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14 March 2014
Cover image: "Parliament House" oil on canvas by David Hinchliffe. Presented by the trustees of the GA Daughtrey Memorial Fund to the QTU Biennial Conference in 2013.
5 Welcome 6 Milestones and memories 12 The QTU in the 1980s: building on strong foundations
34 Indigenous engagement 35 Rural and remote teachers
14 The changing face of the QTU
36 Fighting for RAIS
16 1993: Stop The Cuts
38 Teacher housing
18 1995: non-contact time
40 Professional standards
20 Leading Schools
41 Professional issues campaigning
22 2000 EB campaign
24 2003: Class Size Counts
44 The QTU and TAFE
26 2005-2007: Your Rights At
46 Women and the QTU
28 We give a gonski! 32 Teaching conditions = learning conditions
48 Winning for school leaders 50 Supporting new teachers 51 The QTU and me ... 56 125 years: the Journal has it covered
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Editorial policy Articles and letters should be sent to ‘The General Secretary, Queensland Teachers’ Journal Editor, PO Box 1750, Milton BC, 4064’, faxed to (07) 3512 9050 or emailed to email@example.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words in length. Articles should be a maximum length of 500 words. All submissions should be signed and those wishing to remain anonymous should indicate their name is not for publication. Articles, letters to the editor and advertising in this journal do not necessarily represent the views of the Union. The next edition will be published on 17 April 2014. The deadline for all editorial and advertising material is 24 March 2014. For advertising enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07) 3512 9000. Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 3
On 9 January, 1889, 23 teachers and principals from schools across the colony of Queensland met in Brisbane to found the first teachers’ union on this continent. This special edition of the Queensland Teachers’ Journal highlights the events of the 25 years since the publication of the history of the Queensland Teachers’ Union in our centenary year. In the preface to that history, the authors, Andrew Spaull and Martin Sullivan, wrote: “Unions are people. This history of the men and women who were and are members of one of Australia’s oldest unions confirms that truism.” With this in mind, the content of this chronicle has been generated by those who lived this history and those responsible for safeguarding its legacy. Each episode provides a snapshot of a moment in our recent past, the consequences of which continue to reverberate within the education community and the broader social context. Embedded within these stories are the pearls of wisdom that should and must inform the thoughts and deeds of teachers and unionists of today and tomorrow. Many of the themes and issues recounted in the centenary document are revisited here, evidence of the recurring nature of dilemmas in education. One constant has been the presence of the Queensland Teachers’ Union and our focus on promoting and protecting public education - a shared purpose that provides the power behind all that we do. It seems trite to say that much has happened in 25 years. The fundamental changes in schools, education and the teaching profession and in the union that represents the interests of the many in public education are a consequence of these experiences. It is easy to be lured into the belief that the challenging times within which we live are unprecedented. History, both lived and recorded, can do much to provide perspective and inspiration at such times. History also reminds us that any union is only as good as its members – and ours are the very best.
Kevin Bates President
Graham Moloney General Secretary
Brisbane Labour Day March 2013. From left: Julie Brown (Vice-President), Sam Pidgeon (Honorary Vice-President), Kevin Bates (President), Graham Moloney (General Secretary), Kate Ruttiman (Deputy General Secretary) And Barry Welch (Deputy General Secretary)
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 5
Milestones and memories A brief history of the Queensland Teachers' Union
1886 – Responding to widespread dissatisfaction with salaries and a promotion system based on the autocratic whim of bureaucrats, a group of teachers form the West Moreton Teachers’ Association, encouraging colleagues elsewhere in the state to follow their lead. 1887 – The East Moreton Teachers’ Association is launched. 1888 – Teachers' associations are formed in Maryborough, Toowoomba, Gympie and Rockhampton. When a Royal Commission into the Civil Service is launched, the various associations work together on their submissions, and the value of a united voice becomes obvious. 1889 – Between January 9 and 12 1889, seven teachers’ associations gather for a conference at the School of Arts, Brisbane, and the Queensland Teachers’ Union is born. 1892 – A limited legal defence fund is launched. 1895 – The Queensland Education Journal, the forerunner of today’s Queensland Teachers’ Journal, is published for the first time. 1913 – Queensland’s public service superannuation scheme begins operating, following a long campaign headed by the QTU. 1914 – Union membership reaches 1,007 – 55 per cent of the state’s teacher total. 1916 – The state government introduces the Industrial Arbitration Act, which brings in compulsory arbitration and official recognition for unions registered with the new arbitration court. The QTU registers almost immediately. 1917 – The QTU is granted industrial registration, giving it exclusive coverage of the state school system. Later that year, the first teachers’ award is registered, becoming the first in Australia. 1920 – The QTU secures union preference. 1921 – As a result of the Union’s successes, membership soars to 4,317. The Union’s first full-time secretary, William Geraghty, is appointed to deal with the extra workload. 1925 – QTU Conference rejects affiliation with the Australian Labor Party. 1929 – The QTU opens the first Teachers’ Building, on Elizabeth Street, Brisbane. 6 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
Top to bottom: delegates to the first QTU Conference in 1889; delegates to the 15th QTU conference in 1904; the QTU's certificate of registration, 1917; the first Teachers' Building (right)
1930 – The onset of the Great Depression sees the Country Party government remove teachers from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, slash salaries by up to 26 per cent, and remove union preference. The salary losses are not made up until 1939. 1938 – The QTU library is opened. 1947 – Equal pay for male and female teachers becomes QTU policy. 1948 – The Union’s application for equal pay is rejected by the Industrial Court. 1951 – Ruth Don is the first woman to become QTU President. 1965 – The Queensland Teachers’ Credit Union is established. 1967 – A Union application for equal pay for male and female teachers is finally granted by the Industrial Court. 1968 – Teachers vote for strike action after the state government responds to a teacher shortage with the Emergency Teacher Scheme, which would have placed teachers in high schools after just eight weeks training. The plan was withdrawn, but the dispute prompted the Union to call for compulsory teacher registration. 1969 – The QTU appoints its first regional Organiser (then called an itinerant officer). Keith Storey travels across Queensland helping members resolve their problems. Gavin Semple is elected as the QTU’s first full-time President. 1972 – Equal pay for male and female teachers is finally a reality. The Queensland Teachers’ Union Health Society begins operations from an office in the Teachers’ Building. 1973 – Threats of strike action force the state government to agree to the progressive reduction of class sizes, down to 36 in 1974 and eventually to 32 in 1977. Around 10,000 teachers stage a half day stoppage in protest at the state government’s unacceptable salary offer of between 7.5 and 12 per cent. The Industrial Commission later grants rises of up to 23 per cent. 1974 – The Union withdraws teachers from schools in Laura and Pasha because of unsatisfactory accommodation. As a result of the dispute, the state government commits to providing housing for teachers in country and remote areas for the first time. The QTU moves into a new Teachers’ Building on Boundary Street, Brisbane.
Top to bottom: Ruth Don; Keith Storey; Gavin Semple; a classroom at Marooka State School in 1968; construction commences on the second Teachers' Building.
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 7
Milestones and memories A brief history of the Queensland Teachers' Union
1975 – After years of QTU pressure, compulsory teacher registration is finally introduced. 1976 – The state government under Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen sacks three Charters Towers teachers for smoking pot. Rolling strikes take place at 52 schools as a result. 1978 – The Bjelke-Petersen government bans MACOS, a social study course, and SEMP, a social education materials project, from Queensland schools. A public outcry led by the QTU forces the government to appoint a select committee on education. 1979 – Bjelke-Petersen introduces the Essential Services Bill. Aimed at banning strikes, the bill includes severe penalties for strikers, unions and officials. 1980 – The QTU conducts its first statewide rolling strikes in support of a work value claim. Salary increases of 6.5 per cent are granted as a result of the case. 1981 – Undaunted by the Bjelke-Petersen government’s hard-line view on industrial action, teachers in Moranbah strike for five days to secure improved locality allowances. In spite of Joh’s threat that they could “strike till the cows come home”, they win a review of the system. 1982 – Teachers strike for 24 hours in support of striking railway workers, after the state government invokes its essential services legislation. QTU members again take industrial action over class sizes, after which the government agrees to bring the target for years 4 to 10 down to 30. 1987 – The state government announces plans to abolish 17.5 per cent leave loading for teachers and other public servants. The QTU successfully leads the fight to have the decision reversed. 1989 – Centenary of the QTU, the oldest teacher’s union in Australia. 1990 – The Union wins an award restructuring agreement, securing a single salary scale and, with pay rises of between 8 and 20 per cent, bringing Queensland teacher salaries up to par with their interstate colleagues. In the first widespread industrial action since 1982, around 130 schools take stop work action after the state government reneges on a promise to introduce the Remote Area Incentive Scheme (RAIS). 8 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
Top to bottom: a poster from the 1980 work value dispute; the 1982 class size dispute, as seen in the Journal; celebrating the QTU's centenary in 1989.
1991 – The state government backtracks and brings in a limited version of RAIS. 1992 – The QTU signs up its 30,000th member. 1993 – A 24 hour strike, the first in over a decade, is staged in response to cuts to the education budget, including the loss of 500-600 teaching jobs and a ban on inservice training in school time. Around 10,000 teachers attend mass meetings. For the first time, the QTU takes sides in a federal election campaign, launching the “For Our Children’s Sake, Put The Coalition Last” campaign in response to the threat its policies pose to the union movement. The QTU launches a TAFE division, featuring separate TAFE branches and council. 1994 – A QTU campaign succeeds in ensuring that teachers facing allegations from students are no longer suspended without pay. 1995 – For the first time, all Queensland teachers have access to non-contact time after 10,000 QTU members in pre-schools, primary and special schools take industrial action. The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) grants two hours non-contact time to all teachers. 1996 – More than 900 teachers in 30 schools in remote areas stop work for 48 hours in protest at the state government’s inadequate RAIS scheme. The action forces the state government to almost quadruple the RAIS budget. 1997 – The QTU reacts furiously when the state government introduces the Leading Schools plan into EB without consultation. The Union believes that the school-based management pilot could result in funds currently used to employ teachers being diverted, effectively making schools choose between staff and resources. The QTU stages its first statewide, full-day strikes in four years, demanding guarantees that changes to staffing will only be made if the majority of staff endorse it. The government eventually relents. The third Teachers’ Building in Graham Street, Milton, is officially opened. The Union’s website is launched on the same day. 1998 – Salary demands go to arbitration, and the IRC imposes increases of up to 17.5 per cent. The hated Leading Schools scheme is finally killed off by the incoming Labor state government.
Top to bottom: strike day in the 1993"Stop The Cuts" campaign; campaigning for RAIS; rallying against Leading Schools outside Parliament House.
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 9
Milestones and memories A brief history of the Queensland Teachers' Union
2000 –EB negotiations are in stalemate after a “take it or leave it” offer of 3 per cent is rejected. A statewide strike is called, forcing the state government to accept arbitration. The Queensland Teachers’ Education Centre (QTEC) is launched to provide membership training. The QTU’s Cairns office opens. 2002 – The QTU opens a new Mackay office. 2003 –Strikes planned over an EB impasse are blocked by IRC orders. Instead, the Union launches a Class Size Counts publicity campaign. It bears fruit, as EB4 includes a class size reduction from 30 to 28 in years 4 to 10. 2004 –The Next Step, a document laying out a strategy for the future of the QTU, is published. QTU membership hits 40,000. 2005 –The QTU signs up to the Your Rights At Work campaign, launched to counter John Howard’s proposals for draconian IR laws. The Queensland Teachers’ Advice Desk (QTAD) and the Campaign Action Group (CAG) are established, both as part of the Next Step strategy. 2006 – In the face of the the Coalition’s disastrous IR and education policies, the Union decides to play an active role in the forthcoming federal election. 2007 – QTU members take to the streets for the Your Rights At Work campaign, playing a vital role in ensuring that the Howard government loses the federal election. 2008 – QTU members in some of Queensland’s remotest areas take strike action over the appalling state of teacher accommodation, forcing the state government to pump an extra $20 million into the departmental accommodation maintenance budget. 2009 – The QTU stages a statewide strike, the first in almost nine years, over the state government’s refusal to improve on an unacceptable EB offer. The state government takes the issue to arbitration with the Union eventually securing an agreement that, among others things, makes Queensland’s new teachers the highest paid in the country.
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Top to bottom: telling the state government that Class Size Counts; protecting Your Rights At Work; a newspaper ad from the 2009 EB dispute.
2010 – The QTU joins with teacher unions across Australia in placing a moratorium on NAPLAN testing in protest at the federal government’s My School website, which uses NAPLAN results to unfairly compare schools. The campaign forces the federal government into setting up a working party to review the website. The Gonski Review, the first look at federal school funding since 1973, is announced. 2011 – The QTU Natural Disaster Relief fund processes more than 400 claims and almost $320,000 is paid to members in the wake of floods and cyclones. The Right to Teach, Right to Learn strategy is launched. 2012 – The Gonski Panel releases its final report, recommending a massive increase in funding and loadings to deal with educational disadvantage. The Gillard federal government introduces legislation later in the year. QTU members reject the state government’s only offer made during enterprise bargaining negotiations and vote to take industrial action. After a campaign punctuated by several public rallies, the government revises its position by maintaining the 2.7 per cent increase in pay per year as well as protecting more than 20 working conditions previously at risk. 2013 – The Gillard government makes funding offers to the states based on the Gonski Review - Queensland's LNP government refuses to sign up. A year of protests as Union members across the state turn out in defence of: public education, TAFE and Gonski, and against the state government's flawed ‘Great Teachers=Great Results’ initiative. Despite the state government’s decision to move the Labour Day public holiday from May to October, record numbers participate in the annual Labour Day celebrations. 2014 – The QTU celebrates 125 years of achievement promoting and protecting public education.
