vice Presidents (two from the school sector and one from TAFE), eight school teacher or school psychologist members, one school assistant member and one TAFE member. There is also


a TAFE alternate and a school assistant alternate position. Last year, our Rules changed so that when you vote for the general members of the Executive (this excludes the President, Secretary or Vice Presidents), you can only vote for members who represent your workforce. For example, if you are a school assistant, you can only vote for the school assistant member and alternate member. How will the elections be conducted? In the Term 2 Educator, every nominee will have their picture and pitch published. This will also appear on the AEU ACT website. On the 13th May, all nominees will have an opportunity to address Council. Every member is invited to attend this Council meeting. The ballot to vote will be sent to every member’s home address, as they are registered with the AEU ACT office. Who is eligible to run for and vote in the election? To be eligible to both run and vote for the Executive, you must be a current financial member when the roll closes (13 March). KEY DATES 13 MARCH

The roll closes (make sure the AEU office has your updated address details so you can exerc ise your vote)


Nominations open


Nominations close


The ballot opens

22 May

The ballot closes

The results will be announced within a week of the ballot closing.




he NAPLAN results for Australia wide, one quarter of 2015 are in and they again illustrate the

unequal nature of the Australian and ACT education systems.

Year 9 students read at the same level as the top half of Year 3 students. Within Canberra these numbers are better, 15.5% of Year 9 students read with the same proficiency as 55% of Year 3.* This highlights both the inequality of Australia’s schooling and the scale of the problem. In a College of 1000 students, it is reasonable to estimate that as many as 150 students are reading at a level six years behind their peers. In order to address this issue, policy makers need to do more than rely on NAPLAN to bring about change. There has been no significant improvement in student results since NAPLAN was introduced and this demonstrates that the test itself is incapable of effecting wide scale reform in education. Nevertheless, NAPLAN does have a use - it identifies a gap in

literacy ability that relates to students’ socioeconomic status. For many students, this gap persists throughout their schooling and challenges education systems to find ways to address social factors that may be beyond their control. This does not, however, alter the central question as to why some young people with access to professional teachers and well-resourced schools remain semi-literate while their peers gain one of the best educations in the world. The answer may lie in the very documents that set out the rationale on which the public education system is based. The ACT Education Plan states that the ACT will provide an ‘opportunity’ to all students to benefit from an ‘accessible’ education. The onus is on a student making the most of the opportunity afford-



ed them, without reference to the very cultural factors, widely acknowledged in the literature, that make it so difficult for them to do so. In some respects, it is unsurprising that the Plan uses the language of opportunity, with the attendant implications of personal choice. Schools have become the most contested institutional battleground for larger political debates about the role of governments in providing services for the community. Appropriately or not, the prevailing social ethos of personal responsibility has become the standard by which young people are asked to engage with their world and the ACT Education system is doing no more than reflect this. However, the references to an accessible education rings hollow when it is being addressed to a Year 7 with limited literacy skills and no choice of school, teacher or level of resourcing. In other circumstances, it has the appearance of outright hypocrisy. A student from in one of our public schools can look out onto both the barren ACT Government playing field and the picket fence of the main oval at a private - but still publicly funded - school. The opportunities afforded this student are demonstrably different to another student coming from the same community, who attends the school next door. Unwittingly or not, the public system reinforces the message that the playing field is not equal. A student in this situation inherits a set of socioeconomic factors at home that are compounded by a culture of inequity throughout their schooling. In this sense, it is absurd to suggest that a semi -literate high school student is capable of exercising real choice.



In a concrete sense, young people lack the capacity to alter the situation that dictates the environment they operate in. While we understand the factors that contribute to the inequity this student faces, we are no closer to a solution. Unfortunately, one popular approach to inequity in education seems unrealisable in contemporary Australia

by the language presently used to describe ACT schools. One of our primary school’s School Vision Statement talks of building ‘skills’, positive ‘student engagement’ and valuing ‘positive human relationships’ but says nothing about preparing students for Year 7 at its feeder high school. Similarly, the high school ‘aims to provide opportunities to help each student to develop

