Sentry, February 2022

Page 1

SENTRY Latest on masks & respirators Return to work, but only when it's safe How are universities dealing with the rental and housing crisis? New medicines in the fight against COVID-19 Published by National Tertiary Education Union

FEB 2022

vol. 3 no. 1


Return to work

Crisis in housing

When it's time to return to work, we must ensure workplaces are safe for all staff.

The rental and housing crisis is putting universities in a contradictory position.


06 Cover: Unblast

Sentry is a free online news magazine for NTEU members and Australian higher education staff. Sentry is published in the middle of each month, in between publication of the Union's main member magazine, Advocate.



Masks & Respirators

New COVID medicines

Time to upgrade from cloth & surgical masks to respirators? Your questions answered.

What is the availability and effectiveness of the new medicines in the fight against COVID?

SENTRY ISSN 2652-5992 Published by National Tertiary Education Union PO Box 1323, South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia ABN 38 579 396 344 All text & images ©NTEU 2022 unless stated

In case you missed it... 01 Now is time to HSR your workplace! 05 Intimidation and voice of research scientists 15 Academic Workloads and Health survey 16




Matthew McGowan


Alison Barnes

Production Manager

Paul Clifton

Editorial Assistance

Helena Spyrou

Sentry is available online free as a PDF and e-book at NTEU acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as traditional owners of Naarm (Melbourne), the land on which the NTEU National Office is situated, and pays respect to their Elders, past & present.



In case you missed it.... Omicron: Know your rights & how to return safely to work Omicron continues to pose health and safety risks to workers across the country. On 11 February, our Friday Session outlined NTEU’s plans for securing adequate protections for all staff and students, and our position on how employers can prioritise the health and safety of university workers.

Watch the video recording of this Friday Session M Download the Omicron Fact Sheet a

Becoming a Health & Safety Representative (HSR) Following last week’s highly successful session on Omicron and how to return safely to work, today's (18 Feb) Friday Session is for members who wish to learn more about the role of Health & Safety Representatives in the workplace. Join Gabe Gooding (NTEU National Assistant Secretary) who will step you through this very important role and why we need union members to become HSRs.

Register for this Session (Fri 18 Feb, 2pm AEDT via Zoom) PEN-SQUARE

Rapid Antigen Tests as a WHS risk control NTEU has produced a fact sheet for HSRs and members on RATs and why they should be considered by all workplaces to help keep positive workers away from the workplace and prevent workplace transmission.

Download the RATs Fact Sheet a vol. 3 no. 1




In case you missed it... NTEU Disability Rights Network It is estimated that at least 1 in 5, or 20% of people living in Australia live with a disability, illness or injury lasting longer than 6 months. Support for staff with disability is under-represented at Australian universities. The NTEU Disability Rights Network meets quarterly and focuses on: • Disability representation in enterprise bargaining. • Policy development and revision. • Events about and for the disability community. • Improving NTEU representation for people with disability. The group provides a safe space to discuss issues related to living with disability in the workplace including your rights, discrimination, access, inclusion, equity, workplace adjustments, recruitment, performance management and career development. If you are a person living with a chronic illness, injury or disability, join us to help improve the lived experience and working lives of employees at Australian universities.

To join the network & participate in meetings, email your name & institution to

Class in Australia – member giveaway Class in Australia, edited by Steven Threadgold and Jessica Gerrard, was published by Monash University Publishing this month. At a time of deepening inequality, Class in Australia features interviews with Raewyn Connell and Larissa Behrendt and brings together a range of new and original research for a timely examination of class relations, labour exploitation, and the changing formations of work in contemporary Australian society. Raewyn Connell will launch the book at Gleebooks in Sydney on 24 Feb.

Enter the draw to win one of 4 copies of 'Class in Australia'

Underpayment for Casual Marking at La Trobe Hundreds of casual academic staff members at La Trobe have been underpaid due to the university’s use of illegal ‘piece rates’ to pay academics for marking. The Union believes there to be a large number of current and former casual academic staff that have been underpaid in this manner. If you believe you have been underpaid, visit our new campaign site.

Visit the campaign website to see if you have been underpaid File-Signature





Vibrant campuses are important to the educational experience but they can’t come at the expense of the health and welfare of the staff.

