Connect, March 2012

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Vol. 5 VOLUME 3 No. 1 No. 2

March 2012 August 2010


VOLUME 3 No. 2 August 2010

VOLUME 3 No. 2 August 2010

VOLUME 3 No. 2 August 2010

Are you getting paid your fair share? Take the NTEU Casuals Survey Secure Jobs. Better Future. ACTU campaign to tackle the rise of insecure work

The impact of insecure work Personal stories of NTEU members

VOLUME 3 No. 2 August 2010

Help! I have to write a grant application Don’t panic, the Research Whisperers are here!

Invest in Australia’s Future, Invest in Our Uni’s NTEU’s new campaign Swinburne Sessionals Stand Up Why I’m A Member Kirsti Niilus Overcrowded? Send us your photos

read online at ISSN 1836-8522 (Print)/ISSN 1836-8530 (Online)


Telling the stories of precarious life from the casual university


Remaining aware of the real issues experienced on all fronts in the academy

3. 4.

Casual Teaching & Research Staff Survey 2012 Secure Jobs. Better Future. ACTU national campaign to tackle the rise of insecure work


The impact of insecure work: A personal story


WA members tells their stories to Insecure Work Inquiry


Why I’m A Member: Kirsti Niilus


Help! I have to write a grant application

10. LSL: A Long Time Coming

Swinburne Sessionals Stand Up

11. Overcrowded? Send us photos of your lecture theatre 12. Invest in Australia’s Future, Invest in Our Universities 14. Engaging Young Workers 17. NTEU Membership Form

Cover image by Andrew Li Connect is a publication of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA). All Rights Reserved © 2012. ISSN 1836-8522 (Print)/ISSN 1836-8530 (Online)

Editor: Jeannie Rea Production: Paul Clifton Original design: Andrew Li For more information on Connect and its content please contact the NTEU National Office: Post: Phone: Fax: Email: Web:

PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 (03) 9254 1910 (03) 9254 1915

The views expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors, and not necessarily the official views of NTEU or CAPA.

In accordance with NTEU and CAPA policy to reduce our impact on the natural environment, this magazine is printed on 100% recycled paper: produced from 65% post-consumer waste and 35% pre-consumer waste.

Telling stories of precarious life from the casual university When NTEU National Academic Casuals Committee Chair, Chris Elenor told his story at the launch of the ACTU Secure Jobs Campaign (see p. 5) last September, other precariously employed unionists telling their stories, looked askance. They were rather dumbfounded to discover that university teaching for which, they assumed, you had to be pretty smart and well qualified, was in fact paid by the hour. We further explained that university employers expect work to be done outside the paid hours. Our statement that preparatory work and ongoing communication with students was built into the hourly rate was met with derision. Workers in other industries, such as construction, transport and even other service industries, weren’t sure the academic hourly rate was all that flash. We weren’t feeling too smart at all. NTEU is organising academic casuals to present evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe. These personal testimonies will add to the NTEU’s submission (for information, see In our submission to the Howe Inquiry, the NTEU argued that academic teaching is one of the most casualised occupations in Australia. We acknowledged that there have always been some casually employed guest and professional lecturers, and a tradition of tutoring by post graduate students. These all add value to under and postgraduate student experience and to the university community. We explained that our issue is with the rapid casualisation of academic teaching over the past couple of decades alongside the rapid expansion of student enrolments. A conservative estimate is that there are about 8,000 casual academics with PhDs, who are qualified and willing to enter the salaried academic workforce There is a clear demand for the employment of many more academics, but instead of offering career positions, the universities are hiring, wearing out and then scrapping the next generation of academics. We are making headway in winning separate pay for marking in the last round of collective bargaining, as well as unit coordination rates, increasing the casual loading, payment for meeting

attendance, working facilities and some new early career positions, but the number of casuals is continuing to increase and the opportunities for conversion or appointment into an ongoing academic positions remains a dream for most. It seems just too easy for management to deal with their funding, planning and budgetary problems by exploiting the most vulnerable employees. The NTEU is committed to both improving the pay and conditions of casual staff, and to finding ways to expand secure academic entry level positions. To ensure that casuals are gaining the benefits of their current Collective Agreement, the NTEU is surveying casual staff to ascertain whether casuals know about their entitlements and the extent of implementation (see p. 3). The survey also asks questions about work patterns, expectations and aspirations. Analysis of the results of this survey will add to the body of research evidence about the casualisation of academic teaching and the current situation for casual staff. The research outcomes will assist in informing the NTEU claims developed for the next round of enterprise bargaining commencing this year. The greater the number of surveys completed the greater validity of the findings. So please encourage anyone you know (NTEU member or not – yet) to complete the survey. Best wishes for 2012 to all academic casuals. To those colleagues starting sessional teaching for the first time in 2012, I hope that you enjoy your teaching, your students, your colleagues and working in a university. It is hard work, but also very personally rewarding – it just should be more financially rewarding and less stressful! Make the most of any opportunities to join in with your course team, in department meetings and social events. Watch for things that are happening and ask if you can be part of any professional development or training or academic seminars. You may be knocked back, but maybe you were just overlooked by other busy academics. They need to be reminded of your presence and contribution. Ask colleagues with more secure jobs for advice and support. Seek out the NTEU Branch and the delegates in your area. Join the Union and encourage your casual colleagues. There is no doubt that casuals in areas of greater union membership enjoy better conditions.

Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President

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Remaining aware of the real issues experienced on all fronts in the academy It is a privilege to be writing for the first edition of Connect magazine in 2012. As Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) National President for 2012, I would like to introduce myself to the readers of Connect. My hope is that this will tell you more about why I am dedicated to serving CAPA and NTEU members in common – postgrads working as casual employees in universities - and hopefully set the tone for our personal encounters in 2012. In February 2005 I set foot on Australian shores as an international student at Curtin University. At the end of 2006 I had completed two masters degrees in tertiary education and loved it so much here that I decided to apply for permanent residency. I subsequently went on to work for a student administration software development company, and decided in 2009 to return to Curtin University as a Business Analyst in their student systems department. My love for academe and learning reigned once again, and I found myself applying to study a PhD shortly after returning to Curtin. I became involved in student representation in 2010 when I made myself available for election to Curtin University’s Postgraduate Student Association (CUPSA). 2011 saw me representing Curtin’s postgraduate students in the position of VicePresident, and I was subsequently also elected to the position of Western Region Secretary of CAPA for 2011. As a previous international student (now domestic), and having studied both coursework and research degrees at a postgraduate level, I was well placed to represent students on most fronts. It would also be helpful to mention that English is my second language, and I have great understanding of the difficulty my postgraduate colleagues face as non-native English speakers. Student representation runs in my blood. My father was the President of the University of Pretoria’s Student Representative Council some years ago, and it is he who initially made me aware of the importance of students’ welfare at university. Having had my fair share of struggles through applying for and enrolling into courses, trying to find a suitable supervisor, visa issues, trying to fit into a new culture and that all-important need of trying to belong somewhere, I became passionate about helping others to not experience these same problems. As a mature-aged scholarship student I am also currently experiencing the real pressures of mortgages and living expenses and have joined the ranks of many of my postgraduate colleagues by engaging in part-time sessional tutoring. In 2012, CAPA will continue to advocate for better sessional teaching conditions on behalf of our many postgraduates who have to turn to this option for additional income, and to make the powers that be aware of the negative influence that the casualisation of the academic workforce has on the attraction and retention of quality staff. My approach to 2012 for CAPA is not only to ensure that we are a transparent and accountable organisation, but also that we are aware of the real issues our affiliates and their students are experiencing on all fronts in the academy. I am herewith inviting you to send me an email at any stage should you wish to bring something to our attention, and to connect with the regional or equity representatives of CAPA who would love to hear your views/ thoughts on anything postgrad! For more information about CAPA and to stay up to date on our happenings, please visit Happy teaching till we speak again!

Chamonix Terblanche CAPA President Chamonix Terblanche is a PhD candidate in Information Systems at Curtin University, and is CAPA National President for 2012


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Semester 1, 2012

Are you getting paid your fair share? Let us know via the NTEU Casual Teaching and Research Staff Survey Are 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 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 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.

Since 1958, the Australian Universities’ Review has been encouraging debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life.

vol. 53, no.

Published by NTEU

2, 2011

ISSN 0818–8 068


Australia n Unive rsities’R eview

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 is listed on the DEEWR register of refereed journals.

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Secure Jobs. Better Future. ACTU national campaign to tackle the rise of insecure work By Michelle Rangott NTEU National Industrial Officer

In September 2011, the ACTU launched a national campaign to address the growing crisis of insecure work across Australia. Details of the launch and the involvement of the NTEU in this campaign recently featured in the November edition of the NTEU’s national journal Advocate.

What is insecure work? As part of the campaign, the ACTU commissioned the first ever Around 40% of workers are engaged in insecure work arrangements

national Inquiry into insecure work to explore the extent and such asof casual work, fixed fixed term work, or labour hire. Most impact casualisation, term contracting employment, labour hire and of these workers contracting out.don’t enjoy the same rights as permanent workers,

earn less, have no access to paid sick or holiday leave and can lose

The Inquiry into Insecure Work is chaired by former theirIndependent jobs at short notice. Deputy Prime Minister, Brian Howe and has received over 500 written submissions from unions, individual workers, researchers and community organisations.

What are the impacts of insecure jobs on workers and their families?

NTEU made a submission to the Inquiry which can be found on our website

Insecure work can have a huge cost for workers and their families. Whilst national figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Many insecure workers experience: indicate that 40% of the Australian workforce are employed in • Fewer rights and benefits some form of insecure work, NTEU’s submission points out that • situation Reduced or job security the is non-existent even more stark in higher education. Less than • Lower pay 36% of all university employees are currently employed on a • Reducedbasis. accessWhilst to skillitand career development continuing is important to acknowledge that some • Increased risks offixed work-related injury forms of casual and term employment are necessary and • Reduced representation rights legitimate, there are many instances where such employment practices are used bythey’ll employers tofrom drive down • Not knowing what get paid one weekcosts to theand nextto avoid offering decent working conditions through part time and full time continuing work.