The prevailing social ethos of personal responsibility has become the standard by which young people are asked to engage with their world. because the egalitarian premise at the heart of Finnish solution is not widely accepted. The Finns/Koreans/Japanese etc. possess the advantage of being monocultures in which citizens are by definition equal. In that environment, the premise of educational opportunity is not mediated by concerns about the fair distribution of resources. These societies simply do not divide their education systems into a hierarchy in which the best resourced schools are available to the most privileged families. The simple question then, is what can be done, within present constraints, to change the culture of our schools? The first thing we could do is shift the language we use about education away from opportunity and individual choice and place it firmly in the context of rights and obligations. This would reframe our responsibilities towards young people and have a profound impact on educational outcomes. The need to do so is illustrated

intellectually, aesthetically, morally, emotionally, physically and socially.’ but says nothing about preparing students for Years 1112. Lastly, its connected college prepares ‘our students for the world of today and tomorrow’ but makes no mention of work or further study. This is not an isolated example. Schools in the ACT simply do not describe their function in terms of having an obligation to prepare students for the next step in their lives. This is not a generalised and inadvertent omission; rather it reflects the fact that there is no standard, at any point in a student’s education, that a school requires a student to meet. A student can progress throughout their schooling, from a primary school to high school to college, without ever having met a single adult who is directly responsible for them achieving a minimum standard of literacy. At its most bizarre, there is not even a requirement that a student complete Year 10 before being admitted into college.


On entering college, they then confront a situation in which the funding for literacy programs ceases. In one of our colleges, not one student of the 150 with identified literacy needs is eligible for a single dollar of remedial assistance. These students are first subject to a culture of choice that compounds existing social disadvantage and then denied the resources they need to graduate from school functionally literate. The irony is that the choice to move, impervious to standards of achievement through the education system, is not a right extended to young people in other public aspects of their lives. They play sport if they go to training;

they’re employed so long as they do the work assigned to them and drive a car because they’ve demonstrated they have the competence to do so. In return they receive tangible benefits that allow them to more fully participate in society. This anomaly, between education and the wider world, undermines the school system at every level. Young people know they are being let down and it produces students who are incapable of civility in a class room, who decry the necessity of learning and who have little sense of the value of knowledge outside the purely instrumental.

lack the capacity to be ‘global citizens’ or ‘productive members of society’, indeed even fulfilled and happy, because they don’t have the skills necessary to understand the world they live in. In the end, the language of choice is glib. It allows a multitude of education apologists to disown responsibility for their most damning failure and shifts the blame onto the very people, students, who are incapable of objecting. For too many young people in our system ‘opportunity’ is neither accessible nor equitable. * My School data

The result is that many students




WOMEN’S CONFERENCE REPORT Rebecca Charles, Emma Cox, Emily Hills & Jane Rotgans


n Saturday the 8th and the 9th Sunday of October, women

delegates from the ACT joined ACT Branch Women’s Officer, Jacqui Agius to attend the AEU Federal Women’s Conference in Melbourne.


ACT delegates taking an obligatory pre-conference selfie. Left to right: Christine, Rebecca, Emily, Jane and Elise at back, Emma at front.


Our delegates were Emily Hills from Campbell High School, Jane Rotgans from Canberra College, Rebecca Charles from Gordon Primary School, Emma Cox from Red Hill Primary School and Elise Meredith at Ngunnawal Primary School. The theme of the conference was ‘Respect’. Saturday’s agenda included a panel discussion with Pat Forwarded, the Deputy Federal Secretary and Federal TAFE Secretary, and Terri Quinlan from the NSW Teachers Federation who shared her personal heart ache over being employed as a casual TAFE teacher for over 22 years. Pat and Terri highlighted the insecure working conditions that current TAFE teachers are faced with. The issues insecure workers face was underscored by Professor Sara Charlesworth’s keynote address. Sara presented statistical

data, which demonstrated a clear gender segregation in industries and occupations that favour men. She also noted that these feminised workforces were more likely to be in insecure employment. Next, Julie Streeter from Queensland’s Maryborough West State School presented her personal journey of the trials and tribulations she has faced when she continued to work past the age of retirement. Coupled with the prejudices often associated with being female, Julie battled through an additional problem of (as quoted), ‘not being the right age’. Although Julie continues to make a very real difference in the lives of the children she teaches, and despite a rich employment history, she is often asked, “when will you retire?’, “aren’t you too old for this?” and told, “You must be getting sick of this by now”


on her way to teaching her class. She nicely rounded off her presentation with a lovely tonguein-cheek poem entitled, ‘Sexy at Sixty’! We were particularly interested to hear from Senator Jenny McAllister, who spoke to the Conference about women’s economic security in retirement. Many women’s ability to accumulate superannuation is severely impacted by taking on primary caring responsibilities. In some cases, women accrue half that of their male colleagues. Jenny made the case that our union should support the pro-

