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Advocate Journal of the National Tertiary Education Union

Volume 19, Number 1, March 2012

ISSN 1321–8476

Representing Employees in Higher Education, TAFE, Adult Education, RACGP, Research Institutes and Universit y Companies

Future of the Sector  NTEU’s Today & Tomorrow conference

‘I’m p l the w ugged in to o of Un rld beca use ivers Vivie nne, ity’ Com put er Sc



 Death of the university as we know it

PLUS: UniSuper update Science: where to now? NTEU supports Elsevier boycott What does equal pay mean now? The circus of higher education policy Embedding Indigenous cultural competency Time to get off the funding review merry-go-round

Social media traps for unionists and uni staff

Be rewarded with big fleet savings on the purchase of any new Hyundai vehicle. As a School or Education Worker you are entitled to access fleet discounts from your local Hyundai Dealer simply by verifying that you are currently employed as a School or Education Worker.

Hyundai Challenge

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Hyundai is one of the world’s fastest growing car companies. We’ve achieved this position by using the best quality materials and investing in superior Research and Development. That’s how Hyundai vehicles embody quality, variety, innovation and individuality – all of which are underpinned by 5-star quality in design, build, features, accessories and safety.

ore to provide structural rigidity, and advanced driver assistance technologies including; reversing cameras, front and rear sensing warning systems, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-skid Braking System (ABS), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and much more.

Efficient. EFFICIENT

Warranty. WARRANTY

At Hyundai, we’re so confident about the quality of our cars that we back our entire range of passenger vehicles with Australia’s first 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty. Plus for the ultimate peace-of-mind, all new Hyundai commercial vehicles are supported by Australia’s first, 5 year 160,000 kilometre warranty.

Safety. SAFETY

Your safety is our focus at Hyundai, that’s why we’re committed to delivering a range of vehicles that offer the highest standards of safety. This is the core element of every Hyundai. With comprehensive active and passive life-saving technologies integrated into each and every model, our safety measures are second-to-none. For instance, we use high-tensile steel made from Australian iron

All Hyundai vehicles are designed to save you money long after you have taken delivery. Which is why every Hyundai vehicle presents exceptional fuel efficiency to help keep fuel costs low, and has class leading lower ‘cost of ownership’, led by extended service intervals reducing service costs. Take the i30 diesel - with over 1,000 kilometres per tank, it delivers up to 28% better fuel economy than comparable petrol engines. Or the Santa Fe, which was awarded the 2011 Most Economical Medium SUV by the NRMA, and costs less in the long run compared to other competitive models.

Compare. COMPARE

At Hyundai, before any vehicle passes your test, it needs to pass ours. In fact, we’re so confident about the level of quality and specs across our range, that we are the only manufacturer to give you the power to compare our models against any other vehicles in the market. Visit our website www.hyundai.com.au for more information.

Visit your local Hyundai Dealer and request Fleet pricing for a School/Education Worker. To locate your nearest Hyundai Dealer simply use our Dealer Locator on our website: http://www.hyundai.com.au/Find-a-Dealer/default.aspx


Advocate is published by National Tertiary Education Union ISSN 1321-8476 ABN 38 579 396 344 PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia ph: 03 9254 1910 fax: 03 9254 1915 email: national@nteu.org.au

Publisher................................Grahame McCulloch Editor......................................Jeannie Rea Production................................Paul Clifton Editorial Assistance..................Anastasia Kotaidis Feedback and advertising....... advocate@nteu.org.au



All text & images © NTEU 2012 unless otherwise stated.

In accordance with NTEU policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, this magazine is printed on Behaviour–a 30% recycled stock, manufactured by a PEFC Certified mill, which is ECF Certified Chlorine Free.

On the cover: Dr Vivienne Farrell, Computer Scientist and Software Engineer at Swinburne University, and one of the faces of NTEU’s ‘Invest in Our Universities’ campaign. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Advocate is also available online (e-book and PDF) at www.nteu.org.au/advocate NTEU members may opt for ‘soft delivery’ (email notification rather than printed copy) for all NTEU magazines. Login to the members’ area at www.nteu.org.au to access your membership details.







False dichotomy being driven between equity/inclusion and quality/competition

 16

UniSuper update


Jeannie Rea, National President

Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary

Campaigning for better funding Matt McGowan, National Assistant Secretary



7  8


 10 11 12

Members give evidence of precarious work Beware of UTAS enticement packages 40 years of Womens Studies at UQ Excessive academic workloads Managing change dispute escalates at UTAS NTEU gears up for next round of bargaining; FWA Review Overcrowded? Tell us your stories Casual Teaching & Research Staff Survey FWA finds UniMelb breached Agreement Local claims a key to bargaining USyd puts the squeeze on staff Challenging excessive workloads Big Brother/Sister is watching; OLC takes over from ALTC


Implementation of Indigenous clauses I’m Not A Racist, But...; Indigenous Forum 2012 Embedding Indigenous cultural competency

sity e niver ‘If u door, th key’ e the is th ry isian libra

 22


Summer Surfing Snippets News from the Net, by Pat Wright

 39 40

Authorised by Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Curtis





The casualisation of academic work; why should we care?

Tips & traps for staff in the social media landscape

Ken McAlpine takes a look at what social media means in an employment context for tertiary education staff.

Swimming in the social media pool

The NTEU and social media.

What does equal pay mean now?

Megan Clement-Couzner looks at the SACS industry pay case and asks what does equal pay mean now, and what’s next?


Letter from New Zealand/Aotearoa, by Sandra Grey, TEU

Recent human rights actions by NTEU New staff in NTEU offices NSW farewells Margaret Britten after 28 years service Queensland Division Organiser Ross Gwyther retires Contacting your Union

Doctor, doctor, give me the news!

The latest Australian Universities’ Review is a Special Issue covering contemporary issues in doctoral education.


YOUR UNION 42 44  45 46 48

Science: where to now?

Ian Dobson reports on his report for the Chief Scientist, Unhealthy Science? University Natural and Physical Sciences 2002 – 2009/10.


Lowering the Boom, by Ian Lowe

Narrowing the focus of tertiary education

Time to get off the funding review merry-go-round

December last year saw the release of the Final Report of the Higher Education Base Funding Review chaired by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith.


The only common future is a sustainable future

Guest Columnist, Robyn May

Invest in Australia’s Future poster series

Nine faces of our sector feature in NTEU’s new campaign posters.

FUNDING www.investinuniversities.org.au unistories.org.au


Death of the university as we know it

Despite the fact that politicians regularly espouse the economic and social virtues of higher education, in most of the world professors and staff are facing unprecedented pressures, writes David Robinson.



y, Lib Jenn

Australia’s Unviersities: Today & Tomorrow

NTEU’s Future of Higher Education Conference in February 2012 attracted more than 100 participants and engendered enthusiastic debate.

The day Cirque du Silly came to higher education policy

For higher education policy, the end of 2011 and the start of 2012 was without doubt a season of silliness.


Academics line up to boycott world’s biggest journal publisher

A boycott is growing of Elsevier over their ‘extortionate efforts to extract money’ from people who wish to access taxpayer-funded research.



False dichotomy being driven between equity/inclusion and quality/competition J

ust before addressing a 700 strong staff and student rally opposing staff cuts at the University of Sydney on 7 March, I talked with a student who was apologising that he couldn’t stay as he had a seminar that counted towards 20% of the assessment. After commenting that it was a shame there is no longer a common lunch hour, I asked about how the 20% participation was assessed. He was not sure, but observed that there was not much opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of the material as there were 80 students in the one hour class. I didn’t need to do the arithmetic to work out that over a twelve week semester, it would be a very skilled tutor that would be able to listen to each student sufficiently to make an assessment. So whilst these look like easy marks, I doubt the efficacy for student learning.

Students and staff at other universities tell me about lectures delivered in shifts, or lecture theatres that are too small for the enrolled numbers. Administrators have been assured not to worry as attendance will drop after the first few weeks! Tutorials are being renamed seminars when it becomes impossible to run a tutorial format. Students also report understanding that their tutor may be casually employed and so are reluctant to ask for further assistance outside of class time, or are frustrated because they can’t get the advice and feedback they need. While I was in Sydney at the rally, the University of Sydney ViceChancellor (VC) was in Canberra at the annual Universities Australia (UA) conference where the Vice-Chancellors, senior administrators and politicians were trying to put the pieces together. The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans was asked about staff to student ratios. While he acknowledged that this was a concern and said it was on his list of things to do, he could not promise funding. Student to Staff Ratios (SSR) is a touchstone issue. There has been a 27% increase in student places since 2007, leading the Federal Government to congratulate themselves on opening up university education for many more Australians. The NTEU has always advocated for increased access to university. But we also know that universities are at breaking point, and this was even before the uncapping of places in 2012. We need to put aside endless arguments over how SSR are calculated and just translate into terms everyone can understand. Are there staff to attend to student learning and support services to ensure the promised outcomes? Also speaking at the UA conference, the Shadow Minister, Senator Brett Mason, agreed that with more places there is a need for more teachers and infrastructure. But he claimed that we can’t have increased places, the current funding model and also quality and standards. We could only have two out of three. Contributing to letting government off the hook, Chair of Universities Australia and University of Melbourne VC, Glyn Davis and Australian Catholic University VC, Greg Craven provided a complementary opinion piece to The Australian (8/3/12) arguing that if there is to be an open market on student places, ‘then universities must be able to compete, at least to a reasonable extent, on price.’ In the background of the debate over funding sources there is a rather nasty discourse developing juxtaposing quantity against quality. It seems to have been far too easy to slip from recognis2

ing the need to provide adequate support to enable students now entering our mass higher education system to succeed, to simply painting the expanded cohorts as lacking in merit and ability. Universities enrol students on the basis that they are capable of undertaking and completing their course of study. The onus is therefore on universities to provide the resources needed to ensure students can be successful. Too readily the blame has turned back on students as being the architects of their own failure, or expected failure. This is well illustrated in some sinister North American commentary that too many women staff and students are leading to a decline in standards. Presumably this is turning men off and this is further contributing to the decline. The apparent assumption is that women have not achieved their places on merit, but scraped through on affirmative action or declining entry standards. Also, these articles do not provide convincing evidence of lower standards or higher failure rates. In Australia we have similar commentary emerging about low SES background students, who seem to be labelled a homogenous mob of unconfident, ignorant and less than diligent learners. This is just unfair. In some popular commentary, they now join international students in being held responsible for an alleged lowering of standards. Meanwhile we seem to have forgotten that the standards scare, which contributed to the extensive auditing and regulatory powers of AUQA and now TEQSA, were motivated by concern with some of the private providers entering Australian tertiary education. In all the discussions I’ve heard on standards, Australia’s public universities’ staff have argued for higher standards rather than settling on a minimum and the lowering of expectations and aspirations. Sources of funding were on the agenda at the NTEU’s Australia’s Universities Today and Tomorrow Conference in late February (see p. 16). Taking a broader international perspective, one speaker noted other countries like Sweden put education levies on private industry. Others mused that tertiary education would be a good use for a super profits tax. At the very least, we must be vigilant in not allowing this false dichotomy pitching ‘quality’ against ‘quantity’. The size of the Australian higher education sector is a result of international as well as local trends towards mass tertiary education. The quality of our higher education sector is assisting in transforming our image in the region and the world. If this is to continue, government must step up. NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


GRAHAME Mcculloch, general secretary

UniSuper – be alert but not alarmed I

n recent months there has been some public controversy about UniSuper’s Defined Benefit Scheme. There are two key elements to the Union’s response. First, while the reported small actuarial shortfall in the Defined Benefit Scheme is a cause for some concern, it should be quite manageable with proper policy adjustments. In other words, members should be alert but not alarmed. Second, in the (hopefully unlikely) event that the shortfall persists, the Union is well prepared to take all necessary industrial, legal and diplomatic steps to ensure that members’ entitlements and benefits are protected and well managed into the future.

UniSuper at a glance UniSuper is not an industry fund based on the now widespread joint union/employer management and administration model. It is a not for profit hybrid model where the Fund is managed by a Board comprising eleven Directors – two employer organisation nominees, two unions nominees, four elected by the UniSuper Consultative Committee (two employers and two employees), and three independent Directors. NTEU is able to nominate only one Director. UniSuper is one of the best managed and run funds across the whole superannuation industry with assets of $30 billion, investment returns which have consistently been above the average of industry and retail funds, a good diversity of investment and superannuation product options, and very low administration costs. UniSuper provides three options: a Defined Benefit Pension Plan (which closed to new entrants in the 90s), a Defined Benefit Lump Sum Plan and an Accumulation Plan. Most full-time employees can choose between the Defined Benefit Lump Sum and Accumulation Plans. For those in the Defined Benefit Plans, there is a 14% (employer) and optional 7% (employee) contribution, with a further 3% employer contribution to the Accumulation Plan. For those in the Accumulation Plan the required employer contribution is 17%. The Defined Benefit Division (DBD) plans provide a defined pension or lump sum upon retirement which is broadly based on a combination of years of service and final average salary. The benefits are not directly calculated by reference to the contributions made. On the other hand, the Accumulation Plan provides a lump sum based on the contributions made by the employer and the employee and the long-term investment return on these contributions. NTEU’s Collective Agreements provide a legal guarantee of the 17% employer contribution and give UniSuper standing as the sole provider of superannuation benefits for university staff. This policy serves the best interests of our members – the ability to pool all contributions through UniSuper maximises returns and minimises risks.

What is going on? Recent public controversy about UniSuper’s financial position has raised issues about UniSuper’s DBD. The UniSuper Board is obliged to monitor the financial health of the DBD through regular actuarial reports. These measure future capacity to pay the defined benefits using known data and future assumptions about investment returns, MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

wage growth, the distribution of employees by age and salary level, and exit and entry rates of employees into the DBD. The main driver of UniSuper’s current financial health is declines in investment returns following the Global Financial Crisis which has affected all superannuation funds. In accumulation schemes this is reflected by low or negative investment returns, and in defined benefit schemes as a possible actuarial shortfall. Consequently, UniSuper has been obliged to issue an ‘early warning’ which triggers a more rigorous and detailed monitoring process. Should the projected shortfall be confirmed as ongoing the Board will be required to consider possible measures to change scheme arrangements in early 2013. This is not the first time an early warning has been issued. It also happened in 2002/3 but subsequent actuarial assessment confirmed that there was no requirement to consider scheme changes. So members need to understand that the use of the early warning provision is neither unprecedented nor unusual, but is a legally required step. It does not mean there is an automatic requirement to increase contributions or to reduce benefits.

What should happen now – the NTEU position The real problem that needs to be dealt with is what measures should be taken if any DBD shortfall persists. Until 2006 the UniSuper Trust Deed provided that employers could be called upon to meet such a shortfall (but only if all universities agreed). This changed in 2006 when the reference to a unanimous employer guarantee was removed with the support of the Board and the 140-member (50% employee and 50% employer) Consultative Committee. As a result, the only funding shortfall option currently available to the Board is a reduction in employee benefits. This was a serious mistake, and all involved (including the Union Directors and employee representatives) need to recognise and take responsibility for changing this decision. There is nothing which prevents further amendments to the Trust Deed later this year to ensure that other options are made available to the Board. NTEU has asked UniSuper to sponsor a national Working Party of union, employer and Board representatives to discuss alternatives to reduced employee benefits. If employers refuse to support and participate in such a Working Party, the Union will use the upcoming 2012 Collective Bargaining Round, public campaigning and possible legal action to defend our members’ superannuation benefits and entitlements. Latest NTEU UniSuper news c www.nteu.org.au/unisuper 3


MATThew MCGOWAN, national assistant secretary

Campaigning for better funding W

hen the NTEU conducted public polling and focus groups in early 2011, we asked the question as a participant in the political process, trying to assess the potential for generating public interest in the sector, and thereby seeking to influence government policy and funding priorities. The university sector is underfunded. This has been confirmed by two reviews into the sector. The current Government has made significant funding commitments to the sector and these need to be acknowledged. The improved indexation arrangements have made a significant improvement in institutional budgets relative to what have otherwise been, and there have been a number of significant improvements that we do not always recognise. But major problems do exist. A combination of the tightening of the international market and the increased participation and regulatory expectations placed upon the sector is putting undue pressure on staff. Specifically, the expectations of increasing enrolments through uncapping of student load when the base funding per student is inadequate. The Union supports attempts to increase participation in tertiary education, but there is no doubt that there are big changes occurring and we are deeply concerned that we will see significant problems from this underfunded growth. Overcrowding, overwork and the pressures to casualise the sector remain the concerns our members most consistently raise. Current debates seem to be focused on whether or not institutions are enrolling students who are not prepared for higher education. What this misses is the simple fact that resource constraints placed on the people responsible for supporting and delivering that education are unreasonable. At Universities Australia (UA) conference, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Chris Evans, said the that there is no room in this year’s Budget for additional funding for the sector. He later commented that there was a need to deal with the issue of student:staff ratios. He then expressed interest in the fact that tutorials now constitute 25 to 30 students and that, in his day, there were 7 or 8 in a tutorial. The simple fact is that there is a connection between underfunding, student:staff ratios and tutorial sizes. While the Union will argue about internal allocation of resources in specific institutions, the reality is that institutions have moved to larger and larger tutorials and higher student:staff ratios in response to funding limitations, not because they think that more students with fewer staff make for a better education. The current funding regime means that our members are continually being asked to do more with less and their capacity to keep sucking it up is limited. NTEU sees that our campaign efforts need to be focused at changing perceptions about the sector and increasing the profile of universities as significant in public debates about the future of the country. We need to make the damage that might be done more significant for people. 4

The campaign must be one that has a horizon closer to five years than to one year. We are disappointed by the Government’s delay in dealing with the funding issue, but that reinforces our original view that this issue will continue beyond this Budget and this Parliament. We must be prepared to be in this for the long haul. We need to develop relationships with others who have an interest in tertiary education’s health. Business, farmers, unions, professional bodies, politicians and vice-chancellors all have a direct interest in the health of the sector. We are keen to work with all interested parties to contribute to the public debates. Some organisations will be able to open doors that others can’t, but together we can make a difference. As part of this, the Union has determined that rural and regional communities have an important role to play. Universities are significant for many rural and regional communities for reasons already discussed, and right now regional communities hold a very high level of political influence. Local regional media is often very keen to talk about issues affecting what is a highly significant part of their communities, and we need to be influencing the priorities of both the political left and the right in our efforts. We are pleased to hear that, while the language is different, Universities Australia is taking a similar approach in holding community consultations and giving voice to those who might be concerned about the future of the sector. We are very interested to hear what comes out of UA’s work. We have started to hold discussions with some regional communities where we meet with Councils and community leaders to talk about sector. We are planning, where appropriate, to hold our own public meetings and forums to talk about the importance of the sector and related issues. We need to increase the number of voices expressing concerns and we believe that those regional communities with the strongest connections to their institutions, and therefore often the most to lose, can play an important role. NTEU believes that more than ever there are major opportunities for collaboration with others in higher education and beyond. It is in all our interests to get this right. And we hope that the union and the universities can find space to work together on such an important project while we still have our struggles over internal institutional priorities that we are inevitably going to have to deal with. This is an edited version of a speech given at the UA Conference, March 2012

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


Members give evidence of precarious work


TEU members have joined scores of other precariously employed workers from across the country to give evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work, chaired by former Deputy PM, Brian Howe.