Top to bottom: Teachers rally during the 2009 EB dispute; giving a gonski; protesting against the Newman government's education agenda. Past and present officers, activists and staff celebrate the QTU's 125th anniversary at Brisbane City Hall in January 2014
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 11
Building on strong foundations: the QTU in the 1980s
Moura teachers support striking miners in 1980
The 80s was a decade of both consolidation and quite significant change. The issues were similar to those of decades past, differing only by quantum and degree, and many remain on the 2014 agenda: public education, salaries and working conditions, class sizes, permanency of employment, teacher housing, transfers and locality allowances, superannuation, promotions and appointments, and attacks on the independence of the Industrial Relations Commission. Campaigning around these issues seemed never-ending. The strategies employed ranged from individual school level activities to large public events – ballots, directives, deputations, demonstrations, mass meetings in Brisbane and the provincial centres, Sky Channel television broadcasts to hotels and clubs across the state to involve members in smaller towns, charter flights to Canberra, and plentiful bumper stickers and publicity materials.
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The 1980s was a difficult and turbulent time, as the Queensland Government toughened its approach to unions and workers.1980 saw the first ever statewide ballot of members for industrial action in support of a major work value case, resulting in rolling strikes for the first time. The availability and suitability of teacher accommodation in remote and country schools had been a big issue in the 70s and constant Union pressure was maintained to extend and upgrade accommodation in remote communities. In 1981, teachers in Moranbah voted to strike indefinitely in an effort to change the substandard accommodation they and many country teachers experienced and to achieve reasonable locality allowances. The campaign soon attracted support from mining unions, and faced with an escalating dispute and these QTU members’ unshakable resolve, the government agreed to a complete review of the system. Substantial increases in locality allowances followed. Today’s teacher housing is a direct outcome of this victory.
However, it often seemed that the priority was what happened between crises. In an era before the internet, emails, mobile phones and even fax machines, maintaining communication with the members was a major undertaking. The Journal was published in tabloid form 15 times a year and regular Newsflashes were distributed through the post to provide timely and accurate information. This was a time of innovation and capability and capacity building, providing greater opportunities for members to be directly involved and to improve their skills. The networks of Union Representatives and Women’s Contacts were expanded and strengthened. The number of Area Councils was extended, additional Regional Organisers and a Women’s Coordinator were appointed. A well-resourced Union education program was developed. The Union opened its first regional offices in 1970, in leased premises in Townsville and Rockhampton. During the 80s, a QTU building was purchased in Townsville, the
The Journal's take on the 1982 class sizes dispute (above) and the end of the Moranbah campaign
Labour Day 1984 (left, above and below) and 1980 (right)
Union became part-owner of the new Rockhampton Trades and Labour Council centre and new offices were established in Toowoomba and Cairns, all part of the Union’s drive to strengthen links with its membership.
and even communication with the Minister for Education was limited, and for some periods, non-existent. There was a thaw in relations with the government on the appointment of Premier Mike Ahern in 1987, but while there was significant improvement in dialogue, little else changed.
The 80s saw a generational change in the Union’s senior officers and a focus on modernising the Union’s technology, administrative and organisational structures, and financial management. Although the QTU, through the Australian Teachers’ Federation, had been affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions for many years, the historic decision was made to affiliate with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, the state’s peak union body. As a result, respect for the Union and its commitments and campaigns was enhanced and its influence increased. In 1983, the High Court extended federal union laws to many state employees, including schoolteachers. Teacher unions moved quickly to register the Australian Teachers’ Union, which subsequently
Nevertheless, despite these odds the Union achieved significant advances through its successful campaigns. Leader of the Opposition Wayne Goss led Labor to victory in the 1989 state election with the National Party government still reeling from revelations of the rampant corruption of the Bjelke-Petersen era. In its centenary year, the QTU was poised to move forward with confidence and competence, and was well prepared for the demands and opportunities of the future. changed its name to the Australian Education Union (AEU). For the first time, Queensland teachers could be directly represented by a national union. Relationships with the Bjelke-Petersen government were hostile and frustrating,
John Rockett and Arch Bevis John and Arch are both QTU Life Members and are former QTU General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary respectively
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 13
The changing face of the QTU The last 25 years has been a period of ongoing development and strengthening for the Queensland Teachers’ Union. The 125th anniversary of the Union provides an opportunity to reflect on those changes and to reaffirm its essential character. It is firstly a union of professionals that has at its core not only the industrial concerns of its members, but also their professional, educational, legal and social concerns. It is a union of people who care about education and the students in our schools. It is a union that actively promotes public education and the needs and interests of students in state schools. The numerous campaigns about school funding have all been at the intersection of the interests of teachers, parents and students, with the QTU and its members using their organisation and strength for the improvement of education. It was evident in the strike in 1993 – the first in a decade – against funding cuts by the then Goss government. It was evident again in our 14 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
class size campaigns as part of enterprise bargaining. It was evident again in the Gonski campaign for a needs-based funding scheme that would give every child who came into our schools the opportunity to develop as far as they were able, irrespective of their circumstances or history. The development of the industrial capacity of the membership has been an important thread in the last 25 years. A strike is not taken lightly or needlessly, but it has become an important part of the Union’s repertoire of strategies and responses. Who can forget the 1997 Leading Schools and EB campaign, when the government thought it was all over after the first strike, only to have well over 20,000 members not only vote for a second strike but take it?
From a statewide strategy, industrial action has become a strategy for individual schools or groups of schools around issues like behaviour management, special needs resourcing facilities and more. The breakthrough for the first real remote area incentive scheme was a group of teachers in Moranbah who, having been on strike for 48 hours, vowed to do it again unless a decent scheme was implemented, and took the rest of the Peak Downs and Blackwater and central Highlands branches with them. It has become almost trite from repetition but remains true that the most important people in the Union are its Workplace Reps. Over 2,000 teachers volunteer their time to represent the interests of their colleagues and to provide an indispensible link between members in schools and the QTU organisation. Now, for the second time in 25 years, a conservative government has removed access to paid leave for their training, yet the Reps’ commitment remains,
as does the Union’s commitment to their support. It is now so central to the work of the QTU, it is hard to believe that it was little more than 30 years ago that the structure of workplace representation was introduced. The Union is built on an involved membership not a passive one. Workplace Reps are the tip of the iceberg. Whether it be the Your Rights at Work campaign, the Gonski campaign, enterprise bargaining or any of a number of other campaigns, a critical capacity has been the willingness of members to stand up to be counted. Over the past 25 years the QTU has become much more involved in the broader union movement. From the Australian Teachers Federation, the Australian Teachers Union emerged in 1989, and then the Australian Education Union. As the impact of federal funding and policy has grown, so has the QTU’s role in the AEU.
Similarly, the Union’s role in the Queensland Council of Unions has also grown, as has its involvement in multi-union campaigns at a state level. We were proud to stand on the picket lines with the MUA, as we will again in future disputes and campaigns. We have been a united union which has not allowed our membership to be split. We have seen the consequences in other countries and other states of membership divided between different organisations. We experienced it with TAFE teachers just over 20 years ago. We know that only the employer profits from such divisions, and they seek to promote them. We have been an adaptable organisation. Enterprise bargaining is not a process suited to public services, let alone to education. But the Union has found ways to make it work in something approaching a rational fashion. The Newman government’s changes to bargaining legislation last year
will turn all that on its head, but the QTU will adapt again. We face perhaps unprecedented challenges. For the first time in over 30 years, the Union faces conservative governments with significant majorities and significant agendas at both a state and federal level. There is no room for complacency but there is room for confidence about our capacity to rise to the challenges we face. In the Union’s 126th year, we should have pride in what we have achieved, and resolve to continue the work of our predecessors and make our own contributions to the causes of teaching, public education and our union. Who could do less?
Graham Moloney General Secretary
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 15
QTU members strike in protest at government plans to cut teachers, rallying at Brisbane's Festival Hall and at locations around Queensland
Striking to "Stop The Cuts"
The year 1989 had been a watershed year for the Union. For a decade leading up to it, we had campaigned at grassroots level for better funding for schools to reduce class sizes and costs to parents, and for better wages, as part of a federal strategy. This had made education a vote-shifting issue for the first time, and both sides of politics felt the pressure. In the lead up to the state election, the Ahern government made a spectacular wages offer (which Labor promised to honour if it won), and the Goss opposition promised to bring spending on Queensland schools up to the national average. Sure enough, after the election we got both… although not without some further difficulties.
The QTU reacted strongly and a statewide 24 hour strike, the first in 11 years, was called for 5 August 1993, to send a strong message to the government and to focus public attention on the issues. For many members it was the first experience of industrial action on such a scale. Schools were closed across the state and more than 10,000 teachers attended mass meetings at Brisbane’s Festival Hall and centres across Queensland, the largest most had ever seen.
So when the Goss ALP state government published an “interim budget statement” in 1993 containing a number of draconian and unnecessary cuts, including the removal of 500-600 secondary teachers, the sense of anger was amplified by disappointment that such hard-won gains could be so easily abandoned. At the time, 11 per cent of secondary classes were already oversized. The proposed cuts would have at least doubled that number.
In the wake of the action, the state government modified its intentions and the eventual cuts were not anywhere near as severe as had been proposed, the result of which was that teacher numbers were maintained over the next few years.
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What was particularly memorable about the strike was that it was about hanging on to things that we’d already won in previous campaigns, and that’s what made teachers so passionate.
It also has to be seen in the context of a broader government policy towards public services. There had been railway closures, cuts to health and a whole series of other cuts proposed - we were just one of a series. The strike made it clear to the government of the time that this was not on; that the days of economic rationalism were over. For whatever budget reason, imagined or real, the solution is not to just put the knife to public services and think that it is okay. It is not okay, and I think that message has been a consistent one ever since. We reaffirmed that issues around teacher numbers, class sizes and conditions - things that we fought hard for over a 15 to 20 year period - were persistent issues for us, and we were not going to let go of them. It sent a very strong signal.
Mary Kelly Mary is a former QTU President and is a Life Member
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 17
Non-contact time secured for all Probably the principal industrial advancement for teachers in the nineties was the achievement of non-contact time (NCT) for nonsecondary teachers as an award entitlement. Once the Union won NCT for secondary teachers in 1972, inequity existed between their conditions and those of primary, special and pre-school teachers. Early efforts to extend NCT were hampered by the perceived impracticality of applying time-tabled NCT to the traditional paradigm of “one teacher to one class” full-time, which was reinforced by the proprietorial attitude of some teachers towards “their” classes; and the concern of some principals that the delivery of NCT to teachers should not also result in “NCT for pupils.” However, more positive attitudes gradually developed with QTU encouragement, and campaigns in the early 90s - initially based on the proposal that primary and special education teachers not attend lessons taken by physical education and music
18 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
specialists - resulted in an agreement with the department in May 1994. Under this agreement, one hour NCT would initially be delivered through the specialist teacher model. However, implementation was inconsistent, with anomalies and resistance generated mainly by the department refusing to limit the teaching hours of specialist teachers. After negotiations dissolved in October 1994, the Union responded by lodging an application in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) for a minimum two hours NCT for all primary, pre-school and special education teachers. This resulted in a major full-bench case over 10 sitting days in July/ August 1995, with the QTU presenting 25 witnesses – necessary to represent the range of professional roles and workloads in
schools of varying sizes and specialisations. Given that the case was the first IRC experience for most Union witnesses, they generally performed very effectively. Unsurprisingly, the department opposed the claim, pleading cost and implementation problems.
On 10 November 1995, the full bench released its decision, stating: “We support the notion of extending non-contact time to two hours for primary, special and preschool teachers – the second hour . . . should be phased in over a two year period with the first phase commencing in 1997.” While not delivering the desired award provision of NCT, the IRC’s decision – which also included guidance and provisions for supervised negotiations – provided a framework for the development of an industrial agreement on the conditions for the delivery of the first hour of NCT, and subsequently the second. However – again unsurprisingly – negotiations were prolonged and frustrating, with the department inventing various, mostly spurious objections and provisos.
Nevertheless, the envisaged agreement was concluded and registered with the IRC in June 1996. Implementation issues continued initially, however, especially over the provision for the aggregation of NCT, under which it could not be provided in weekly half to one-hour blocks (undoubtedly, teaching principals and some specialist teachers will have experiences of this issue).
members who appeared as witnesses in the significant IRC case.