One of the things that comes from a pandemic that has lasted two years is that there is plenty of time to think about, and plan for, if and when your employees will return to in-person work. You would think that, sometime during that period, someone other than the Union would have given some thought to how to keep staff and students safe on campuses, and what employer obligations are to their staff. Shamefully, employers appear to have either not given that a thought or have ignored their obligations to staff in a blind rush to return to 'vibrant campuses.' Vibrant campuses are important to the educational experience but they can’t come at the expense of the health and welfare of the staff.

Gabe Gooding National Assistant Secretary

Almost uniformly across the board we have seen universities fail the most basic test, and their most basic obligations under work health and


Return to work, but only when it's safe safety laws across the country. And it’s not like it’s a hard concept – when considering a change to working arrangements that may impact on the health and safety of employees universities need to consult with them. That’s BEFORE they announce the decision, not after; and it’s definitely not token consultation. Universities will need to: supply employees with an assessment of the risks and how the university intends to manage the risks; provide all relevant information to allow employees to respond; put in place reasonably practicable measures to control the risk; and ensure employees have an opportunity to contribute to those decisions. Proper risk assessments that detail hazard and risk, rate the risk and the consequences, and apply proportionate control measures – and that do not concern themselves with items of no relevance to health and safety such as student satisfaction, or reputational risk – are as rare as hen’s teeth (in fact I haven’t seen one but I’m prepared to concede that there may be one out there). Those that have not been prompted by union intervention are even rarer. continued overpage...

vol. 3 no. 1



NEWS & CAMPAIGNS In other words, your employers have legal obligations to you and many are failing them. It appears that the decisions to return to campus have been made on a number of grounds including strategic and marketing considerations, and that the primary duty to the health and safety of staff and students has not taken priority.

University managements are either woefully ignorant of their legal obligations or have chosen to ignore them – either way it is damning.

University managements are either woefully ignorant of their legal obligations or have chosen to ignore them – either way it is damning. Some of the reasons for returning to campus have been laughable – for example the declaration by one university manager that the reason that professional staff who don’t directly interact with students need to return to campus include, that they are necessary to make the campus feel active, and that the cafes aren’t viable without more staff on campus to order coffees. How does it feel as a professional staff member to know that you are being placed in harms way in part to be a prop in a marketing photo and to spend your money in cafes? In the past few weeks I have been talking to members about their very justifiable concerns and explaining their rights and what their employers need to do. Along the way some of the things that I have heard have been hair-raising.




The immunocompromised worker who does not have an outward facing role who is directed to return to campus irrespective of the risk they face. The worker whose air conditioning is not working who is told to put in a maintenance request (and presumably keep working in the unventilated workspace until maintenance arrives). The staff of a unit delivering online teaching ordered to return to work in an inadequately ventilated open plan office even though their work is entirely on-line. The refusal to support casual workers to be vaccinated or when they isolating. And the many who have reported genuine concerns about their mental health, particularly anxiety, where they have immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable household members whose supervisors have told them that is 'no excuse for not coming to work'. Quite apart from the WHS obligations that may be being breached, simple humanity would have dictated other responses from management. It’s really quite simple – universities can go ahead with return to campus, many will welcome that, but they need to be prepared to be flexible to meet their employees’ needs, and follow the necessary legal health and safety obligations. That’s all we are demanding. Return to work when it is safe. It’s a simple test they should all have passed.

Download our Workplace Health & Safety fact sheets from the NTEU WHS Site

Now is the time to HSR your workplace! The return to work for the Union in Queensland – as I imagine occurred across the country – commenced with a flood of enquiries regarding returning to campus, managing risk, unilateral decisions about vaccines mandates and more. One theme that emerged strongly was the failure of university managements to consult with their staff at almost any level. The second was how unclear most members were about their rights in returning to campus.

I am fond of telling members that the actual WH&S Act states that the best way to have a healthy workplace is to elect HSRs!