Members have outlined to the inquiry the ongoing damage that the uncertainty of insecure work can inflict upon them and their families, along with the negative impact it has upon the quality of the education experience. They have also described the financial uncertainty and vulnerability that they have to deal with as a consequence of being trapped in an endless cycle of short term contracts and casual work. NTEU’s own submission shows that casualisation of the higher education sector has spiralled out of control over the past fifteen years. Currently, less than 36% of all university employees are employed on a

continuing basis. The Union’s submission makes a number of recommendations that are informed by the principle of the International Labour Organisation that decent work should be produced in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. A number of personal accounts from casual members are also featured in the latest edition of NTEU’s Connect magazine. The inquiry hearings will conclude in late March 2012 with findings to be reported to ACTU Congress in May. A Connect magazine & the full NTEU submission c www.unicasual.org.au Find out more at c http://securejobs.org.au


40 years of womens studies at UQ


TEU UQ Branch celebrated International Women’s Day with a very successful symposium marking the 40th anniversary of women’s and gender studies at UQ.

Guest of honour was the founder of women’s studies at UQ, the pioneering feminist Merle Thornton, famous locally for challenging the gender segregation of Brisbane’s Regatta Hotel in 1965, when she and a friend, Ro Bogner, chained themselves to the male-only bar. The impressively well-attended symposium not only looked back at the development of the contested field of women’s and gender studies over the past 40 years, it was a proud assertion of the fact that there is still plenty of life in this area of advancing knowledge and pushing for social change. After the symposium, Merle revisited the scene with current women’s studies colleagues and students.

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

Carole Ferrier, Liz Mackinlay and other members of the organising committee were ably assisted by the ‘male auxiliary’, Branch Organiser Lachlan Hurse. A Andrew Bonnell, UQ Branch President Pictured: A current UQ gender studies student with Merle Thornton at the Regatta Hotel


Beware of UTAS enticement packages


TEU Tasmanian Division reports a mainland academic was recently enticed to relocate to UTAS with the offer of work for themselves and their partner, only to have the dream ruined by capricious University practice.

While one of the academics in the family received ongoing work, the other received employment in the form of a fixed term contract with the lure of ongoing work in the future. For the contract academic, the move to the Island State went sour halfway into the fixed term contract when the University used the excuse that it could no l o n g e r afford to retain their employment. The contract of employment was foreshortened (i.e. truncated). It was quite a distressing time for the member who decided to fight the termination by using the unfair dismissal provisions under the Fair Work Act at Fair Work Australia (FWA). With the assistance of the NTEU, a settlement was subsequently reached between the parties at a conference in FWA. Although the actual matter is now settled, the Union is studying the ramifications of the case. It raises questions about the legal relationship between a contract of employment and the terms of a Collective Agreement. The experience and knowledge of capricious university practice gained from this case will be used to strengthen our next Collective Agreement. A Rob Binnie, Tas. Division Industrial Officer



Excessive academic workloads


xcessive and poorly regulated workloads are pushing academic staff to breaking point. Independent studies as well as NTEU’s own analysis of the outcomes of our last round of bargaining indicate that despite strong workloads clauses in our Collective Agreements, academics are still suffering from unhealthy and unreasonable workloads. It appears that University managements across the country are largely failing to meet their obligation to provide staff with manageable, fair and transparent workloads.

An independent study into the Australian academic workforce in September 2011, by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education found that less than one third of Australian academics believe that their workloads are manageable. NTEU’s own surveys of academics also reflect the broad findings in the study and confirm that workload intensification is having a damaging effect on our members’ health, wellbeing and careers. NTEU Branches report that workload allocations lack consistency and vary greatly between faculties and also often within a faculty. Of particular concern to NTEU is the widespread abuse of discretionary powers by ‘Heads of Units’ to allocate workloads. Members advise the Union that these ‘powers’ are being used either as a


Managing change dispute escalates at UTAS


hen it comes to industrial relations, UTAS has a style of its own. In an ongoing case, a member made a request to their manager to have the NTEU represent them at a meeting regarding change management in the Faculty of Arts. The request was denied on the specious grounds that it was not appropriate to have the NTEU present. The Union asserted the (quite unexceptional) right to provide representation and attended the meeting. The University asked NTEU to leave the meeting and even called security to attend with a view to forcibly evicting the NTEU Industrial Officer. In response to this provocation, NTEU staff peacefully left the meeting and immediately lodged a dispute with the University.


reward for overworking or as an incentive to get academics to take on unmanageable workloads. Student consultation times of fifteen minutes and thirty minutes per semester per student prevail at some institutes and very few models deal adequately, if at all, with online and/or offshore teaching. Further, the reluctance of most Universities to enter into deliberative and collegial processes and to determine appropriate research outputs has resulted in unrealistic and unfair outcomes for academic staff, particularly early career and research transition staff. There are very few Branches who have reported effective and well developed workload models. The difference at these Branches, generally, is that the models were developed through a collegial process, were completely transparent and required the approval of staff. The Union can no longer tolerate this situation and will be looking at strengthening workloads allocation clauses across the sector in the upcoming round of bargaining to ensure safe and sustainable workloads for our members. Members who are suffering from the effects of workload intensification can contact their local NTEU Branch for assistance. A Wayne Cupido, Industrial Officer

The simple question has to be asked; ‘What has UTAS management got to hide by excluding NTEU from such meetings’? Our members rightly say that it is an outrageous attempt by the University to deny them the right to be represented in discussions about major changes in the workplace. The matter is currently going through the dispute process and there has been already one attempt at conciliation between the parties in Fair Work Australia. Unfortunately UTAS management has failed to propose any workable solutions to this dispute and has refused to agree to any of the reasonable proposals advanced by the NTEU. The Tasmanian Division is now pursuing arbitration as the only remaining viable avenue to resolve this matter. The attempt by the University to deny members the capacity to be represented in major workplace change has been put into even starker relief following the announcement by the UTAS VC of a significant budget shortfall across the University. The NTEU will not sit idly by and accept that the University can unilaterally deny members the right to be represented when proposals are advanced that may result in redundancies and other major changes to the workplace. A Rob Binnie, Tasmanian Division Industrial Officer

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


NTEU gears up for next round of bargaining


n the jargon of higher education, ‘Round 6’ of bargaining is about to commence, reflecting the fact that NTEU has conducted six coordinated bargaining campaigns since enterprise bargaining started in 1993. As most NTEU members will know, salaries and conditions of employment are set out in the Collective Agreements negotiated between the NTEU and management at each university. Each Agreement runs for several years, and most Agreements are up for re-negotiation in 2012.

Recent history Each ‘round’ of bargaining has its own character and priorities. Round 4 (2004-2006) was dominated by the Union’s response to the Howard Government’s funding rules, which linked funding to the deregulation of fixed term and casual employment, and weakening the rights of staff to be represented by the Union. In Round 5, NTEU concentrated on reinstating the regulation of fixed term employment and other conditions lost in Round 4. NTEU also gained: • Pay rises exceeding 4% per annum. • Improved classification arrangements for general staff at most universities. • Separate pay for all marking done by academic casual staff. • An increased loading for casual staff, from 23% to 25%.

Building an agenda In coming weeks, the Union will be consulting members about the priorities for the coming round of bargaining. This will culminate in a National Bargaining Conference in June, at which representatives from all NTEU Branches will map out the Union’s strategy and priorities. Although final decisions have yet to be made, issues which are already being discussed include: • Improved career structures for general and academic staff. • Reduction in the use of fixed term employment, with real access to career opportunities. • The size of pay increases to be claimed. There is also ‘unfinished business’ at a number of universities, where Agreements did not adequately restore the rights of employees. For example, UNSW remains a MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

stand-out in having the worst protections for job security and the levels of casual teaching are the highest in the GO8. Local university-specific claims are likely to be more important in this round of bargaining (see p. 9).

The threat to General Staff Management at some universities try to split bargaining for academic and general staff in order to reduce conditions for general/professional staff. The history of bargaining has shown that both academic and general staff benefit when they bargain together. While the NTEU is by far the largest union representing general staff, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) still has a presence in a couple of states. In the last round of bargaining, CPSU actively undermined general staff conditions of employment, by supporting separate bargaining for general staff, and accepting inferior conditions of employment at some universities. A Ken McAlpine, Senior Industrial Officer


FWA Review


he Fair Work Act replaced the previous WorkChoices regime in 2009. The promised review of how the Act operated finished receiving submissions in February.

NTEU’s submission concentrated on issues such as the right to take industrial action, the access of fixed term staff to claim

Date your current Agreement expires May 2012 Sydney June 2012 ANU Canberra Charles Sturt Deakin Griffith La Trobe Monash RMIT Tasmania VU

Ballarat CQUniversity Curtin Edith Cowan James Cook Melbourne Murdoch Swinburne UWS

September-December 2012 New England UWA


January-June 2013 ACU Adelaide Newcastle Sunshine Coast UQ UTS

Flinders Macquarie Southern Cross UniSA USQ

July-December 2013 Charles Darwin 2014 UNSW


unfair dismissal where a contract has been used improperly, and a requirement to use casual and fixed term employment only where it can be genuinely justified on operational grounds. The Union’s submission also emphasised the failure of Australian labour laws to comply with Australia’s commitments under international law. A NTEU’s submission is available at c www.nteu.org.au/article/NTEU-LodgesSubmission-to-Review-of-Fair-Work-Act-12362 Or enter ‘NTEU submission fair work review’ into your search engine.



Overcrowded? Tell us your stories


vercrowding of lectures and tutorials is a common complaint amongst university staff and students in the first few weeks of first semester. In fact, all staff have stories of trying to do too much with too little.

This year inadequate funding per student combined with the uncapping of enrolments is likely to make matters worse. This will mean more overcrowding and increased workloads for staff. As part of our Invest in Australia’s Future campaign, NTEU has been asking university staff and students to report instances of overcrowding and under resourcing to the Union. While we have a lot of support from staff for the campaign, some institutions have raised privacy concerns in relation to our request for photographs of overcrowded university classes and/or tutorials. We are looking into the concerns that have been raised.


re you starting as a casual teaching or casual research staff member in 2012, or were you employed casually or sessionally in 2011? Then please fill out the NTEU’s Casual Survey at www.unicasual.org.au/survey2012.

The survey will be open from late February until the end of March. We want to know if the entitlements you and your colleagues have bargained for are being properly implemented at your university. NTEU won some key improvements for casual teaching and research staff in the latest University Enterprise Agreements. Some or all of the following should now apply: • Opportunities for more secure employment • Separate pay for marking • Increased casual loading • Payment for attendance at meetings • Unit coordination rates • Improved facilities for casual teaching and research staff


However, it is important for all staff to tell us their stories if we are to influence public perceptions of the sector. People care about these issues, and we are looking for your stories about your workplaces, tutorials, lectures, laboratories, and seminars where the resources you have are not sufficient to do the work you need to do. Whether you are an academic or general staff member, tell you tales. We will not reveal your details without your permission. These can be posted on the NTEU’s UniStories website (www.unistories.org.au) or sent via email to overcrowded@nteu.org.au. We will be posting a selection of stories on the NTEU’s Invest in Australia’s Future website and using them to generate media interest on the issue of university under funding. NTEU is also interested in identifying any staff or students who are prepared to talk to the media about these issues. If you know of a particularly serious example of overcrowding or under resourcing and are prepared to talk to the media contact the Union’s National Media Officer, Andrew Nette at overcrowded@nteu.org.au. Or don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or require further information. A Matthew McGowan, Assistant National Secretary email mmcgowan@nteu.org.au

We also want to make connections with as many casual staff as we can, to build ongoing networks and encourage casual staff to get active in ensuring you are receiving your correct entitlements. Once the survey results are known, NTEU Branches will look at mounting campaigns and other activities to ensure compliance with these improvements. Spread the word – NTEU will be distributing postcards and posters around campuses in the next few weeks, so grab a pile of postcards and let your colleagues know about the survey and encourage them to complete it too.

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


FWA finds UniMelb breached Agreement


air Work Australia (FWA) has found that the University of Melbourne breached the Collective Agreement with an NTEU member whose fixed term appointment should have been continuing. As a result of the decision, the member was paid a full 12 months’ severance payment and had her superannuation for the year she had been employed topped up from 9% to 17%.

NTEU went to FWA on behalf of the member employed by the University as a Placement Officer on a fixed term contract appointment. NTEU alleged that the work was not of a type for which fixed term employment was allowed under our Collective Agreement. Due to a series of mistakes by local management, and a lack of attention to the process by HR, a 12 month contract was issued

for work which was clearly continuing in character. Instead of acknowledging that the appointment should never have been fixed term, the University fought us all the way, making dubious claims that the Agreement allowed fixed term employment. FWA Commissioner Roe found that the University had contravened two provisions of the Agreement – one which limits the circumstances in which fixed term employ-

ment can be used, and another which requires the University to advise upon appointment the reason why fixed term employment is being used. Similar provisions are included in almost every University Enterprise Agreement negotiated by the Union. The Commissioner found that the University should have employed our member on a continuing contract. If you are employed on a fixed term contract, it is important to check that it has been properly made. If the University has made a similar mistake in your contract, the NTEU may be able to get your employment converted to ongoing. Contact your Branch Office if you are not sure, and we will be happy to advise you on a confidential basis. A Ken McAlpine, Senior Industrial Officer Branch details c www.nteu.org.au/branches


Local claims a key to bargaining


ne of the strengths of the NTEU’s nationally coordinated bargaining strategy has been that by seeking to defend and extend standards on an industry basis, great results can be achieved for members. For example, the superior regime of parental leave in universities, and strong salary growth, have only happened because of the Union’s coordinated claims.

In the last round of bargaining (20082011) there was a special emphasis on restoring industry standards lost during the WorkChoices period under the Howard Coalition Government. Unfortunately, at many universities, this has meant a lack of priority for important university-specific claims, which for some members can be just as important as the Union’s national claims. In the coming round of university bargaining. Bargaining does not have to be about only big issues that affect the whole workforce. Bargaining may be the opportunity to fix up something that is important only to a particular group of members. As long as it is about the employment relationship, the bargaining negotiations can be about whatever the parties (union or management) want. For example: • A particular building or School may lack staff facilities such as a lunch room. MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

• Staff required to teach overseas may not be adequately remunerated for travelling time. • Security or IT staff may be expected to be ‘on-call’ without proper recompense.

Let us know what you think In many cases, such issues have been of concern for years, yet management has refused to negotiate a satisfactory outcome. Bargaining allows the Union to put these matters on the table, and to require management to negotiate in a way they are not required to outside bargaining. Bargaining should be driven by the concerns of Union members. If you want to see an issue of local concern addressed as part of enterprise bargaining at your workplace, contact your local NTEU Branch. A Ken McAlpine, Senior Industrial Officer Photo: Jess Cronin



Of obesity centres and pulling your own weight: USyd puts the squeeze on staff


espite recording a substantial budget surplus, University of Sydney management have proposed to cut the jobs of 340 academic and general staff. The Vice-Chancellor, Michael Spence announced the job cuts late last year to make urgent savings towards a 7% University-wide budget cut in 2012. In February, 100 academic staff were notified that they would be made redundant. A further 64 academic staff were given a ‘choice’ of a teaching focused position or redundancy. Large cuts to general staff numbers are also being planned across the University.