Stewart Rose Stewart is a former Industrial Advocate for the QTU and is a Life Member
But while complete parity of working conditions remains a Union objective, the extension of at least two hours NCT to nonsecondary teachers was an important and welcome amelioration to workloads, and hence work stress reduction. Finally, retrospective gratitude should extend to the QTU members who participated in the various NCT industrial campaigns, and especially to the 25 Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 19
The Leading Schools saga In the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, the then Director General of Education described the Leading Schools dispute as “the most bitter dispute in the history of industrial relations between the QTU and the Department of Education”. It all started on what should have been a quiet Sunday in February 1997, when the Minister for Education Bob Quinn announced a new school-based management model for Queensland education entitled “Leading Schools”. One hundred “Leading Schools” were supposed to trial this new system before its widespread application to all Band 8-11 schools. Leading Schools was rejected by the QTU because: •• the Coalition government initially refused to negotiate any aspect of the scheme with the QTU •• the proposal included a range of changes which could NEVER be accepted by teachers and principals, including:
20 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
»» bulk funding of schools (one overall allocation of funding with total discretion given to the schools for how to spend the money) »» the ability to “trade in” teachers and spend the money elsewhere, eg. school maintenance »» school-based selection of staff, which would virtually end the transfer system »» an end to class size limits »» no guarantees around retention of specialist staff. After the government reaffirmed its refusal to negotiate with the QTU, the Union Executive issued a directive to ban Leading Schools. This ban was subsequently supported by 88 per cent of members in a ballot. The ban obviously included schools
“expressing interest” in the pilot of leading schools. While almost all schools supported the ban, a number expressed an interest in attending a conference to find out more about the discredited scheme. Many of them volunteered against the express wishes of the staff and/or the P&C. The first 24 hour strike against Leading Schools occurred on 25 March, with further 24 hour rolling stoppages occurring in May. The strikes were strongly supported by members and parents, and most schools were deserted. The fact that a number of schools defied the Union directives and allowed the Leading Schools pilot to start was the source of much bitterness within the membership of the QTU. Some previously active members “sold out”, and a number of long-term friendships ended. Eventually, the department agreed to negotiate the QTU’s Leading Schools
Protesting against the blight of Leading Schools
guarantees, which provided effective protection against possible abuse of increased school based management. The salary component of EB was arbitrated with a successful outcome. Cornerstone of the Leading Schools guarantees was the staffing guarantee: “Funds allocated to staff must be used for the employment of staff”. The Union had won. The final part of the victory package was announced on 4 February 1998, when the Labor opposition announced it would end Leading Schools if elected – which it did. Overall, the campaign involved two strikes – one statewide and one rolling over two weeks – both involving mass meetings; three school-based ballots, including two in which more than 20,000 members voted; another series of mass meetings around the state; a Sky Channel broadcast; a march to Parliament and another to the Executive Building; two Parliamentary debates,
pickets of government members’ offices and functions; and the production and distribution of a record 44 Newsflashes, as well as campaign kits and other materials. This was in addition to the resources invested in negotiations and numerous appearances in the IRC. It was without doubt the most extensive and expensive campaign in QTU history. Its successful conclusion was a potent demonstration of the capacity of Queensland teachers, organised through the Union, to achieve legitimate objectives, in spite of restrictive legislation and the aggressive attacks of government and the department using public resources.
John Battams John is currently President of the Queensland Council of Unions. He is a QTU Life Member and former QTU General Secretary.
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 21
Enterprise bargaining campaign
The 2000 enterprise bargaining campaign was a testament to the tenacity and determination of teachers and the Union, and was significant through the results achieved. The need to restore teacher salaries in comparison with other professions and the requirement to improve a range of teaching and learning conditions were significant factors in mobilising and engaging members and led to the success of the campaign. This was a campaign with a number of significant stages, including member ballots, work bans, stop work meetings, strike action and appearances in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. The campaign commenced in July 1999 with the formulation of the QTU negotiating claim. It included a general 8 per cent increase each year, an additional 5 per cent for Bands 4-7, class size reductions, maternity leave improvements and union representative leave.
22 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
The elements of the claim were continually rejected by the Beattie government, which countered with an offer of 3 per cent and a refusal to negotiate on any substantial issues. In March 2000, after the government's continued refusal to enter into genuine negotiations, a ballot was conducted regarding the implementation of work bans, which was carried by 88 per cent of the voting membership. These work bans were specifically designed to minimise disruption to students, teachers and the community and were aimed squarely at the department. The work bans, and subsequently the stop work and strike action, cemented the voice of Queensland teachers in advocating for a range of issues from working and learning conditions to a well-deserved pay rise.
It was only after the success of the stop work and strike action that the government was pressured to change its negotiating position. In July, members were balloted once again. This time it was to vote on a new array of offers made by the department, including 800 additional teachers to reduce class sizes, 5 per cent additional pay for Bands 5 â€“ 7, industrial relations education leave and holiday periods excluded from paid maternity leave. This was a major victory and members voted overwhelmingly to accept this part of the offer. The only key issue that was left to be addressed was the salary increase, which was to be arbitrated in the Industrial Relations Commission. After significant preparation of the case to be presented, teachers as witnesses and inspections of schools by Commissioners, in December 2000 the Commission awarded teachers an accumulated 14.7 per cent pay rise over a three year period, backdated some seven months to 10 April 2000.
Members around the state fight for salary justice
One of the most significant aspects of the campaign was the extensive media coverage generated through the Union office and also via branch officials and workplace representatives. The Union in Brisbane issued 27 media releases generating over 400 newspaper articles and countless radio and television interviews. This was also the first time that the Union was able to utilise the website as an integral part of a campaign, with daily updates. On Saturday December 9, the day after the win in the Industrial Relations Commission, The Courier-Mail ran an article titled “Pay war victory for state teachers”, outlining the significance of the win, which was certainly one of the most comprehensive victories for the Queensland Teachers’ Union and the membership.
Julie-Ann McCullough Julie-Ann is a former QTU President
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 23
Class Size Counts The “Class Size Counts” campaign was a significant working conditions component of the 2003 Enterprise Bargaining negotiations. As part of the EB4 claim prior to that time, the QTU had: •• sponsored a visit to Queensland by Professor Charles Achilles , a leading class size expert from the US •• featured class size reduction as a priority area in the QTU’s state budget submission •• conducted extensive research into class sizes in Queensland schools. At that point in time, very little emphasis was put on class sizes by governments of both political persuasions, and the “targets” in place (with very little notice taken by the department) were a leftover from the 1979 Ahern parliamentary committee report on education enacted in 1983. Some respite had resulted from EB3, during which a strong member-led campaign won the employment of an additional 800 teachers (over four years). 24 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
The tactics used were many and varied but featured strong membership action which succeeded in gaining much public support on class sizes. The government approach, as usual, was to draw out the dispute as long as it could and force it into arbitration with the then IR Minister, Gordon Nuttall, leading the fray. His now infamous outburst about teachers using their students as “punching bags” outraged everyone in the community, even those who perhaps were not as supportive of teachers taking industrial action. His lack of understanding of this particular issue only reinforced the view in the community that class sizes really did count. As a result of day 8 decision making (or lack thereof ) by the department, early in 2003 the community of Chatsworth SS in Gympie, ably led by QTU Rep Peter Quinn, became the first of many that sought directives from the QTU, thus proving that unity and commitment can overturn
poor bureaucratic decisions. Students, parents and teachers in this instance came down to Parliament House in Brisbane and highlighted the class size issue in a very public way. Many other schools took industrial action during the course of the EB4 campaign, thus highlighting the issue literally on a daily basis. The Maryborough by-election which occurred in April of that year became a window of opportunity, prompting the QTU to launch a TV advertising campaign on class sizes. It was said by many at the time that the class size issue overshadowed the many local issues generally raised in the course of a by-election campaign. By June 2003 EB negotiations were breaking down, and all 250 delegates at the QTU State Conference, adorned in their splendid red and white T-shirts and shouting out “class size counts”, marched from the convention centre to the Executive Building, thus ensuring maximum TV coverage of the class size issue on all news bulletins that day and evening.
Teachers across Queensland call for smaller classes; a QTU newspaper ad spreads the word (far left)
QTU President Julie-Anne McCullough had said all through the campaign that if the government wanted to resolve the EB conflict, all they had to do was deliver on class size reduction. By 14 August the government had had enough, and the breakthrough came. Not only did teachers receive salary justice, but $38 million was agreed upon by the Beattie government to reduce class sizes, securing a class size reduction from 30 to 28 in years 4 to 10. Once again QTU membership support for a strong campaign had seen justice prevail.
Steve Ryan Steve is a former QTU President and is a Life Member
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 25
Your Rights At Work “Your Rights at Work – Worth Fighting For” (YR@W), the campaign to restore workers’ rights and achieve fairer industrial relations laws, was one of the most successful union and community campaigns in Australian election history. When the 2004 election delivered a friendly Senate to the Howard government, it was open season for those who wanted to attack the rights of workers. In February 2005, the Business Council of Australia, representing CEOs from the 100 biggest companies, set out its industrial relations plan, calling for “greater flexibility and choice for employees and employers in making workplace agreements; simplifying workplace relations regulation; and removing barriers to job creation”. The Howard government’s response was the Orwellian-sounding “WorkChoices”, with its focus on undermining minimum wages and 26 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
conditions, coercing workers into individual contracts and removing job security. The union movement responded with a coordinated campaign, “Your Rights at Work – Worth Fighting For”. The QTU was involved from the earliest stages, conducting stalls at markets and using the 2005 State Conference to stage a “Shorn of Your Rights” hair-shaving event outside the Liberal Party headquarters in South Brisbane, which attracted national media coverage. In July 2006, the ACTU appointed Your Rights at Work campaign coordinators in more than 20 seats across the country. The QTU continued getting the message out
to members, participating in the ACTU National Day of Action with meetings taking place across the state, and informing members through a range of Union forums. The AEU contribution was the secondment of myself, then QTU Moreton Organiser, to the ACTU to coordinate the Your Rights at Work Campaign in the seat of Bonner. Meanwhile, QTU members continued to be involved in Your Rights at Work campaign in the other ACTU target seats in Queensland. As part of the campaign, the QTU launched Greg the Combet Van, a YR@W badged 1996 Toyota hatchback, which was a feature at many YR@W activities. This was a real community campaign based around engagement with people through direct presentation of information and oneon-one conversations with members of our Union and the wider community.
Greg the Combet Van joins QTU members in defending Your Rights At Work
YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK INFORMA TION
The Journal highlights what was at stake in the 2007 Federal Election
QTU members forged close and ongoing relationships with members of other unions and the community as they rallied to oppose laws which would impact negatively not only on them and the children they taught, but on the communities from which those students came. QTU members maintained their high level of involvement, from setting up YR@W stalls at markets at 5am to turning out in their hundreds on 24 November 2007 to hand out YR@W how-to-vote cards. QTU members campaigning in and with the community were integral to getting rid of WorkChoices at the 2007 election. In Bonner alone there was a 5 per cent swing to the ALP as voters turned away from the parties that supported WorkChoices.
“QTU members who believe all working Australians should have decent pay and con ditions have an important job ahead of them.” – QTU President, Stev e Ryan Authorised by John
Secretary, QTU, PO
Box 1750, Milton
BC QLD 4064 – Augus
Deputy General Secretary
Vol 119 No 1 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 27
School funding campaign – we give a Gonski!
Giving a gonski, in Brisbane and around the state
In the hurly-burly of the 2007 “WorkChoices” federal election, the kernel of the defining education campaign of the second decade of the 21st century was developed: the first comprehensive review of school funding across Australia since 1973. In 2010, under a different Prime Minister and after another federal election, the review promised by the Labor opposition in 2007 came into being. Led by prominent businessman David Gonski, the School Funding Review (Gonski review) was set up to examine the very complex way in which the federal government funds schools across Australia. The review panel was asked to advise the government on how schools funding could be “transparent, fair, financially sustainable and effective in promoting excellent education outcomes for all Australian students”.
achieve the same outcomes, but rather that they will not be prevented from achieving their maximum potential because of their background or family circumstances.”
The review got off to a promising start, with the Gonski panel releasing a discussion paper that defined education equity: “Equity should ensure that differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions. The panel does not intend it to mean that all students are the same or will
QTU members were spirited and dedicated campaigners in support of the new fair funding model, taking part in or organising: two bus tours; numerous street/market stalls from Cape York to Coolangatta; statewide morning teas; Community Cabinet meetings; two Gonski rallies; statewide community forums; discussions with parent
28 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
The review panel visited schools, commissioned independent research, consulted education groups and considered more than 7,000 submissions. The QTU provided its own submission and early campaigning focussed on local submissions from QTU members, schools and individuals, with some 1,000 submissions generated from Queensland alone.
groups; visits to Canberra; "Hands across the border" events (Coolangatta, Wallangarra, Goondiwindi) and a Gonski morning tea with Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The dedication of members is epitomised by Gonski hero Barbara Nelson (The Gap Branch) who suffered a badly broken arm and leg while letterboxing Gonski materials and spent her time in hospital educating the medical staff about Gonski. In February 2012, the “Gonski Report” was handed to the federal government. The panel found that the current funding system lacked clarity and transparency, and that funding for educationally disadvantaged students was inadequate. It recommended that the government should develop a new model for schools funding, based on a “schooling resource standard” – a cost for educating students to a benchmark standard. On top of this funding, the report recommended loadings to meet the needs of students likely to need extra help; for example, students with English as a second language, from poorer families and in remote areas.
Qld Governm ent Gonski signo ff
The final model was not released until just before the 2013 federal election, with the then federal government negotiating “deals” with individual states, territories and sectors. The Queensland Government refused to sign up, denying Queensland students significant additional long-term resources. In November 2013, tireless campaigning finally paid off when the Queensland Government announced that it had reached a deal with the new Abbott Liberal/ National Coalition federal government. That resulted in $131 million of additional funding for Queensland schools in 2014, at best, two-thirds of what would have been delivered under the Rudd Labor government’s original model (because there is no state government additional payment).
Importantly, this first instalment was to be delivered directly to schools. However, the funds were not distributed according to need or the factors of educational disadvantage as recommended by the Gonski Review.
DE D I N E
PUBLIC GROWTH FUNDING 2013 TO 2019
BILOE STATE HIGH LA SCHOOL $5,731,272 CLONTARF BEAC STATE SCHO H OL $2,201,278
Every Qld State Scho ol will bene fit
From ‘Anna ndale to Zillm every Que ensland Sta ere’ and ‘Thursday Island to Too te School will benefit wo from Gonski. ng’, More indiv idual atten the classroom tion in
DAKABIN STATE SCHO OL $2,450,408
Extra spec literacy andialist teachers, ie. numeracy
EMER STATE HIGHALD SCHO
Find out wh
at it can do
Additiona classroom l training and support for teachers
Put your han
d up for GON
An additional concern is the lack of clarity and certainty around the funding model for 2015 and beyond. Schools need certainty and they need to have a commitment to a funding arrangement that will see each student who started prep this year receive the benefits of additional funding in every year of his or her schooling.