In response, the Queensland Division ran two all-staff meetings to address various issues and also to propose that members genuinely consider becoming a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) in their workplace. This powerful role for our members had not been sufficiently expanded upon in the past. Surely there could never be a more appropriate time than February 2022. Two HSR information sessions run by Industrial Officer Anthony Hack and myself were offered to all Queensland members and more are already on the books. For those who are already familiar with the HSR role there will be little in them of interest. However, if you are unfamiliar with the roles of HSRs I can only suggest that you get curious.

David Szumer Senior State Organiser NTEU Qld Division



place is to elect HSRs! Additionally, the HSR role can fit in with every aspect of union work and building power in the workplace. Our sessions explored the protections that HSRs are afforded to fulfil their role and also the support they can receive from others including union members and staff. Important to many of our members was the understanding that the role itself does not place members against management but rather in a position to hold management to account should they fail to meet obligations. Members currently in a HSR role said the position could be very rewarding. Since the workshops we are now working across all universities to get our members elected as HSRs. Queensland members can sign up for sessions here.

I am fond of telling members that the actual WH&S Act states that the best way to have a healthy work-

vol. 3 no. 1




Housing boom puts universities in a contradictory position While university workers have been asked to go above and beyond many times over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the University of Wollongong received an email last month that contained a surprising request. UOW’s Housing Services team was asking staff to get in touch if they had a spare room or granny flat that they might be willing to let to a student during the upcoming semester.

UOW’s Housing Services team was asking staff to get in touch if they had a spare room or granny flat that they might be willing to let to a student during the upcoming semester.

Dr Alistair Sisson University of Wollongong


As in many regions in NSW, house prices and rents in the Illawarra have skyrocketed since early 2020. The median rent in Wollongong has risen by $50 per week since the beginning of the pandemic and rental vacancies have plummeted from 2.2% to 0.6%. The combination of Sydney-siders who took the opportunity afforded by working from home to move away from busy urban areas to locations offering larger homes and a different lifestyle, and others moving to find cheaper housing, has led to sharp increase in cost and a desperate shortage of rental housing that is now being felt by returning or commencing students. In August 2021, UOW management took this regional property boom as an opportune time to sell three off-campus student housing facilities: Marketview, Weerona College and International House. Apparently, the move would 'release surplus assets onto the region’s buoyant property market in a move certain to benefit the local economy while strengthening the University’s



capacity to continue to respond to the financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic'. Management reversed their decision to sell International House in February, but appears set to proceed with the sale of Marketview and Weerona College. This short episode reveals the contradictory position in which universities find themselves when it comes to housing and real estate: they stand to make large returns from rising property values but their students and staff – casualised workers in particular, who are much more likely to be renters – are finding it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to find a home. This is not a recent phenomenon, nor one limited to regional universities. Housing costs near universities in major cities have long been unaffordable for most students and many staff. High housing costs have forced students into sharehousing that is often overcrowded, precarious and highly exploitative. They have caused staff and students to live further

from campus and thus spend more time commuting, with obvious impacts on wellbeing and, for students, attendance and participation. Nor is UOW alone in selling properties in this moment of highly inflated asset values. In Sydney, the University of Sydney was reportedly selling at least 13 properties in late 2021, while UTS completed a three-building, $95m sale to student housing company Scape, and a $10m sale of student housing was part of UNSW’s recent sales. University managers will argue that the proceeds of these sales help fund university operations, plugging the budget holes created by COVID-19. It is Commonwealth and State governments, of course, who are the main culprits to blame for the crisis of housing affordability in Australian cities and regions. Their woeful lack of investment in public housing, too-narrowly targeted rent assistance, total aversion to rent regulation, and broader encouragement of real estate investment through tax breaks like negative gearing, are the main issues. Nevertheless, universities are wealthy institutions with large land holdings that could play an active role in improving housing affordability and quality. As it stands, they are simply devolving their budget deficits onto their students, staff and surrounding communities – raising revenue from rising property prices and gentrifying nearby neighbourhoods while their students and workers are


MEMBER EXPERT forced to sacrifice more and more of their incomes to housing costs. Universities could start by retaining existing student housing and renting it out at rates that are affordable for the average student, rather than rates that far exceed median rents – let alone affordable rates – for the neighbourhoods around their campuses. Universities could also convert their unused non-residential or vacant properties to affordable rental housing, manage it themselves or, better yet, hand the keys to student, staff or community co-operatives. The co-operative model is also one that universities could help finance, as the University of Sydney did with the student housing co-operative Stucco in 1988. The University helped the student co-operative purchase this former glass factory where rooms now rent for $105 per week – less than half what a student might expect to pay in a privately-rented sharehouse, and less than a fifth of what they would pay to a student housing company a few blocks away.