posed changes to superannuation tax concessions for lower income earners, who are often women. The time women take to take on caring responsibilities means that, once they reach retirement, many women only have the option to rely on the aged pension. If our society is going to develop a fair and equitable solution to the unbalanced ability for women to accrue sufficient superannuation to retire in dignity, then we need access to financial education and changes to legislation. The conference also had a series of workshops, and we took part in ones on how to use your pro-

fessional voice and occupational violence. In the ‘Engage Your Professional Voice’ workshop, we discussed using processes to encourage professional input in our workplaces. One example was to link our respective school’s strategic plan to documents such as the ‘AISTL Quality Teaching Standards’. Another example was using the ACTPS signature behaviours (Innovation, Respect, Integrity and Collaboration) to encourage our professional contribution to school discussions and decision making processes. The opportunity to discuss these issues with like-minded, feminist



educators was highly worthwhile. ACT Industrial and Women’s Officer, Jacqui Agius presented a dynamic workshop on occupational violence. Workshop participants were invited to question what constitutes occupational violence, and it quickly became apparent that our definitions were limited and quite narrow. For instance, participants understood that occupational violence includes physical violence but had not considered verbal abuse or vexatious allegations. Both verbal and physical abuse actuated by students or parents against staff constitutes occupational violence. This workshop initiated conversations about our experiences in the workforce and how these school-based incidents correlate to violence against women in Australia and worldwide. Our



discussions further widened to contemplate how the prevalence of violence against women connected to the conference’s theme of ‘Respect’. We explored the stark differences in the amount of occupational violence women experience, especially in female dominated occupations, and questioned whether women are afforded the same level of respect as men. It is unacceptable that women are overrepresented in incidences of violence, both in domestic and workplace settings. We learned that workplaces are obliged to enforce reasonable measures to mitigate risk for all employees, which includes violence instigated by students. This sparked a discussion on the principle that all students have a right to access education, but not at the expense of workers’

health and safety. Delegates feel that this is a significant issue to keep at the forefront of our ACT Branch agenda. Sunday’s agenda began with a wonderful keynote address by aboriginal feminist Celeste Liddle. We were moved by her stories from the picket line and disgusted by the racism still experienced by aboriginal women today. Celeste was initially reluctant to become involved in organised political action, but has come to believe that that the status quo needs to be questioned and opposed. Even though Celeste is a self-confessed introvert, she has been overwhelmed with interest in her giving key-note speeches and has had to employ an agent. Celeste noted that this anecdote highlights how few women, especially aboriginal women, have a voice


in public forums. We then participated in a caucus, which is an open forum for discussions. Our caucus discussed how women can become marginalised in the workplace, and how this could be mitigated by changing aspects of workplace culture, and educating school leaders and colleagues on our workplace rights. For example, women comprise approximately 75% of the workforce in our schools, yet this is often not reflected in more senior positions. This also has a clear relationship with the level of pay that women earn. Our caucus also discussed how gendered expectations have built systematic barriers to women’s participation in senior roles, both in school leadership positions and in our union. A conversation ensued about what strategies

we could employ to encourage women to take on leadership positions in our union. In the next session, Emma Cox presented her work from her Rosemary Richards Scholarship, which focused on mental health programs in schools and what support existed for parents to transition back to work after takin parental leave. Emma presented findings from an AEU ACT survey and focus groups, which showed that workplace entitlements are inconsistently applied across the system, and that planning and communication are the strongest indicators of a successful transition back to the workplace. Emma is finalising her project in early 2017, which will include several recommendations, best practice guidelines and a presentation to the Human Resources

staff at the ACT Education Directorate. Stay tuned for a full report on Emma’s project in a future issue of ‘The Educator’. After a final caucus meeting, the conference concluded, we said farewell to new friends and headed home to Canberra. The conference was an excellent opportunity and we left with a strong motivation to become more involved in AEU activities, and advocate for women’s rights and address issues in our workplaces. We have developed a strong sense of solidarity with each other, and have made solid friendships and collegial connections. We all highly recommend this excellent opportunity, and encourage female members to apply and take part in the 2017 conference.