Visit www.q tu.a
, 21 Graha
m St, Milton
Kevin Bates President
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 29
QTU activists: driving
125 years of success
Thank you all!
EB7: teaching conditions = learning conditions When QTU members took on Campbell Newman’s ruthless slash and burn government in 2012, it wasn’t just their own rights they were defending. More importantly, they were also fighting for the children they teach. Even though the QTU’s log of claims, drawn up after extensive consultation with members across the state, was delivered to the then Department of Education and Training in November 2011, the government’s offer did not arrive until 5 June, 2012, just four weeks before the existing agreement expired. The contents were shocking. In exchange for a pay increase of 2.7 per cent a year for three years, QTU members would have to give up practically everything they had campaigned for and won since the first EB agreement in 1994. As well as freezing the pay of graduate teachers for three years, the government wanted any provisions that it considered 32 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
“matters of policy” to be dropped from the agreement. This would effectively have given the government free rein to change these matters at will, without any need to consult with anyone. A host of provisions, such as class sizes, the remote area incentive scheme, the conversion of temporary teachers to permanency, workload, consultative provisions, school based management guarantees, and bus and playground supervision, were at risk. The loss of these provisions would not only have impacted hugely on the working conditions of our members, who would have been defenceless in the face of a ruthless government obsessed by the bottom line above all else, it could also have had a major impact on the education of our children, the
most obvious side effects being through growth in class sizes and teacher shortages, mainly for schools in remote areas. The QTU’s campaign set out to protect these hard-won protections, adopting the slogan “Teaching conditions = learning conditions. They’re worth too much to lose.” This was a campaign that involved huge numbers of people. Tens of thousands of teachers played their part, whether by attending one of the many branch or area meetings held around the state to discuss the latest developments, by joining delegations to lobby their local MPs, by explaining the issues to their school’s P&C, by rallying outside Parliament House or electorate offices across Queensland, by engaging with their local media or simply by voting in ballots in huge numbers. In the ballot held in June after the government made its initial offer, an extraordinary 91 per cent of members
QTU members defend their teaching conditions and the learning conditions of their students
taking part voted against. A second ballot, through the QEC, called for protected industrial action, including work bans and limitations and 24 work stoppages. Again the response was extraordinary, well over 20,000 members taking part, well in excess of the 50 per cent needed to make the vote valid. 90.11 per cent voted in favour of work bans, 91.18 per cent were in favour of work limitations and 83.9 per cent in favour of strikes. This could have left the government in no doubt that members’ teaching conditions and their students’ learning conditions were not for sale. Great efforts were made to ensure that this was truly a statewide effort. When hundreds of teachers and principals rallied outside Parliament House, they were joined by colleagues the length and breadth of the state via a live webstream, which gave thousands of members well beyond Brisbane the chance to share the atmosphere and submit questions and
Vote “YES” in bot h the ECQ and QTU EB7 indust rial action ballots
comments directly to the rally organisers. Teachers in some of Queensland’s remotest areas were also able to address the crowd, submitting videos explaining why the campaign mattered to them, which were then played on big screens. The visible resolve and commitment of QTU members seems to have convinced the state government it was fighting a losing battle. As September turned into October, it made a new offer under which all teaching and learning conditions were retained in enforceable industrial instruments and the freeze on graduate teacher pay was dropped. The only condition that was lost was the job security provision, which was removed by the government in a change to legislation that affects the entire public service.
if you are determined to stop the Government stripping your agreement of:
Class size guarantees
Class size limi ts will be left to the discretio n of the Minister.
nteed Guara hing teac ions it condnd ll be itions wi
co ment Teaching m the agree fro licy. removed egated to po and rel
Specialist teacher guarantees
New educator conditions New teachers’ pay will be frozen on the first pay point for three years.
Guarantees around the provision of music, LOTE and PE teachers, teacher librarians , STLANs and guidance officers will go.
Transfer an relocation d system
There will no longer be an enforceable requirement for a fair and tran sparent tran sfer and relocati on policy.
General Secretary, Queensland
s to en teache courag rs and ru to serve in re e ral longer locations mote will be pr otecte no d.
The formula will be removed from the agreement, creating uncertainty about staff structure.
Temporary to permanent conversion
Guarantee of permanency for temporary teachers will be removed.
Protect the fruit of decades of Authorised by Graham Moloney,
Rem ot Incene Area Sche tive me Incent ive
Teachers’ Union, 21 Graham
campaigning St, Milton Q 4064 - August 2012
Kate Ruttiman Deputy General Secretary
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 33
original or r? Are you an Ab lander teache es Torr Strait Is What is Gandu
the not yet joined If you have
Aboriginal is the QTU’s mittee, Gandu Jarjum it Islander Com nonand Torres Stra Indigenous and ss of s sist con acro which from ers mb me Indigenous Queensland. makes ch whi committee, The s advice ns and provide recommendatio to Indigenous ting rela s on matter
QTU engagement: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Virtually on the eve of the Union’s centenary, the QTU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee held its first meeting, in 1988. After consultation with the Brisbane Council of Elders, the Committee became Gandu Jarjum (children, children) in 2000. Since then, with the advice and advocacy of Gandu Jarjum and its predecessor, the QTU has seen a number of milestones in its engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members. •• Gandu Jarjum has evolved from a committee composed of Indigenous and non-Indigenous QTU members with a non-Indigenous Chair, to having an Indigenous Chair (Wendy Watego being the first in 1995), an Indigenous caucus, and in 2011 becoming a fully Indigenous committee. •• The QTU opens all of its formal meetings with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land on which the meeting takes place, and opens significant occasions (e.g. QTU Conference) with a “welcome to country” by an Indigenous elder. •• In 2006, the QTU unveiled a plaque in the Teachers’ Building in Milton recognising the traditional owners of the land where it stands. •• When the department stopped providing cross-cultural training, the QTU ran crosscultural understanding courses for QTU members. •• In the 1990s, the QTU successfully advocated to have Aboriginal studies made a compulsory component of preservice teacher education. 34 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
•• The QTU participates regularly in NAIDOC week, National Close the Gap Day and National Sorry Day. •• The QTU has a record of active participation in the AEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee. Three of the AEU Federal Aboriginal Officers during the period (Davina Woods, Darcell Russell and Wayne Costelloe) have been QTU members. •• Darcell Russell also became the first Aboriginal person to hold the office of Deputy Federal Secretary of the AEU, becoming the highest ranking Aboriginal officer of any union in Australia. •• Indigenous QTU members have participated in state, national and international conferences on Indigenous issues (including the triennial World Indigenous Peoples Conference – Education). •• The QTU has developed policy and made submissions to numerous inquiries and bodies in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and social policy. •• Indigenous QTU (and Gandu Jarjum) members have also served on the Queensland Indigenous Education Consultative Committee, the Board of the Queensland Studies Authority and the QSA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee. Additionally, a
s Educat ors Conf erence 2008
number of Indigenous QTU activists have become school leaders or gone on to leadership positions at the tertiary level or outside of education. •• The highly successful QTU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Educators Conference was first held in 2007 and is now a biennial event. •• Two QTU Indigenous members have been honoured by the Queensland Council of Unions for their union activism. Letitia Murgha was awarded the Emma Miller Award in 2010 as an outstanding female union activist and Peter Lubke was the 2011 recipient of the Uncle Bob Anderson Award for an Indigenous union member who has made a significant contribution to the union movement. •• There has been increased participation of QTU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members in QTU and AEU forums. In 1996 Audrey Crawford became the first Indigenous person elected to QTU State Council. There are now specified Indigenous delegate positions on the QTU delegation to AEU Federal Conference and for QTU Conference. Additionally a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members have been elected to positions on QTU Area Councils, State Council and Conference. In 2012, Penny Taylor became the first Indigenous Australian to become a member of QTU Executive.
Rural & Remote
Teachers at Aurukun, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw
Rural and remote teachers – going above and beyond The QTU has a long and proud history of fighting lengthy and often bitter campaigns to support the rights and conditions of teachers working in Queensland’s rural and remote centres. Whether it is in the western communities beyond the Dividing Range, the mining communities, or the rugged far north, including the communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and the idyllic Torres Strait, teachers have provided a necessary and much valued service to the families in these communities.
and realistic RAIS were to be the hallmark of future QTU action – “local issues, local campaigns” – and also saw our southern comrades willing to take action on our behalf. Many of them had spent time working in these communities, and had not forgotten how difficult the working and living conditions were.
Over the past 50 years, the QTU has fought numerous campaigns focused on the provision of quality subsidised teacher housing, implementation of a realistic remote area incentive scheme (RAIS), a viable transfer system, and the critical need to build the capacity of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and school administrators.
RAIS will always need to be focused on supporting teachers who make the decision to leave home and commit to working in rural and remote centres, as well as the local teachers who call these communities home.
The ongoing battle with the government to ensure that teachers have access to high quality, safe and subsidised accommodation started many decades ago, and the victories that the QTU has won, based on the key principle of a “fair go”, have provided most of our rural and remote centres with enhanced teacher housing. But the fight continues. The “grass roots” campaigns that were undertaken by the Union in the 1980s and 90s to develop and implement a viable
The QTU remains insistent that a strong and viable transfer system is critical to attracting and retaining teachers and administrators to work in rural and remote areas. The Union has fought to protect a fair and equitable system for all, often in the face of adversity. In my opinion, it is one of the most important components for the provision of quality education to some of our most complex and challenging communities. It is worth fighting for.
on building the capacity of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become teachers and administrators and choose to work within their own communities. The QTU has always vigorously supported the important strategies that underpin Indigenous employment and participation in education and training. The QTU has also actively supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in every forum, from branch level through to Area Council, State Council and Executive. But there is more to be done, if we are going to truly be representative of the Indigenous diversity within our great state. The Queensland Teachers’ Union needs to be recognised and applauded for the ongoing support it has provided and continues to provide, to those teachers and administrators who make that important choice to live in and work with our unique rural and remote communities of Queensland.
Leigh Schelks Leigh is a QTU Life Member
The other key to ensuring young Indigenous people are successful in our rural and remote communities is the continued focus Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 35
The RAIS campaigns My early years of Union involvement were characterised by ongoing disputation over issues related to country service. Many policies today are sourced to disputes at this time. Issues like the provision of automatic washing machines, de facto couples being allowed to live together, provision of mowers and other lawn equipment, were all the source of bitter disputation. The issue of de facto couples prompted the then regional director to proclaim: “There will be NO try before you buy on my watch.”
I was elected President of the Union in 1994 on a platform of, among other things, improving the situation for teachers in rural and remote parts of the state. In 1996 a significant breakthrough was made with the establishment of the Remote Area Incentive Scheme, initially for very remote schools and then later on extended to less remote locations. The overall budget for incentives and compensation was almost quadrupled.
In one now legendary incident, amid protests that twin tub “tangle-lee-magic” washing machines were destroying clothing, the Regional Organiser asked for samples of damaged clothing to be forwarded to his office. A wide selection of damaged apparel arrived, including a disproportionate number of very lacy and very provocative ladies’ smalls. These garments were then produced in great quantity at a particularly heated moment in negotiations. Red faces and much embarasment saw some progress made.
These results were due in no small part to the dedication and commitment of a number of Union officials, the members of key Area Councils, school Representatives and notably activists often in the very early stages of their careers and sometimes under considerable duress from the department.
It seems incomprehensible today, but it took a lot of hard work by dozens of key activists and officers before more progressive heads prevailed in this dispute and others.
36 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
The scheme rolled up existing benefits, including limited access to travel assistance, to provide a scheme that compensated all service and provided significant additional benefits for extended service. This model remains in place today. Money was also allocated to induction programs for very remote schools. These programs continue to run every December and January. I often meet teachers who say: “Thank goodness for the RAIS induction.”
The promise of greater stability of staffing and more experienced staff in RAIS communities has been delivered, with solid data supporting the effectiveness of the scheme. It is fair to say the scheme had its critics, especially in that the incentive elements of the scheme were term-limited, and being a broad-banded scheme there were winners and there were centres that in reality won more. The key point of success was that the total package was four times larger. Today, the issues lie in the interrelationships between accommodation quality and provision, locality allowance, RAIS payments, the transfer system, the desirability of certain centres and, to cap it all off, in recent years the introduction of alcohol management plans that deny some teachers a hard earned drink at day’s end. While we acknowledge the work of those who tackled these challenges in the past, the issues of today are very much an extension of this past and require the same tenacity that saw those early wins.
Ian Mackie Ian is a former QTU President and is a Life Member
Demanding RAIS (above); the Journal announces an early setback (right)
Teacher transfer Teacher transfer has always been an important part of the profession of teaching. Along with other public servants, teachers were moved to whatever part of the state of Queensland that suited departmental needs. Unlike other public servants, except for police, teachers were sent to isolated locations because of the existence of schools to cater for local children. Apart from a fairly measly cost of living allowance, known as the locality allowance, teachers were not compensated for the increased cost of living in some parts of Queensland, including the cost of food, travel and accommodation, not to mention loss of contact with family and friends and the inability to continue high level artistic pursuits. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the QTU began to develop the notion of moving from the idea of compensating teachers for compulsory transfer to one of attracting teachers to less desirable locations by offering incentives in cash and kind. This was similar to the way in which private enterprise attracts workers. In the mid-70s, the Director General of Education favoured an examination of a
teacher incentive scheme. Though there was much enthusiasm for the concept, changing government and departmental officials meant that no real progress was made. However, an incentive transfer scheme remained a QTU priority, and in the 1990s funds were earmarked for a Remote Area Incentive Scheme. Government and department assurances that this was a solid proposal created eager anticipation that at last there would be a rational scheme to attract a range of teachers to apply for country service.