...universities are wealthy institutions with large land holdings that could play an active role in improving housing affordability and quality.

University managers are unlikely to take such actions of their own volition; it’s up to university students and workers to demand it from them. And with high rates of casualisation and precarity bringing the interests of staff and students further into alignment, there’s no better time than now.

Alistair Sisson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, UOW, and an NTEU member

vol. 3 no. 1




Time to upgrade from cloth & surgical masks to respirators? Your questions answered With the rapid spread of Omicron, many countries are rethinking their COVID mask advice for the community. Respirators have been mandatory in public places in Austria for a year. Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests respirators be considered for greater protection, for instance, on public transport or in enclosed crowded spaces. It’s time to rethink and upgrade masks for you and your family.

What is a respirator? Professor C Raina MacIntyre, UNSW Leyla Asadi, University of Alberta

Lisa M Brosseau, University of Minnesota

Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford


Respirators, often wrongly called 'masks' because of their appearance, are personal protective equipment made to a particular standard and designed to prevent inhalation of hazardous airborne contaminants. In the US, respirator standards are managed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and cover three things: filter efficiency, breathing resistance and fit. A filter that meets the N95 standard (equivalent to Europe’s FFP2) must capture at least 95% of particles in the most



penetrating size range at a high flow rate. In Australia, a respirator must meet TGA standards. A respirator that consists entirely of filtering material – rather than having layers, say for waterproofing – is called a filtering facepiece respirator (FFR). An FFR can be worn multiple times but must eventually be thrown away. Research suggests FFRs lose their ability to fit well after 20 wears – due to stretching of straps or failure of the nose clip or edge components. The filter material is usually a non-woven polypropylene electret, which means the fibres carry an electrical charge to enhance particle collection while ensuring low breathing resistance.

Why were we told to wear cloth masks at first? It was initially assumed SARS-CoV-2 spread via droplets (in coughs and sneezes) which caused infection when they landed on the mouth, nose or eyes. For such particles, a cloth or surgical mask is an efficient form of source control to protect others from virus emitted by the wearer. Now it’s understood the virus is airborne. Virus-laden particles build up in the air over time indoors because of breathing and speaking.

Will a respirator protect me even if others are unmasked? It depends on the type of exposure and how long you are exposed. It is important to consider your risk depending on where you are, what you’re doing, with whom and how long you’re there. The safest situation, especially for prolonged contact in crowded settings, is when everyone is wearing well-fitting N95 respirators. It’s hard to show evidence to support respirator use in the community – but lack


MEMBER EXPERT of randomised controlled trials (RCT) does not mean they are not effective. Studying masks or respirators at a population level is complex and involves many variables. There is strong evidence from RCTs in health workers and laboratory studies showing respirators are effective for source control and personal protection.

I really like my cloth mask. Is it OK to keep wearing it? Probably not. Cloth masks are not made to any particular standard, so their properties and quality vary considerably.

Respirators, often wrongly called 'masks' because of their appearance, are personal protective equipment made to a particular standard and designed to prevent inhalation of hazardous airborne contaminants.

In general, they are poor filters of small airborne particles.

Surgical masks are cheaper – can I just switch to those? Not really. While some surgical masks may have better filtration capacity than cloth masks, they were designed primarily to prevent the emission of large droplets. Some medical-grade surgical masks may also offer protection from body fluid splashes or sprays. No surgical mask will prevent the emission or inhalation of small infectious particles, however.

N95 respirator

continued overpage...

vol. 3 no. 1



MEMBER EXPERT A key deficiency of surgical and cloth masks is their loose fit compared to respirators. While some older, hard-cup style respirators may be uncomfortable, newer styles are better tolerated. This may be due to their greater surface area, which could contribute to lower breathing resistance.

The safest situation, especially for prolonged contact in crowded settings, is when everyone is wearing wellfitting N95 respirators.