No job cuts campaign NTEU has opposed management’s plan from its inception. The ‘No Job Cuts’ public campaign gained external media coverage as University special events and meetings were leafleted, the VC’s Christmas party ‘crashed’, and meetings and rallies held, including one of nearly 300 people in the rain during O-Week. The Union has also attracted new members clearly fed up with the style and substance of the University’s management. The historic quadrangle was the venue for 700 staff and students rallying in opposition to the staff cuts on 7 March. Speaking outside the VC’s office, NTEU Sydney Branch President, Michael Thomson updated the


crowd on management’s continuing intransigence. NTEU National President, Jeannie Rea and NSW MLC John Kaye spoke about the nationwide context of underfunding by government, short-sighted University management decisions and the need for greater investment in University staff rather than staff cuts. The meeting unanimously voted no confidence in the VC.

Academic research performance targeted The nub of the dispute for academic staff is a performance measure being applied retrospectively – namely, any academic who had not published four verified research publications between January 2009 and November 2011 would be deemed as underperforming and headed for the chop. ‘We can no longer carry members of the university who are not pulling their weight’, declared VC Spence (The Australian, 20/2/12). Deans were asked to review a ‘hit list’ of staff in their faculties who didn’t reach the arbitrary threshold. The intention is to serve notice of redundancy through underperformance to those staff. NTEU members were in equal parts outraged and astonished at such a measure, given that it contravened both the spirit and letter of performance management and workloads agreements. It also conflated ‘sacking’ with ‘redundancy’. In more recent pronouncements, the VC suggested that the University simply wanted to make cuts, stating on ABC Radio’s PM program on 21 February, ‘We’re not actually looking at performance management here. This is redundancies so we’re merely looking at relative contribution’. In the same interview, Dr Spence responded to a question about the budget cuts and staff morale stating, ‘I think that staff want to see that the

University is being managed responsibly... and I think that is good for morale at the University of Sydney’.

What budget crisis? The NTEU and much of the University community dispute that there is any responsible management occurring. An apparent budget crisis, brought on by repair bills for ageing buildings, a decline in international fee income or the increase in the value of the dollar have been advanced as reasons for the 7% cut. An institution of Sydney’s size and wealth can and should be able to absorb some fluctuation in income and to prudently schedule repairs and maintenance. The Union argues, and based on available figures is fairly confident, that this is a ‘crisis’ of the University’s own making. For example the University put its hand out for a Federal Government grant two years ago for a huge facility to specialise in obesity and cardiovascular disease research and teaching. That grant has turned into a commitment now expected to cost the University well over

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


Challenging excessive workloads Can ‘harmonised’ workplace health and safety laws make a difference?


or many years, leading scholars and activists have advocated a more coherent and consistent system for regulating workplace health and safety (WHS) across all of Australia. They have sought improved rights for workers and their unions, as well as innovative, diverse and effective enforcement processes and penalties. Some progress was made towards this goal during the 1990s, but ultimately the drive collapsed under the Howard conservative Government.

Shortly after taking office, the Rudd Labor Government commenced work on the ‘harmonisation’ of the WHS regulatory systems across all jurisdictions. In April 2008, it commissioned a wide-ranging National Review into Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws. By late January, 2009, the Review Panel had handed down a set of recommendations that were to form the basis of a Model WHS Act. The Workplace Relations Ministers in the Federal and State Governments agreed that the final version of the Model WHS Bill 2010, developed by Safework Australia in lengthy and often feisty ‘consultations’ with unions and employers, would be adopted in every jurisdiction by 1 January 2012. Ultimately, only NSW, Queensland, the ACT and the NT have passed new WHS Acts. Even then, the Model Act was not adopted in its entirety in NSW or Queensland, and nor were the Model Regulations. Several Codes of Practice are not yet finalised. Western Australia remains opposed to key elements of the Model Act, while delay and debate continues in the remaining states.

$100 million in 2012-13, and sizeable commitments from 2014 and beyond. That facility, commonly known as the Obesity Centre, has been described by at least one member of its Board as a financial ‘black hole’. The recent auction of a Picasso painting donated to the University in 2011, netted $20 million, that has now been put to three new full professorships for the Obesity Centre. The Union has made it clear that putting money into new major works such as the Obesity Centre is counter intuitive if a budget crisis exists. NTEU has met with the University management numerous times to try and underMARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

The inconsistencies pose temporary difficulties for the NTEU, but there are enhanced opportunities to challenge excessive workloads right now in at least two states and two territories. It is selfevident that excessive workloads pose serious health and safety risks, including higher blood pressure, higher rates of cardio-vascular disease and stroke, even suicide, and other stress related illnesses and injuries. These risks have been identified in extensive research and are internationally recognised and accepted. The role and rights of the elected WHS Representative for defined work groups are enhanced in the harmonised laws, and of special note here is their right to training, to issue Provisional Improvement Notices and their ability to seek risk assessments. They are also entitled to be on a university’s WHS Committee, and that Committee must conform to new requirements and undertake specified activities. Added to this, are rights attached to NTEU officers and staff who are accredited WHS Right of Entry Permit holders. Perhaps most importantly, the new Acts introduce personal liability, with the result that Vice Chancellors, Members of the Senior Executive, Deans and possibly even Heads of School have duties of due diligence, and will almost certainly be personally liable for breach of the WHS Act. Failure to remove or reduce the risk of excessive workloads could well amount to such a breach. They could be personally liable for very high fines, and even be sentenced to imprisonment. NTEU National Executive has set up a Working Party to investigate this fresh avenue for to attack excessive workloads and develop a plan of action. Follow up with your Division Secretary to get involved or get more details. A Margaret Lee, Queensland Division Secretary

stand the evidence and rationale for such cuts. Despite demanding full transparency to resolve the dispute, the mixed messages continue and new reasons for the cuts are advanced. The campaign continues with pressure being put on the University Chancellor and Senate to explain their support for these management decisions. A dispute has been lodged with Fair Work Australia and is scheduled for hearing during March. A Patrick Brownlee, University of Sydney Opposite page, top: No Job Cuts mass meeting; bottom left: rally in the Quadrangle, 7 March; bottom right: Michael Thomson speaking; This page, right: O-Week rally in the rain. 11



Big Brother/Sister is Watching


he Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) was established in January 2012 with responsibility to register and evaluate the performance of higher education providers against a Higher Education Standards Framework which covers provider standards, qualification standards, teaching and learning standards, information standards and research standards.

In the exercise of its power, TEQSA is required to ensure its regulations are based on necessity, thereby reflecting the risk presented by different providers and making sure that its regulations are proportionate to that risk. In other words, the enabling legislation tries to ensure that TEQSA operates with a firm understanding that not all higher education providers represent the same risk and that this should be reflected in its operations. In order to comply with this mandate, TEQSA published its Regulatory Risk Framework (http://www.teqsa.gov.au/regulatory-risk-framework) in February 2012 which outlines the framework underpinning TEQSA risk assessment and how it intends to carry out this function. Importantly, each provider’s risk will be assessed against a set of risk indicators which are derived by examining quantitative and qualitative information sourced from existing and, where necessary, new data sources. The risk assessment process will create and maintain provider ‘risk profiles’


which will be updated annually. TEQSA is at pains to point out that the final judgement on any provider’s ‘risk’ assessment is based on expert judgement and not simply on summative data sets. The risk indicators listed in the Framework document cover provider standing (e.g age of institution, its history of compliance), financial viability (e.g. enrolment and revenue growth, operating margins, capital spending plans), academic and corporate governance structures, academic quality, human resources (e.g. lack of senior academic staff, heavy reliance on casuals), responsibilities to students and physical/ electronic infrastructure and resources. While NTEU understands that TEQSA is attempting to institute a light touch regulatory framework in relation to well established providers such as universities, we remain concerned that the process of providing regular data and reporting will in itself alter behaviour in unintended ways. A Paul Kniest, Policy &Research Coordinator

Office of Learning & Teaching takes over from ALTC


TEU National President, Jeannie Rea, has been appointed to the Strategic Advisory Committee of the new Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT), located within the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE). The OLT has taken over the grants and awards programs formerly managed by the defunded Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).

Chaired by RMIT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardiner, the Strategic Advisory Committee was established to provide expert and independent advice to the Minister for Tertiary Education and to the OLT on higher education learning and teaching. Whilst not having the structural and functional independence, nor the ambit and budget of the ALTC, the OLT will be able to continue some of the valuable work in advancing excellence in learning and teaching. It was established following the recommendations of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Review released late last year. Importantly, the OLT also has the budget for some commissioned research. At the first meeting of the SAC in February, a lively discussion ensued about strategic priorities for research that would assist in promoting and advancing excellence in learning and teaching in the current political and economic environment, as well as responding to the challenges of a rapidly expanding higher education system. A OLT c www.olt.gov.au

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


Implementation of Indigenous clauses S

ince 2001 and the inception of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander provisions in NTEU’s Collective Agreements, there has been a sustained drive by the Union to ensure that employment opportunities for current and potential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are created across all levels of the university structure. In the last ten years, Indigenous employment across the higher education sector has risen from 0.74 per cent to almost 1 per cent of all university staff (full time equivalent), although employment opportunities have in the main, been in the General/Professional staff categories, while overall Academic appointments lag behind significantly. Concerns raised by university management about increasing Indigenous employment in the bargaining process, range from attracting suitably qualified Indigenous applicants, to outright hostility at the suggestion of incorporating an enforceable employment target in an industrial instrument.

VU achieves outcomes after dispute Recently, NTEU raised a dispute with a Victorian University regarding the failure to meet commitments made to increase Indigenous employment through their Collective Agreement. While the university management may view the dispute as being unnecessary, the outcome of raising the dispute has seen: • The University formalise their Indigenous employment policy, procedure and strategy. • A significant overall increase in employment at the institution. • The appointment of an Indigenous Employment Coordinator. • Work with the local Indigenous community to build relationships and foster partnership opportunities. These outcomes were achieved in approximately 6-8 months and only as a result of raising the dispute with the institution. While the institution should be congratulated on achieving these results, the same result would have been achieved if the stated commitment to Indigenous education and employment was adhered to in the first instance.

Employment targets In many Collective Agreements, employment targets vary from a proportional target based upon the local Indigenous population where the institution is located, the agreed State/Territory Indigenous populations, to the agreed national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population figure of 2.5 per cent. Achieving the national parity figure in the university employment context is the immediate, overarching goal, although the standout question must be asked – based on current Indigenous and nonIndigenous employment trends in the university sector, how long will it take to achieve the national population parity figure? The answer to this question, based on projections of average annual employment growth rates over the last ten years in the higher education sector, is approximately 26 years – yes, you did read this correctly. Over the last decade (2001 to 2011) NTEU calculates the average annual growth rates for Indigenous employment to be 7.02 per cent, MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

which in itself is a credible achievement, driven in part by the work of our members. Further, the overall average annual growth rate for employment across the sector is 3.45 per cent. Extrapolating these average annual growth rates for Indigenous and overall employment in the higher education sector and applying the assumptions that employment in the sector will continue to grow at these rates, and the Indigenous population parity target will remain at 2.5 per cent, it is expected that universities will reach the national Indigenous employment parity target in the year 2038. There is an urgent need to close this employment parity gap in a greatly reduced time period. How universities go about achieving this is another matter entirely. Whilst some universities are strongly committed to increasing Indigenous employment, closing the time period for employment parity in the sector is a responsibility that cannot be borne by a small number of institutions alone. Nor can the responsibility to meet Indigenous employment targets in Collective Agreements be the sole responsibility of University Indigenous Employment Coordinators. We view Indigenous employment as a university-wide responsibility and the Indigenous Employment Coordinator is employed to provide a conduit between the university and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Enforceable employment targets are part of industrial instruments for good reason. If targets are left in university policy documents there is a tendency for those targets to be reduced to tokenism or ignored all together. University managements are well aware of this and will continue to argue strongly against the inclusion of employment targets in Collective Agreements for this very reason. At the 2011 NTEU National Council meeting, a motion was carried on implementing/enforcing Indigenous employment targets set in Round 5 Collective Agreements. The NTEU Indigenous Policy Committee (IPC) and the National Indigenous Unit have begun a process of identifying those institutions where negotiated outcomes are not being met and we will explore a range of options to enforce those clauses, from localised disputes to possible action through Fair Work Australia or the Federal Court. To ensure Indigenous student participation, retention and success at university continues to grow the role of Indigenous staff cannot be understated. Indigenous students, staff and communities simply cannot wait an additional 26 years to achieve the national population employment parity target. The increase in Indigenous employment to date is laudable, but no one should rely on good will and warm words. Employment targets are achievable. These achievements can be seen from the outcomes in the Victorian dispute. All universities need to take steps to reach the agreed Indigenous employment commitments in their Collective Agreement - the potential for lack of action or under-achievement is too great a risk. A Adam Frogley, National Indigneous Coordinator 13


I’m Not a Racist, But... F

ollowing the release of the report ‘I’m Not a Racist, But...’ in November 2011, work on implementing the eleven recommendations has commenced, with Branches and Divisions developing work plans that will seek to progress and lobby for policy and procedural changes within institutions.

Upon release of the report, some media outlets concentrated solely upon the issue of lateral violence, without consideration of the wider issues of racial discrimination and a lack of cultural respect in the higher education sector. Lateral violence is of great concern to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, but must not be the only focus for the work stemming from the report, it is hoped that recommendations from the report will be incorporated in to the log of claims for the coming bargaining round. Of the eleven recommendations stemming from the report, nine were based upon member feedback of their individual and collective experiences of institutional discrimination and wider lack of consideration with respect to culture and cultural obligations. With 71.5% of survey respondents experiencing direct racial discrimination and racist attitudes in the workplace, the need to act upon and implement appropriate strategies and procedures to tackle discrimination is of utmost importance. In the lead up to Round 6 bargaining, the recommendations relating to changes in University policy, particularly the need to ensure appropriate procedures when reporting incidents of racial discrimi-

Indigenous Forum 2012 N

TEU Indigenous Forum 2012 will be held on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May in Melbourne. This year, we expect to host a greater number of Indigenous delegates from Branches and Divisions across the country.


, but...

cist t a Ra I’m no

nation, as well as, appropri, espect ral R l Cultu n, Latera ate representation on policy o t on Repor iscriminati Policy at D d l te a ci la re Ra ties development and review ce & iversi Violen ralia’s Un Aust committees and wider staff training (inductive and retrospective) to ensure a clear understanding of University policy and the wider legislative requirements are high on the list of priorities. While the release of the ‘I’m Not a Racist, But...’ report was instrumental in highlighting the issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members working in the sector, we will continue to monitor these issues to ensure cultural safety and respect for all staff working in Universities across Australia. The National Indigenous Unit encourages our members to make contact with us and details their experiences of working in the sector. A Download the report I’m Not a Racist, But... c www.nteu.org.au/indigenous/publications ion on Un

ucati ry Ed

tia nal Ter e Natio OF th us igeno g.au/ind NAL IND teu.or NATIO 11 www.n ed by ER 20 publish NOVEMB US IGENO


The focus of Indigneous Forum 2012 will be Round 6 Bargaining, with delegates given a detailed overview of outcomes from Round 5 and discussion on expected outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander provisions in the next round of negotiations. Registrations for Indigenous Forum will be circulated to all Branches and Divisions shortly. For further information, please contact Celeste Liddle, National Indigenous Organiser on (03) 9254 1910 or via email cliddle@nteu.org.au. A

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


Embedding Indigenous cultural competency T

he 2012 Universities Australia (UA) conference featured a ‘satellite’ workshop to introduce the National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities.