As teachers now know, a scheme which contained some elements of what was originally proposed was finally developed, but the transfer of teachers remains one of the most difficult areas of staffing Queensland schools to this day, and changing policies relating to hiring and firing teachers and the nature of public schools will probably ensure that it remains so.
Tony Christinson Tony is a QTU Life Member
Unfortunately, the election that followed saw a change of government and the reallocation of funds to another area. Negotiations over an incentive transfer scheme had to start again.
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 37
Teachers on the march on Thursday Island
Teacher Housing Campaign The living conditions endured by teachers in remote areas of Queensland has been an issue for the QTU ever since its creation. In 2008, however, QTU members decided that they had enough.
A QTU newspaper ad highlights the issues (below)
For years, the QTU called on the state government to provide proper funding to make sure that teacher accommodation was both secure and of a decent standard. Yet issues such as missing, broken or poor quality security screens leading to breakins and thefts from teachers’ homes, roofs left leaking for months, air conditioning units left unrepaired indefinitely in extreme climates, even floors and walls disintegrating through damage by water or termites, continued to arise. Members in the Cape and Gulf, Torres Strait and the Indigenous schooling support unit (ISSU) took industrial action, in spite of the efforts of the department to prevent them. Members in the Central Highlands and Blackwater branches also sought directives to stop work in support of the campaign. Teachers in the Torres Strait, Bamaga, Doomadgee and Normanton stopped work for 24 hours on July 31, but a strike due on 6 August was postponed to 4 September on Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) advice.
38 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
Finally teachers in 13 far north Queensland schools went on strike on 29 October, and it was this which produced the breakthrough. After a series of meetings, the government finally offered serious high level negotiations. As an act of good faith prior to the negotiations, the QTU deferred 24 hour strikes in Weipa and Mapoon scheduled for 6 November, and one hour stop-work meetings in the Blackwater and Central Highlands branches in Central Queensland. A year of campaigning finally paid off when the department formally advised the QTU that an extra $20 million would be made available over three years for departmental accommodation maintenance. The department also committed to providing a “fly-in, fly-out” maintenance program for 30 remote Indigenous communities, four times a year.
Maureen Duffy Peninsula and North West Organiser
Central Queensland teachers stand up for housing Between 2005 and 2008, members in Central Queensland lead the way in enhancing the quality and security of teacher accommodation. In 2005, several hundred QTU members across 21 central Queensland schools voted to take industrial action as part of a Central Queensland Area Council housing campaign. The campaign had two objectives: •• to achieve better capital works funding •• to secure air conditioning for all department accommodation in the Cooler Schools Zone. Following a series of rolling one hour stopwork meetings, the department agreed to engage with the Union to seek a resolution to the dispute. At one point, when negotiation looked like faltering, the same group of schools voted to conduct a 24 hour strike, supported by several additional schools (from centres without accommodation) in Central Queensland that voted to conduct onehour stop work meetings to protest the department’s failure to resolve the dispute. Fortunately, these actions did not have to proceed as a resolution was then reached. In the first instance the department agreed to a four year program of air conditioning installation in all department-owned accommodation in the Cooler Schools Zone. This program (which was new money) commenced in the 2005/06 financial year.
•• Union involvement in housing design, fit out and standards for what became known as the Moranbah Housing Trial •• a recognition by the then DirectorGeneral of Education that “…a high standard of teacher housing which is comparable to community standards should be recognised as an employee entitlement” (with “community standard” interpreted as Queensland community standard).
Striking for safety In 2007 and 2008, a small group of QTU members in remote Queensland launched a campaign to enhance teacher safety. In January 2007, after a particularly severe series of break-ins and vandalism during the Christmas vacation period, the QTU members at Woorabinda State School spent the first two days of the school year on strike. Six of the striking members were first year teachers in their first days of employment with the department.
The actions of these 13 members resulted in significant improvements to the security of department residences. It also elicited a more coordinated multi-agency attempt to address the existing social issues in the community. However, despite the response of the then state government and the department, the issue re-emerged when further break-ins occurred on the weekend of 26 January 2008. Once again QTU members took action, holding a two-hour stop work meeting which culminated in a public meeting at the Woorabinda Council Chambers attended by nearly 100 community members. This resulted in a permanent increase in the police force allocation to Woorabinda and further enhancement of housing security measures, as well as other agency actions. Thanks to the effort of those 13 QTU members, not only were immediate issues addressed and future safety needs secured, but community benefits were also achieved.
Barry Thomson Central Queensland Organiser
Secondly the department undertook to trial a private/public partnership for the provision of accommodation, with the trial to occur in Moranbah. While the trial failed due to lack of private interest, it still resulted in the provision of 10 new units of accommodation in Moranbah. Subsequent gains included: •• trials of modular housing units in different combinations •• replacement of some older style housing in Moranbah
Woorabinda teachers vote for action
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 39
The long road to professional standards The success of the QTU’s Professional Standards campaign can be measured by a number of factors including the significant collaboration involved in the development and pilot of the standards and the shift away from a focus on teacher performance to support of teacher professionalism. The continuing development and implementation of the Professional Standards for Teachers spanned two Enterprise Agreements and culminated in the first department/Union joint statement in 2005 (as a provision of the 2003 certified agreement) and highlighted the commitment to promote the use of the standards among teachers. In the late 90s, the development of a set of professional standards had been an ongoing issue both at state and national level. In 1995, the Queensland Department of Education had developed a draft professional standards document that was clearly linked to teacher performance. This was a major flaw in the first set of documents, and was rejected by the Queensland Teachers’ Union. Fundamental to the Union agreeing to be part of the development of a set of Professional Standards, confirmed in a letter to the department in late 1999, was that the standards should be voluntary, be linked to suitable professional development, be a precise and useful document for classroom teachers and under no circumstances be linked to teacher performance. One of the key public arguments rejected by the Union was that other professions had a set of standards, so should teachers. While the QTU agreed that the
40 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
development of a set of standards to support teacher professionalism could be of benefit, it argued that other professions developed and owned their standards, not the employers. After negotiation, the department and the Union, working in collaboration, produced the Professional Standards for Teachers (draft). These 12 draft standards identified the key professional elements of the role of a teacher and were aimed at acknowledging teacher professionalism along with helping teachers to identify and drive continuing learning to deliver quality student outcomes. In 2001, a taskforce was set up, as agreed during the 2000 enterprise bargaining process, to continue to develop a model of teacher professional standards, building on the work already undertaken and utilising research. In 2002, arising out of the collaboration between the QTU and Education Queensland, the Professional Standards for Teachers pilot was announced. Teachers from across the state were sought to field-test the standards, consider preferred models of reflective practice and engage in professional discussions. While the standards had been developed collaboratively and the pilot was aimed at fostering teacher ownership and
supporting reflective practice, progress was not helped by the publication of an editorial in The Courier-Mail in 2002 which fundamentally misread the intent of the standards, suggesting a “test” for teachers and claiming that increasing competition between teachers would improve outcomes. This position completely ignored that teachers are accountable through parent interactions, performance processes and supervision. At the same time as Education Queensland was developing and piloting the Professional Standards for Teachers, national forums were held, resulting in a working document outlining further development around professional teaching standards, engaging the profession and demonstrating a national commitment to standards. Both Education Queensland and the QTU held the view that the pilot of the standards was a success and ensured that the development of a national set of standards complemented the Queensland Professional Standards for Teachers.
Julie-Ann McCullough Julie-Ann is a former President of the QTU
Action and advocacy professional issues campaigning The celebrations of the centenary of the QTU coincided with the election in late 1989 of the first Labor state government in 32 years. During the Goss ministry, the QTU used its policy frameworks to shape campaigns to prosecute its professional issues objectives. Noteworthy and lasting outcomes for Queensland state teachers in this period included: •• award restructuring agreement, 1991, securing a single salary scale •• introduction of advanced skills teachers •• teachers facing allegations from students were no longer suspended without pay •• all Queensland teachers to have access to at least two hours non-contact time •• remote area incentive scheme introduced •• abolition of the inspectorate •• teacher representatives on governing bodies and selection panels. This period also saw the introduction of the QTU Curriculum Committee , which, with its successor the Professional Issues Committee, has developed and biennially reviewed a set of Conference-endorsed papers on what was, what could and what should be the way for teachers to best deliver curriculum in Queensland schools. This ever-evolving Curriculum Policy establishes a coherent set of agreed QTU beliefs. This provided an advocacy platform to successfully oppose the introduction of student performance standards in 1992, and to ensure that the QTU perspective was incorporated into tertiary entrance, key competencies, gifted and talented, rural and remote education, human relationships courses
and essential learnings. These frameworks also became a policy and best practices base for introduction and evolution of vocational education, middle schooling, environmental education, early childhood education and the national statements in Queensland schools. In early 1990, the Union adopted the policy of an extra year of schooling. Persistent promoting of this initiative in federal and state forums influenced academics, bureaucrats and legislators sufficiently to eventually prompt the introduction of the full-time prep year in 2007 and the Universal Access to Early Childhood Agreement of 2008. The continuing campaign to maintain valid assessment and reporting practices in Queensland schools began in 1989, against the background of literacy and numeracy statements from the state and federal governments and a few trial tests by the department in 1990. The QTU’s clear policy on the role of assessment and report and the legitimate practices the QTU can support formed the basis of QTU opposition to the start of census statewide testing in literacy and numeracy in 1998 and its evolution in 2008 into census national assessments. In 2010, frustration with state and national governments’ dogmatic support for the educationally unsound practices of census testing and rank reporting prompted the QTU to join with teacher unions across Australia in placing a moratorium on NAPLAN testing. The move was made in protest at the federal government’s My
School website, which used NAPLAN results to unfairly compare schools, something beyond the tests’ statistical abilities. Despite an intervention by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, which attempted to ban the action, the campaign forced the federal government into setting up a working party to review the website. This remains unfinished business. After 2000, as the QTU evolved its set of web-based social communication tools, the work of the Committee focused on distilling from adopted policies concise fact sheets and brochures. Essentially, by seeking the curriculum and professional issues policy perspectives of the QTU, the Goss, Beattie and the Bligh ministries enabled teacher-based views to be incorporated into government papers such as Education Have Your Say(1990), Queensland State Education 2010 (1999), Shaping the Future (1994), Literate Futures (2001) and Education General Provision Act (2006). Conversely, the Borbidge and Newman ministries, like their counterparts of the 70s and 80s, governed through the department by decree, producing Meeting the Challenge (1987), Leading Schools (1997) and Great Teachers = Great Results (2013) with selective inputs. Now, as always, the struggle is to ensure that the officers of the department charged with the implementation of ministerial direction do so in ways that align with the intent of the present agreements, and do not undermine hard-fought teaching and industrial conditions of the members of the QTU.
Peter Campbell Peter is a QTU Life Member
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 41
Curriculum: some things change ... Curriculum change has been a constant companion of Queensland teachers in the past 25 years, as has the range of factors impacting on what is taught and how. From student performance standards, reading recovery, digital pedagogies, the year 2 net, QCATs (Queensland common assessment tasks), NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) to the productive pedagogies, New Basics, digital pedagogies, 5 day literacy training and, most recently, pedagogical frameworks, the competing demands on teacher time continue to multiply. Implementation of the Australian Curriculum has seen an intensification of teacher workload, particularly in 2012, when English, maths and science were implemented simultaneously. State school teachers were provided with the C2C (Curriculum to Classroom) materials, including detailed lesson plans and resources, which proved controversial as the use of the materials was referred to as mandatory. This quickly changed when teachers expressed concern. The national scene has had an ongoing impact on state education, with the Hobart Declaration of Schooling (1989), the Adelaide Declaration on the National Goals for Schooling for the 21st Century (1999) and the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) setting agendas around schooling at all levels. A greater focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and perspectives arose from a range of initiatives, including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy launched in 1989 and the more recent EATSIPS (Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools) and the Close the Gap campaign. A review of senior assessment, reporting 42 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
and tertiary entrance processes continues throughout the first half of 2014, following the 2013 parliamentary inquiry into assessment methods used in senior mathematics, chemistry and physics. The spotlight on senior will continue, with Queensland adopting and integrating the senior secondary Australian Curriculum as the ministerially-agreed and common base for development of state and territory senior secondary courses. This follows the replacement of the Senior Certificate with the Queensland Certificate of Education in 2004-2005. The introduction of the prep year in 2007 and the planning underway for the shift of year 7 to high school, including a renewed focus on the middle years through the introduction of the junior secondary phase of learning from 2015, are examples of large scale structural changes that have required intensive curriculum planning by our members. The QTU was also an active voice in the development of the Teaching and Learning Audits, changes to reporting of student achievement and a range of other initiatives. One of the growth areas and success stories of the last 25 years has been vocational education and training (VET) in the senior secondary sector. The early to mid-1990s saw a series of national landmark reports that ultimately established a regulated national training system of competencybased vocational qualifications. From the mid-90s, Queensland secondary schools began to incorporate VET into their senior curricula. By the turn of the century, VET was well established in secondary schools, with a range of qualifications – predominantly at the Certificate I and II level – across industry areas such as
engineering, construction, furnishing, hospitality, business and information technology. Queensland schools also led the way with the introduction of schoolbased apprenticeships and traineeships. It was remarkable that VET was adopted so successfully, given that teachers and schools had to establish and implement quality systems that complied at audit with the same standards as those demanded of registered training organisations, including TAFE and private colleges. Today, the senior school curriculum in Queensland has been transformed and the success that is the VET in schools system is evidenced by the number of vocational qualifications issued in 2012: more than 20,000 Certificate Is, 19,000 Certificate IIs, 7,000 Certificate IIIs and 500 Certificate IVs. Following earlier changes to the Board of Secondary School Studies in 1989 and the Queensland Curriculum Council in 1996, on 1 July 2002, the Queensland School Curriculum Council (QSCC), the Board of Senior School Secondary Studies (BSSSS) and the Tertiary Entrance Procedures Authority (TEPA) merged to become the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). Legislation currently before the parliament suggests changes to the functions and governance of the QSA, and it is expected that a new body, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) will replace the QSA from 1 July, 2014.
