VOICE The Northern
Vol. 6 No. 3
In this edition •
Catholic Sector Update
Collective Bargaining Updates
Nominations Open for Judith Cooper Award
Knowing the Limits of Your Duty of Care
Member Profile, Joshua MacKenzie
The newsletter for IEUA-QNT members
Negotiations to Commence in Catholic Sector Preparations are currently underway ahead of collective bargaining for a replacement collective agreement in the Catholic sector. The current agreement expires in March 2013. A draft log of claims is being sent to members for feedback. A revised draft will then be circulated to Chapters for consideration. Following member endorsement, the log of claims will be tabled at the first SBU meeting to be held later this year along with a range of proposed clauses. Our union aims to secure enhanced conditions and preserve many provisions that exist in policy by proposing these for inclusion in the contemporary agreement. There are a number of key issues identified in the employee log of claims.
employment should only be made in cases where there is an “identifiable short term need”.
Resourcing the expanding role of the teacher Additional preparation and correction time is essential to addressing the expanding role of the teacher. An inappropriate amount of this time infringes upon teachers’ ability to provide high quality education. This should be recognised with a clear provision in the agreement.
Middle Leadership Structure Members have identified the need for an appropriate middle leadership structure that provides clear guidelines around responsibilities, allocation, and release time for Positions of Responsibility. Properly recognising the important work performed by employees in these roles should be a priority for schools to attract and retain high quality staff.
Professional Development Greater clarity is required about the employer’s responsibility to provide financial support (particular for regional areas) including transport and accommodation when professional development is employer directed. There should also be a clear process of consultation with staff on the nature and scope of the professional development in schools. Enhanced Leave provisions Special leave of up to five days per calendar year for employees subject to domestic violence has been identified as an appropriate consideration. Research shows that the workplace is a major source of support for employees who experience domestic violence. Positive provisions allowing paid leave gives staff the ability, where appropriate, to attend court, source alternate accommodation and seek professional counselling. Employees have also raised the ability to access paid parental leave at half-pay for double the time as an issue. Superannuation An increase in the basic Superannuation Guarantee Contribution from 9% to 10% would help to bring the provision in line with other sectors. Employee representatives will also table an appropriate schedule for an enhanced cocontribution scheme. Job Security Our union will seek to bring greater security for employees engaged on fixed term contracts by emphasising that fixed term
Inclusion Support Assistant (ISA) Provisions ISAs play an important supporting role in the classroom learning environment and need to be rewarded with provisions that recognise this. Employees will seek appropriate wage structures, access to relevant professional development, a career pathway that allows for progression in salary recognising enhanced skills and years of service, an option for continuing employment where possible, and formalised duty statement. Position Descriptions Employees have identified the need for the employer to revise position descriptions regularly and at least every two years. It is important for the employer to recognise that roles change and ensure an accurate and contemporary role statement. Consultative Committees Establishment of consultative committees allow employees to take on a more collaborative role with the employer in resolving issues at the school level. This has been proven to be successful in many schools. The contemporary agreement should support the establishment of consultative committees in all schools. Our union is determined to secure a contemporary set of enhanced conditions for members employed in Northern Territory Catholic schools. Members can keep up to date with the progress of these negotiations by looking out for future editions of Northern Voice or by visiting our website at www.qieu.asn.au.
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Collective Bargaining Updates Lutheran Sector Negotiations are drawing to a close in the Lutheran sector, with a draft agreement expected to go to ballot later this term. Members in Lutheran schools are to be commended for their commitment and resolve across a lengthy negotiation period that began in November last year. The advocacy of employee representatives at the SBU is to be commended, with these members integral to addressing significant clarification issues in the document and reaching a position with employer representatives to deal with the impact on the wage outcomes for employees from the delay in negotiations. The proposed agreement has a nominal expiry date of 31 December 2013 with the employer committing to commencing negotiations for a replacement agreement (including wages) no later than term 3 2013.
