Report-back from June 21 Council

Here are the main decisions and action points from June 21 Council.

1. Main action points                                                                                                                   Download Word Document

a) Bust the Budget Rally Parliament House, 12pm, Sunday July 6
On July 6, the day before the new Senate is sworn in, a national day of action is being held to protest the 2014 Budget. Unions ACT is hosting the Canberra event and speakers will include John Falzon from Vinnies, Nadine Flood from the CPSU, Richard Denniss from The Australia Institute and our very own Glenn Fowler. This is the budget that attempted to dismantle Gonski. Please join us to register your opposition. Rsvp here. Download a poster to put on your sub-branch notice board.

b) Stand by the Refugees Mass Protest Meeting 6pm, Saturday June 28, Llewellyn Hall
Council heard how Commonwealth Government policy is detrimentally affecting a group of young people in ACT schools who are seeking asylum from persecution. A group of AEU members will be attending this mass meeting at Llewellyn Hall on Saturday night. Rsvp here. Download a poster to put on your sub-branch noticeboard. 

c) Equality Data

AEU lead organiser, Andy Jennings, foreshadowed a motion that the AEU capture ‘equality’ data.  The rationale is that the AEU is hearing comments that discrimination is occurring in the workplace.  Without data on the profile of members it is harder to determine whether issues are systemic or isolated incidents.  Providing personal information would be voluntary.  Action: discuss with members how they feel about providing data and the broader issues involved so councillors are able to contribute to a future Council discussion.

d) Vacancies on Branch Executive
The Preschool Alternate Representative and TAFE Representative positions on AEU ACT Branch Executive are vacant. Coming soon: Expressions of interest will be called for soon.

e) Opportunities for Women
Various opportunities exist for women to get more involved in our union and benefit personally and professionally from these experiences.  Opportunities include: the Anna Stewart program, Women’s network meetings and the Women’s annual conference.  Coming soon: Please keep an eye on the AEU ACT website and in ACT Educator, out in early Term 3, for information about these opportunities.

2. UnionsACT Community Campaign
In the face of the wide range of attacks on education, health, the public service and welfare in the 2014 federal budget, ACT unions have determined to launch a co-ordinated campaign against the Abbott Government that works with the many affected groups in the Canberra community. AEU ACT Branch Council endorsed the following resolution previously passed at Unions ACT Council.

That all UnionsACT affiliates contribute to a joint campaign fund to mount a co-ordinated campaign against the Abbott Government. This fund will be resourced through a levy or donation from all affiliates according to each union’s capacity to contribute.

3. My School and the case for the Gonski funding reforms

Council received an impressive presentation from Bernie Shepherd (former high school principal and long term union activist) in which he and colleagues had analysed the financial and NAPLAN data from the My Schools website to clearly demonstrate:

  • Government funding for schools is disproportionately being applied to non-government schools in that these schools are benefiting from greater percentage increases in government funding
  • Government schools provide a better return on investment (as measured by NAPLAN data) for dollars spent per student
  • Children in Australia who receive the greatest educational resources are those who are in the least need of those resources and this ‘advantage gap’ is widening

In particular, between 2009 and 2012, government funding for government schools increased by 10% whereas government funding for Catholic and Independent schools increased by 20% in the same period. 

4. Bargaining update

Three meetings have been held since the AEU lodged its claim: bargaining protocols have been agreed; we have presented our claim; discussion about the AEU-ETD shared vision for ACT schools. The next bargaining meeting is July 8. Cabinet has given ETD negotiators their riding instructors so we are anticipating they will formally respond to our claim and present their own.

5. School Chaplaincy program
Branch Council passed the following resolution, calling on the ACT Government to redirect funding from the school chaplaincy program to employment of a greater number of fully qualified school psychologists and health professionals.

Council welcomes the decision of the High Court to declare the National School Chaplaincy Program unconstitutional. Council notes that a likely outcome of this decision is that the Commonwealth will consider providing block funding to states and territories, and seek to require them to continue the chaplaincy program in schools. Council respectfully requests that the ACT Government takes the opportunity to re-establish the secular nature of public schooling by ending once and for all the employment of religious chaplains in our public schools. Council requests that the ACT Government re-direct any funding it receives from the Commonwealth into areas of student need, and in particular the employment of a greater number of fully qualified school psychologists and health professionals.

6. Preschool funding and class sizes
Council passed a resolution calling for the Secretary to investigate a range of matters of concern including funding arrangements and class sizes.