Don’t some people prefer casual or contract work?

NTEU’s submission to the Inquiry outlines the ongoing damage that the uncertainty of insecure work can inflict upon individual workers and their families, as well as the negative impact upon Working casually suits some people. But large numbers of workers the quality of the education experience and to the public interest. would prefer toto bechallenge employed permanently evenby if itmany meantemployers a drop in pay. NTEU is keen the claim made that casual employment provides greater flexibility for workers and is a stepping stone to more permanent work. Unfortunately, this is simply not borne out by the experience of many of our members. Far from offering ‘flexibility’, many insecure workers experience financial uncertainty and great vulnerability over There are over a million independent contractors Inshort many years and can find themselves trapped in inAustralia. a cycle of general independent contractors term contracts and casual work.are not entitled to the minimum

What rights do independent contractors have?

William, contract worker

Our submission makes a number of recommendations that work enInternational s oft are informed by the principle the Labour contractorof rights. rkers employed as Wo same the ut tho wi t bu Organisation that decent work should be produced in conditions s ur ho e tim l rmanent ful ofpe freedom, equity, security and human dignity. As such, our recommendations include: • That the Federal Government create a public policy regime that encourages tertiary education institutions to meet minimum standards of decent employment and educational quality; • That a Secure Employment Principle be legislated; • That flexible working arrangements and the offering of decent part time work be promoted and encouraged; • That clear and enforceable definitions and limits on the use of all forms of insecure and precarious work be developed. The Inquiry is about to hold hearings across the country in every State and Territory. To stay in touch about the Inquiry and to get involved “For in the sign for up the to 11campaign, years I worked same boss. When I

You can alsoto share youradvice story on themy NTEU/CAPA Unicasuals tried get legal about superannuation website at rights, I was sacked without notice.

Jenny, TAFE teacher urs only paid for the ho Some teachers are job y an ut tho ster, wi they do each seme y pa ay lid ho or rity cu se

wage, minimum conditions of employment or protections from unfair dismissal. They do not have access to Fair Work Australia to settle disputes. Many people who work for the same business and are in essence employees have less rights as they are put on contract work arrangements.

Isn’t this just the way it is these days? There is a belief that nothing can be done about the growing trend of insecure work. But there is an alternative. We don’t want a society where short-term, insecure work is the norm. Even 16% of teachers are now on short-term contracts with no job security. We want a society where everyone has the right to a permanent job - to feel secure in their work, to grow their career, to support their family and own their own home if they wish. We must stop going in the wrong direction.


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“I’ve been a TAFE teacher for nine years, but I don’t know what hours I will work or how much I’ll get paid until the first day of each semester. It makes it impossible to apply for a loan or manage a budget for my young family.

The Impact of Insecure Work A Personal Story The launch of the ACTU’s Secure Jobs. Better Future campaign featured a number of workers sharing their stories about the impact of insecure work on their professional and personal lives. NTEU member, Chris Elenor was one of the workers who spoke at the launch in Sydney and his story follows: I am Chris Elenor and I work as a casual lecturer and tutor at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). My partner and I have two children and two grandchildren and we live in Sydney’s Inner West. I teach and learn in the School of Business and Law and at the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Studies. I have two degrees, an adult educator qualification and I bring to the job 35 years experience in business, industry and politics. I have been teaching as a casual academic at UWS for five years. I like what I do, bring some passion and excitement to the work and love the conversations I have with students about the world and how it works. The University styles us as ‘sessional academics’. The reality is an hourly employment contract for two fourteen week periods a year. During these periods I teach, coach and assess over 250 students a week. This semester I have four contracts which total more than a full time teaching load. I have to submit four time sheets a week and additional claims for marking which is done at piece work rates. Outside these intense periods of activity there is no work and no income. It is a long gap in earning between the end of November and the beginning of March each year. I don’t really feel part of the University community. I am an hourly contract worker with a hot desk, no telephone and nowhere to meet students. It’s a very insecure and precarious existence. Often I will not know what I will be teaching, when I will be teaching or where I will be teaching until 3 days before the start of the semester. This plays havoc with my family, community and musical life. It’s the uncertainty that eats away at me. The inability to forward plan any aspect of my life. There are literally thousands of us at UWS, ‘the ghosts who walk the corridors at night’. Many of us would like to have more secure employment contracts but none are on offer. In employment relations terms there is a hard line division between full time ‘ongoing’ employees and the casuals that do most of the undergraduate teaching at the University. Here is a recent small example. UWS, as a progressive preventative health measure, makes free influenza vaccinations available to employees annually. This includes full time, part time and fixed term contract employees. The only group specifically excluded are casuals; yet we are the ones who are doing most of the face to face teaching and the only group of employees with no access to sick leave. I want to finish by thanking my Union, the National Tertiary Education Union. They have long recognised the difficulties casuals have in being part of unions. From creating a special rate of $55 a year for membership to supporting a national network of academic casuals, the NTEU is working to create more secure forms of employment and a better future for casuals. Chris Elenor is Chair of the NTEU National Academic Casuals Committee.