Building on the recommendation of the Bradley Review of Higher Education (2008), the Framework recommended that: Indigenous knowledges and perspectives are embedded in all university curricula to provide students with the knowledge, skills and understandings which form the foundations of Indigenous cultural competency. The workshop, the first of a series planned by UA, was co-ordinated by Wendy Nolan, Acting Director of the Centre for Indigenous Studies at Charles Sturt University. The session mainly focussed around the justifications for this recommendation and examined the issues the sector is experiencing with Indigenous engagement. Nolan previously had been contracted by Universities Australia and the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Committee (IHEAC) to prepare the Framework document. It was, however, disappointing to note the small attendance at this workshop in light of the fact that so few universities have programs to embed Indigenous knowledges in curriculum. NTEU would argue that the content of this workshop should have been part of the formal conference, as this initiative is too important a proposal to not have a full complement of universities represented in the discussion. This is illustrated by the media coverage in back in January, when this initiative was publicised. Continually, issues raised in the print media around the Bradley recommendations on Indigenous curricula have revolved around maintaining integrity of existing programs; insertion of material that could be politically potent; issues of ‘political correctness’ and ‘social engineering’ that are assumed will have negligible positive outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and the relativity of ‘cultural competency’. In short, a number of Universities, staff and the general public appear to be concerned that embedMARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

ding Indigenous perspectives will diminish the good things currently offered. This is not the case. Rather, this is a unique opportunity to embed what is an exclusively Australian perspective within our world class universities and work to create a positive change. Within the higher education sector, Indigenous staff account for only 0.9% of the total staff cohort, while the proportion of Indigenous students equates to 1.1% of the total student body. The low numbers of Indigenous people within the sector are of deep concern and indicate that despite a number of advances that have been made in Indigenous education and employment in the sector, structurally there are still many things that make Universities an environment that is not inclusive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ensuring universities are a place where perspectives of Indigenous people are truly valued, where students are involved, and where the wider academy has the benefit of furthering their knowledge pool through engaging with a variety of knowledge bases, including those of Indigenous Australians, may go some of the way to addressing these inequities. Likewise, to assume that Indigenous knowledge inclusion will have political consequences, whilst knowledge already embedded within the sector is politically neutral and open to criticism is problematic. Indeed, many Indigenous academics, in our recent report I’m Not A Racist, But... outlined issues of their knowledge and perspectives not being seen as being as valid, and indeed as being treated as of less value than the dominant perspectives. It must be highlighted that any political consequences of embedding Indigenous curriculum will only be noticed because of the alternate view they may offer to the dominant ideologies. Indeed, if there wasn’t some sort of inherent political bias within our institutions already, then

Indigenous inclusion would not be political; Indigenous knowledges would simply be absorbed into the curricula as part of the broader knowledge base. Issues pertaining to ‘cultural competency’ with regard to Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous peoples are an ongoing concern which the NTEU considers extremely important. At the 2011 NTEU National Council, a motion was passed to implement Indigenous cultural competency training in all Branches and Divisions (including National Office) for all staff and elected officials. Part of this training will require the Union to directly engage with communities local to the areas in which the Branch or Division is situated, to ensure staff and elected officials have the appropriate knowledge that will assist them at all levels. This active engagement with local communities, and raising esteem between Indigenous communities and the union movement, is seen as a cornerstone of this training. Not only will this engagement foster ongoing relationships that can be mutually-beneficial, but it is acknowledged that the best way to become ‘culturally-competent’ is to actively engage with communities on an ongoing basis. The same can, of course, be said for the entire higher education sector. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that they are culturally competent and are able to engage with the communities they service. It is telling that only one university in Australia, at this point in time, has Indigenous curricula across all of its programs, with a second due to have a fully-embedded curricula in a couple of years. Some universities have already embraced the unique perspectives that Indigenous Australians bring to the academy by making senior appointments at the PVC and DVC levels, developing and implementing an Indigenous Employment strategy and are working toward, or have completed, a Reconciliation Action Plan, but this is only a start. An Indigenous Graduate Attribute that provides every student a contemporary Australian Indigenous perspective in their discipline/field of study will enable them to more ably ‘Close the Gap’ with confidence. The embedding of Indigenous curriculum in Australian Universities is a natural part of the progression to provide more inclusive environments and embrace unique Australian knowledges; NTEU welcomes this longoverdue direction within the sector. A Celeste Liddle, National Indigenous Organiser 15

future of the sector conference

Australian Universities



w o r r o m To

NTEU’s Future of Higher Education Conference N

TEU’s Future of Higher Education Conference – ‘Australian Universities Today & Tomorrow’ – at the University of Sydney 22-23 February 2012 attracted more than 100 participants and engendered enthusiastic debate at the actual conference and wider participation through social and sector media.

Below: Former CAPA President Tammi Jonas puts her case at the debate. Seated are Dr John Buchanan, Prof George Williams, Erima Dall, Dr Meredith Burgmann and Chair, Dr John O’Brien. Opposite page, top: Professor Dennis Altman comments at the debate. Opposite page, bottom: Professor Steve Larkin delivering the keynote address.


The conference was organised around six core sessions over two days, involving some of the influential thinkers and actors from within and outside the sector. Discussion and debate was lively as the audience and the speakers tackled complex and interconnected issues that focused on the broad based themes of students, staff, funding, regulation, the public intellectual and the international context. It was with curiosity and perhaps a mild degree of concern that some NTEU members participated in a conference that not only included speakers from outside the sector, but also some from within whom were quite bemused to be invited to a Union organised conference – that is, they were not the ‘usual suspects’ you would expect at an NTEU conference. While there was common ground on the importance of a high quality and internationally reputable higher education system, some of the other areas of apparent consensus were quickly exposed, especially around the defining and measuring of quality, the value of mass high education and equality of opportunity. There was a running debate about who should pay and for what, and who should call the tune. In the first panel on Students, former Howard Government Minister for Education, Amanda Vanstone put forward her case that students should have a greater say, and therefore could drive quality. Arfa Noor, President of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), happily endorsed this apparent support for student organisations and activism, but the former Minister quickly NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

future of the sector conference qualified her comments to mean students exercising their customer rights. Noor and, later University of Sydney student activist, Erima Dall, made it very clear that students are acutely aware of their consumer power, but also wanted the right to organise and be heard as students.

Is the university dead? The elephant in the room was whether the concept of the university, as we know it, was dead. This was the topic of the debate chaired by NTEU life member Dr John O’Brien and included leading constitutional lawyer and public commentator Professor George Williams, former CAPA President Tammi Jonas; Director of the University of Sydney’s Workplace Studies Centre, Dr John Buchanan; former President of the NSW Legislative Council, Dr Meredith Burgmann and student activist Erima Dall. They queried whether the University of Sydney today was very different to the idea and experience of those who had attended on scholarships or with parental support decades ago, or by the Whitlam generation which had enjoyed the abolition of tuition fees, introduction of a means tested living allowance and the rapid expansion of places. Since then, successive Australian governments, education thinkers and managers have sought to improve access to universities, whilst trying to contain the costs. As we sat in the sun, with the debaters framed by a sandstone arch giving us glimpses of the greenery and historic buildings beyond, most speakers related to their experience as students or as staff of a traditional university, but argued for the importance of this experience being available to all comers. However, the debate did not really tackle whether all universities can, or even should be, like Sydney. John Buchanan observed that most families want to send their kids to university and employers expect qualified graduates. Whilst there is respect for universities, the issue remains as to how to fund both these institutions and the expanded VET system. Buchanan wondered why we are not looking at levies on private industry as Sweden does. A key message was while the role of universities is to provide learning opportunities for students, they are also the place to research, generate and refine new ideas. As such, freedom of intellectual inquiry in universities (and beyond) is absolutely critical

Stifling the public intellectual

imposed by the current research regime upon the freedom to pursue intellectual inquiry was enthusiastically endorsed by the audience.

The role for Indigenous staff in unlocking potential The critical importance of universities in providing leadership in research and in modelling social change was also powerfully made by Professor Steve Larkin in his opening address. Chair of the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council (IHEAC) and PVC at Charles Darwin University, Larkin challenged conference participants by positioning the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander academics in Australian universities as a critical issue for the sector. He noted that this lack is much more than an equity issue to be addressed through employment targets. Professor Larkin argued that the core issue is for Australian universities to deal with racism, and recognise the continuing privileging of ‘whiteness’ to the exclusion of Indigenous people and those of nonWestern backgrounds. Larkin referred to the NTEU’s research published in I’m Not A Racist, But…, that found that the majority of Indigenous staff continually faced racism and discrimination in the workplace. Along with insecure employment and burn out, this is a major inhibitor to recruiting and retaining Indigenous staff. Indigenous students will

Professor Dennis Altman participated in the session on the public intellectual, chaired by Jillian Miller (Chair, NTEU Indigenous Policy Committee). The session included journalists Stephen Matchett (The Australian) and Catriona Menzies-Pike (New Matilda) who defined the role of intellectuals as being to speak out and provide informed commentary, to allow for a balance of opinion and counter some of the uninformed views in the public arena (often expressed in the media). As an internationally renowned Australian intellectual and activist, Professor Altman focussed on the role of universities in founding and encouraging social movements through empowering students and staff to pursue, interrogate and proliferate new (and often initially unpopular) ideas. He noted how this is not allowed (or acknowledged) in the current teaching and research workload models, and bemoaned the conundrum of being expected to research and propagate the benefits of research, while also spending an inordinate time applying for and reporting upon research grants. Altman’s criticisms of the restriction MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au


future of the sector conference only come to universities if there are Indigenous staff with positive stories to tell, and if universities are seen to value and facilitate learning and teaching and research with Indigenous communities.

Workers in the ‘education revolution’ Chairing the panel on staff, President of the University of Queensland NTEU Branch, historian Dr Andrew Bonnell cast an expert eye over the evolution of the work of the modern university worker over the last twenty years. University of Central Queensland Vice Chancellor, Professor Scott Bowman, then addressed the core issue of academic identity and how to account for teaching, research and scholarship. After listening to PhD candidate Robyn May’s paper on her research findings on academic casuals, Bowman commented that he was reconsidering the common assumption that many casuals are content with their current employment arrangements. It was agreed that this discussion attested to the importance of using sound data as the basis for policy making, rather than relying upon anecdote and opinion. Professor Glenda Strahan spoke in relation to the survey undertaken in universities last year, for the ARC funded project Gender and Equity in Employment, which she expects will shed light on the ongoing barriers to gender equity for academic and general staff. Researcher and editor of Australian Universities’ Review (AUR), Dr Ian Dobson drew upon his long career as a university administrator to account for the growth in general staff to deal with compliance issues and marketing imperatives in a competitive higher education sector, rather than to support the core activities of teaching and research. He, too, focused in on the issue of the need for teaching staff to focus on teaching rather than administration, whilst also valuing the professional skills and knowledge of general staff.

Underfunding, understaffing and SSR Speaker after speaker returned to the core themes of underfunding, understaffing, rising Student to Staff Ratios (SSR) and the squeeze on quality experiences and outcomes. Arfa Noor and Erima Dall had emphasised that SSR was a key issue for students. Noor also emphasised that international students want the opportunity to mix with domestic students in and outside of class, which also necessitates a level of academic and general staff support. Also speaking on the panel on students, the University of New England’s Vice-Chancellor, Jim Barber, gave a provocative presentation exploring the future of teaching and the rise of digital communication. Barber argued that students expect and can access individualised instruction anywhere, anytime, through digital learning technologies and pedagogies, yet the conference discussion remained around traditional face to face teaching which emphasised SSRs, workloads and modes of staff employment. Is the discourse over the educational application of communication technologies in parallel rather than overlapping with that on the funding and organisation of teaching, except when posited as a juxtaposition on replacing academic teachers with pre-recorded products?

Above: The panel on staff, featuring Dr Ian Dobson, Robyn May, Prof Glenda Strahan, Prof Scott Bowman and Chair Dr Andrew Bonnell. Below: The panel on governance listen to audience feedback: Prof Marian Baird, Dr Julie Wells, John Kaye, Prof Margaret Thornton and Chair, Dr John Byron.

Education to Education International, opened the second day of the conference, observing that Australia is an incubator of the changes that we are seeing around the world. In his presentation, ‘The Vandals at the Gates: The Global State of Higher Education’, Robinson addressed the plight of teaching and non-sponsored research in universities across many countries. He reported that precarious forms of employment of teaching and research academics are endemic and are coupled with increased attacks on intellectual freedom, independent governance of universities and on collective bargaining. Robinson also noted that international students are increasingly seen in terms of profit and as a remedy for domestic underfunding, with Australia as the leading example. Dr Sandra Grey, President of New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Union (TEU) outlined what has happened to tertiary education in NZ, where rather than funding public universities, the Government now ‘purchases’ tertiary education from undifferentiated public and private providers. Leading higher education researcher and commentator, Professor Simon Marginson, took up Grey’s theme that these trends cannot be allowed to engulf us without looking to alternative ways of concep-

Global state of higher education David Robinson, Associate Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and Senior Advisor on Higher 18

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future of the sector conference able to whom in the corporatised university. Vice President of RMIT University, Dr Julie Wells, described the balancing act involved in the governance and management demands of contemporary universities. John Kaye, NSW Green MLC, spoke of the recent changes to legislation that reduce the size and representation of NSW university governing bodies, while Professor Marian Baird reflected upon the challenges of being an elected staff member of the University of Sydney Senate. Interventions from the audience by current and previous Council/ Senate members focused upon the challenges of being elected, but not being allowed to act as a representative, and where staff are often accused of having a vested interest in institutional matters and thus are excluded from some of the decision making processes. However, John Kaye and Professor David McCallum from the audience argued that is precisely why staff should be included on governing bodies. Above: Sydney university student Erima Dall makes a point during the debate. Below: Jeannie Rea explains that the objective of the conference is to discuss the big issues facing higher education with a focus on where the decisions of today will take us tomorrow. tualising and intervening. Marginson argued that with the world balance of power shifting rapidly there is an urgent need for more work on enlarging the global civil society and on talking across borders on global governance issues. He argued that Australia still has a lot to learn in being part of our region, and noted that there continues to be undifferentiated views of ‘Asian’ governments, societies and universities. These comments aligned with those by Professor Greg McCarthy’s in his presentation on the challenges for Australian students, staff and universities in the ‘Asian century’. McCarthy noted that while there was much rhetoric about the Asian century, universities were finding it increasingly difficult to continue to offer Asian language courses or encourage Australian students to study in Asia.

Walking the tightrope of good governance From global governance considerations, the conference then considered the current issues in university governance and regulation. While the ambit and intentions of TEQSA were on the agenda, the main focus of this session was on university governance. The session chair Dr John Byron, former advisor to Senator Kim Carr, began by posing the question of why have universities gone for the market model rather than not-for-profit models of governance. Professor Margaret Thornton followed, asking who is account-

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

Where’s the money? The closing session focused on the money, and proved to be a very lively and informative session that was well attended (particularly for a final session). Federal Labor MP Deborah O’Neill outlined the Government’s record to date, but was silent on the key issue of what is to be done about increasing base funding. However, this issue was taken up by Grattan Institute Higher Education Program Director, Andrew Norton, who argued that the Base Funding Review’s 40/60 funding split was unworkable and wouldn’t resolve the funding problems. Whilst many were in agreement with this analysis, his remedy of deregulating student contributions found much less favour. The gap between the rich and poor universities and their capacity to make up the funding shortfalls was starkly illustrated by Victoria University economist, Dr Jamie Doughney’s presentation. The consensus was that despite modest funding increases over several years, there is not enough money supporting higher education. Belinda Robinson, the new CEO of Universities Australia (UA), took the practical approach of examining how to better advocate for the sector. NTEU is glad that UA is expanding upon our research on public perceptions of universities, and also initiating a campaign to raise voter recognition and support for higher education around the country.

Getting the messages out The conference was alive and well in the twitter-sphere. We also web streamed and recorded all sessions. Additionally, interviews were conducted with speakers and other participants. Edited segments can be viewed on the conference website (see below), along with the papers. The Union intends to follow up this conference with further seminars and webinars, which we will make available through social media and our website. The dual aims of the conference were to raise the profile of NTEU and to publicly intervene in the debate on the big issues facing universities and higher education. It was jointly organised by the NTEU National Office and University of Sydney Branch. A Jeannie Rea, National President Conference papers and information c www.nteu.org.au/todayandtomorrow Photos by Paul Kniest and Adam Knobel.


future of the sector conference

Death of the university as we know it D

espite the fact that politicians of every political stripe regularly espouse the economic and social virtues of higher education, it is the case today that in most of the world professors and staff are facing unprecedented pressures. Austerity measures in Europe have seen deep cuts in pay and benefits. In the United States, nearly three-quarters of teaching and research staff are now employed on fixed-term, part-time and nontenure track positions. In Latin America, with the exception of Brazil, up to 80 per cent of staff have no security of employment. And in large parts of Africa and Asia it is no longer possible to attract the best minds to the profession thanks to more attractive salaries and working conditions in other careers.

David Robinson Associate Director Canadian Association of University Teachers


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future of the sector conference

Even in countries like Australia and Canada, which have weathered the global economic recession comparatively well, universities and colleges and the people who work in them are once again in the throes of retrenchment and restructuring. While fundamental changes in academic work were underway before the global recession, the ensuing crisis has provided a convenient excuse for those advocating further restructuring of the academy. As the European and American financial crisis has in turn spawned a public fiscal crisis in some countries, all governments now are singing from the same austerity hymn book — including those who are clearly not facing any significant fiscal pressure. For example, the Canadian Government which on the one hand proudly boasts about having the lowest deficit-to-GDP ratio in the G8 is, on the other hand, preparing an austerity budget that will take sharp aim at social benefits and public services, including higher education and research. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, a recent government-appointed review to explore cost savings recommended that the teaching and research functions of academic work be unbundled and severed so that professors who don’t produce ‘excellent’ research may be obliged to teach double the number of courses. In Canada and around the world, the full-time professor engaged in both teaching and research is a dying breed. The implications for staff and the students they teach are profound. Casual and contingent faculty are poorly paid, have few if any benefits, and have little or no support for research or curriculum development. Without security of employment, moreover, they cannot effectively exercise their academic freedom. Institutional censorship need not be the blunt and visible instrument of dismissal, but rather simply a quiet contract non-renewal. For the full-time professors that remain, their work has intensified and become increasingly bureaucratised. Compliance with increasingly demanding accountability measures and assessment exercises eat up more and more time and energy. Behind it all lays the pressure to increase academic productivity, even if much of what academics do is difficult or impossible to measure in any simple or precise way. Meanwhile, when it comes to academic research the funding emphasis and accountability requirements are increasingly focused on areas of predicted commercial potential. True, the economic benefits of investments in university-based research are well documented. However, these benefits can be fully realised only if policymakers recognise that good research doesn’t emerge from political diktats. As the Canadian experience reveals, dangers arise when government ignores the warnings of the scientific community and binds research too closely to economic needs. Compared with the US, more than twice the percentage of Canada’s university research is funded by industry. This has accelerated in recent years as the government has tied more research funding to the ability of researchers to leverage private sector matching funding. The result has been a drastic reorientation of large swaths of scientific research. The obsession with commercialisation has narrowed the research agenda and undermined the integrity and independence of the academy. And it ignores a basic truth: that the world’s most important scientific discoveries typically have come from basic research. MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

Commercialisation has distorted research priorities in ways that do not serve the public interest. Medical researchers have warned that the focus on market outcomes has encouraged a misguided emphasis on research that produces minor modifications to existing drugs and devices, rather than fundamental explorations of illness and its prevention. Meanwhile, in this new age of austerity, the Canadian government is becoming more aggressive in targeting funding at projects that it believes will produce the biggest bang for its buck. In effect, it is trying to pick the winners and losers in university research, bypassing peer review of research proposals. In doing so, our politicians are destroying what is unique about higher education institutions. As John Polyani, Canada’s best-known scientist and a Nobel laureate, has remarked, universities are the sole institutions in our societies that have a mandate to pursue knowledge for its own sake. If they are to serve the public interest, they must be free from government and industry interference. Almost ever y where today politicians, policymakers and institutional leaders think of the major challenge facing universities and colleges primarily or even solely as one of physical infrastructure — of ensuring there are classrooms, labs and buildings. Faculty and staff — the intellectual infrastructure — is either neglected or, worse yet, blamed for the failings of higher education. In truth, it is exactly the opposite. If higher education is to achieve what we expect of it, we must turn attention to restoring and reinvigorating the academic profession. A This article first appeared in New Matilda. http://newmatilda.com/2012/02/16/death-university-as-we-know


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Authorised by Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Curtis


eep an eye out around your campus for NTEU’s new series of posters where members make statements support of the Invest in Australia’s Future campaign. And remember you can tell your own story at our UniStories website, www.unistories.org.au.