Milkwood Steiner School Negotiations for the school’s first collective agreement are on-going at Milkwood Steiner School. Employee and employer representatives have met at two SBU meetings to discuss key issues. A number of clauses on issues including leave without pay, study leave,
long service leave, professional development, and hours of duty have been developed by our union for discussion at the SBU. Employees at the school are seeking wage parity with the public sector, a contemporary services staff matrix and a range of enhanced leave provisions. The next SBU meeting will be held later in August.
Tiwi College Employee representatives at Tiwi College have met with employer representatives over two SBU meetings to negotiate the school’s first collective agreement. An endorsed employee log of claims was tabled at the first SBU meeting held 19 May and included a number of important claims including provisions around remote area incentives, hours of duty, long service leave, advanced skills teacher, professional development and leave without pay. Members at the college are also determined that key issues are addressed in the agreement rather than by policy documents, following an indication from the employer that this may occur. The next SBU meeting is scheduled for 24 August.
Nominations Open for Judith Cooper Award The Judith Cooper Award gives our union an opportunity to recognise the work of dedicated members in the Northern Territory. This award is presented to individual members of our union who have made a remarkable impact as an activist. The award also commemorates the instrumental role Judith Cooper played in the establishment of a union in the non-government education sector in the Northern Territory. In 1983 Judith Cooper, a school assistant at St Mary’s Primary School, and teacher colleagues at other predominately Catholic schools joined together to start working through the issues which were affecting independent school employees. Contact IEUA-QNT Organiser Jacques Retief at email@example.com to nominate a member or for more information about to how to apply for the award.
AWARD CRITERIA: * * * *
Works diligently and tirelessly to assist members to address their issues; Acts with honesty, integrity and courage in the conduct of union affairs; Promotes member education, action and networking at the Chapter and/or Division level; and Has made an outstanding contribution to the School Chapter and our union through activism in a specific area.
2011 winner Lon Wallis with award namesake Judith Cooper and Nuala Cullen who was also recognised ■■ Nomination forms can downloaded from our website at www.qieu.asn.au/memberawards
NOMINATIONS CLOSE: Thursday, 4th October 2012.
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Duty of Care: Knowing the Limits Given the increasingly litigious nature of society it is essential for teachers and support staff to fully understand, and recognise the limits of, their duty of care towards students. A duty of care is always present in the school environment and employees should be aware that a duty of care is therefore owed in the following situations: ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■
During school hours when the child is in the classroom or on the kindergarten grounds; On excursions; When a child is undertaking errands or reporting to the office to be reprimanded; or At potentially any other time the school or teacher or support staff member attempts to exercise control over the students action.
The duty owed by schools, teachers and support staff is to take reasonable steps to protect students from reasonably foreseeable harm. However, it is important to note that a duty of care does not mean ensuring that no injury will ever be suffered by students. Duty of care breaches are most common when employees fail to provide: ■■ Adequate supervision; ■■ Adequate instruction; or ■■ Intervention in a potentially dangerous situation.
Who’s Liable for a Breach in Duty of Care? The employer will generally be liable for a breach of the duty of care. However, as all employees have a contractual duty to their employer to exercise reasonable care and skill, the legal position is that the employer/employee’s insurer may seek reimbursement of payments made as a result of the employee’s proven negligence.
The Risks for Support Staff Given the evolving nature of support staff roles, these employees are increasingly given more responsibility when it comes to student supervision.
Be Prepared The best way to avoid duty of care breaches is to err on the side of caution and stop potentially dangerous situations before they get out of hand. The following tips are useful for teachers and support staff to protect themselves from potential liability: ■■ Maintain appropriate guidelines for activities and ensure these are followed at all times; ■■ Act promptly and intervene as early as possible when a potentially dangerous situation arises; ■■ Properly maintain equipment and confiscate dangerous implements; ■■ Err on the side of caution to accommodate potentially explosive situations, particularly in supervising students; ■■ Report dangers or potential dangers to the Principal; ■■ Assist with injuries as soon as possible, make notes and obtain statements from witnesses regarding the circumstances of any accident.