To hear Chris speak further about his experiences as a casual worker as featured on the ABC’s 7.30 program, go to

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WA NTEU members tell their stories to Insecure Work Inquiry

Many of my colleagues have spent the past couple of months stressing and worrying about whether or not they will be offered new contracts as their current contracts are due to expire

Peter, arts lecturer

By Emma Clancy NTEU WA Division Industrial Organiser

Western Australian NTEU members who are in casual and contract work have told their stories to the ACTU-commissioned Insecure Work Inquiry. In written submissions, the members recounted a range of difficulties they had experienced as a result of insecure work, including stress, disruption to family life, and financial problems. Casual academic and Murdoch University NTEU member Brad Evans (pictured above, with his family), who made a submission to the Inquiry, featured in a 24 January 2012 West Australian article about the ACTU’s ‘Secure Jobs, Better Future’ campaign which the NTEU is supporting. Brad described to the Inquiry the difficulties he had in securing a mortgage after being employed as a casual academic for five years. Brad and his family eventually got a low-documentation loan, for which the bank insisted he needed insurance. ‘Insurance companies are even more difficult. In fact, most of them do not recognise casual academic work as income at the time of claiming,’ Brad said. However, Brad described how the NTEU’s insurance brokers successfully negotiated a deal for academics and are there to support members’ claims. ‘This means you don’t need expensive mortgage insurance because your income itself is protected,’ he said. Another WA NTEU member and academic lecturer, Coralie, whose fixed-term contract was not renewed at the beginning of 2012, told the Inquiry: ‘I’ve worked on fixed-term contracts in the higher education sector for a decade but this has brought home


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to me the precarious position that I, together with my colleagues, have been in.’ WA arts lecturer, Peter, who is on his second fixed-term contract, told the Inquiry that the work he does is ongoing and he can see no reason why contracts should be used instead of creating a permanent position. ‘Many of my colleagues have spent the past couple of months stressing and worrying about whether or not they will be offered new contracts as their current contracts are due to expire. Some have been signed on to new contracts, but with a gap of a couple of months in which they’ll have no income at all,’ Peter said. Peter, whose family lives in Tasmania, said ‘the uncertainty of the contract situation is putting a huge strain on my life, because they can’t uproot themselves and move to Perth when I am only definitely employed for another year or so and have no idea whether my future is secure here’. He added: ‘If funding is a problem, the university needs to find a way to resolve it, because it’s unacceptable to use funding issues as an excuse to treat staff like this.’

WHY I’M A MEMBER Kirsti Niilus Murdoch University


joined the ranks of casual tutors when I commenced my PhD in politics and international relations three years ago. Before this, much of my previous working life had been in the mining industry. In the late 1980s I was working for Robe River Iron when the new Right started its push to break the trade union movement. The company illegally dismissed around 1200 unionised workers and locked them out, ignoring orders from the Industrial Tribunal to reinstate the workforce. The dispute lasted for six weeks and eventually led to the introduction of individual workplace contracts. As a staff member, I had not been affected by the industrial action and the lockout. My complacency was shattered once operations returned to normal and the company started to erode staff conditions. This event marked the start of my awareness of the importance of trade unions. I now serve on the Murdoch NTEU Branch Committee and have a particular interest in securing better working conditions for casual members. Unfortunately, many casual tutors I encounter seem little interested in pursuing union membership. Yet, they complain about the amount of additional unpaid work they do, lack of payment for marking, and limited access to appropriate office space on campus to meet with students. There are two common themes in discussions with casuals. The first is a fear of voicing their concerns in case it jeopardises their prospects for future work. The second is a lack of awareness of what the NTEU has achieved for casuals, despite their limited membership representation. The areas I would particularly like to see some change, aside from financial recognition for the volumes of work done by casual academic staff, are in early career development and the predictability of work. Many PhD students wishing to remain in academia have limited opportunities to progress their careers and I would like to see universities focus on creating appropriate pathways to assist early career academics. There is also a large pool of casual tutors who are happy to carry out this work but would like more certainty about future contracts. It is difficult for these tutors to successfully manage their finances and workloads when they have no indication as to what, if any, work is coming up. While there is an increasing casualisation of the university workforce, I strongly believe that the NTEU can do much to protect the interests of casual employees. This requires casuals to actively participate in securing their own employment conditions by joining NTEU and seeking greater representation of their interests.

Kersti Niilus is an academic at Murdoch University and an NTEU member.

