In this issue: International Women's Day | Girlz 'n Frox | Emma Miller Awards | Part-time issues | Paid parental leave | AEU Federal Women's Officer | Queensland Government

Term 1, 2015

International Women's Day

IWD will be commemorated across the globe on 6 March - many schools mark the day and the Department of Communities has this year released some resources for schools. They can be found here.

Invitations have been sent to QTU women who hold union positions to a QTU IWD event being held in Brisbane following State Council on Saturday 7 March. Our guest speaker for the event is Senator Larissa Waters.

Please click here for details of this event if you have not already received your invitation. Please note that numbers are strictly limited.

Girlz 'n Frox

wen-Girlz-n-Frox150.jpgThe Women Teachers and Girls Education Committee of the QTU (WTGEC) is launching the new initiative "Girlz 'n Frox", which aims to connect disadvantaged senior girls with pre-loved and donated formal wear, coordinated and organised by members of the committee.

QTU members with quality pre-loved and suitable formal wear can donate to the project by giving donations to their local Organiser, dropping off gear to their local Union Officer, or by sending directly to the QTU building at Milton in Brisbane.  A flyer has been distributed to all members of State Council, inviting them to collect and bring goods with them to State Council on Saturday 7 March.

Students from selected schools and regions will be invited to preview items through a closed Facebook group.


Emma Miller Awards - celebrating QTU women!

Late last year, QTU Executive member, State Council member and Branch President, Robyn Sudgen was presented with the Queensland Council of Unions' Emma Miller Award from the QTU in recognition of her activism.


A special joint Emma Miller Award was also presented to out-going QTU Vice-President Julie Brown.  This special award was in recognition of her significant contributions to women workers, in the QTU and also as long standing Chair of the Queensland Council of Union's Women and Equal Opportunity Committee. 

Part-time issues

I am continually amazed and disappointed by the lack of support and understanding regarding access to part-time and flexible work arrangements in our schools.

Most administrators are aware of the need to accommodate requests for women returning from parental leave, but the QTU has resolved cases where approval has been delayed "pending day 8" (completely unacceptable when notice was provided in August!), responses have been "we have full-time mothers or full-time teachers at our school" and regional managers denying requests from school leaders seeking to access flexible work arrangements.

Many teachers wish to access part-time work because they have other care arrangements (older children with health needs, parents or other family members that require care), medical or health needs or they wish to transition into retirement.

The QTU is also aware of some regions requesting teachers wishing to alter their part-time fraction to fill out transfer forms to make these requests. This is incorrect. The request needs only be in writing to the school principal. Over the years the confusion appears to have developed because of the need for teachers wising to return to substantive full-time positions to provide notification, in writing, within the transfer timelines. Teachers should ensure they maintain copies of relevant correspondence.

School leaders denying reasonable requests or establishing their own "school based" part-time policies should be cautioned to ensure that they are familiar with the part-time policy, decision making flowchart and guidelines established by the department (available at link below). Teachers having requests denied unfavourably should contact QTAD or their local Organiser for further information and advice.

IPS schools are not exempt from the departmental policy and the need to accommodate reasonable part-time requests. It is inappropriate for schools to have "quotas".

The ACTU has lodged a submission to Fair Work Australia to support the right of parents to access flexible work arrangements. The outcome of the submission will be closely monitored and watched by women unionists across the country. While the Fair Work Commission regulates Australian workers under federal agreements (we are under the state legislation), it is important that we work collectively for the benefit of all workers.

Paid parental leave

The Prime Minister (and Minister for Women) dropped his "signature" paid parental leave scheme earlier this month, leaving a lot of confusion for women and families regarding what would be occurring post 30 June, when the scheme was due to come into effect.  In lieu of a new scheme, the current scheme and entitlements remain.

Teachers who have 12 months continuous service with the department (or recognised service elsewhere in the public sector) will continue to be able to access 14 weeks paid parental leave from the department, and if they meet the eligibility requirements for the federal scheme (work test + individual income of under $150,000 pa) they are able to access the 18 weeks on minimum wage (currently $640 p.w), in addition to the payment from the department.  

AEU - Federal Women's Officer

Following many years service to women teachers nationally, AEU Federal Women's Officer, Catherine Davis, has left the AEU and is now working for the Victorian State Government.

wen-cd.jpgCatherine's energy and passion for feminist principles, public education and equity ensured that our federal women's conferences were inspiring and dynamic and attendees at QTU biennial women's conference would have experienced Catherine's moving and thoughtful keynotes.

On behalf of the QTU, I would like to wish Catherine well in her new path, commend her for her dedication and guidance and thank her for all her assistance.

At the time of this newsletter, the federal position remains vacant.

Queensland Government

With the dust of the state election settling, as a Women's Officer, I must make comment regarding the pleasing representation of women in government and the cabinet.

Under the Newman ministry, only three of the 19 ministers were women. There was no dedicated Minister for Women. Queenslanders now have a woman as Premier and Minister for the Arts, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and Minister for Trade, Jackie Trad.

Of the 14 ministers, 8 are women. This is unprecedented in Australian politics.

Shannon Fentiman, Member for Waterford, has women as part of her portfolio, she is Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation, is the first female Indigenous MP in Queensland Parliament, and a former teacher!

With such great gender representation in this government, it is strongly hoped that many community and social services will have their funding and support, which was slashed under the previous government, restored.

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