Report-back from June 13 Council

A very successful meeting of Council addressed a range of issues including: the EA negotiations; the Health Access Schools Program; the abolition of the Government Schools Education Council; the broken promise in the ACT budget; and the Telopea Land-swap.

Please note next Council will now be held on July 25 (Saturday, Week 1 of Semester 2).

Teachers’ Enterprise Agreement Negotiations

The ballot for protected industrial action opens Wednesday June 17

Council passed the following resolution.

Council acknowledges the continued progress in enterprise bargaining negotiations since its meeting on 9 May 2015. This progress has been detailed in AEU communications and also those of the employer.

In particular, Council notes:

  • The reinstatement of back pay from 1 October 2014, which could only occur because Council rejected the Minister’s surprise offer of 28 April 2015;

  • A central function to monitor workload and sustain workload reduction, which has been agreed since Council rejected the offer of 24 October 2014;

  • A $5300 bonus payment for top of the scale teachers and Executive Teachers, which has increased by $2000 since Council’s rejection of earlier offers; and

  • A new principal salary structure for principals to be designed and implemented on a set date during the life of the next agreement.

Council welcomes this progress and congratulates the membership on its solidarity and determination to achieve the best possible outcome for teachers, principals and students in our schools.

Council further notes that since its rejection in May of the April offer, the Directorate has agreed to provide “additional resources in every school to make sure teachers are able to do their core role as effectively as possible”. Again this is positive, but Council is not convinced that the resources proposed at this point are adequate.

Council requests the AEU bargaining team to emphasise at the highest levels of Government that an offer will not be acceptable to AEU members until the resources provided to secure the workload reduction that teachers need to collaborate effectively are profound, tangible and clearly defined.

Council notes the Canberra community’s strong support for a greater number of school psychologists in our system and asks the AEU negotiating team to raise this matter at the highest levels of Government until a satisfactory outcome is achieved.

Council recognises the importance of maintaining pressure on the ACT Government at this crucial time in the bargaining and strongly recommends a YES vote to all members in the current protected industrial action ballot.


Health Access at Schools (HAAS) Update

A range of profound concerns were raised regarding the ongoing conduct of the Health Access at Schools (HAAS) program. These concerns centre around the requirement of the HAAS program for educators to be responsible for invasive medical procedures. Many councillors expressed deep reservations about what the program entails for student safety, student learning, workload for school assistants, teachers and principals, the status of the profession and issues of legal liability.

We continue to seek answers through the Review of HAAS, currently being conducted by ETD and the Health Directorate and will soon launch a survey to gather further information. We anticipate our next steps on this issue will be considered at July 25 Council.

Abolition of Government Schools Education Council

The ACT Legislative Assembly has voted to abolish the Government Schools Education Council (GSEC), which has for many years advised the Minister for Education on matters relating to public education in the ACT.

The Council will be replaced by an advisory committee on both Government and Non-Government schools, which will meet if and when the Minister likes.

Whereas GSEC was representative of our system and included AEU representatives, the new committee will comprise of whomever the Minister chooses. The AEU repeatedly advised Minister Burch over more than twelve months that this would be a retrograde step.

The AEU is pleased that the Canberra Liberals voted against the amendment to the Education Act abolishing GSEC, and is disappointed that the Greens have gone along with this unnecessary and potentially damaging exercise.


The ACT Budget

Glenn reported on the ACT Budget delivered on June 2. He acknowledged a number of welcome initiatives including the allocation of funding for a specialist Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Centre at Caroline Chisholm High School, and significant new investment in Belconnen High (although $8 million less than was promised in 2012).

Despite these positive initiatives, the budget represents yet another failure by the ACT Government to deliver on its 2012 election commitment to invest $70m of new money in school infrastructure. In the lead-up the 2012 election, ACT Labor committed to spend ‘$70m to create the best learning environments for students and teachers in our older public schools.’

Glenn has written to the Chief Minister in this regard.


Call for Review of TQI Legislation

Council was advised that following a resolution by Branch Executive, Branch Secretary, Glenn Fowler, has written to ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, calling for a review of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act.

The resolution confirmed Executives support for the TQI as an important contributor to the enhancement of the status of the teaching profession.

It calls for a comparison of teacher registration requirements across all Australian jurisdictions in order to identify where ACT teachers sit in relation to their interstate counterparts.

In particular, the review should examine:

• The current requirement for part-time teachers to complete the same number of recognised PL hours (20 per year) as teachers employed on a full-time basis;

• The current requirement for casual relief teachers to complete the same number of recognised PL hours (20 per year) as teachers employed on a full-time basis; and

• The current requirement for some PL to be accredited as opposed to teacher-identified.


Telopea School Land Swap

Lead Organiser, Andy Jennings, discussed the work that Telopea School Sub-branch is doing in relation to proposals to take away land that currently houses its tennis courts. The Sub-branch is supporting a campaign by the Manuka Occasional Childcare Centre (who will lose the building they currently occupy in the process) against the proposals. Read more here.




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