Our Union Can Help
Support staff should have adequate training necessary to acting in a supervising capacity. Any support staff members who feel uncomfortable that they are being directed to undertake supervision outside of their role description should advise their school in writing that operating in this capacity without the required training poses a potential risk to the safety of students.
Members who are accused of breaching their duty of care should contact our union in the first instance. Access to legal advice and Public Liability Professional Indemnity Insurance cover are part of the key benefits of being an IEUA-QNT member.
Where a support staff member is keen to undertake such duties, training should be entered into to provide the employee with sufficient skills to effectively undertake the required duty.
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A new position description should be developed, by a process of consultation, once a support staff member agrees to undertake supervision of students. In some cases progression from one classification level to another may be required, particularly where this entails the performance of work at a higher level.
Fast Facts Understand the limits of your duty of care; Resolve potentially dangerous situations before they intensify; Never put yourself at risk; Report potential threats to student safety to your principal; and Contact our union immediately if you have been accused of breaching your duty of care.
Visit our website at www.qieu.asn.au for further information and resources on duty of care and other legal issues.
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It is difficult being away from friends and family; living on a remote island is pretty much as isolated as you can get! But I think teachers should try to commit to remote schools for at least a year. I have found it takes at least six months to really understand the cultural differences and start educating in a way which is more relevant and specific to student needs. It’s also important to consider the students. Having multiple teachers over a short period of time creates a lack of continuity and may severely impact upon their education. Do you find union membership rewarding? Union membership is a given for teachers in my opinion. Since becoming the staff representative at my school, I have learnt so much more about the value of membership. I was a bit sceptical at first about the benefits of taking on a more active role in my chapter, but becoming staff representative has given me a much broader understanding of how our union works for all members. Taking on extra responsibility in your chapter is not as scary as it sounds. Have your workplace conditions improved as a result of union involvement?
Joshua MacKenzie, Tiwi College I was never the kind of person who wanted to be a teacher all their life and I actually agonised over the decision to study education at university. However, working at a remote school has taught me so much about myself and, in turn, teaching. I love it! Everyday is a challenge and I am continually learning new things. Do you enjoy living and working on the Tiwi Islands?
Our union has been integral in helping to start negotiations with Tiwi College employer, the Tiwi Education Board. We are now in the process of negotiating the college’s first ever collective agreement. Our union has played a significant part in getting us to this stage and current, and future, staff will receive many benefits as a result. There has also been improvement to the general running of the school. Since the initial involvement of our union, management at the college has been much clearer in communicating with staff.
JOIN OUR UNION TODAY
The end of this year will be my second year at Tiwi College. I love working in the area and having the opportunity to become part of the Australian Indigenous community who retain ownership of the land.
Help build collective strength and enhance the working rights and conditions of all education professionals working in the Northern Territory.
The Tiwi are an amazing people who are welcoming and accepting of people from outside their own culture.
To join IEUA-QNT, visit our website at www.qieu.asn.au
What are some key issues teachers face currently? There are many issues stemming from government policy. There is often a real gap between government opinion on education issues and the experience of teachers on the ground. Class size is a good example. Working in a remote school I have seen how class size directly impacts on the quality of learning within the classroom. I believe smaller classes allow teachers to provide a better learning experience. Do remote schools face particular issues? Funding is a real concern for our school as we are largely self-sufficient. For example, the college maintains a fleet of vehicles that is used to pick up and drop off students. Staff retention is an on-going issue as living remotely takes sacrifice, and it’s hard for teachers to make that sacrifice for long periods of time.
or call our Darwin office on FREECALL 1800 351 996 ISSN: 1834-5190 The Northern Voice was prepared by Elise Cuthbertson Editor: Mr Terry Burke, Branch Secretary IEUA-QNT PO BOX 418, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006 PH: 1800 351 996 FX: (07) 3839 7021 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.qieu.asn.au ABN: 74 662 601 045