A respirator should rest against your face with no gaps, especially around the nose and chin. To create a tight seal, form the nose clip and place both straps around your head, adjusting them if necessary.


Should I have my respirator professionally fitted? No. When respirators are used to protect workers from airborne hazards such as dust or pollution, employers are legally required to undertake fit-testing (see for example the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration fit-testing standard). But even non-fit tested respirators will provide superior protection over cloth or surgical masks. A respirator should rest against your face with no gaps, especially around the nose and chin. To create a tight seal, form the nose clip and place both straps around your head, adjusting them if necessary. If the facepiece collapses a small amount when you inhale, the respirator probably fits well. Get in the habit of doing a 'self seal-check' before each wear.



Shouldn’t respirators be reserved for healthcare professionals? No. Early in the pandemic, the public were discouraged from buying respirators because of a global shortage of personal protective equipment and the assumption healthcare workers were at higher risk of catching COVID from so-called 'aerosol-generating procedures' such as intubation. We now know everyday activities like talking and singing are more likely to generate infectious aerosols than medical procedures. As with vaccines, there are global equity issues and we need to expand manufacturing capacity to ensure sufficient supply for everyone.

What about the cost and environmental impact?

If you can’t get hold of a respirator, you can improve protection of a surgical or cloth mask.

Compared to cloth masks, respirators (which are not washable) cost more and have a greater environmental impact. But disposable respirators can be used for extended periods if they are not wet or damaged, and there are re-usable options such as elastometric respirators.

Options include 'double masking' by wearing a tight-fitting cloth mask over a surgical mask. You can also 'knot and tuck' a surgical mask by tying the sides and tucking the remainder inside. Finally, a well-designed cloth mask (with three layers) can perform as well as a good quality surgical mask.

A respirator should be thrown away when it gets dirty or the straps, nose clip or other components lose their integrity. Costs and environmental concerns need to be weighed against the costs and waste produced by a single COVID hospital admission. In Australia, the average daily cost of an Intensive Care Unit stay has been estimated at $4375.

It’s still true that something is better than nothing. But don’t count on these types of masks to provide the same level of protection for the same amount of time as an N95 respirator.

Respirators should be provided and required

What if I can’t afford or get my hands on a N95 respirator?

The World Health Organisation has stressed the importance of a 'vaccines-plus' approach.

The Korean KF94 and Chinese KN95s are cheaper alternatives that provide better protection than a surgical or cloth mask. Beware counterfeits, such as those without a GN stamp to show they meet manufacturing standards.

There is a strong case, when prevalence of COVID is high, for governments to both mandate and fund the provision of respirators for the public, as some parts of the US are now doing.



There is a strong case, when prevalence of COVID is high, for governments to both mandate and fund the provision of respirators for the public...

C Raina MacIntyre is Professor of Global Biosecurity, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Head, Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, and an NTEU member Leyla Asadi is PhD candidate and infectious diseases doctor, University of Alberta, Canada Lisa M Brosseau is Research Consultant, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, USA Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK Image: Aboodi Vesakaran/Unsplash This article originally published in The Conversation, 18 January 2022

vol. 3 no. 1




Australia approves two new medicines in the fight against COVID. How can you get them and are they effective against Omicron? On 20 January 2022, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced Australia’s drug regulator had provisionally approved two new medicines for the treatment of COVID. These are Lagevrio, made by American pharmaceutical company Merck Sharpe & Dohme, and Paxlovid, by Pfizer. With the number of hospitalisations and deaths due to the virus continuing to rise, the approval of these drugs comes at a good time.

Assoc Prof Kellie Charles University of Sydney Elise Schubert University of Sydney

The Federal Government has purchased a combined 800,000 courses of the pills, and said the drugs will initially be prioritised for the elderly and other high risk groups.

Merck’s Lagevrio (generic name: molnupiravir) is an antiviral drug that causes errors to be copied into the COVID virus whenever it replicates. This makes the virus less effective in causing disease.

Both companies say their drugs will work against the Omicron variant, though this is based on preliminary lab-based research.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid is a two tablet combination of a new drug called nirmatrelvir, and a drug already used to treat HIV called ritonavir.