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...I have to write a grant application

By Jonathan O’Donnell and Tseen Khoo

How did this happen to me? You might be reading this because part of your role is described as ‘research assistant’ (as opposed to ‘marking assistant’, ‘lecturing assistant’, ‘attendmeetings-I-don’t-want-to-go-to assistant’). Or, perhaps, you were chatting to another academic who is working on a topic you are interested in and you said, innocently enough, ‘That sounds great – if you need any help...’ Maybe your recently completed PhD is related to the topic and a colleague has sought you out. Looking back, you may not be able to identify the exact moment when you actually agreed to help write a grant application, or the sequence of events that led up to it. The moment that you first stare at a blank form, and a confusing set of instructions, on the other hand? That moment will be absolutely clear. Cue this stalwart piece of advice: Don’t panic! Fear is the mind-killer. There is a way through this, and it isn’t as scary as it seems. After all, you probably know professors who can’t find their coffee cup, but can still get grants. If they can do it, how hard can it be?

How does this grant thing work, anyway? First up, it is important to be clear about your role. You should be writing a draft that your


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collaborators will review and revise. It doesn’t need to be perfect or polished. As a first draft, it just needs to be technically complete. You are sketching out the idea, and getting feedback on it as soon as possible. So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Just hammer through the bulk of the application, knowing that there will be a lot of rewriting and polishing later on. Second, understand that the funding agency is not a demon or monster. They are a group of people – often other researchers – who are trying to set out a standard way for people to provide information about their research. Even though it may not be clear to you at the moment, there is a method to their madness. A published method that you can read. For any given grant application, there are two or three documents that you must have: • An application form (there’s always a form – even if it is an online form). • The rules or guidelines. Sometimes, there’s one document, other times, two or three. If you don’t have these already, download them from the funding organisation’s website and read them. All the way through. Boring, but necessary. If you only take one thing from this article, it should be this: Read the guidelines Don’t rely on last year’s version, which someone has passed on to you. Don’t work from vague instructions that people pass on over coffee. Work from the rules and guidelines that the funding agency has written – it’s exactly what they want, and that’s why they write them. Another fantastic resource would be a successful past example. Ask your collaborator if they have an example. If not, ask your local research office. Your university research office can be enormously useful to you (and we aren’t just saying that because we work in one). Here are some of the services they can: • Provide updated information from the funding agency (if they update their FAQs, for example). • Provide examples of past successful grants. • Help with calculating salaries and other items in the budget. • Explain arcane aspects of the guidelines and help you strategise your application.. • Review draft versions of the document. Drop them a line as soon as possible. Let them know you are drafting this application and who you are working with. Explain that this is the first time that you have done this, and would appreciate any assistance that they can provide. There are other people who can help, too. Four online resources that provide good advice are: • The Research Whisperer (that’s us) [Australian]: • Cash for Questions by Adam Golberg [UK]: • Jo VanEvery [Canadian]: • The Professor Is In by Karen L. Kelsky [USA]: When writing your first grant application, the two hardest sections are the budget and the timeline. You should tackle these after you have drafted the project description.

Timeline From the project description, you should have enough detail to work out what the major stages of the project will be, and how much time your team will spend on each stage. If you don’t know that, then your methodology doesn’t have enough detail in it and you should seek advice from your collaborators. If it does have that level of detail, then sketch out the project timeline in a simple Gantt chart.

Budget The guidelines will provide clear advice for what can and cannot be included in the budget. The tricky bit is finding rough estimates for the costs of everything. In some organisations, the research office can provide estimates if you list all the details of the budget. Otherwise, work your way through travel and airline websites for airfares and accommodation, suppliers’ websites for equipment and maintenance, and your organisation’s pay scales for salaries (don’t forget the ‘on-cost’ element, which is a multiplier that accounts for a position’s true cost [e.g. sick leave, superannuation, workers’ compensation]). You are not looking for the cheapest quote. You are looking for a reasonable quote that demonstrates that you have carefully planned this project. After you have roughed out the project description, the budget and the timeline, the rest of the application will mostly be a paper-chase for details: updated CVs for each project researcher, institutional performance information, university research priorities, research codes, reporting information on past grants and other time-consuming, annoying but necessary details. Give yourself enough time to do all this work. If the application needs to be submitted via an on-line form, give yourself enough time to work though that, too. Because, if you don’t, your application may be late and, therefore, ineligible. That would be a shame, after all your hard work. Once you have a complete draft, circulate it to your collaborators, the research office and anyone else who will give you feedback without stealing your ideas. Make it clear that this is just a first draft, and that you need their feedback to improve it. It might be a good idea to organise a meeting with your collaborators so that they will focus on it in good time AND give you applicable suggestions. As they provide feedback, incorporate what you can into the draft, considering the time you have left. Do the quick things first so that you always have a complete application that you can fall back on. Computers crash, kids get sick, the Vice-Chancellor calls and requires your undivided attention – all these things can get in the way. At least if you have a complete draft, you can hand it on to someone else in the team to revise, or the team could submit it as it is. If you receive contradictory feedback, keep in mind who has provided it. Research office staff will be best at compliance issues and weakest on methodology. Your colleagues will provide the strongest advice on methodology and direction, but may not be up-to-date with the guidelines.