Sam Pidgeon Honorary Vice-President
... while others don't. While reviewing curriculum issues over the past 25 years, I noted that while the names involved in 125 years of QTU curriculum campaigning might have changed (SEMP, MACOS, external exams, reporting on student’s progress, BOSSS, teacher qualifications), the issues don’t. The same issues appear regularly over the years under different guises. A good example of that in the recent past is the national debate over the introduction of the national curriculum post 2007. The debate proceeded strongly on political lines, while the real day-to-day issues associated with implementation were left up to teachers and schools. Unfortunately, as had often been the case over the previous 100 years, the funding or direction necessary to implement such initiatives never matched the political rhetoric. Writing my President’s column in the Queensland Teachers’ Journal during 2009, I made the point that “the national curriculum may be one of the most significant aspects of the Education Revolution (the original mantra of the Rudd government), but unless it is developed on educational considerations rather than political timelines, the mantra will fail”. Given that the comment was made about a proposed and ill-considered roll-out of some aspects of the national curriculum in 2011 and considering where we are with the same proposals in 2014, the saddest part about my comments is that they were proven to be true. That’s clearly not the fault of the professionals in the classrooms or the QTU representing its members in the various curriculum forums. On a positive note, however, I feel that the re-introduction of the prep year into Queensland schools during the early 2000s was the most significant educational and curriculum reform of the past 25 years. In the late 50s and early 60s, the Queensland Parliament took the shameful decision to
discontinue the prep year of schooling to reduce budget expenditure. While preschool facilities were later added in some schools, it wasn’t universal, and longstanding QTU policy was for both pre and prep years to be made available to all students. Capably led by the then Vice-President (and later QTU President) Julie-Ann McCullough and the Women’s Officer, Leah Mertens, late last century the QTU developed a strong campaign calling on the government to better develop early childhood facilities for Queensland students. To her credit, in the early 2000s the then Education Minister (and later Premier) Anna Bligh took a proposal to cabinet to re-introduce the prep year of schooling. While the ultimate outcome didn’t please everybody, as many resourcing issues were left unanswered, the cabinet’s decision was welcome, and has since proved to be extremely beneficial for all Queensland students. One could go on about a range of specific curriculum issues which have dominated the media in recent years – NAPLAN, My School, the dreaded ICT pedagogical licence, and even reporting standards – but one issue in particular continues to be of concern: teacher representation by the Union on various curriculum bodies. Governments forget that the most democratic and representative voice for Queensland teachers on educational and professional issues are the two unions representing teachers in Queensland – the QTU and the IEUA-QNT – and that’s the way it should remain.
Steve Ryan Steve is a former President of the QTU and a Life Member
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 43
TAFE in the QTU In the 1970s, most TAFE teachers belonged to the Technical Teachers Association (TTA), because the Queensland Teachers' Union required teacher qualifications for membership. Some teachers who had moved across to TAFE from schools and had teacher qualifications were members of the QTU, but it would have required a rule change to enable acceptance of the majority of TAFE teachers, who were largely tradespeople.
Teams were allocated and meetings organised and, on the appointed day, meetings were held and scores of TAFE teachers resigned their SPSFQ membership and became QTU members. Naturally, because of the earlier refusal of the QTU to accept TAFE members, there was a nucleus of teachers who remained with the SPSFQ. Though that union claimed to still represent the majority of TAFE teachers, it was clear from the QTU numbers, our observations at campus level and a knowledge of numbers of TAFE teachers who were not union members, that the QTU had become the major representative of TAFE teachers in Queensland, a role it has maintained until today.
During the 1970s, the TTA approached the QTU to attempt to negotiate membership. This was eventually refused and resulted in its joining the Professional Officers Association (POA), the only public service union which was able to sign them up. As a result, the POA had significantly more TAFE members than the QTU. This had important implications in a number of areas. There was some bitterness, sometimes quite fierce, among trade teachers, who resented the fact that the QTU thought itself too professional to represent their interests. Naturally, the POA was the major voice in all sorts of negotiations on awards, disputes, and even at what was then Australian Teachers Federation (now the Australian Education Union) level. Because other state unions did have TAFE members, the POA was given membership of the Australian union and, with a greater number of delegates than the QTU, was the major voice of Queensland TAFE teachers. The dissatisfaction with the QTU was heightened by the fact that many TAFE teachers were quite diligent in obtaining teacher qualifications, and a move to encourage them to obtain teacher qualifications was extremely successful. With their teacher qualifications and often high-level qualifications in their trade, TAFE teachers were extremely well qualified teachers. 44 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
The Australian Education Union had been informed throughout of the discussions, and AEU officers agreed to participate in a sign-up in all major TAFE campuses in Queensland.
There was, though, increasing dissatisfaction because the Professional Officers Association merged with what was then the State Public Sector Federation of Queensland (SPSFQ). TAFE teachers did not believe that there was enough understanding of their professional needs and teachers and the QTU started to receive requests to allow TAFE teachers to become members. Negotiations commenced with the SPSFQ during the late 1980s and continued into the 1990s in an attempt to negotiate coverage of TAFE teachers by the QTU. It became obvious fairly early that, although the SPSFQ attended meetings, there would never be an agreed change of coverage for TAFE teachers. This was discussed within the QTU and it was decided that enough TAFE teachers were likely to join if the QTU simply defied the rules and signed them up.
Tony Christinson Tony is a QTU Life Member & former TAFE Organiser
General Secretary John Battams helps Robyn Horsman sign up during the QTU's 1994 TAFE recruitment drive
TAFE: It's tough, but hope remains In 1987, the Hawke Labor government introduced fundamental changes to higher education. The “binary system” which distinguished institutions as either pure research and teaching (universities) or applied research and training (colleges of advanced education) was abolished, funding was based on pre-defined national goals and student fees were introduced. TAFE colleges were to expand and “facilitate transfers” between the skills sector and universities. The system needed to allow more young people to enter higher education and provide places for “unmet demand”. With the increase in staff numbers and the expansion of TAFE’s role, I was employed on a permanent basis as a “life skills” teacher in that year. During the next 25 years there were only three QTU TAFE organisers – Tony Christinson, Paul Reardon and David Terauds. This is a reflection of the QTU’s commitment to covering all teachers in the public sector. It was often a lonely battle, but the QTU was blessed with a dedicated bunch of TAFE activists. Enterprise bargaining became part of the industrial landscape in TAFE in the early 1990s. The issues were almost always the same. We wanted a fair wage increase without surrendering conditions and the department wanted larger classes, longer teaching hours, no overtime and a reduction of leave. I spent most of my time in TAFE teaching in the community service obligation areas, such as Indigenous education, literacy and numeracy and adult migrant education. During this time I witnessed the decline in commitment to these programs from both the state and federal governments.
With a view to increasing the proportion of Australians with higher education, the Bradley Review of Higher Education Report of December 2008 highlighted the fact that the public-private divide has narrowed significantly in the past 20 years. Public tertiary institutions derive significant proportions of their income from non-government sources and some private providers receive government subsidies. The report suggested that a proportion of the federal funds allocated to institutions should be allocated on the basis of performance against specific targets for teaching and equity. The government extended the tertiary entitlement to the vocational education and training (VET) sector, commencing with higher level VET qualifications. This review has led to major changes in the TAFE sector with a narrowing of delivery, a movement of public funds into the private training market, increased costs to the students and increased demands on the teaching staff, particularly from audit requirements. A direct result of the report’s recommendations is the recent merger of Central Queensland Institute of TAFE and Central Queensland University. This is new territory for the QTU and perhaps a template for the future. The issues affecting TAFE in the past have been a good barometer of future trends in the general teaching population.
I was “Newman-ed” from my job in August last year, so the book-ends of my 25 year career are the Dawkins White Paper and the Bradley Review. What has changed? The control of public funds, the loss of curriculum and program development by teachers, the increase in costs to the students, the loss of full-time permanent employment, the narrowing of courses offered and, more recently, the right of your Union to successfully represent you. I sometimes think that I have left future generations of QTU members and TAFE teachers with the prospect of worse conditions than when I joined. Then I remember the activists of my time, the battles fought and the immense support of the organisation, and I see the new generation of members and activists and I feel quite hopeful.
Paul Jefferis Paul is a former TAFE teacher
The recent Queensland Skills Training report and the Costello Audit report leave no doubt about the Newman Government’s position on TAFE. Selling of assets, increased student fees and “an overhaul of TAFE working conditions” clearly show its intention to dismantle the public provider. Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 45
Women and the QTU
Labour Day 2011
With women comprising just over 70 per cent of the education workforce, it is important that this density is strongly reflected in the structure of the QTU. The QTU prides itself on recognising the demographics of its membership, and it has adapted its approach to incorporate effective representation of school leaders, new educators, primary, secondary and special educators, and, of course, women. Since QTU members elected their first female president, Ruth Don, in 1951, the role of women in the Union has expanded and changed. When the Union celebrated its 100th birthday in 1989, the number of women holding senior officer positions (President, Vice-President, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary) in the QTU was one – the then President, Mary Kelly. 46 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
Now, 25 years later, the number of women in these leadership positions has grown. With the election of the first woman to the secretariat in 2010, 50 per cent of the six Senior Officer positions are filled by women. This change is reflected in the Officer cohort as well. In 1989, there were two women in Officer positions. Today, six of the 12 Organiser positions in the QTU are filled by women, while six of the nine internal officer positions (Research Officers, Industrial Officers, Women’s Officer, and Services Officers) are filled by women. There has also been a shift in the number of women holding positions in the democratic structures of the QTU. In
the inaugural conference of 1889, three women represented the voices of women in education. In 1989, 71 of the 166 conference delegates were women (43 per cent); last year there were 84 women delegates at our conference. Additionally, the QTU took steps within its structures at the school level, to support and encourage the activism of women members. When I started teaching in 1992, just three years after our centenary, the only representative role available to me in my school was Women’s Contact. This role was established to ensure that at least one of the Union positions in the workplace was filled by a woman. The need to increase the number of Union Reps within a workplace later prompted a change in the role of the Women’s Contact – no longer viewed as a tool to encourage women’s activism, instead
HOWARDâ€™S IR LAWS TURN BACK THE CLOCK
Dome stic vio lence a is work p lace issu e!
Between February and July members 2011, unio were surv n eye to find out about thei d nationwide r domestic violence and experience of employees work. 361 1 responded respondents with 81% of the being fem ale.
When surv eyed, nea rly personally experience one third of employe d domesti Nearly half c violence es said they had of these peo . their cap ple said that acity to get domesti to work (e.g restraint) . due to phy c violence affected sical injury 1 in 10 had or to take time (e.g. due off work bec to health ause of and medical purposes reasons, for the violence or for app ointments Nearly 1 in with police accommodation 5 who exp offic ers 12 months erienced or lawyers) domestic said that violence the violenc (e.g. they in the prev received abu e continu ious ed at the or the abu sive phone workplace sive person calls, text contacted messages physically co-workers turned up or emails; at the wor or the emp The main kplace or loyer about reported them) impact of on perform the ance (e.g . due to feel violence in the wor needing to kplace was ing distract take time off or bein ed, tired or Reports by g late for unwell, co-workers work) violence wer of e higher thanthe prevalence and impact of reports of All respond dom personal ents agre experience. estic ed the work lives of emp that domestic viol ence can believed that workpla loyees (100%) and impact on a high perc domestic ce entitlem entage (78 violence ents could in the wor %) reduce the kplace. impact of
5% of emp loye experienced es in the pas domestic violence t 12 months 25% of emp loyees experienced more than domestic violence 12 months ago 20% of emp loyees had personally not experienced violence but domestic knew som paid emp ebo dy in loyment who had 50% of emp loyees had experience no of domesti c violence For complet e www.dvandw survey results see ork.unsw.ed u.au/researc h
The Federal Governmentâ€™s IR changes threaten your working conditions
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Unio enâ€™s Council of er speaker. and Biennial Wom and after-dinn The Fourth nity excellent ss Queensl ce Opportu on from acro the Conferen in Brisbane Teachers ce and for was held e the Conferen program Expertise iding mor ce attended June, prov with the the Conferen women TAFE bers 28 and 29 time mem first re women s of ed to ensu te in a than 100 was revis d. A serie participa to e atten d nity som coul the opportu s, listen to members rmined by workshop and ns was dete kers series of QTU lutio spea reso been (left) and keynote ce and have for further thank Richardson excellent n plan for Conferen ist Cresta ens (right) utive e an actio QTU Activ dinator Leah Mert d to Exec the next determin n. A re) for her forwarde Coor bers over Julie-Ann Womenâ€™s e Grace (cent erence dinner. ugh tion and actio d to all ullo women mem idera dent Grac McC ident cons forwarde Dr QCU Presi h at the Womenâ€™s Conf two years. rt will be included QTU Pres the year. ent speec of ress repo speakers in excell end ote rer prog Keyn lli, lectu before the ce including tta-Chiaro in University who participants on the Conferen t gues Maria Palo Deak on erine from , Cath rsity at Informati entations Social Dive arch on boys er who phs and pres website. t her rese photogra QTU enâ€™s Offic spoke abou are on the St Milton 4064. Federal Wom feminised speakers 21 Graham g the Davis, AEU al Secretary, d issues facin Grace Grace, the s, QTU Gener addresse and by John Battam Authorised workforce teaching
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Delegates to the 2000 (bottom) and 2012 (top) QTU Womens Conferences
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it became part of the Union Representative entitlement of the school.
by women. This is replicated within our committee structure.