Meaghan Adamson There is a huge amount of power in saying ‘yes’ to someone. In giving over control to another person or group you are essentially telling them that you value their ideas, trust their choices and back their play. As a new educator (or new anything really), you’re constantly underestimating and second-guessing yourself. Finding a space and time to step up and have a shot at something you’re confident with can be difficult. I’ve been extremely lucky in my first years of teaching. I’ve worked in a setting where my colleagues and supervisors are not only constructive but also encouraging. I feel my voice, my say, is valued and that I have power. What was most interesting this past year was discovering that this isn’t the case for everyone. Being selected to represent


the ACT at the New Educators’ Conference in Perth was an eye opener for me. Talking to the other delegates about their situations and experiences showed me how fortunate I am. I have always felt like I belonged, that I am welcomed and that I am heard. To hear from others about their struggles to find and keep work, to receive their entitlements and make a difference in their setting was unsettling. The scariest stories were ones in which new educators are unaware of their rights or incapable of accessing them. Through my involvement in the union and the New Educators’ Conferences, both in Perth and in Bundanoon, I’ve felt empowered and able to step forward and give a voice to new educators. The trust I have been given has

proven to me that I am a worthy teacher, that my opinions are valued and that I have a voice that others will listen to. The information from the union has only added to that confidence. I know that I have power, and I can influence my situation and those around me. I am only able to do any of this through the unceasing support and encouragement of my colleagues and executives, all of whom I would like to thank. What does all this mean? Say ‘yes’ to young teachers. Let them be experts and show initiative. Give them your trust and believe in them. Show them they are powerful and influential enough to enact change. I could talk about teaching someone to fish for a lifetime but, by truly giving new educators the tools and information they want, you’re investing in everybody’s future.


Malisa Lengyel I was fortunate enough to represent the ACT at the 2016 New Educators’ Conference in Perth, and I took this opportunity to become the voice of students with disabilities. All too often, these challenged students are under the radar when it comes to funding, facilities and even discussions. At the Conference, I made a lot of contacts and put the case for the often overlooked special education students. I spoke for students who don’t have the communication skills to speak for themselves. That was my primary goal at the conference. The bonus for me was that I

liaised with other new teachers, and gained their feedback and perspectives on being a new educator. It was great to hear ideas and stories from other teachers who are not only passionate about education, but passionate about public education. I participated in a Diversity Workshop which talked about the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) students. It was enlightening to learn about students that are labelled and the struggles they face in schools. It isn’t what they are, but who they are that counts. I would have liked to see disabled students involved in this discussion about labels. My

students are also given one label, even though every one of them has different needs and goals. I want to thank the Australian Education Union for providing me with the opportunity to attend the conference. It is gratifying to be a member of an organisation that is committed to improving the lives of all students and provides forums for teachers to share ideas. They say that Thomas Edison invented the Think Tank, but the AEU keeps it alive where diverse professionals can share ideas and work toward a common goal of providing the best education to all Australian students.




WELCOME TO OUR NEW MEMBERS Congratulations to everyone who joined or re-joined during Term 4. By joining our union, you’re helping us all win better pay and conditions, as well as ensuring our students have the learning conditions they deserve. CONGRATULATIONS AND WELCOME TO THE AEU! Paul Lester, Kathleen Marie, Rita Reid, Graeme Lambert, Steven Roper, Kellie Edwards, Kylie Libbis, Kimberly Circosta, Katherine McIntosh, Samantha Crutchley, Teresa Ciccarone, Alisha Tooma, Claire Percival, Tania Hadlow, Holly Shaw, Tom O’Rourke, Roisin Boadle, Marcus Berryman, Eddie Underwood, Kate Simpson, Naomi Wearne, Abigail Benninger, Rebecca Bull, Amelia Clay, Jane Steinbeck, Trish Mulhall, Gary Martin, Kimberley Steele, Nghi Perrim, James Hall, Joanne Klückers, Luke Parker, Andrew Fillery, Jeremy Broom, Kerrie Thurkettle, Brooke Hendry, Brooke Hogan.




GLENN FOWLER Branch Secretary

ANDY JENNINGS Lead Organiser

LAUREN MCKEE Business Manager








GERARD DWYER Organiser Gerard.Dwyer@aeuact.org.au

Suki.Dorras-Walker@aeuact.org.au Therese.Tonna@aeuact.otg.au

NAOMI BROOKS Communications & Campaigns Officer


LUCY STANFORD Receptionist

MEAGAN NIHILL Membership Co-ordinator



JACQUI AGIUS Industrial Officer Jacqui.Aguis@aeuact.org.au




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