Why would I want to do a grant application? Drafting a grant application is a lot of work. However, if you want to be an academic, you should jump at the chance if you get it. All academics are expected to do research, and writing grant applications is a core skill for a successful researcher, team leader, centre director... Dream big! Also, if you are drafting the application, you can put yourself into it. You can put your ideas forward, include a salary for yourself in the budget, and put yourself on the research stage for everybody to see. As an early career researcher, possibly with insecure employment options, training yourself in this highly in-demand skill can give you an edge. Also, even if your first attempts aren’t successful, the institutional processes through which (most) grant applications get reviewed mean that your CV gets an airing before key research players in your university. Who knows? One way or another, this application might get you your next job! Jonathan O’Donnell and Tseen Khoo blog at The Research Whisperer,

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Long Service Leave

A long time coming By Catherine Kirkman NTEU Tasmanian Division Organiser

Down here in Tasmania you can wait a long time for some things: a perfectly ripe peach, your baggage off the airport carousel, a taxi to the Northern suburbs, and summer – I’ve been waiting for a long hot one and it hasn’t appeared ...ever! The entitlement for long service leave (LSL) for University of Tasmania employees means waiting for the equivalent of 10 years continuous service with the University, with eligibility accruing at the rate of 6.5 working days leave for each completed year of service. You can wait a long time too here and in other institutions for a tenured academic position, a fact that readers of this magazine are no doubt all too aware of. You can sometimes also wait a long time for a break between periods of employment which is where the issue of LSL comes in.

Swinburne Sessionals Stand Up By Josh Cullinan NTEU Victorian Division Industrial Officer

In 2010, Swinburne University was a hotbed of major campaigns for sessional staff rights. Fighting for newly won rights, members ensured previous breaches of conditions were exposed and started working together.


Connect // Volume 5, no. 1

Semester 1, 2012

Many casual staff assume that they are not eligible for LSL but this is not the case under the UTAS Agreement. Eligibility relates to the notion of continuous service and if casual staff are employed without a break between periods of employment of more that 4 months duration then they will accrue LSL. Last year, the Tasmanian Division assisted a casual member who had been employed continuously for more than 30 years. Apart from the fact that the University had failed to recognise the qualifications of the casual academic, and had paid the member at a lower level than was specified in the Agreement, they had also failed to keep accurate records pertaining to LSL accrual. The member had copies of pay records and although the University argued that there were some periods of employment where there had been a break of just more than the specified 4 months, a settlement was reached. The member received a lump sum amount and a re-crediting of subsequent LSL entitlement. Focus on the member’s job situation also led to the offer of a fixedterm contract that ensured the member then received the full 17% superannuation entitlement afforded to contract staff. With the help of the NTEU, causal staff have the power to do something about their situation. At UTAS one the most common things we hear from casual staff is that the insecurity of their employment status creates within them a reticence to stand up for their workplace rights. With the assistance of the Union, managers can be either engaged or held to account for their actions and in many cases, involved in the creation of positive ways to resolve issues for casual staff within the workplace. Often casual staff do not know about all of their entitlements such as LSL or conversion clauses that can mean more secure forms of employment. Our member, by simply joining the NTEU as a casual member, gained back payment for over 20 years LSL, greater job security and a full understanding of their ongoing entitlements.

In 2012, Swinburne Sessional Staff have decided it will be their Year of Action. An action based survey is currently underway which has already identified employment security, payment for all duties and timely pay as key issues members are prepared to help win. Members are fed up with being second class purely because the University isn’t prepared to offer more secure forms of work. If the University is prepared to accept thousands of hours of casual teaching work every year, it should be prepared to find more secure forms of employment for sessional staff. Members are also concerned that they receive 8% less superannuation than other staff. This isn’t compensated for in the casual loading at all – just like the exclusion of maternity leave for hundreds of young sessional women. NTEU is leading campaign teams across Swinburne University campuses and is preparing to take the call for action to the steps of Melbourne Town Hall at the ACTU Insecure Work Enquiry on 22 March 2012. We recognise a bargaining year is the best time to win justice for Swinburne sessional staff. In 2008, sessional staff required the support of the broader NTEU membership for improving their conditions. In 2012 ,the support of others will be important, but NTEU Swinburne sessional members intend to lead the debate and win their rights at work. Dozens of new members are getting on board and if you work at Swinburne University, we encourage you to get in touch with our NTEU Sessional Staff Campaign Team and get involved! Find out more at



NTEU is looking for photos of overcrowded lecture theatres to help convince the Federal Government that higher education needs increased funding. Send your photos to The Federal Minister for Higher Education, Senator Chris Evans recently admitted that there will be no increases in base funding for universities in this year’s budget (base funding per student is composed of the Commonwealth grant plus student’s HECS). This is despite recommendations from the recent Base Funding Review chaired by Jane Lomax-Smith, and the earlier Bradley Review, that additional funding is required. From the Minister’s comments at Senate Estimates, it is not clear that any additional funding is ever likely to result from his year long inquiry into base funding. Staff in the sector are now coping with higher levels of student enrolments without any extra funding. This can only exacerbate existing problems of overcrowded classrooms and overworked staff. There are a number of things that you can do to help show the Minister how serious the situation has become. 1. Take a photo of a crowded lecture theatre or classroom and email it to the NTEU at The Union will promote a similar Twitter activity to students and other Twitter followers using #InvestInUnis. 2. If you are also willing to invite a journalist into your lecture theatre, let us know. 3. Inform students in your classrooms about funding for the sector. A brief PowerPoint outlining the issues can be found at 4. Send an email to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans and your local MP at 5. Visit your local MP using the information provided on the NTEU’s campaign website at 6. Follow the NTEU on Twitter (NTEUNational) and Facebook for campaign updates.