The new posters feature a range of members from across our sector – a chemist, a librarian, a medical doctor, a law lecturer, a public health researcher, a computer scientist, a registered nurse, an economist and a student. A4 versions of the posters can be downloaded for display on your office door or staff room at www.investinuniversities.org.au/resources/posters. Thanks to all the members who agreed to take part in this highly attractive poster campaign! MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au



Time to get off the funding review merry-go-round T

he never ending merry-go-round of university funding reviews delivered its latest offering in December last year with the release of the Final Report of the Higher Education Base Funding Review chaired by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith. The amusement is quickly wearing off and the NTEU is calling on the Gillard Government to act on the evidence presented in the review which amongst a number of other things concluded that: the average level of base funding per place should be increased to improve the quality of higher education teaching and to maximise the sector’s potential to contribute to national productivity and economic growth. In addressing the level of funding per Government supported student, the report finds that there is no evidence to support any reduction in funding for any discipline groups. However, it identifies areas of substantial underfunding in the disciplines of accounting, administration, economics, commerce, medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, dentistry, and visual and performing arts. The report also recommends the Government seriously consider increasing the funding level for humanities and law, the existing delivery for which is being driven by available resources as opposed to preferred pedagogy. While the report provides a substantial amount of analysis and evidence to justify its conclusions, it fails to make any specific recommendations about how much funding should increase in each of the identified disciplines. This is highly disappointing given the amount of time, energy and resources that have been spent on collecting the irrefutable conclusion (which the Bradley Report came up with in 2008) that our universities are not properly funded to educate Government supported students. There is also no doubt that to prevent distortions under the demand driven funding model, it is critical that the current cluster funding arrangements need to be simplified and


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changed to ensure they accurately reflect the actual costs of delivering education, scholarship and basic research capability. The report’s recommendations in relation to increased support for the participation of students from low SES backgrounds also make good policy sense. If it is the Government’s wish to encourage more students from low SES backgrounds into university, they should adopt the reports recommendation to uncap the level of low SES funding and set it at a rate of $1,000 per low SES student. The proposal to allow each university to develop ‘flagship’ teaching programs has some merit, but requires greater consideration. The criteria used to determine flagship programs needs careful thought. For example, we are strongly opposed to allowing universities to charge students higher fees to enrol in flagship programs (as per the recommendation) for fear that that flagship programs become little more than a way of extracting higher fees for the most popular courses. On the other hand, we are supportive of universities receiving additional public funding toward the development of genuinely innovative programs. The recommendation of the Base Funding Review which has drawn the most attention in the media relates to proposed changes to student contribution amounts so that all students contribute 40 per cent and the Government contributes 60 per cent of the funding for each Commonwealth supported place. An analysis of these changes reveals that students in the bulk of disciplines would experience increased fees with those studying science, agriculture, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science experiencing increases of more than $2,000 per annum, compared to existing HECS-HELP fees. While it appears that students studying law and accounting would be the big winners by benefiting from a reduction of close to $5,000, the report also recommends that

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

current contribution rates be frozen to allow the indexation of Government contributions to achieve the 40:60 ratio – which NTEU estimates would take well over twenty years to achieve. We would also argue that based on the public benefit, it would be hard to justify charging nurses higher fees, while giving economist and lawyers substantial discounts. NTEU is strongly opposed to the recommendation which says the Government could consider splitting basic research funding from base funding and for it to be distributed on the basis of research performance. Research and teaching define a university and for this reason NTEU is also strongly opposed to calls for base funding to be made available to non-research institutions at a 10% discount. If non-university providers want access to university funding, they should also be expected to provide the same level of teaching, research and student service as required by universities. The experience of public TAFEs in Victoria shows that such a policy would

threaten the viability of our public universities as private providers cherry pick the most popular and profitable courses. While the NTEU supports the report’s recommendations in relation to keeping performance based funding separate from base funding, we believe that the report’s recommendations which impose additional reporting and or monitoring requirements on universities need to be reconsidered in the context of the increasing funding and regulatory compliance costs. A Paul Kniest, NTEU Policy & Research Coordinator A more detailed NTEU response can be downloaded at www.nteu.org.au/article/Base-Funding-Review-12224 The Base Funding Review Report can be downloaded at www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Policy/ BaseReview/Pages/default.aspx



Science: where to now? Ian R Dobson Network for Higher Education and Innovation Research, University of Helsinki Centre for Population & Urban Research, Monash University The Educational Policy Institute Pty Ltd


s Australian science healthy? Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AO is about to hand down a major report on the Health of Science, based on work that has been done in his office, and three commissioned studies of various aspects of Australian ‘science’. One of these commissioned studies is Unhealthy Science? University Natural and Physical Sciences 2002 – 2009/10. This report represents an extension of previous examinations of university science dating back to 1989. It shows that in the first decade of the 21st century, enrolments in science courses grew by 30 per cent, just less than the sector-wide average of 33 per cent.

Not bad, one might say. True, perhaps, but is zero-growth good enough in a technology-based knowledge society? Management and commerce, the principal growth area of recent years, is not where technological advancement and innovation spring from. As the Chief Scientist has noted ‘Science as a whole may be nearly keeping pace with other disciplines, but how are we going to improve our sustainability and prosperity without more agronomists, technology experts and teachers’. The situation with university science has been the cause of concern to some people for many years. For instance, the Australian Council of Deans of Science commissioned a study in the late 1990s, which noted a 58 per cent growth in numbers of students enrolled in science courses. However, many faculties of science were doing it tough. Why was it so? During the period 1989 to 1997, science students were turning in droves to studying from disciplines not taught by science faculties. The fashion of the nineties was for the behavioural sciences, biological sciences, computer sciences and non-science disciplines. At many universities, these disciplines are taught wholly or in part in faculties of arts, medicine, information technology and others. Therefore, pity the poor dean of science with 58 per cent more students to administer, but with little extra funding, and little or no growth in the enabling sciences of chemistry, mathematics and physics. In fact, during the 1990s, mathematics and physics both declined, by 5 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively. Chemistry increased by 16 per cent, but this should be compared with the growth in behavioural sciences (93 per cent), biological sciences (78 per cent) and all other sciences (81 per cent: earth sciences, computing, pharmacology and ‘other’). In a period when science students increased their overall sci26

ence intake by more than 20,000 equivalent full time (student load), the enabling sciences increased by just 414 EFTSL. The 1990s set a new low for the enabling sciences, and they haven’t recovered. Unhealthy Science? shows that things haven’t slid any further, but surely we were hoping for some growth. The composition of the average BSc degree changed little over the decade, with a slight increases in biology (now about 36 per cent per cent of a typical bachelor degree), and ‘other’ natural and physical sciences (8 per cent), and earth sciences (5 per cent), with chemistry declining slightly (now 11 per cent, 10 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively). One thing that has changed is that science teaching is increasingly provided as service teaching. In 1989, 58 per cent of ‘science’ was taught to science students. By 2009, it was 46 per cent. This situation has been driven by the expansion in other areas, such as engineering, health and management. Not a bad thing in its own right, but more graduates in enabling sciences would suit Australia’s high-tech future better. A Download a copy of Unhealthy Science c http://www.nteu.org.au/library/view/id/2321

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Doctor, doctor, give me the news!


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he current issue of Australian Universities’ Review (AUR) is a Special Issue on contemporary issues in doctoral education. Having a Special Issue on this topic emerged from discussions at an AARE symposium in 2009 between a few researchers who shared a common interest in research into doctoral education. One of those researchers was Monash University’s Dr Anita Devos, also a member of the AUR editorial board. She brought forward a proposal to the board for a Special Issue, and she and Dr Catherine Manathunga of Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand were to act as guest editors. The board thought this a splendid idea!

Paraphrasing the guest editors’ introduction, AUR was a good place for new work on doctoral education because it is a long-standing journal and source of commentary, and has published many groundbreaking papers on doctoral education in its past. One of these was ‘How to supervise a PhD’ by Connell, published in 1985. That paper eventually spawned a special issue of AUR on the topic in 1995. 2012 was a good year to revisit this important topic. The guest editors sought out contributions from a range of Australasian and overseas scholars from the UK, US and Hong Kong via direct representation and a call for expressions of interest. The Special Issue draws out ‘some interesting research from the field that might contribute to attempts to rethink doctoral education pedagogies…’ It is divided into three broad sections, starting with an introduction that ‘build[s] a bridge from Connell’s 1985 article and the 1995 special issue with an article based on an edited interview with Raewyn Connell’. A further article has been provided by Bill Green, one of the co-editors of the 1995 special issue, focussing on curriculum in doctoral education. The second section, the guest editors tell us, ‘represents a group of papers exploring aspects of pedagogy that were less well covered

Since 1958, the Australian Universities’ Review has been encouraging debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life. AUR is listed on the DEEWR register of refereed journals.

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

vol. 53,

no. 2, 201 1 ISSN 0818–8

Published by NTEU



Australia n Unive rsities’Re view

in the 1995 issue.’ Papers by Danby and Lee, Manathunga, McAlpine, and Devos and Somerville canvass a range of issues including supervision pedagogy, student agency and identity trajectories and the incorporation of non-Western knowledge. The final section ‘explores some of the key contextual changes that have increasingly come to frame doctoral education since 1995.’ Papers by Ryan, Yang, and Blumenfeld and Nerad pursue international themes. The paper by Marsh, Smith, King and Evans brings us back to Australia with an examination of the policy context of Australian doctoral education, and final, a paper by yours truly presents a potted statistical history of the PhD in Australia, since it was first awarded in 1948. Having guest editors presents an editor with something of a busman’s holiday, but by pitching an issue of a journal at a tighter-thannormal set of topics clearly produces excellent results. I’d like to express my thanks to the guest editors for their efforts in assembling what will be a widely-read issue of AUR for years to come. Let there be more Special Issues! A AUR c www.aur.org.au

Want to receive your own copy of AUR? AUR is published twice a year by the NTEU. NTEU members are entitled to receive a free subscription on an opt-in basis – so you need to let us know. If you are an NTEU member and would like to receive AUR, please email aur@nteu.org.au



Tips and traps in the social media landscape Ken McAlpine NTEU Senior Industrial Officer


ocial media, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming ubiquitous in Australia. Depending on who you believe, there are about eight million Facebook users in Australia, and on average, each Facebook user has 154 ‘friends’. There are also about two million Twitter accounts. Given the nature of work in universities, TAFE and Adult Education, we can assume that a majority of NTEU members participate regularly in social media.


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Debates rage about the good and bad aspects of social media, but this article looks at what it means in an employment context. Recent cases and incidents have highlighted the need for employers and staff to understand the issues, and when behaviour away from work can constitute serious misconduct. In a 2011 case,1 Fair Work Australia (FWA) confirmed that it ‘does not make any difference’ whether comments made on social networking sites are posted from a personal computer out of work hours. In this case, FWA upheld the dismissal of an employee who posted insulting and threatening comments about another colleague, despite not naming his employer, on the grounds that such threats constituted serious misconduct. In another case, FWA reaffirmed that an employee’s conduct away from work could constitute grounds for dismissal. Nevertheless, it was found that a hairdresser had been unfairly dismissed after making a public display of dissatisfaction about her employer on Facebook, as her posting could only be seen by ‘friends’, did not name her employer (only the hairdressing industry), and there was no evidence that the posting had been viewed by any clients of the employer.2 However whilst finding the dismissal unfair, FWA did warn against such ‘foolish outbursts’, which may undermine the employment relationship. On the other hand, in 2011, the Commonwealth Bank had to withdraw a Policy which would have made it serious misconduct even to say on Twitter who was winning the footy tipping competition at work, and requiring employees to report to management if any of their Facebook friends made any adverse comments about the Bank.3 At common law, employees are entitled not to be directed about how they behave outside work or what general political, social or religious beliefs they have. However, the same common law of employment says that whether or not he or she is at work, an employee cannot behave in a manner which: • Threatens, abuses or gratuitously defames work colleagues, managers or students. • Divulges information damaging to the employer’s interests which the employee only knows because of their job. • Otherwise seriously damages the employer’s interests. Generally speaking, if you make threats or abuse people, it will not matter whether or not your Facebook friends include colleagues or students or not. Facebook comments are not ‘private’ comments. While most of us have let off steam about our boss, or our colleagues at the pub, or at home to our family, these comments are usually to a small defined group, and the employee can reasonably say that she or he expected them to remain private. They are also very hard for the employer to prove, and can be explained by the context. Saying at midnight at a party, or even in an email to a friend, that ‘I am going to shoot the Finance Manager for what he said about my accounts’ will be viewed differently to a Facebook comment saying the same thing.

social media and intellectual freedom In most University Enterprise Agreements, staff are afforded protection when exercising the rights of intellectual/academic freedom. This means that public statements, which may be highly critical of the employer (the university), are protected on the basis that the MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

employee (usually an academic) is entitled to freely express her or his views about both debates in an academic discipline and on governance matters within the University. However, the case law is fairly clear – comments need to be measured, rational and a genuine contribution to debate if a Facebook comment is to be protected as an exercise of ‘intellectual freedom’.4 It is most unlikely that the following comments will be protected by academic freedom: ‘I saw the Vice-Chancellor today at the staff forum. She is an idiot trying to turn us into a second-rate Uni.’ ‘Marking at 2am. Essay number 32. It would be nice to get one which was less than one-third plagiarised.’ However, the following comments, as part of a Facebook discussion would probably be acceptable: ‘The strategy being pursued by our University is, in my experience, likely to take our University down a path of reduced academic standards, and overworked staff.’ ‘In my experience, having talked to many colleagues at a recent conference, Australian universities do not take the problem of plagiarism seriously enough, and do not tend to support academic staff trying to deal with it.’ The best rule of thumb with social media is to ask yourself whether you would be happy to have the comments in a print daily newspaper in your name. If you are not sure, it is probably not a good idea to give your supervisor/HR/management an opportunity to get you into a lot of trouble.

Union roles and social media – a special case Comments made on Facebook or other social media which are clearly identified as being made by the union have special protections under the Fair Work Act, even if the person making them is also an employee. So, for example, if you are a union delegate and you identify yourself as such, the employer cannot generally take action against you for what you say in social media, subject to the general laws of defamation, obscenity etc. This is because you statements are made on behalf of the union itself, not in your capacity as an employee. Despite this, union officials or delegates should always exercise caution on social media. Remember the social media basic rules of etiquette, and if you’re not prepared to say a comment to someone’s face, or even to them in an email, then don’t say it on social media! A 1. Damien O’Keefe v Williams Muir’s Pty Ltd T/A Troy Williams The Good Guys [2011] FWA 5311 2. Fitzgerald v Dianna Smith t/a Escape Hair Design [2010] FWA 7358 3. The Australian, 5 February 2011. 4. Prof Jim Jackson, When Can Speech Lead to Dismissal in a University. http://www.austlii.edu.au/ au/journals/ANZJlLawEdu/2005/3.pdf An Insider’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette c www.chrisbrogan.com/socialmediaetiquette



swimming in the social media pool NTeU and social media Andrew Nette NTEU National Media Officer


hatever you may think about social media, its implications on your time management and the impact it has had on the use of the English language, there can be no denying platforms like Facebook and Twitter have the capacity to be powerful communication tools. It’s fair to say NTEU National Office and the Union more generally have been slow off the mark to harness the communication possibilities of social media. Although the National Office has had a Twitter account for some time, its use has been patchy, and we have only had a Facebook page since late 2011. It’s a similar situation among Branches and Divisions. While some have active, well used Facebook and Twitter feeds, they appear to be in the minority. Facebook pages are started, perhaps by an interested or motivated Organiser or Branch official or in pursuit of a particular campaign, but not updated regularly or fall into disuse when the person who set them up leaves or the campaign ends. More seriously, the Union lacks an overall strategy to guide its social media and integrate platforms like Facebook and Twitter with our web and other communications.