Assoc Prof Nial Wheate University of Sydney


What are they and how do they work?



Nirmatrelvir stops the function of a key protein the virus needs to replicate itself, while ritonavir is there to stop the body from breaking down nirmatrelvir. According to clinical trial data, Lagevrio and Paxlovid are useful in reducing viral load, the severity of COVID symptoms, and thus, the number of people hospitalised and/ or dying from the virus. Many of Omicron’s concerning mutations are on the 'spike protein', which is what the coronavirus uses to enter our cells. So one reason these drugs are still expected to be effective against variants like Omicron is they don’t target the spike protein.

Are these medications effective against Omicron? This week Pfizer published a media release detailing preliminary results suggesting Paxlovid is still effective against the Omicron variant. The results of two laboratory studies by Pfizer researchers and released as pre-prints (yet to be reviewed by other scientists) shows that the nirmatrelvir can interrupt viral replication across all COVID variants of concern. One independent lab-based study released online as a pre-print looked at both Pfizer and Merck’s drugs.


MEMBER EXPERT It found the key drug in Pfizer’s Paxlovid, nirmatrelvir, is still active against its protein target in Omicron, and can still reduce overall viral load. The study also found Merck’s Lagevrio showed activity against Omicron. The president of Merck Research Laboratories said the company is very confident Lagevrio will be effective against Omicron. It’s important to note this research was undetaken in a lab, so we’re still yet to see data on how effective it is in people with Omicron under real world conditions. With both drugs approved in the USA and UK earlier than Australia, it’s likely we’ll see in-person outcomes data on the effectiveness and safety of these drugs in the near future.

It’s important to note this research was undetaken in a lab, so we’re still yet to see data on how effective it is in people with Omicron under real world conditions.

In clinical trials, before Omicron emerged, Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death by 88% in high-risk patients, and Lagevrio by 31%.

What are the side effects? It’s important to note no medicine is perfectly safe and side effect free. From clinical trials so far, we know fewer than 7% of patients taking Lagevrio experienced a serious side effect. Commonly reported were diarrhoea, nausea, and dizziness. Different side effects were observed with Paxlovid, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and headache, and fewer continued overpage...

vol. 3 no. 1



than 2% of patients in the trials experienced a serious side effect. The risk of side effects with Paxlovid can be higher if patients are also taking other medicines at the same time. The list of medications that shouldn’t be taken with Paxlovid includes some anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular medications, and even some herbal medicines such as St John’s Wort.

Lagevrio and Paxlovid are both oral tablets which may mean you’ll be able take these at home, rather than spending time in hospital.

Am I eligible for these treatments? Vulnerable people such as the elderly and aged care residents will be prioritised for access to the medication. The Government hasn’t stated when it expects other groups of people may be able to get the medicines, possibly due to the limited number of courses the Government has purchased and because of supply difficulties being experienced in other countries. Lagevrio and Paxlovid are both oral tablets which may mean you’ll be able take these at home, rather than spending time in hospital. For both drugs, the tablets must be commenced as soon as possible and within five days of the first symptoms for them to be of any use. Both medicines have also only been approved for use in adults. There’s no clinical trial data on the safety of Lagevrio or Paxlovid in children so we don’t know how effective and safe they would be in this age group.




There’s also uncertainty as to the potential impact either medicine may have on pregnancy and breastfeeding, so the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advises patients avoid these medicines in these circumstances. The TGA also recommends avoiding becoming pregnant soon after the use of either medicine.

How & where can you get them? We don’t yet know whether people can obtain a prescription from any general practitioner or whether only specific doctors will be able to prescribe them (for example, geriatric specialists). The Government says the first deliveries of these medicines will arrive 'over the coming weeks'. The Health Minister also said both medicines will be free for patients. Despite the promising treatment opportunity these drugs provide in the fight against COVID, vaccination will still remain the front line of defence against the virus.