Send us your photos #InvestInUnis read online at


h c r a e s e r a y t ‘M abou ’ l e l r a u t is u f r e bettd, Chemist i Dav 12 Connect // Volume 5, no. 1

Semester 1, 2012 Authorised by Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Curtis

NTEU campaigns to

Invest in Australia’s Future

nto e i d gge ecaus u l p b ‘I’m world ity’ ist t the niversuter Scien mp , Co of U e n en i


Invest in Australia’s Future is a long-term NTEU campaign aimed at improving public funding to universities. After a decade of real cuts to public investment, Australia’s universities are reaching breaking point. University staff and students experience the impacts of this on a daily basis - ballooning student to staff ratios, increasing reliance on casual labour and other forms of insecure employment, mounting workloads, and deteriorating university infrastructure. In the past, Universities have been forced to rely on international student income to subsidise inadequate funding. This dependence can no longer be sustained. But while university staff and students are familiar with the impacts of underfunding, it’s not a situation the public or even many in Federal Parliament are necessarily aware of. The clearest indication of the precarious funding situation facing universities comes from the Federal Government’s own Higher Education Base Funding Review, released in early December 2011. Based on an analysis of costs, the report concludes that on average, current levels of base funding are 22% below the costs associated with teaching on international indicators of student-staff ratios, student engagement and satisfaction. One aspect of the review’s findings is the recommendation that students make a 40% contribution to the cost of their course, regardless of the discipline in which they are enrolled. Australian students already pay amongst the highest course fees in the OECD and NTEU believes any further increase would have major equity impacts. The recommendation regarding increased student fees aside, NTEU believes that the Base Funding Review presents a major political opportunity to increase investment in the sector. But it will require a major effort on the part of the NTEU and other stakeholders in the sector to realise this.

www.investinuniv u

Authorised by Grahame

McCulloch, General

Secretary, National

Tertiary Education

Union, 120 Clarendon

e. Photo: Andrew

St, South Melbourn

What You Can Do 1. Find out more about the campaign and the role of universities in our communities, at 2. Download the campaign materials and discuss them with your family, friends and colleagues. 3. Send an email to your local MP about university funding at 4. Tell us your story about your university experiences at 5. Get involved in any campaign events happening at your local campus.

Hence, the Invest in Australia’s Future campaign. While the Union must continue to hold managements to account for their internal allocation of resources and decisions that damage students and staff, we must also make the public aware of the importance of our universities and the potential damage continued underfunding is doing to the sector. The Invest in Australia’s Future campaign calls on the Government to urgently increase student funding by 10% as recommended by the Bradley Review, and to commit to a longer term target of achieving 1% of GDP in line with the average OECD expenditure in this area. This campaign will continue beyond the next federal budget, and, if necessary, beyond the next election. The Union will continue to campaign until our voice is heard. A campaign website, Invest in Australia’s Future, Invest in our Universities is at It features a range of resources that will be added to over the coming months.

read online at





By Jessica Dawson-Field and Brendan Fry Union Summer Interns


Connect // Volume 5, no. 1

Semester 1, 2012

During our time with the NTEU as part of the Union Summer Internship Program, we were given the task of reporting on the Union’s approach to ‘engaging young workers’. The bulk of these workers in the academic sector are casual tutors, underrepresented within the Union despite NTEU’s continual campaigns for improved conditions. To attempt to understand this disparity we engaged with National, State and Branch offices, conversing with senior staff, casual tutors and Branch Organisers. Our findings revealed a cyclic situation in which a unionised base of casual tutors is seemingly irreconcilable with the socially fragmented nature of the workforce. We posit that the NTEU may respond pragmatically to the limitations of engaging casual tutors. Short-term approaches may work to create a tutoring community whilst long-term campaigns can seek the reconstruction of tutoring as a professional pathway in the expanding university sector. The unfair conditions and terms of employment of the academic tutor are well acknowledged within the NTEU. Over 60% of the academic workforce are currently employed as casuals, placing highly skilled and passionate individuals in low paid, demanding and professionally secluded work. The uneven expansion of universities has shifted the burden of growing class sizes and workloads upon casual tutors without the security, support or prestige