The early 90s saw the introduction of the 50 per cent rule, which ensures that in elections of multiple vacancies where at least 50 per cent of the nominees are women, the positions are filled by women. This enabled women to increase their activism and develop skills, leveling the playing field for women and their male counterparts, and subsequently changing the face of the QTU executive, our committees and our officers. In 1989, 20 per cent of QTU Executive members were women â€“ in 2014, seven of the 12 executive positions are filled
Of course, it would be wrong to think that until the rule change in 1995, the QTU did little to encourage and promote the activism of women. This is not the case. You only have to look at the equal pay campaign of the 60s and 70s (finally achieved in 1972) to recognise that, despite the under-representation of women within its structures, the QTU continued to pursue an agenda promoting improvements to working conditions for its members.
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weeks in 1996, now 14 weeks), guarantees around conversion to permanency, access to long service leave following the birth of a child, access to sick leave for carers and much more. As women increase their activism and the QTU supports them to overcome some of the traditional barriers to their involvement in the Union, the voice of women in the QTU will continue to grow.
Kate Ruttiman Deputy General Secretary
Since 1989, the QTU has been successful in achieving paid maternity leave (originally 6 Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 47
Winning for school leaders School leaders are critical to the functioning of our state school system, the wellbeing and development of our students, and most importantly, key to the continuation of quality public education in Queensland. That’s why the Queensland Teachers’ Union has been safeguarding the industrial, professional and legal rights of school leader members since 1889. The QTU has done this by: •• advocating for school leaders •• protecting schools •• providing professional support for school leaders •• listening to school leaders. The QTU encourages involvement of principals, deputy principals, heads of program etc in all facets of its operations through its Education Leaders Committee, Principal Union Reps, principal forums, the Education Leaders Conference and training days. The QTU has also, as the industrial body for education leaders, secured positions on panels, committees and bodies that directly affect education leaders. It has had significant involvement in the development of department policy, procedures and processes over the past 25 years, and has ensured that these were less work intensive and that the industrial and professional rights of our school leader members were looked after. Here are just some of the QTU’s achievements for school leaders since 1989. •• In 1990, the QTU secured improvements to school entitlements, administrative structures and roles of associate administrators through award restructure negotiations, as well as salary increases and single salary scales that deliver significant benefits to administrators. •• 1990 saw then Education Minister Paul Braddy reinstate Union representation on promotion panels in the wake of 48 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
several examples of political interference in the promotion system and failures to adhere to correct procedures. Political fiddling does not end there, however. Over the past 25 years there have been numerous changes to the promotion selection process for school leaders, three since 2009. The QTU has always been involved in the negotiations, advocating that no matter what process the department uses, all applicants are treated consistently, ethically and fairly. •• In the early 1990s, the QTU lobbied for equal access/opportunity to promotional positions for women, advocating that the senior mistress position be converted to an equivalent deputy position, with incumbents continuing to hold those positions. •• In 1991, the QTU secured a promotional salary structure which provided overall increases ranging from 8 per cent to well over 20 per cent in some cases. These increases were in addition to the 6 per cent structural efficiency increases commonly available under the National Wage Principles. The QTU also won recognition of prior service for promotional positions. •• In 1993 the QTU formed the Administrators’ Sub-Committee to provide an avenue for issues relating to principals and associate administrators and the administration of schools to be discussed within the Union. This committee, now called the Education Leaders’ Committee, still exists in 2014. •• The latter half of 1998 saw a complete review of the department’s promotion
and selection system, with the QTU central to the negotiations. The revamped system represented a major move towards greater consistency and validity in the selection process for all promotion positions. •• 1998 also saw the QTU achieve a considerable enhancement to the allocation of deputy principals to primary schools, necessitating the development of a statewide selection process. The Union’s right to directly select its nominees for promotion selection panels was enshrined in the new principal selection process and was also extended to the special deputy principal selection exercise. •• The highly successful enterprise bargaining campaign of 1999/2000 secured agreement to a 5 per cent “catch up” wage rise for small school principals, deputy principals and heads of department, as well as a review of the classifications for various promotional positions. The relocation system was improved and extended to all administrators. •• All promotion positions received a differential pay increase as a result of the negotiations and actions that resulted in the 2009 certified agreement. •• 2009 also sees the QTU establish the role of Principal Union Rep. Looking back over the past 25 years, one thing is clear: some issues recur regularly, such as QTU representation on promotion panels, promotion process for principals, relocations, issues for teaching principals and so on. Just as clearly, in the future as in the past, the QTU will continue to fight for the rights of our school leader members.
Paige Bousen Assistant Secretary - Education Leaders
IMPORTAN T QUESTION FOR
Delegates to the 2012 Education Leaders Conference (above); Labour Day 2012 (right); a newspaper ad from the 2009 EB campaign highlighting the plight of school leaders (bottom right)
THE QLD GOVE RNMEN
WHY SHOU LD PRINCIPA A QLD SCHOOL L BE “WOR TH”
Focusing on school leader issues In 1995, the QTU Education Leaders Committee (ELC) was formed in recognition of the ever-changing influences on the role of the principal and school leadership in schools. Throughout the past 20 years, an average of 98 per cent of all school leaders in Queensland have belonged to the QTU, and the committee, originally called the Education Administrators Committee (EAC), was established to provide them with the best possible support and to inform the QTU’s response to the issues of the day, including the Kennett government's dramatic changes in Victoria and moves toward nationalising education. EAC commenced with a membership of 15 principals and associate administrators (DPs, HODs, HOSES), with the task of: •• providing advice to the QTU Executive on a range of issues relevant to educational administrators and other members •• monitoring departmental processes such as relocations and merit selection •• reviewing and developing QTU policy relevant to educational administrators •• liaising with other QTU standing committees •• overseeing the organisation of the annual QTU Education Leaders Conference. Under its terms of reference, the committee is charged with considering matters relating to educational administration; processes of classified officer appointments, relocations and appeals; and the working conditions, remuneration, status and other
industrial aspects of the employment of QTU members in educational administrator positions. It also reviews Union policy and develops appropriate proposals for new and amended policy, as well as providing an educational administration perspective on issues relating to the working conditions and professional practices of teachers in public schools. The 2005 Biennial State Conference saw the launch of the Administrators Policy Handbook, which has been updated every two years since. The QTU Education Leaders’ Policy now includes detailed sections on: salary structure for education leaders; promotions and evaluations; school planning and review; staffing investigations/complaints management (member v. member); succession planning; contract employment; performance reviews of classified officers; school classification methodology; mandatory requirements for all school-based promotional positions; permanent part-time education leaders; professional learning of education leaders and aspirants; Independent Public Schools (increased school autonomy) and school administrative officers.
A YEAR TH AN ONE FR OM NSW?
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•• principal seminars/workshops, which are conducted throughout the state •• regular meetings between the QTU Senior Officers and representatives from the ELC with executives of the four principals’ associations •• representation on the AEU National Principals Committee. As we move into challenging political times, the ELC will continue to play a vital role in informing policy and strategies relating to school leaders’ roles. Underpinning this will be the firm belief that school leaders and teachers benefit from being in the same union. “United we stand …divided we fall.”
Lyn Winch Lyn is a principal and QTU Education Leaders Committee member
In 2004, the inaugural Professional Principals’ Conference was held. The success of this conference ensured that a conference has been held ever since. Other important activities include: Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 49
New Educators take the lead in QTU structures In 1996, I was asked by the then General Secretary of the QTU, John Battams to analyse the composition of State Council, Area Councils and the Executive to gauge the level of engagement and activism of new and beginning teachers with the QTU. I found that more than 10 per cent of our members serving on these bodies were at or past retirement age, while less than 5 per cent of these roles were filled by teachers in their first five years of teaching. This caused the QTU to look to encourage the activism of new educators – after all, as our generation retires, the future generations need to be strong and in a strong place to assume leadership of our Union. In order to enhance the activism and engagement of new educators, the QTU has introduced training specifically for new educators, adopted strategies to encourage participation of new educators at branch and Area Council level, developed the New Educator Campaign Group, established the New Educator Network (NEN), created the associate student member classification for pre-service teachers, actively engaged with universities, and supported QTU members in representing the QTU and the AEU on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s accreditation program for teacher education. 50 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
In the past 25 years, the QTU’s engagement of new educators has increased significantly. Of the newly-elected Council, five delegates, have participated in NEN training in the past three years. Significantly more have taken on roles at the Area Council and branch level. Additionally a number of officers, including myself, can identify as being supported in our activism as a result of the new educator strategy.
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QTU gu id new ed e for ucator s
We cannot underestimate the importance of encouraging and maintaining the activism of new educators in the QTU. Without them what would our future look like? As I meet new educators, and become involved in their training through NEN etc, I am confident that these members will continue to build on the strength of the QTU into the future.
Kate Ruttiman Deputy General Secretary
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The QTU & me
What the QTU means to ...
The 2012 New Educator Network - Natalie is second from left in the front row
... a new teacher I have always liked the term “new educator”. I feel that it perfectly describes the feeling of the first day, week, year of being a teacher, everything is new. The people are new, the procedures are new and your rights and responsibilities are new. Transitioning from university to the classroom is a daunting and often difficult task. I entered my first classroom naively believing that I knew what to expect, I knew what was ahead for me and my career. Walking into the classroom for the first time it was immediately apparent to me that I was wrong. As a new educator it is easy to feel lost and alone. What first struck me when I became involved with the QTU was how it had an effect on almost every part of my personal and professional life. The Union gave me the opportunity to become a part of the New Educators Network, which allowed me the privilege of meeting a diverse
group of other new educators who were experiencing the same new challenges as me. Through this experience we became friends, comrades and confidantes. Together we talked, we problem-solved, we became a network of friends across the state, and suddenly the new faces in my life weren’t so intimidating, because I wasn’t alone. As a new educator it is easy to let teaching take over your life and I know that I became a “yes” person; a person who agrees to anything and everything at any personal cost. I worried about giving the right impression, I worried about job security and I worried about maintaining all of the things that I had said yes to. Through the Union I learned that I have rights, that they are there for a purpose and that I have the right to choose. I still go to the discos, organise ceremonies, volunteer at fetes but I do those things because I want to and not because I’m afraid. However, the Union does more than that. The QTU-won conversion process from temporary to permanent has meant that I, like so many other new educators,
have been made permanent based on merit and dedication, without relying on luck. The Union has put me in contact with so many inspirational people, all working tirelessly to maintain the rights of new educators around the state. As a new educator, there are so many new things to experience and learn, but being a member of the Union has meant that there has always been someone on my side, someone looking out for my rights, even before I knew I needed them. The Union has done so much for new educators, it has made us permanent, it has given us housing, it has given us a voice. And with all the newness and naivety, it’s good to have the experience and knowledge of 125 years of the Queensland Teachers’ Union behind you.
Natalie Clarke Natalie is a new teacher and QTU member
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 51
The QTU & me
What the QTU means to ... ... a classroom teacher I have lived many different “lives” in my role as a teacher. This has included significant time in remote areas and my position as a hospitality teacher. The QTU has supported me during difficult times. When I had issues with the transfer system – 68 transfer points doesn’t always get you what you want – the Union backed up its promises with real solutions, resulting in a favourable transfer. I consider myself to be an ethical teacher who “plays by the rules”. However, life is unpredictable and when I found myself in a situation where I needed advice, QTU legal assistance provided me with outstanding support. As a result of the representation, I was able to fulfil my responsibilities as an employee while maintaining my integrity and personal wellbeing. That support was invaluable to me. It’s not just about when things go wrong. We don’t always realise the impact the QTU has on our everyday lives in schools. The QTU is about accountability and ensuring
we have a positive work environment which considers the interest of all stakeholders. My experience is that the QTU works with schools to strengthen relationships and has a positive part to play in the effective implementation of the many agendas that impact on our working and professional lives. As a permanent part-time teacher, I have found the QTU website a fantastic resource that I regularly access for advice on permanent part-time teaching conditions. Sometimes we think we know what our employment conditions are, but the QTU website provides the actual information we need to make navigating our professional and personal responsibilities less challenging. Most recently, the information on the experienced senior teacher process assisted me with my application.
Legal information sessions run by the Union have guided me in areas I hadn’t considered may impact on my responsibilities as a teacher. Attendance at a legal seminar influenced decisions I made while managing my son’s rugby league team, which included a player from my school and several students from neighbouring schools. I tend to go to one of the legal seminars every couple of years. Conditions we often take for granted exist because of the strength of the QTU. That strength comes from members engaging with their QTU Reps in schools, the Journal and the website and with the campaigns the QTU runs. My Union has played a significant role in providing me with improved working conditions and salary, protection, advice and representation over the course of my career as a teacher.