Benefits of social media While social media also has its limitations, primarily the difficulty translating online engagement into workplace and political activity, it is one of many communication options the Union needs to use, along with free media, print newsletters and publications, email and face to face discussion. If used properly social media can haveenormous benefits, including: • The ability to directly engage with members on a more regular basis, including members who are not reached by more traditional forms of communication such as a hard copy newsletter. 30

• Enhanced visibility on public policy issues, not just with NTEU members but students, the public, politicians, other sector stakeholders and higher education commentators. • Increased reach in the media of the Union’s policy positions. A good example of heightened member engagement made possible by social media occurred at the recent Australian Universities Today and Tomorrow Conference organised by the NTEU in Sydney (see p. 16). For the first time at an NTEU forum, staff and conference participants Tweeted the conference proceedings. Not only did this result in some interesting on-line debate, it gave members who could not attend the opportunity to follow the proceedings.

advice for branches and divisions Member feedback on the National Office’s social media activities over the last few months has been very positive. Those of you who are already on Facebook or Twitter appear to like our improved visibility on these platforms and appreciate the opportunity to engage with the Union online. While this is not the place for a more detailed discussion of use of social media, members thinking about using social media in their Union work need to take into account some basic considerations: • There is a time commitment associated with social media. Twitter and Facebook must be updated regularly with accurate information. Social media should not be an afterthought. If it is, it will not work. NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

social media

• The word ‘social’ is there for a reason. For social media to be successful, you have to engage with people, get back to them when they comment, etc. Using it to broadcast should be the exception not the rule and it only works if you have already established yourself as an active part of whatever community you are appealing to. • The tone and language you use in a Tweet or Facebook post is important. • How will your social media work be integrated with other forms of communications, such as Branch and Division websites and hard copy publications, etc? I am not trying to discourage people from using social media as part of their work at the NTEU. Nor am I saying more Branches and Divisions need to rush out and use social media or that those who do use it must do so in a uniform way under the control of the National Office. What I would say to those who feel they should be doing something in this area, is think about how you want to use it and whether you have the time and skills necessary to do so. If there is an active Facebook or Twitter feed already being run by your Division, consider linking into that rather than setting up your own. MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

And I would encourage as many members as possible to follow the NTEU Nation Office on Facebook and Twitter.

future plans The NTEU National Office plans to develop a strategy and protocol around the use of social media in the coming months. In the meantime, please contact me if you wish to discuss any issues your Branch and Division may have about social media or if you are thinking of undertaking activities in this area. A Andrew Nette, email anette@nteu.org.au All NTEU Social media links c www.nteu.org.au/myunion/social_networks NTEU National Office Facebook c https://www.facebook.com/pages/ National-Tertiary-Education-Union/274079142634253 NTEU National Office Twitter c https://twitter.com/#!/NTEUNational NTEU National Office Flickr c http://www.flickr.com/photos/nteu NTEU National Office YouTube c http://www.youtube.com/user/nteu Image: © Shanna-Banana-O-Rama



What does equal pay mean now? W

orkers in the community sector covered by the Social and Community Services (SACS) Award got a late Christmas present, or a long overdue thank you from the rest of Australia for their hard work over the last 40-odd years. On 1 February, Fair Work Australia awarded community workers pay rises of between 19 and 41 per cent. They got ‘equal pay’. Megan Clement-Couzner Doctoral student Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy University of Western Sydney


This landmark case gives us reason to look at the history of equal pay for women in the SACS industry specifically, and in Australia more generally, and ask, what does equal pay mean now, and what’s next? The case, run primarily by the Australian Services Union (ASU), took almost two years from the first union application to the decision, but workers in the sector have been campaigning for fair pay for much longer. The battle began for the sector 30 years ago, when the Social NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

GENDER EQUITY Welfare Union applied to be declared an industry, and took their case all the way to the High Court. That case was won in 1983 and workers in the SACS industry finally had an industrial award. The award rates were low, however, and the mostly female workforce often found themselves in a situation where in spite of degrees and many years of experience, they were paid less than people stacking shelves. This won’t be the case for much longer, but why was it the case for so long? Equal pay, like the silent notion of gender to which it refers, is a notoriously sticky concept. It initially meant removing the disparity in pay between men and women performing the same work. This was entrenched in the 1912 Fruit Picker’s Case, which set women’s wages at 54 per cent of a man’s. Equal pay for equal work was won in 1969. People quickly realised, however, that this would not remove all pay disparity, as formal industrial classifications often obscured the equal nature of work being performed. Equal pay for equal work was won in 1972 and meant that if women’s work could be shown to be very similar in skill, environment, and training required to male dominated work, an Equal Remuneration Order could be made. The ABS statistics on the pay gap between men and women from this era shows that the gap narrowed significantly over the period from 1974 to around 1990, then plateaued. It has hovered at around 17 per cent ever since, occasionally narrowing and recently widening. These figures control for men and women’s different work patterns to the extent that they only include full time ordinary hours. If total working hours, including overtime and part-time work are calculated, the gap is more like 35 per cent. This leaves some tough questions about why we don’t yet have gender equality in the workplace, and how we think about it when our original maxims (equal pay for equal work, then equal pay for comparable work) haven’t taken us all the way. The individualisation of employment relations in Australia has not helped. With significant exceptions, women tend to be clustered in industries that lack strong unionism and are dominated by smaller employers. They were therefore disproportionately affected by the moves to enterprise bargaining and MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

then individual agreements under successive Labor and Liberal governments. Moreover, the community workers’ case is the first equal pay case that has been won at a federal level in Australia since 1972. Successive iterations of equal pay principles in federal industrial legislation have set high bars to success. Although 16 cases were taken between 1972 and now, tough provisions that required a male group of employees with which to compare any industry seeking an Equal Remuneration Order meant none were successful. Under WorkChoices appli-

cants were required to prove direct discrimination, making it very difficult to win. What the SACS case tells us is that the pay equity provisions of the new Fair Work Act can deliver for female dominated industries. To the credit of the Act and those who drafted it, the equal remuneration provisions do not require a male dominated industry comparator when a group of workers make an equal pay claim. This opens up possibilities for future cases, but seeking an Equal Remuneration Order in Australia’s current industrial and political climate still presents challenges. While employer opposition and lack of unionisation are both problems, perhaps chief among these challenges is the political

problem of support for redistribution to low paid industries that don’t make a profit, and how we value them. When asked to quantify the proportion of the pay gap between community workers in the public and not-for-profit sectors that was based on gender, the ASU said it was the whole lot. They claimed the low pay of community workers was due to the work of the industry being undervalued based on its history of volunteerism and its female workforce. This feminist argument suggests that the work that keeps communities functioning, the emotional and caring labour of refuge workers and disability carers and aged care assistants, is valued less by an individualised labour market than work that pulls minerals out of the ground or trades shares on the stock market. Essentially, we are still having an argument about whether and how much work matters if it doesn’t create monetary wealth. Yet it should hardly need to be said that people like Karen Willis AO, of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre and a witness to the case, do work that is both hard and worthwhile. Their services are what make our communities. Other service industries in Australia have exploded with the outsourcing of work that used to be done in the home. Childcare, for example, is still notoriously underpaid. Cleaning, hospitality and aged care are other industries whose work adds tremendous value to the lives of others, but is very low paid. So we are still left with the awkward question for employers, government and the rest of us, of how we should value various industries and work, and who is next in line for equal pay. Any or all of these industries could legitimately pursue an Equal Remuneration Order, and the SACS case gives reason to hope they might succeed. The questions of employer opposition, union capacity, and most of all our political priorities when it comes to the value of work and the inequalities in our labour markets, are the factors that will determine what happens next for gender equity at work. A This article first appeared in New Matilda http://newmatilda.com/2012/02/08/what-does-equalpay-mean-now

Photos © ASU NSW 33


The day Cirque du Silly came to higher education policy D

ecember usually signals the beginning of the ‘silly season’. For higher education policy, the end of 2011 and the start of 2012 was without doubt a season of silliness – but for reasons other than endless parties.

The silly season was officially announced with a loud clash of ALP political symbolism which saw the removal of Senator Kim Carr as Minister for Science and Research (and a bunch of other stuff ) and the appointment of Senator Chris Evans as the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research (noting that Tertiary Education was only added to the title after this egregious ‘oversight’ was pointed out by the sector). The Ministerial reshuffle was accompanied by a realignment of portfolio responsibilities and the creation of a new Department with a name reminiscent of a PhD thesis – the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education – and an acronym only pronounceable by a verbal contortionist: DIISRTE. A straw poll in the NTEU National Office overwhelming supported ‘disaster’ as the pronunciation that best fits the circumstances. Ministerial reshuffles and portfolio gymnastics, however, are only the sideshow. The real policy work involved the release of a raft of policy reports and consultation papers on issues ranging from base funding, risk assessment requirements for international students, teaching and learning performance indicators, a risk assessment framework for TEQSA and the refreshing of national research priorities. All of these important policy papers were released at the end of 2011 and required responses by early 2012. The increased longevity of policy wonks livers’ aside, the process is unlikely ever to be included as a case study in a text book on public policy development and administration. It is far more likely to be cited as a misguided post modernist deconstruction of the contemporary art of circus in the early 21st century. 34

The summer spectactular was far from a tightly scripted and choreographed thematic performance that characterises contemporary circus arts performed by innovative companies like Circus Oz and Cirque du Soliel. What onlookers witnessed was more reminiscent of a ringmaster unleashing troupes of clowns with instructions to ‘liven up’ the show by making life more ‘interesting’ for the performers. Performers’ credentials were tested by requiring them to juggle while riding a unicycle over a tightrope. While still trying to juggle and maintain their balance, a troupe of clowns invited them to demonstrate the real quality of their performance by jumping through a series of hoops of different shapes and sizes at different heights. Then someone came up with the brilliant idea that the whole show would greatly be improved by setting the juggling clubs alight. While the public policy development process has always required a certain degree of acrobatic agility and flexibility as well as an expectation of needing to jump through hoops, the chaotic calamity on display over the summer of 2011-12 was exceptional and will ever be thought of in my mind as the Cirque du Silly. To give readers a sense of how silly the summer of 2011-12 really was here are some of the (depressing) highlights. The whole question of public investment in our universities has been put out for yet another round of consultations, despite the release of Base Funding Review (BFR) (see article, p. 24) which like the Bradley Review of 2008, recommended a significant increase in funding per student. The question of international student visa requirements was also revisited following the dramatic decline in international student enrolments, at least partially attributed to the last round of changes to student visa NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

GOVERNMENT requirements which took place without any consultation with the sector. Despite the fiasco surrounding the much discredited Learning and Teaching Performance Fund of several years ago and a never ending series of consultations which have brought into question the integrity and validity of performance indicators, the Commonwealth released three new discussion papers in December proposing the development of two new indicators and substantial revision of existing performance indicators. Another set of submissions and round of consultations where the NTEU and others, yet again, had to emphasise the limitations and possible unintended consequences of performance indicators and funding based on them. The irony of course was that at the same time we were also being asked to comment on issues related to risk assessments and thresholds for TEQSA. Serious questions still remain about the relationship between quality improvement and minimum threshold standards required for registration under TEQSA. Hopefully the next act in the higher education policy circus will be one where the performers and not the clowns take centre stage. The crowd wants to be entertained by new and innovative performers rather than be distracted by a lot of colourful and amusing buffoonery. A Paul Kniest, NTEU Policy & Research Coordinator


Cirque du Silly Cheat Sheet For members not intimately associated with higher education policy and the various players, this cheat sheet will serve as a handy decoder: Policy wonk: Someone who is employed to read, write, eat and sleep higher education policy. Ringmaster: Minister(s) of the Crown (who in this case happens to have responsibility for higher education). Circus performers: In this case, Australian universities. Clowns: Bureaucrats employed by government departments and or regulatory agencies, some of whom prior to the publication of this article I counted amongst my friends (sorry). Riding a unicycle while juggling: Threshold registration standards to be administered by TEQSA. Circus apparatus, such as unicycles and tight ropes: Structural impediments deliberately designed to make life harder for universities, such

as TEQSA, ARC, the Australian Qualifications Framework and various Commonwealth and State Departments or other regulatory bodies. Hoops (being held by clowns): Performance criteria designed by bureaucrats which universities, their staff and students must jump through to receive funding. Juggling clubs: The plethora of regulations and compliance issues that universities and their staff and students are trying to keep up in the air. The setting alight of the juggling clubs: Something Ministers and bureaucrats like to do from time to time to ensure performers are not becoming complacent. The Excellence in Australia (ERA) exercise to assess the quality of research is a recent example.

tampa, florida, october 2011

Graduate Student Michael Blosser stands on top of a table on the University of South Florida campus while leading a protest against tuition hikes. Photo: Š Christopher Spata, http://www.flickr.com/people/cspata/

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au



Academics line up to boycott world’s biggest journal publisher Justin Norrie The Conversation


ozens of Australian academics have joined a growing boycott of Elsevier, one of the world’s leading publishers of academic journals, over the behemoth’s ‘extortionate efforts to extract money’ from people who wish to access their taxpayer-funded research. At least 97 academics from across the country have signed their names to a boycott of the publisher, which owns more than 2,000 titles. In 2010, the company made a profit of £724m on revenues of £2bn, for an operating profit margin of 36%. So far almost 6,000 researchers across the world have pledged to withdraw the fruits of their research from Elsevier journals. Academics are typically required to pay journals an ‘article processing fee’ to cover the cost of the peer-review and editing process. They must also sign over the copyright to the published work. For their part, journals then charge up to $A42 per piece for access to the work online. Libraries that subscribe to one journal usually have to pay vastly inflated amounts for bundled services, said Dr Danny Kingsley, the Australian National University’s manager of scholarly communications and e-publishing. Dr Kingsley also coordinates the University’s new Digital Collections database, a free online repository of academic research. ‘The problem in Australia is that the research councils – the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council – award funding to academics who publish their work in the journals that are judged under a metrics system to have the most impact,’ Dr Kingsley said. ‘So if academics boycott those journals, it could really hurt their careers. It’s easier to give in to their extortionate efforts to extract money than to join a boycott.’ In recent months, Elsevier has placed its weight behind a bill in the US – the Research Works Act – that aims to make it illegal to force researchers to make their work publicly available. Dr Alicia Wise, Elsevier’s director of universal access, defended the publisher by saying that ‘over the past 10 years, our prices have been 36

NTEU supports the campaign to boycott Elsevier NTEU President Jeannie Rea has released a statement outlining the Union’s support for the global boycott of Elsevier. ‘The Union is concerned by some of Elsevier’s business practices, including charging high prices for subscriptions to individual journals,’ she said. ‘This means for many libraries the only realistic option is to buy very large ‘bundles’ of journals, including many that they don’t actually want.’ ‘While we understand that the process of publishing and disseminating research costs money, every effort should be made to ensure research funded by tax payers is also available to them at reasonable cost. On the evidence we are not convinced Elsevier is making these efforts.’ Full statement at http://bit.ly/yWIAMP

in the lowest quartile in the publishing industry. Last year our prices were lower than our competitors. I’m not sure why we are the focus of this boycott, but I’m very concerned about one dissatisfied scientist, and I’m concerned about 2,000.’ The big publishers say that their contribution, from peer review through to distribution and database maintenance, is costly – but adds value, which can be seen in the published article and the benefit it brings for the author. Dr Gavin Moodie, the principal policy advisor at RMIT University, signed his name to the boycott to register his objection to Elsevier’s attempts to keep information out of the public domain: ‘Elsevier is like the other big journal publishers in increasing its already high subscription prices and bundling journal subscriptions. I decided to get behind this protest because Elsevier also supports the US’s misleadingly titled Stop Online Piracy Act which would authorise the closure of whole sites which host a few copied works and the PROTECT IP Act which would close down web sites used incidentally to copy copyright works.’ Even worse, he said, was Elsevier’s support for the US Research Works Act, which would prohibit open access requirements for federally funded research, thus stopping or greatly curtailing digital research repositories open to the public. ‘Of course other big copyright owners such as News Corporation support these attempts to roll back the online tide to protect their business founded on analogue principles, but in this case I think an effective tactic might be to start with a big copyright owner such as Elsevier which depends on scholars’ goodwill to make its very big profits. NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

INTERNATIONAL ‘By removing that goodwill I hope that Elsevier might change its ways and be an example to other big journals publishers and copyright owners.’ Dr Michael Young, a visiting fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the Australian National University, joined the protest after receiving a request from Elsevier to revise a 4,000-word paper for its International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier said it could not pay him more than its standard fee: $US100. ‘What hack would spend a month or two researching and polishing an encyclopedia essay for such an insulting pittance?’ he said. ‘And forget the academic kudos, for the ANU awards no points for such articles. In the light of … revelations about this company’s level of profits I’m seriously angry at the level of exploitation of academics.’ In some countries, government agencies have begun to mandate that articles produced by the researchers they fund be available free of charge within 12 months of publication. In Australia, however, the Australian Research Council has introduced rules that merely ‘encourage’ academics to add their work to open access databases. The other major funding body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, is planning to go further. It will amend its rules later this year to mandate that the scholarly work it helps to fund be made freely available.