of ongoing staff. Where tutoring was once an intermediate stage in a permanent career, tutors often lack access to a professional pathway, leading to dissatisfaction and the flight of young talent from the sector. As demand for teaching staff grows, the implications for academic standards and class sizes are dire: 40% of younger tutors are planning to leave the sector in the near future as approximately 50% of permanent staff are planning to retire in the next decade. Engagement with casual tutors is a catch-22 situation, as the ‘grass-roots’ nature of a successful union becomes implausible when workers are disconnected from their largely unionised peers. The division inherent within the university hierarchy pre-empts the collectivism vital to the union movement. NTEU campaigns regarding casual work are well organised and disseminated yet necessarily top-heavy and thus restricted in reaching and nurturing casual tutoring staff. Lasting connection with young workers will require a boost to the communal aspect of tutoring from the ground level, encouraged through either universities or the NTEU itself. Short-term efforts may aim to secure membership early in a tutor’s employment, focusing on the recent tangible gains in conditions (such as payment for marking) whilst emphasising the low-cost, tax deductibility of membership. Though the overarching narrative of the movement is significant, it must be acknowledged that the casual tutor will be under substantial financial burden and may require an immediate incentive to invest in the Union. To further cultivate tutor engagement, the NTEU could encourage frequent Branch-organised social events and professional development courses, encouraging both members and non-members to attend.

This would not only foster organic social connections between tutors, but increase the Union’s presence on a campus level. Meanwhile, long-term campaign strategies could focus on the wider ramifications of academic casualisation upon other groups. For example, the NTEU could convey how research workload is often shifting to senior staff and how the lack of professional training may threaten student investment in a quality education. Union disseminated surveys may seek to define casual academic conditions in an OH&S format, considering that stress and professional isolation are often cited as reasons to leave the sector. Pressure should be placed on the university to increase professional development pathways in order to bridge the gap between younger and senior staff. This could be framed as an investment, as relying heavily upon overworked casual staff threatens the long-term desirability of Australian universities. The industry’s dependence upon casual work is counterproductive to Union strength, working conditions and the overall quality of the university sector. The NTEU must respond practically to the limitations of recruiting casual staff whilst continuing to hold universities accountable for exploiting academic passion through cheaper forms of employment. Curbing insecure work as a national trend is a complex long-term issue requiring pressure across multiple sectors. In the meantime, the NTEU can attempt to alter the social experience for young workers, encouraging them to feel involved in the collective academic community rather than a transitory and powerless underclass.

read online at


With the start of a new semester don’t forget to renew your NTEU membership! By renewing your membership: • You continue to support the work of the Union in creating a better tertiary education sector. • You will continue to receive our wide range of member-only benefits and services. • You will have access to high level industrial advice and assistance when you need it.

To renew, simply use the form opposite, or contact your local Branch, or join online at

Did you know Postgrad Students are eligible for Associate Membership of NTEU? As a Associate Member you will receive the Union’s regular publications and have access to a range of commercial discounts and benefits. Associate members do not receive industrial services and cannot vote in NTEU elections. NTEU Associate Membership rates are $55 per year. Download a form at

Union AidUnion Abroad APHEDA Aid Abroad APHEDA

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


NATIONAL TERTIARY EDUCATION UNION  I want to join NTEU  I am currently a member and wish to update my details The information on this form is needed for aspects of NTEU’s work and will be treated as confidential.
























I hereby apply for membership of NTEU, any Branch and any associated body established at my workplace. ‡












You may resign by written notice to the Division or Branch Secretary. Where you cease to be eligible to become a member, resignation shall take effect on the date the notice is received or on the day specified in your notice, whichever is later. In any other case, you must give at least two weeks notice. Members are required to pay dues and levies as set by the Union from time to time in accordance with NTEU rules. Further information on financial obligations, including a copy office use only: Membership no. of the rules, is available from your Branch.



Membership fees = 1% of gross annual salary


office use only: % of salary deducted








— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —





Salary range

6 months

12 months

$10,000 & under: $10,001–$20,000: Over $20,000:

 $27.50  $38.50  $55

 $55  $77  $110


Processed on the 15th of the month or following working day



Full text of DDR available at







CARD NUMBER — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —




I hereby authorise the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) APCA User ID No.062604 to arrange for funds to be debited from my/our account at the financial institution identified and in accordance with the terms described in the Direct Debit request (DDr) Service Agreement



Choose your salary range. Select 6 month or 1 year membership. Tick the appropriate box. Pay by cheque, money order or credit card.


I hereby authorise the Merchant to debit my Card account with the amount and at intervals specified above and in the event of any change in the charges for these goods/ services to alter the amount from the appropriate date in accordance with such change. This authority shall stand, in respect of the above specified Card and in respect of any Card issued to me in renewal or replacement thereof, until I notify the Merchant in writing of its cancellation. Standing Authority for recurrent Periodic Payment by Credit Card.




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.

OPTION 4: CAsUAL/sEssIONAL ONLY 1. 2. 3. 4.

Processed on the 16th of the month or following working day




Description of goods/services: NTEU Membership Dues. To: NTEU, Po Box 1323, Sth Melbourne VIC 3205

‡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


NTEU National Office PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 T (03) 9254 1910 F (03) 9254 1915 E

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