Donna Carlton Donna is a classroom teacher and QTU member
Donna (inset) marches with her QTU colleagues
52 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
... a principal As a proud educator in Queensland, being a member of the Queensland Teachers’ Union is a bit like vegemite on toast. Having grown up with family members in our Union, I am well aware that one ingredient just cannot survive without the other. The QTU offers me more than I can ever offer it, because in times of need, it and the people within look after me. The QTU is more than just a union – it is a body of knowledge that inspires others, including myself, to be the best educator they can be. Having been a member of the QTU since my final year of university in the mid2000s, I have been able to take advantage of the various professional development opportunities provided by my Union. My formal journey with the QTU began in 2008, when I first became a Workplace Representative. Since then, I have held various positions, including multiple years as the Honorary Border Branch President (and before that, Branch Vice-President), Branch Delegate to South Queensland Area Council for the past five years, and have attended five State Conferences. I have been given the opportunity to act as a Principal Union Representative – allowing me to further work among the wider community and advocate for issues affecting all members. However, what I like about the QTU is that although we work together to protect our industrial rights, it is important to note that teaching conditions = learning conditions. So, in a broader sense, our Union works for the good of all involved – teachers, principals and students. However, perhaps the greatest strength of the QTU lies within all of us. With a member density of 96 per cent, we are well-resourced and represented, from the schoolyard right through to our senior officers. Any organisation with such a membership cannot, and will not be ignored – simply
for the fact that we fight for what we know must occur to produce quality outcomes for children. As you have a look at the various campaigns run by the QTU, each and every one – while focusing on protecting and strengthening our conditions – has a direct positive influence on students. For example: •• smaller class sizes, leading to targeted teaching •• increased pay and conditions, allowing for quality professionals wanting to teach •• better teacher housing, allowing staff to focus on their pedagogy and not on living conditions •• more money into schools, allowing for greater resources = better learning for all children. Some may (wrongly) argue that the QTU and its members are partial to particular political persuasions. However, from my experience and with my involvement, being in the QTU is about maximising outcomes for students
in my school. In fact, I think education in Queensland is at its most powerful when all stakeholders are on the same page, and that’s from the top levels right through to our schools across this diverse state. There has never been a better time to feel a sense of belonging than now. Being part of the QTU is more than just an insurance policy, it’s part of us. Amid the current education debates, one thing is for sure – just as it has been in the past 125 years, the QTU will ALWAYS be there for us. Just as vegemite is to toast – the Queensland Teachers’ Union is to me, and that is one giant reason as to why we will celebrate this giant milestone for this historic Queensland union. Happy birthday, and here’s to the next 125 years!
Aleksandr Taylor-Gough. Aleksandr is a Principal Union Representative and state school principal
Aleksandr (far right) with South Queensland colleagues at the 2011 Biennial Conference
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 53
The QTU & me
What the QTU means to ... ... a Union Rep I have been with Education Queensland since 1994. In that time, the role of the Union Representative has changed in so many ways. When I first started as a Rep at my school, it was pretty low key, even though it was around the time of student performance standards and Leading Schools. I was the Women’s Contact at that school with a supportive team and an active team of Union Reps. The thing that strikes me the most about this time, in comparison to now, is that we only had to deal with a couple of big campaigns, against an agreed opponent. It was an “us versus them” battle. At times, the response was almost a reactive one. I find that now it is an almost a never-ending campaign. Campaigns are local, state and federal, with attacks on the profession coming from all directions. In the last decade, the QTU has moved to become much more of a campaigning union, a proactive and strong defender of the status of our profession. One of the biggest changes in this time has been the massive increase in the demands of
54 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
communication. We can no longer rely on the Newsflash or occasional Union Rep Update. We now have email, text, Newsflashes, Union Rep Updates and the website for information. We need to communicate effectively and quickly with our wider membership and the community about such a wide range of issues, including NAPLAN, schools funding, resourcing (both human and physical), class sizes, performance-based pay, unfriendly governments, teacher professionalism and quality and teacher housing, to name just a few. At times, there is so much communication, it can be a little daunting! Instead of fighting our battles on one front, there are many fronts that sometimes converge at once. To manage this, on some issues the QTU has sought alliances with other organisations with similar beliefs. In recent years, advocacy has also become a huge part of the job of the Union
Rep. This occurs in a variety of forums, including support meetings, investigations, conversations, staff meetings, LCC representation and at times, professional standards conversations. What remains the same about the role of the Union Rep, however, is a dedication to both your job and your profession and the high standards we should all uphold. We do it because teaching is a job of togetherness and support for each other. Union Reps do what they do because if student outcomes are key, so are the outcomes of our profession and our jobs. It is now not up to “them” (the QTU) to deal with “stuff”. It is up to us as teachers, with support from the QTU, to promote our profession and to uphold and deliver on our values for both our students and our colleagues.
Cresta Richardson Cresta is a QTU Union Rep Cresta at the 2013 Biennial Conference
... a staff member I am the longest serving (and oldest) current QTU Officer. I became an officer of the Queensland Teachers’ Union in 1987, two years prior to its centenary. In the last chapter of Spaull and Sullivan’s History of the QTU, published on the occasion of the Union’s centenary, the authors note that the “greatest problem confronting the QTU” was its relationship with a hostile state government “untroubled by opposition” in State Parliament: “The central thrust of the government has been to assume full and direct control over decision-making in state education. It has also striven to minimise the influence of the QTU so that any sense of partnership between teachers and employers has almost disappeared … The QTU has been removed from participation in the selection of teachers for promotions … In the development of new educational policies … the QTU has not been consulted (p. 329).” Spaull and Sullivan go on to describe a union that was “living on the edge of a precipice”:
“If it protests too loudly or too often it is ignored by government; if it contemplates mass industrial action to give effect to its claims it may be pushed over the precipice … The immediate future looks uncertain” (pp. 330-331, emphasis added) . With the ascendency of the current Newman LNP government, there is a sense for me of “this is where I came in”. There are, of course, important differences as well as similarities between the situations faced by the QTU in the late 1980s and the early 2010s. Nevertheless, the last sentence of the above quotation is apt today. Interestingly, by the time that Spaull and Sullivan’s book came out, the momentum for political change was already irresistible, culminating later that same year in the end of 30 consecutive years of conservative state government. From a position “on the precipice”, the QTU went on to win
many key victories, securing a number of improvements to working conditions that teachers today take for granted. Included in these are the Remote Area Incentive Scheme, non-contact time for primary and special school teachers and reductions in class sizes. I suspect that we will need to wait a bit before the tide turns similarly against the current LNP government (hopefully not 30 years!), and we have the added complication of a newly elected hostile national government. But the lesson of history is that this Union has seen tough, even daunting, times before and has come through them, has become stronger. It has been a privilege to have been a small part of it in bad times and in good.
John McCollow John is a Research Officer, currently acting as the Industrial Advocate for TAFE
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 55
25 years of QTU history: The Journal has it covered!
56 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
Who’ll fund state schools properly? In the eyes of many teachers, school funding will be one of the central issues in this federal election. Nine years of the Howard government left federal school funding hopelessly skewed towards the non-government sector. At the start of the Howard years, 43 per cent of federal funding went to the state school system. By the time of the Coalition government’s downfall in 2007, government schools’ slice of the funding pie had collapsed to 35 per cent. On coming to power, the Labor government decided to maintain the model that created this inequity, the Howard government’s SocioEconomic Status (SES) system. As a result, by the end of the current funding agreement in 2012/13, state
schools will still be on a share of just 36 per cent of the total spend. The parties differ on their approach to this issue. The Labor government has already launched a review of the funding of Australia’s schools, providing the first opportunity in years to bring fairness to the process. Whether the review proceeds is, of course, dependent on victory in the election. The Coalition, on the other hand, has no interest in changing the system. Shadow Minister of Education Christopher Pyne explained: “We have already committed to using the SES model if elected, because we believe it places the funding of non-government schools on a much more equitable basis than existed in the past.” He also claims that the SES system
helps “bring the school of choice within the reach of many lower to middle income Australians”. The Australian Greens are calling for federal funding to be skewed in favour of state schools. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on education, said: “We want public schools to set the standard for education in Australia, and that has to mean a fundamentally different system with extra funding, not just entrenching a position where public schools don’t get proper support.’’ The Greens would also implement a new recurrent funding model for non-government schools which takes into account their financial capacity, including fees and other parent contributions, and which de-couples them from spending on public schools.
QTU hits the hustings
WorkChoices by the back door?
QtU members are on the front line in the battle for public education during the 2010 federal election.
QtU members fought too long and too hard to rid australia of the menace of Workchoices to stand idly by and watch its rebirth.
The QTU is not affiliated to any political party and has made no financial donations, but it has selected a list of supportive MPs and candidates and members have been campaigning to help them secure seats in the next Parliament. The candidates, all chosen in recognition of their track record of support for the QTU and its policies, are: Shayne Neumann (Blair), Kerry Rea (Bonner), Arch Bevis (Brisbane), Mike Brunker (Dawson), Fiona McNamara (Dickson), Chris Trevor (Flynn), Jim Turnour (Leichhardt), Wayne Swan (Lilley), Jon Sullivan (Longman) and Graham Perrett (Moreton). The list is flexible, and can be adjusted according to the candidates ‘ performance. The QTU is also meeting with Greens Senate candidate Larissa Waters. The Union’s election policy was unanimously endorsed by QTU State Council on July 24.
Through WorkChoices the Howard government stripped 4 million workers of unfair dismissal protection, took away the award safety net, which resulted in more than a million low-paid workers suffering real pay cuts of up to $90 a week, and gave employers the power to force workers on to AWA individual contracts that cut their award pay and conditions and in one case even made not “maintaining a cheerful disposition” a sackable offence. In spite of repeatedly pledging that WorkChoices was “dead, buried and cremated”, Liberal leader Tony Abbott has made no secret of his desire to resurrect parts of it. In February, he promised small business bosses that he would “take the unfair dismissal monkey” off their back, which would result in a quarter of Australia’s workforce losing this protection. He raised the spectre of reborn AWAs, telling the same meeting: “At four elections running, we had a mandate to introduce statutory nonunion contracts and we will seek to renew that mandate.” Even Coalition voters don’t believe them. A national poll by Essential Research found that 50 per cent of Coalition supporters think that at least parts of WorkChoices will return if the Coalition win the election.
Authorised by John Battams, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers’ Union, 21 Graham Street, Milton Q 4064. Printed by Cornerstone Press Pty Ltd, 2/69 Crockford Street, Northgate Q 4014
TIO N ED ITI ON SP EC IA L EL EC August 2010
For the latest election info, visit www.qtu.asn.au Over the past decade the QTU has actively engaged in the political process to ensure that decisions of government (as far as possible) are in the best interests of teachers and students in state schools. This includes being involved in state and federal election campaigns. To do otherwise would be an abrogation of our responsibility to protect the interests of our members. Membership research indicates that members strongly support this position. In this special edition of the Journal we compare the education and industrial policies and performance of the three main political groupings – Labor, Coalition, and Greens. QTU members will While the current Labor government has been far from perfect, it has been a vast improvement on the preceding Howard government in both state school funding and IR. Most importantly, Labor has committed to reviewing schools’ funding, has boosted funding to schools through National Partnership Agreements and BER, and has replaced the odious WorkChoices with the Fair Work Act. What would a Coalition government deliver? Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne remains commited to performance pay for teachers, presumably based on NAPLAN test results. Coalition Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, has put in writing that “we are prepared to examine the introduction of a national
cast their vote for a variety of reasons, but this information will help ensure that there is an awareness of policies in areas affecting teachers. The QTU will also support those candidates who have indicated support for the QTU through their words and actions, particularly in relation to education and industrial relations issues. The key issue is federal funding of education. The Coalition has made it quite clear that it will continue with the current unfair model, which favours wealthy private schools. The Labor government is committed to a review of funding.
John Battams General Secretary test for students every year to measure improvement in students results.” And despite Tony Abbott’s protestations, the Coalition can never be trusted not to reintroduce WorkChoices: Abbott has acknowledged the damage WorkChoices did to the Coalition “brand”, but has said nothing about the damage done to individual workers. Here’s what Tony Abbott said in July 2002, and there’s no sign he’s changed his mind: “Most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband - notwithstanding all his faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss.”
Steve ryan preSIDent
Every vote counts While teachers are currently employed by the state, recent years have seen a dramatic increase in federal involvement in education. Just consider the number of initiatives coming from Canberra: the national curriculum and NAPLAN are just two occupying educators at the moment. What about the billions of dollars in federal investment currently flooding into our schools? And while teachers are currently covered by the state IR system, there remains a chance that we could one day transfer to the federal system. All this makes it vital for each of us that we get the right government on 21 August. A swing of just 2.3 per cent, that’s just 17 “very marginal” seats changing from Labor to Coalition, would see an end to investment, $3.1 billion in education spending cuts, the same old unfair funding system, the threat of local hire and fire and performance pay in schools and the rebirth of WorkChoices. Don’t neglect your Senate vote either. Coalition Senators were instrumental in getting WorkChoices passed. your vote counts, don’t waste it!
Vol 119 No 2 | Queensland Teachers' Journal 57
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Congratulations to QTU on 125 years! We’re proud to partner with the QTU as it celebrates 125 years of promoting and protecting public education in Queensland; supporting our teachers as they guide the next generation to a better future. And we’re committed to doing exactly the same thing for our members. Congratulations again from QSuper.
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58 Queensland Teachers' Journal | Vol 119 No 2
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“Unions are people. This history of the men and women who were and are members of one of Australia’s oldest unions confirms that truism.” A History of the Queensland Teachers' Union, Spaull & Sullivan, 1989