Council asks the Secretary to investigate whether:

The Directorate has stopped preschool children from accessing a second year of preschool under any circumstances; Preschool class size maximums have been increased; Out of area enrolments in preschool in relation to adjoining childcare centres are still possible; There are changes to preschool funding arrangements.

Council requests the Secretary to report back at July Council.

7. Principal transfers
Council passed a resolution instructing the Secretary to pursue negotiations with the Education & Training Directorate to put an immediate stop to principal vacancies being advertised openly without first utilising the transfer process.

Council notes with grave concern the recent examples of Principals vacancies being raised with the AEU from the Director-General with “preliminary reasons” as to why the vacancies should go to open advertisement immediately, without first utilising the transfer proves. The “preliminary reasons” contain nothing beyond the skills set of our established network of Principal members.

Council strongly condemns these continuing efforts to avoid using the transfer process, as they both seriously undermine the Principal members across our system and their key entitlement of “transfer” which is rightly valued by the full AEU membership.

Council supports the actions of the Branch Secretary and Executives thus far, and calls upon the Branch Secretary to pursue negotiations with the Directorate with the aim of securing an immediate cessation of this emerging practice and a prompt return to proper consideration and utilisation of the effective and agreed upon transfer process.

Council supports investigation of changes to the EA under negotiation to ensure all positions to go transfer before going to merit.

8. Education Minister’s Advisory Body
Council rejected the Minister’s proposal to replace two advisory councils (one representing Government schools, the other non-Government) with one body. It passed the following resolution:

Council strongly rejects the Education Minister’s new education and advisory body and asserts that the Government Schools Education Council (GSEC) must retain, in its current form, its vital role in advocating for the unique needs of public schools in the ACT.

9. Solidarity with Korean teachers
Council passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Korean teacher unionists whose union has been deregistered:

The AEU ACT Branch is shocked by the decision of the Korean courts to uphold the Korean Government’s action to de-legalise the KTU because the union rejected the government’s ultimatum to revise the provision in its by-laws allowing dismissed and retired teachers into union membership.AEU members in the ACT join with education unionists around the world to stand in solidarity with Korean teachers in the defence of their civil, political and union rights. We call on the Korean Government to respect international labour standards and immediately reinstate the KTU’s legitimate status as a trade union.

10. Union Governance report
Members of Branch Executive have received financial training or will have by the end of the month. There are two new members of Executive: Shane Gorman and Peter Curtis. Appointed not elected because their term is less 18 months. Office will soon be advertising for the PreSchool Alternate rep, TAFE rep.

As per the new recruitment policy, recruitment panels will now have a representative from Branch Council. Nominations were called for up to four councillors to be available to sit on upcoming panels this year. Leanne Glasson and Colleen Thistleton nominated and were appointed.

11. Questions Without Notice

Q: How do ACT TQI registration requirements compare with other states? A. Office will follow up?

Q: Does Council know about recent changes to preschool funding with regard to 2015 staffing. A. See motion.

Q: Is Council aware that as the National Disability Insurance Scheme is implemented, ACT ETD is withdrawing from provision of Early Intervention services? A: This is a great area of concern. AEU ACT Industrial Officer is negotiating for employment security for affected people. AEU ACT officers have met with Minister Burch and Gai Brodtmann MP, particularly to raise concern about public buildings being made available for private providers. Arranging meeting with Kate Lundy. About to launch online campaign for people to tell stories. This is about private market for a service that has been delivered very well publicly.

Q: Is Council aware an Accident & Incident Report now needs to be completed for bullying incidents? Is there a concern about the impact this will have on workload? A. AEU ACT office will investigate.

Q: Is Council aware schools in QLD are being audited on whether they’re taking sufficiently punitive measures in disciplinary cases. A. Not aware, will follow up

Q: Is Council aware of concerns that ACT Government has not budgeted to maintain funding for ICT, especially in relation to the replacement of existing equipment and virtual learning environments?

Q: What further developments have taken place regarding the difficulties relief teachers are experiencing with TQI registration. A: Our bargaining claim addresses remuneration – relief teachers should be paid to attend PD as permanent teachers are. We are continuing to consult with the Directorate to ensure provision and accessibility of PD for relief teachers. An update will be sent to AEU relief teacher members.

Q. Is there any way School Assistants can be more included in the Council agenda?
A: We’ll make sure there is a clear report-back for School Assistants. Our membership is growing. More than happy to have an update/ newsletter for School Assistants.


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