Dr Alicia Wise, from Elsevier, responds The first challenge in the petition is that our prices are too high. The cost of downloading an article has never been lower than it is today – on average one fifth of what it was just 10 years ago – and we are very mindful of continuing this trend. As well as driving down costper-use we have continued to invest in platforms which make it more efficient for researchers to discover and use our content and so the usage of those journals has grown by over 20% per year. So why then the concern about our pricing? From a librarian’s perspective, there has been a long-growing gap between library budgets and the volume of articles published. The volume published continues to rise at above inflationary rates, fueled – not by publishers who are attentive to quality standards and have higher rejection rates now than ever, and who are also very mindful of annual price increases – but by increased global investment in research and development fueled by strong emerging economies. The second challenge in the petition is that we force libraries to buy all of our content, or none at all. This is simply untrue. Libraries have flexible options. They can purchase individual articles, subscribe to individual titles, or subscribe to collections of journals. These collections come in different shapes and sizes and are often subjectfocused or can include everything we publish. Most libraries choose the largest collections we offer because these represent best value for money. To illustrate this, the usage of titles in a bundle is spread across all titles MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

in that bundle: 60% of the usage is of titles the library previously subscribed to, and on average approximately 40% of researchers’ usage is of journal titles that the library previously had not subscribed to. This is a win for the libraries, the publishers, and the researchers. Finally, the petition suggests that our real aim is to lock up access to content, and the evidence for this assertion is that we support various pieces of legislation in the US. No author or publisher comes to work in the morning to restrict access to their publications – we all want to be read as widely as possible, and for our works to be as influential as possible. One of the challenges of being a publisher is figuring out ways to expand access and still cover the costs of producing high-quality journals and services. Elsevier is open to all business models for achieving this, and we actively use an array of open access business models, for example. These are models where the content is free to users because the costs have been paid in other ways, for example by fees to academic authors or their employers or funders. We have nine open access journals, authors can make their article open access in over 1,100 of our subscription titles, and we have one of the industry’s most flexible posting policies for content ensuring that versions of articles can be shared in ways that are sustainable. Putting an article online for free can have real economic consequences for the journal in which it was published, and can make the journal unsustainable. When a journal is unsustainable, its publisher loses but – more importantly – the research community that contributes to it, nurtures it, and relies on it loses too. A This article first appeared at The Conversation – an independent source of information, analysis and commentary from the university and research sector. http://theconversation.edu.au/academics-line-up-to-boycott-worlds-biggestjournal-publisher-5384 The Cost of Knowledge petition c thecostofknowledge.com


NATIONAL COUNCIL news from the net


Summer Surfing Snippets S

urfing the web over the summer break produced the following snippets.

ALP fight for life The Gillard/Rudd fight for PM was covered intensely by all media, particularly Twitter. The earliest tweet from inside the Caucus meeting, however, gave it to Gillard 73-29, which was picked up by all news agencies and broadcast before the actual margin of 71-31 was announced. There were some redfaced journos who might tweet a little less freneticly in future.

NTEU leads the way NTEU’s Today & Tomorrow conference in Sydney was was streamed live online for the rest of the country. The camera work was basic and the sound variable, but the accompanying twitter-feed from several participants made up for these shortcomings. Overall, a very good start for truly national conferencing.

Mitt the Twitterer US Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has taken political campaigning through social networking to a new level, according to television program, PBS NewsHour. His campaign team are constantly sledging his opponents on Twitter and instantly countering their tweets before they gain any trending momentum online – all in the hope of influencing political journalists lurking on Twitter. See http://www.pbs.org for video or transcript.

Twitter v Facebook Guess which is the only country in the world where Twitter users outnumber Facebook users? Of course it’s Japan, home of the haiku. The discipline of a 140-character limit makes messages more poetic, perhaps? Search ‘Japan’ on http://sociable.co.

#Occupy History Ben Berkowitz traces the history of the #Occupy movement from the first #OccupyWallStreet tweet on 13 July 2011 in the 38

19 Oct edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. Search ‘hashtag’ on http://www.smh.com.au.

Twitter Revolution? Constance Duncombe of UQ provides a fascinating analysis of social media networking during the 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran and the 2011 anti-Gaddafi protests in Libya and the effect of this on the proliferation of civil society networks. See http://apo. org.au/node/27208 (Australian Policy Online).

OpenClass from Pearson The world’s largest educational publisher has launched a free, cloud-based learning management system that is tightly integrated with Google Apps and includes social features like Facebook, Twitter etc. with which to improve the learning environment in higher education. See http://collegeof2020. com/opencloud

CourseKit from Penn students Three University of Pennsylvania students have repeated Facebook history by dropping out to start up an upstart course-management software company with more than $1m in venture capital to market CourseKit, which emphasises social networking and an easy-to-use interface. Search The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com) for CourseKit or for its Wired Campus blog. See also CourseOwl from Stanford students. And, of course, http://coursekit.com.

iBooks author from Apple On 19 January 2012, Apple launched iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U – and quite possibly an education revolution, according to David Glance of UWA in The Conversation (theconversation.edu.au). The v2.0 of the iPad App, iBooks, is a great leap forward, incorporating many of the Stanza features which made it the best eReader in captivity, including use of the wonderful ePub

format for books and documents, which is now available as an export format in Apple’s Pages word processor. The desktop application, iBooks Author, facilitates the production of iBooks (or CourseBooks?) including templates to insert photos, audio, video, presentation and textual materials. iTunes U is an extension of the iTunes Cloud in which so far 500,000 free iBooks, lectures, etc from Oxford, MIT, Yale, Stanford, etc universities reside. Of course, that’s only the free, public iBooks, lectures etc. Then there are – or will be soon – the low-fee iBooks and courses, written and produced by moonlighting or freelance academics and the private, subscriber-only, premiumedition iBooks, all available at iTunes U – the Brave New Market for Higher Education. Just imagine using Author on your desktop (PC or Mac) to produce a multi-media interactive iBook, distributed for free or for a fee (70% of which you get to keep) through the iTunes U Cloud to students internationally who read, listen to, view and respond to it through iBooks 2 on their iPads. Search http://arstechnica.com and http://www.apple.com

Technology-enhanced teaching Just like the last Tet offensive, the ‘Jolt to University Teaching’ delivered at a 5 Feb 2012 Harvard conference by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl E Wieman (http://chronicle. com) could be the turning-point in the long, imperialist war against innovation in teaching physics. Wieman had found that interactive teaching methods and devices doubled both student engagement and learning in a large physics class of 270 students compared with a traditional lecture class of 270 students and that ‘the positive effects of a tutor or apprenticeship (!) model’ can be achieved with such methods. See http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca and http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca A Pat Wright is Director of the Centre for Labour Research at University of Adelaide. pat.wright@adelaide.edu.au NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

lowering the boom



The only common future is a sustainable future R

efreshed by my annual chat with the irrepressible Cal D’Aria, I headed across the Tasman for a break walking in the lush forests and windswept peaks of Fiordland. I found I had to nerve myself to cross raging streams on three-wire bridges, a Kiwi innovation that gives you one wire for each hand to grasp desperately as you try to avoid slipping off the third wire. It seemed an appropriate metaphor for the challenge issued to world leaders by the United Nations high level panel on sustainability. Jointly chaired by the Presidents of Finland and South Africa, its members included our own Kevin Rudd, so I assume we can confidently assume he will be urging his Cabinet colleagues to implement its recommendations...

core responsibilities for macroeconomic management and other The report was released in January, traditionally a slow news month, branches of economic policy. Yet integrating environmental and so it actually got much better coverage in our commercial media than social issues into economic decisions is vital to success.’ I could not normal for matters of such importance. It said we live at a time of have put it better myself. The news is full of speculation about ecounprecedented prosperity, but at the same time the natural systems nomic issues: interest rates, how the market will interpret the latest of the planet are under unprecedented stress. With a billion people EU package to bail out the Greek economy, how Chinese economic still living in poverty, the report described the current development performance will affect demand model as ‘unsustainable’. for our minerals and whether The warning was solidly based on The need to integrate the economic, the world will allow us to export science: ‘We can no longer assume social and environmental dimensions of increasing quantities of coal as clithat our collective actions will not mate change accelerates. There is development so as to achieve sustaintrigger tipping points as environlittle serious consideration of the mental thresholds are breached, ability was clearly defined a quarter of a social and environmental issues risking irreversible damage to both century ago... It is time to make it happen. raised by these questions. ecosystems and human communiPopulation is a classic example ties’, it said. The report recognised of an issue that is discussed almost the ‘critical nexus’ between water, entirely in economic terms, when food and energy and called for inteit actually has a range of social grated approaches solidly based on and environmental consequences. science. The prospect of integrated There was even during the Howard solutions solidly based on science years confected alarm that our seems improbable when we see population wasn’t growing as fast the discussion about the extraction as the poorest developing countries, as if that should have been an aim. of irrigation water from the Murray-Darling system degenerate to As I have noted in a book about the population debate, there is a solid political horse-trading. We now even see some senior figures in the case that our inability to provide the infrastructure needs of our cities Coalition, like the less credible of the US Republican presidential canis a direct and predictable consequence of an unsustainable rate of didates, labelling climate change as a hoax and encouraging those population growth. Our ability to supply energy needs, use water suswhose vested interests lead them to reject what the science is saying tainably and moderate our environmental impacts is directly affected – but that’s another story. by growth. So we should be discussing the whole picture, social, ecoThe report observed that governments, institutions and individuals nomic and environmental, rather than concentrating on such trivial make millions of decisions every day. Our common future is the sum issues as the workforce needs of the minerals sector or such furphies as of all those choices. They will only add up to a sustainable future, it the alleged cost of our ageing population. said, if they are informed by the scale and urgency of the challenges Education is the crucial investment for sound, integrated we face. ‘The need to integrate the economic, social and environmenapproaches. But again we see political squabbling, with the legacy of tal dimensions of development so as to achieve sustainability was Howard’s pork-barrelling of marginal electorates almost impossible clearly defined a quarter of a century ago’, the report said. ‘It is time to undo. We urgently need the national government to read the UN to make it happen.’ report and take it to heart. It couldn’t be that Mr Rudd was letting What I saw as the central conclusion of the report is that ‘the conother things interfere with the task of commending the report to his cept of sustainable development has not yet been incorporated into colleagues, could it? A the mainstream national and international economic policy debate’. Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society Elaborating on this point, it noted that ‘Most economic decision at Griffith University and a life member of the NTEU. makers still regard sustainable development as extraneous to their MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au




The casualisation of academic work; why should we care? N

ew data on the nature and extent of casual academic employment in Australia’s universities adds to the picture of what is known about casual staff and confirms that casualisation is an issue which warrants our attention. The Work and Careers in Australian Universities Survey was conducted in 19 universities during 2011 with a response rate of 13 per cent for casual academic staff, comprising 3100 casual academics. This is the largest survey of casuals ever conducted. The data allows us a better understanding of who are casual academics, their motivations for working as casuals and their aspirations. Most importantly it helps us to make the case about why we should care about this issue.

Of most concern is how casuals feel about their futures in the uniWhilst the sample comprises those who took the trouble to respond versity sector. In the survey we asked casuals where they would like to the surveys distributed to casual academic staff at the 19 universito be in 5 years time, and where they expect to be in 5 years time and ties, the characteristics of the sample are confirmed by other data. the results reflect a genuine despair about the availability of jobs in Casuals tend to be younger than ongoing academics and the majorthe sector. Whilst half of all respondents, and almost two thirds of ity are female. The survey found 16 per cent of respondents had a those with a PhD would like to be working in a continuing academic PhD with a further half of all respondents studying for a qualification position in 5 years, those figures halved when we asked where they (with women much more likely to be doing so on a part time basis). expected to be in 5 years, and women were slightly more pessimistic One in five respondents worked at more than one institution than the men. It is a picture of thwarted ambition, and wasted talent which suggests an attempt to make a living from casual work. And and investment, in particular for those who had undertaken PhDs most said they would prefer more secure employment. The findings with the specific purpose of pursuare important because they chaling an academic career. lenge the common assertion that The findings are important because As well as all the other negacasual work suits many casual staff. tives of casual work such as the Whilst it might work for a minority they challenge the common assertion uneven income, poor access to who have other sources of income, that casual work suits many casual staff. resources, lack of career developor other career plans, for most, parWhilst it might work for a minority who ment and isolation, casual work ticularly those who want an acahave other sources of income, or other impacts on how staff feel about demic career, casual work is often themselves, as this casual who the only place to start in academia career plans, for most, particularly those was interviewed for the case study or the only work on offer, it is cerwho want an academic career, casual research attests: tainly not the preferred option. work is often the only place to start in ‘I don’t call myself an academic, this There are some characteristics academia or the only work on offer, it is increased casualisation encourages of casual work that give rise to us to not think of ourselves as acaconcern about the suitability of certainly not the preferred option. demics yet I have been working full this mode of employment for acatime (casual) as an academic since I demic career entry and for future submitted my PhD so I am an academic, but I think that casual work workforce development. Casual work also raises risks for the qualmakes people feel bad about themselves...’ (Casual academic, Nov ity of teaching and the student experience, particularly as we know 2011) now that the majority of undergraduate teaching is done by casual With student participation expanding and academic staff shortstaff. In contrast to the formalised recruitment practices for ongoing ages forecasted in the future, it’s time the sector turned its attention academic staff, recruitment for those surveyed was highly informal, to where the new generation of academics are going to come from, with two thirds of the sample gaining their position either through and how well prepared they will be to take up the academic jobs of making a personal approach or being offered work by a contact or the future. If the best the sector can offer our brightest PhD gradufriend. Induction and professional development was patchy, with ates is a casual job then many are likely to look elsewhere. A around half the sample reporting they had received no induction. Robyn May, PhD candidate, Griffith University These factors suggest that casual academics are not getting the This research is part of an ARC Linkage grant: Gender and Employment equity, kind of support and training they need in order to be ready to take strategies for advancement in Australian universities, led by Prof Glenda Strachan at up academic jobs in the future. Working at multiple institutions, or Griffith University. The NTEU is an industry partner on the project long hours teaching, does not give time to develop an all important research profile. Many casuals are finding themselves outbid in the academic job market by better trained overseas applicants. 40

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1

letter from new zealanD/aotearoa



Narrowing the focus of tertiary education L

ast time I wrote, New Zealand was about to elect a new government. As you probably know, the election came and went, but the government remained pretty much as it was. For those of us working in tertiary education this meant the continuing reign of our previous Minister, Steven Joyce. However, his title changed from Minister of Tertiary Education to Minister of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment. He also collected the portfolios of Economic Development, and Science and Innovation. fall undermines New Zealand’s historical commitment to open, At the time, we noted that while tertiary education was integral to the accessible public tertiary education. economy, it was important that this did not become the dominant or Furthermore, the Ministry’s intention to interfere with the autonsole focus of our tertiary education Minister. omy of tertiary institutions to ensure they are not teaching or Here we are, four months later, and the recently released public researching in ‘lower priority’ areas, as defined by government, is sector briefings to the ‘incoming Minister’ have been released. a fundamental threat to academic freedom, which is protected in Sadly, our suspicions have been confirmed - the Government and New Zealand’s Education Act. its officials increasingly view tertiary education primarily in terms of Finally our funding agency, the Tertiary Education Commission, its contribution to private enterprise. proposed the Minister create ‘compacts’ with individual tertiary Treasury advised that we needed to shift funding toward younger education institutions in conjunction with performance-linked students who study for degrees. Treasury’s focus on younger stufunding to drive the Government’s economic growth strategy. dents and degrees, at the expense of older students and lower It noted that overseas jurisdiclevel qualifications, will take away tions such as Australia and some opportunities from some New It is increasingly clear that funding cuts US states have used compacts – Zealand families who most need long-term strategic agreements tertiary qualifications to lift themare leading the ministry to abandon a between large education providselves up and to contribute to the commitment to broad-based, equitable, ers and central government - to economy. and accessible education. The narrow tie an institution’s strategy and Treasury also advised shiftfocus on picking winners for the economy activity with national objectives ing research funding to favour by defining in advance reward research that are asked for by priand on generating private income payments for specified achievevate firms. to cover its public funding shortfall ments. The Commission favours We should not research things undermines New Zealand’s historical using these compacts in tandem only because a private firm thinks commitment to open accessible public with more mechanistic funding of it can make a profit. We need to ‘throughput’ at an individual stuinvest in basic research and often tertiary education. dent level. this is not what private companies The direction set out in this trio are looking for. of briefings to the Minister of Tertiary Education Skills and EmployThe Ministry of Education began its briefing by noting that total ment, Economic Development, and Science and Innovation (and expenditure on tertiary education as a percentage of Gross DomesAssociate Minister of Finance) is far narrower than the vision of tic Product (excluding student loans) fell significantly last year, and those working in the sector. Tertiary education does have economic will fall by a further 4.8 per cent over the next five years. benefits for individuals and the nation. But the Minister needs to Thus, it spent much of its briefing advising the Minister to make sure that his focus on economic development does not crowd target increasingly limited funding on those areas and students out space for all the other important social, human, and community it believes will best match the Government’s economic growth benefits that high quality public tertiary education provides. A goals. It advocated aggressively seeking external private funding Sandra Grey is National President/Te Tumu Whakarae, in the tertiary education sector, both through export education, New Zealand Tertiary Education Union/Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa and by greater links between tertiary education, research, and priTEU  www.teu.ac.nz vate companies. It is increasingly clear that funding cuts are leading the Ministry to abandon a commitment to broad-based, equitable, and accessible education. The narrow focus on picking winners for the economy TERTIARY EDUCATION UNION Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa and on generating private income to cover its public funding shortMARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au



Recent human rights actions by NTEU N

TEU National Office regularly sends letters to foreign governments and companies in support of imprisoned or victimised educators, unionists and workers, upon the request of education and human rights organisations.