Dr Kellie Charles is the Head of Pharmacology in the Sydney Pharmacy School, University of Sydney, and an NTEU member Nial Wheate is an Associate Professor in the Sydney Pharmacy School, University of Sydney Elise Schubert is a Pharmacist and PhD Candidate, University of Sydney Image: Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash This article originally published in The Conversation, 21 January 2022

Intimidation and voice of research scientists This Griffith University survey aims to investigate intimidation towards scientists as a result of their scientific work, and actions that may and increase scientists’ voice. In some fields (e.g. climate science, genetically modified foods, animal testing) organised attacks on scientists and scientific organisations are increasing in frequency and severity. However, we do not know how scientists respond or what sources of support are available to them, or how effective any mechanisms are. The project aims to identify factors that influence intimidation; examine severity and outcomes; examine support available to scientists and identify an develop viable organisational and policy responses to reduce the personal and social costs arising from intimidation; identify and develop viable organisational and policy responses to reduce the personal and social costs arising from intimidation and increase scientists’

voice; and improve our understanding of the relationships between scientists, intimidation, society and scientific progress. The project has been Funded by the Australian Research Council (Discovery grant DP190102324). A pilot phase was completed in 2019 and an international survey is underway in 2020. That phase involves an international online survey of scientists, focusing on those from three fields with different risks of the likelihood of intimidation; climate science (high risk, with attacks from the right), plant, soil, and animal science (high risk with attacks from the left) and astronomy (low risk). The participant pool will be identified by conducting keyword searches of publication databases (especially Web of Science).



A subsequent phase will involve follow up interviews (either face to face, via electronic means or in focus groups). This will focus on understanding the critical moments in the dynamic experience of a key incident, will address what support has and has not assisted with this experience and identify from participants their views on recommendations for change in policy and practice. The team is multi-disciplinary. Chief Investigators are Professor David Peetz, Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe and Dr Rob Hales. Senior research fellow is Dr Georgina Murray and Research fellow is Dr Carolyn Troup. Find out more information and take the survey here.

Promote your research to your fellow NTEU members! Research Promoter is an NTEU initiative designed to promote research currently being undertaken by our members.


Do you or one of your postgrad students have a research project that features an online questionnaire or other instrument that you would like fellow NTEU members to complete? We will feature details of your project in Sentry to help increase the reach of your potential participants. To be featured, you must be a current NTEU member. And don't forget that membership for Postgraduate students is free (visit for more details). Simply send an outline of your research in 200 words or less, including a link (or links) to your online research and any relevant images, to Paul Clifton,

vol. 3 no. 1




Academic Workloads and Health survey You are invited to participate in an anonymous survey, Understanding Academic Staff Workload and Health in Australia. It is well established that as Federal Government funding has been reduced over recent years, universities have responded by increasing academic workloads. This is a risk for the health and wellbeing of academic staff across Australia, but also a risk to universities who are likely to see increased Workcover premiums as claims for stress increase. A major problem in academic work is that it is difficult to put a time allocation to particular tasks. This study aims to use evidencebased benchmarks of the time it takes to complete academic tasks, giving participants a realistic esti-

mate of the actual hours their annual workloads takes – and provides participants the opportunity to record the results. It also asks participants about their health over the last year to assess the impact that workloads might be having on academic staff health and wellbeing. Where there is a sufficient sample, results will be shared with local NTEU Branches to help with negotiating future workload models. The project is conducted by Dr Steve Edwards, Assoc Prof Elisa Zentveld and Dr Alan Labas of Federation University and Assoc Prof Maxwell Winchester of Victoria University.

If you are working for an Australian university, have an allocated academic workload and are interested in participating, please click here to read the Plain Language Information Statement before deciding whether or not to proceed to the survey. Please pass the link on to other academic colleagues to help us get a sufficient sample for your next enterprise bargaining negotiation. The questionnaire is expected to take 20 minutes and all your responses to the questions will be anonymous. Click here for more information and to participate in the survey.

Please update your NTEU membership details if:


Your work address details change.


Your Department or School changes its name or merges with another.

Office, building, campus etc.

You change your name.

Update online at

You are leaving university employment.

Send an email to


You move house. Required if your home is your nominated contact address. /members

Please email the National Office if:



You move to another institution.

Your employment details change.

Transfer of membership between institutions is not automatic.

Please notify us to ensure you are paying the correct fees.

Your credit card or direct debit account details change.


Deductions will not stop automatically.


If your payroll deductions stop without your authority, please urgently contact your institution’s Payroll Department




Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.