For more information, please visit the organisations’ websites: Network for Education and Academic Rights  www.nearinternational.org Amnesty International  www.amnesty.org

Scholars at Risk  scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu Education International  www.ei-ie.org

* Sent as part of the Amnesty International 50th Anniversary Write for Rights Campaign

Action request: NEAR To:

Minister of Justice, Prime Minister

Action: Letter (9/11/11) re Professor Busra Ersanli (constitutional law expert) and Ragip Zarakolu (political activist) arrested on 28 October 2011 as part of a wider operation targeting journalists, writers and members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party.


Action request: Amnesty International To:


Prime Minister

Action: Letter (2/12/11) re unjust sentencing of 25 EGITIM SEN members including former Women’s Secretary Gűlcin Isbert (awarded with a Trade Union Rights Award at 2011 EI World Congress).








Sudan Action request: Scholars at Risk To:


Action: Letter (28/2/12) re detention of Professor Mohamed Al- Abideen, Dean of the College of Higher Education at University of Al Zaiem Al Azhari (Omdurman). Professor Mohamed Zain was arrested by National Intelligence and Security Service following the publication of an article (in the daily newspaper Al Tayar) in which he was critical of the Government.


UPDATE: Professor Mohamed Zain Al-Abideen of Sudan was released from prison on 4 March.


Syria Action request: Amnesty International To:

Prime Minister

Action: Letter (6/12/11) re incommunicado detention of 22-year-old student Suhaib al-Ammar. Detained soley to put pressure on his sister’s husband (a pro-reform activist) to surrender himself to the authorities. UPDATE: Released without charge after two months incommunicado detention at military airport.

Action request: Amnesty International*



Action request: Amnesty International*

Deputy Commissioner-General (Crime)

Action: Letter (7/12/11) re arbitrary arrest, intimidation, harassment and ill-treatment of members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise because of their peaceful protests against the social, economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe.




Vice President

Action: Letter (7/12/11) re unfair trial of Fatima Hussein Badi (sentenced to death for murder of her husband) and request that the death sentence be commuted.

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


Azerbaijan Action request: Amnesty International* To:


Action: Letter (7/12/11) re Jabbar Savalan’s sentence to two and half years imprisonment on fabricated drugs charges after posting a message on Facebook calling for anti Government protests.

Bahrain Action request: Amnesty International To:

His Majesty the King of Bahrain, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Prime Minister

Action: Further letter (8/11/11) re appeal hearing for 20 health professionals arrested for peaceful protests in February and March. Action request: Education International To:

His Majesty the King of Bahrain, Minister of Education, President, University of Bahrain

Action: Letter (15/12/11) re dismissal of faculty staff and students involved in pro democracy demonstrations and for posting messages on social media sites in support of political reform. Action request: Amnesty International To:

Prime Minister

Action: Letter (18/1/12) re 18-year-old student Hassan ‘Oun detained for illegal public gathering. Has allegedly been tortured in detention. His 16-year-old brother is in hiding and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment if arrested. Action request: Education International and Labour Start To:

His Majesty the King of Bahrain

Action: Letter (20/2/12) re immediate release of Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President Bahraini Teachers Association. He commenced a hunger strike on 12 February in protest at the refusal of authorities to release him on bail and the deplorable conditions in jail. Petition also signed.

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

Union AidUnion Abroad APHEDA Aid Abroad APHEDA

The overseas humanitarian aid agency ACTU The overseas humanitarian aid agency of theof the ACTU

* Sent as part of the Amnesty International 50th Anniversary Write for Rights Campaign



Action request: Amnesty International

Action request: Amnesty International*



Home Minister

Action: Letter (17/2/12) re two student activists Al Mukaddas and Mohammad Waliullah missing since 4 February 2012. Eyewitnesses claim they were detained by members of the Rapid Action Battalion and Detective Branch of the Bangladesh Police in Savar.


Action: Letter (7/12/11) requesting independent investigation into the murder of human rights activist Natalia Estemirova.

Japan Action request: Amnesty International* To:

Iran Action request: Scholars at Risk To:

Minister of Justice

Action: Letter (7/12/11) requesting stay of execution for Hakamada Iwao (75) on death row for 43 years.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader, Islamic Republic of Iran

Action: Further letter (8/3/12) re arrest of Ramin Zibaei in May 2011, a scholar of psychology and Dean at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education in Tehran. No clear basis for his arrest and detention. Mr Zibaei’s detention is part of wider attempts by the authorities to exclude Baha’i individuals from higher education.

Indonesia Action request: Amnesty International* To:

Minister of Justice & Human Rights

Action: Letter (7/12/11) re continuing imprisonment of Filep Karma for taking part in peaceful political ceremony in 2005.



New staff in NTEU offices T

o better help you to get to know your local Union staff, we are pleased to present these brief profiles of recently arrived Branch and Division staff.

Rebecca Muratore Industrial Organiser University of Melbourne Since joining the workforce as a bright eyed 15-year-old, Rebecca has always been involved in unions. It was in 2007 during the ‘Rights at Work’ community campaign where her passion for organising ignited, and since then, Rebecca has had the pleasure of working for a number of different unions, most recently as an Industrial Organiser for the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Before coming to the NTEU, Rebecca worked as an electorate officer in the office of Laura Smyth, Labor MP for La Trobe. Rebecca is thrilled to be once again working as an Organiser, and is looking forward to working with a new group of activists to achieve positive outcomes for the Branch. Rebecca Studied at Melba Conservatorium of Music and ACU, and has a double degree in Arts and Music. In her spare time, she puts that to good use by being a regular performer for the Savoy Opera Company, Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria and many other local theatre groups.

Beth Cole

Officer, and then Queer Officer. She has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns over the years including refugee rights, same-sex marriage and the prevention of violence against women. Outside of work you will most likely find Beth reading or spending time with friends and family.

Justin Westgate Campaigns & Communications Officer, Victorian Division Justin has worked as a communications designer dealing specifically with social issues for over fifteen years both in New Zealand and the UK. He has expertise across print, web and video and experience with social campaigning. Justin has been involved with community youth development, as well as social justice and sustainability networks. Over the last ten years he’s also worked in the tertiary sector as a sessional lecturer in design. He has an honours degree in design, a degree in sociology, and a Masters in cultural geography. He’s also trained in counselling and performing arts. Justin looks forward to applying his expertise in assisting the NTEU develop effective communications and campaigns to further its goals.

Branch Organiser Murdoch University Beth comes to NTEU from the Community & Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association of WA (CPSU/CSA) where she was also an Organiser. At the CPSU/CSA, Beth cut her teeth on the Department of Health, Legal Aid and the Mental Health Commission. She is passionate about ensuring workers rights are protected. Prior to that role, Beth was active in student politics, particularly while she was completing her Bachelor of Law/Arts at the University of Western Australia. She was heavily involved in the Student Guild and was elected first to the position of Women’s 44

Kate Barnsley Branch Organiser University of Sydney Kate joins the NTEU after many years of working in higher education. Kate was President of the Sydney University Postgraduate Association (SUPRA) in 2007-2008 and Vice President of CAPA in 2008 and 2009. Kate is looking forward to continuing to fight for higher education. Kate recently submitted her PhD and is looking forward to attending her first academic conference in Nashville, this month.

John Kempf Enrolment Officer University of Adelaide John Kempf joined the Adelaide Branch in October 2011. Coming from the print industry, John enjoyed the challenge and opportunity of getting to know Adelaide University and its staff. John meets with workers daily and discusses our Union – what we have done and what we hope to achieve next. The positive response to John’s work has been unequivical and the print industry cannot have him back!

Chris Latham Branch Organiser RMIT University

Chris has worked in the higher education sector since 2004. Prior to joining the RMIT Branch Chris was an Industrial Organiser in the Western Australian Division. In his spare time, when not writing his PhD, Chris maintains a blog on the French and US labour movements and enjoys listening to Bikini Kill.

Tamara Talmacs Industrial Officer NSW Division Tamara Talmacs comes to the NTEU after having spent the past five and a half years representing members of the Finance Sector Union, as an Organiser, Advocate and as a National Industrial Officer. Tamara is legally trained with a BA (Hons), LLB and Masters in Labour Law and Relations from the University of Sydney and is looking forward to working with, and representing, NTEU members in NSW. Tamara is also a classical musician and has been teaching children classical piano for the last 13 years. NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


NSW Division farewells Margaret Britten after 28 years service


SW Division hosted a farewell for Margaret Britten in February. Margaret had worked for the union for 28 years, and during that time had seen many changes in the industry and the Union.

Ralph Hall, Meredith Bergman, Margaret Britten and Genevieve Kelly at Margaret’s farewell party.

Commencing work in 1984 in the Old Trades Hall Building, Margaret worked 2 days a week as an Executive Assistant with University Academic Staff Association (UASA) and one day with the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations (FAUSA). She also worked as the Accounts Officer/Secretary for Federation of College Academics NSW (FCA) until 1985. With the amalgamation of FCA (NSW) and UASA in September 1989, the Union then became the Academics Union of NSW. The office at Trades Hall was very salubrious. There were rags stuffed in wall cornices to stop the rain coming in, and they had to cope with rats on the bottom floor that were likely to visit anytime - especially when meetings were being held. All work was done using an electric typewriter, plenty of liquid and carbon paper, and an adding machine that you would have to put paper into. The

Jay Tharappel Branch Organiser UNSW

Jay has recently taken up the Branch Organiser position at the University of NSW. At his former workplace he was a delegate for the National Union of Workers (NUW) and has also worked as an Organiser for the NUW. Jay recently graduated from UTS with a degree in Business & IT and is currently studying Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

Other Appointments Amy Talbot has moved from being Murdoch Branch Organiser to WA Division Industrial Organiser. A

MARCH 2012 www.nteu.org.au

office purchased its first computer, an Amstrad, in 1988. In 1994 Margaret increased her hours to working an 8 day fortnight with her title, Executive Officer – Co-ordination Planning, in the NSW Division of NTEU. Over the years, Margaret has worked with six different Secretaries, the Senior Industrial Officers, and helped move the Union office six times around the Sydney CBD to our current home at Surry Hills. Margaret has made many long term friendships with her colleagues (past and present), and will be greatly missed - not only for the dedicated work that she has done for the Union over the last 28 years, but also for her knowledge of the Union, our members and our history. A Genevieve Kelly, NSW Division Secretary

NTEU KeepCup No waste. Great style.

Just $9.00 fits all commercial coffee machines buy online now @ www.nteu.org.au/shop 45


Queensland Division Organiser Ross Gwyther retires


fter 10 exciting and satisfying years working for the Union, Queensland Division Organiser, Ross Gwyther is retiring this month.

‘It was with some regret that I decided to leave, as we have some major battles ahead of us, and I would like to be part of those campaigns’, Ross said. ‘I have had a wonderful time in meeting and working with some great members at our Queensland campuses,’ he said, ‘as well as working with and being supported by my colleagues both in the Queensland Division and in the National Office.’ However, Ross has decided to move on. His main retirement project is hopefully to initiate a ‘workers education project’ and solicit helpers from a range of unions – so the NTEU has not seen the last of him yet! Ross wished to say ‘Thanks to my comrades in the NTEU for some wonderful times.’ A

NTEU ONLINE MEMBERSHIP DATABASE Update your details: In order for NTEU to keep you in touch, it is important we have your latest details.

How to check your membership details or download your tax statement online

If any of the following points apply to you, please change your details online or contact us immediately.

MEMBERSHIP DETAILS Have you moved house recently? ÎÎ If you have nominated your home address as your NTEU contact address, you must update it.

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Have your employment details changed? ÎÎ Please notify us to ensure you are paying the correct fees.

For any of the above membership enquiries, please contact: Melinda Valsorda, Membership Officer ph (03) 9254 1910 email mvalsorda@nteu.org.au

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Are you leaving university employment? ÎÎ If you are no longer an NTEU member, deductions will continue until the National Office is notified.

For all credit card and direct debit enquiries, please contact: Tamara Labadze, Finance Officer ph (03) 9254 1910 email tlabadze@nteu.org.au

PAYROLL DEDUCTION PAYMENTS Have your payroll deductions suddenly stopped without your authority?

1: Click on ‘Member Login’ ID = Your NTEU membership number Password = Your surname in CAPITALS

ÎÎ contact your payroll dept urgently.

2: Go to ‘My Home’

Payroll deduction queries should be directed to your Branch or Division office.

3: Select ‘Your Profile’ 4: Select ‘View Details’ (to change personal details) or ‘Print Tax Statement’ (after 1 July)

Annual tax statement: Available for download after 1 July. Statements will not be posted out. 46

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


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I hereby authorise the Institution or its duly authorised servants and agents to deduct from my salary by regular instalments, dues and levies (as determined from time to time by the Union), to NTEU or its authorised agents. All payments on my behalf and in accordance with this authority shall be deemed to be payments by me personally. This authority shall remain in force until revoked by me in writing. I also consent to my employer supplying NTEU with updated information relating to my employment status.

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‡Associated bodies: NTEU (NSW); University of Qld Academic Staff Association (Union of Employees) at UQ; Union of Australian College Academics (WA Branch) Industrial Union of Workers at Edith Cowan University & Curtin University; Curtin University Staff Association (Inc.) at Curtin University; Staff Association of Edith Cowan University (Inc.) at ECU


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Contacting NTEU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

National Office

office phone fax email website

PO Box 1323, South Melbourne, VIC 3205 (03) 9254 1910 (03) 9254 1915 national@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au

NT Division

WA Division

1st Fl, 120 Clarendon St, Southbank, VIC 3006

PO Box 3114, Broadway LPO Nedlands, WA 6009 (08) 6365 4188 (08) 9354 1629 wa@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/wa

PO Box U371, CDU, Darwin, NT 0815 (08) 8946 7231 (08) 8927 9410 nt@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/nt

Queensland Division

4 Briggs Street, Taringa, QLD 4068 (07) 3362 8200 (07) 3371 7817 qld@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/qld

SA Division

Ground Floor, Palais Apartment Complex, 281 North Tce, Adelaide SA 5000 (08) 8227 2384 (08) 8227 0997 sa@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/sa

NSW Division

Level 1, 55 Holt St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 (02) 8066 6600 (02) 8066 6677 nsw@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/nsw

ACT Division G Block, Old Admin Area, McDonald Place, ANU, Acton, ACT 0200 (02) 6125 2043 ANU/ADFA/ACU (02) 6201 5355 UC (02) 6125 8137 act@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/act

Victorian Division

NATIONAL OFFICE STAFF Officers & Central Resources Unit Executive Officer – President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrea Sauvarin Executive Officer – General Secretary. . . . . . . . . Anastasia Kotaidis ICT System Administrator/Help Desk. . . . . . . . . . Tam Vuong Executive Officer – Meetings & Events . . . . . . . . Tracey Coster Administrative Officer – Reception. . . . . . . . . . . . Renee Veal

1st Fl, 120 Clarendon St, Southbank, VIC 3006 (03) 9254 1930 (03) 9254 1935 office@vic.nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/vic

Industrial Unit Industrial Unit Coordinator (Acting).. . . . . . . . . . Peter Summers Senior Industrial Officer (Strategy & Policy). . . . Ken McAlpine Industrial Officer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wayne Cupido Industrial Support Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sarah Castles

Policy & Research Unit Policy & Research Unit Coordinator.. . . . . . . . . . Paul Kniest Policy & Research Officers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Terri MacDonald Jen Tsen-Kwok

Indigenous Unit

Tasmanian Division

Private Bag 101, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS 7001 (03) 6226 7575 (03) 6226 2172 tas@nteu.org.au www.nteu.org.au/tasmania

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE National President. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeannie Rea Vice-President (Academic). . . . . . . . . . . . Gregory McCarthy SA Div Vice-President (General). . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gabe Gooding UWA

National Indigenous Coordinator. . . . . . . . . . . . . Adam Frogley National Indigenous Organiser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Celeste Liddle

General Secretary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grahame McCulloch National Assistant Secretary. . . . . . . . . . Matthew McGowan

Recruitment & Training Unit

Executive Members Lyn Bloom WA Div Derek Corrigan ANU Genevieve Kelly NSW Div Margaret Lee Qld Div Virginia Mansel Lees La Trobe Helen Masterman-Smith CSU Susan Price UNSW Michael Thomson Sydney

National Organiser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Evans National Publications Coordinator. . . . . . . . . . . . Paul Clifton National Media Officer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrew Nette Membership Records Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Melinda Valsorda Administrative Officer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Julie-Ann Veal

Finance Unit Finance Unit Coordinator. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jenny Savage Finance Officers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gracia Ho, Joanne Riley, Alex Ghvaladze, Tamara Labadze, Lee Powell, Sonia Uthuppu, Daphne Zhang


Andrew Bonnell UQ John Fitzsimmons CQU Kelvin Michael Tas Div Colin Long Vic Div Terry Mason UWS Stephen Darwin ACT Div Kevin Rouse SA Div vacant NT Div

Indigenous Executive Member. . . . . . . . . Jillian Miller UniSA

NTEU ADVOCATE vol. 19, no. 1


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Profile for NTEU

Advocate March 2012  

Members' magazine for the National Tertiary Education Union. Vol. 19, no. 1, March 2012

Advocate March 2012  

Members' magazine for the National Tertiary Education Union. Vol. 19, no. 1, March 2012

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