Guidance officers - QLD

Last year, the QTU reported to guidance officers (GOs) and senior guidance officers (SGOs), through the Journal and in meetings, on the matters that the Union was pursuing on their behalf.

In February, General Secretary Graham Moloney wrote to the Acting Director-General requesting a meeting, to ensure that continuing matters were pursued early in 2018. Deputy General Secretary Kate Ruttiman and Assistant Secretary Kevina O’Neill met with the Deputy Director General, Corporate Services, Jeff Hunt on Monday 26 February.

Below is an update on the matters discussed and associated outcomes from the meeting, and also an update on the Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR).

Kevina O’Neill
Assistant Secretary - Services     

Graham Moloney
General Secretary

GOs in precarious employment

During 2016, members flagged ongoing concerns about the pathways through which they could become permanent in their guidance roles. In response to these enquiries, the QTU formally requested data from the DoE in term four 2016. The data was received in March 2017. The patterns of employment indicated an unacceptable number of GOs in acting roles or temporary engagements.

As a result, the General Secretary wrote to the Director-General highlighting that over 60 per cent of GOs were not permanent in their positions, and that 52 GO FTEs had been employed in acting positions for five to 10 years and five had been employed in acting roles for between 10 and 15 years. The Union requested that the department address these employment patterns and advertise permanent positions, noting that priority needed to be given to addressing the longer term acting positions. The QTU is aware that some 70 GO positions were advertised and filled in semester two.

The QTU has formally requested an updated data set mirroring that provided in the Guidance Officer Employment Arrangements (3 November 2016) in relation to the maximisation of tenure of guidance officers. The QTU has requested that a specific response be provided in relation to long term acting or temporary engagements.

QTU Assistant Secretary Kevina O’Neill would be interested in hearing from GO members who are still in acting or temporary positions after more than four years.

Please email services@qtu.asn.au and use the subject heading GO in long term precarious employment.

Meeting outcomes

At the meeting on 26 February, the Department of Education:

  • confirmed that increased numbers of permanent guidance positions had been advertised and filled by regions
  • committed to providing the QTU with an updated data set mirroring what was provided in the Guidance Officer Employment Arrangements (3 November 2016). 
  • confirmed that it will continue to consider ways of transitioning GOs in long term acting positions to permanent placements, initially on a case by case basis.

Comment

The new data will indicate the progress that has been made in relation to increasing permanent guidance positions. It will also highlight the progress that has been made in terms of reducing the number of GOs who have been in long term acting or temporary engagements. Thank you to the GOs and SGOs who have been working with the QTU to pursue the maximisation of permanent GO appointments.

SGO award coverage

The QTU Senior Guidance Officer Special Interest Group and a sub-committee of this group has been working with the QTU to progress award coverage under the Teaching in State Education Award - State 2016.

The QTU pursued the issue of award coverage for SGOs through late 2016 and during 2017. The department’s stated position is that it “does not necessarily agree with the QTU’s position on this topic”.

The QTU canvassed the DoE’s challenges in attracting and then retaining SGOs (due to the dual award coverage issue), and noted that departmental officers in the regions are aware of the issue. The QTU has a firm position that award coverage can be resolved in the interest of students and their parents, schools, SGOs and the department.

Meeting outcome

At the meeting on 26 February, the DoE re-stated that it does not necessarily agree with the QTU’s position on the applicable award coverage for SGOs. It indicated that the award coverage matter is best progressed as part of the 2019 EB negotiations and that it should be listed in the QTU log of claims.

The department noted that the Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR) is focused on reviewing the classification structure of promotional positions, not necessarily the industrial provisions which govern SGOs.

Further discussion

In exploring the matter of award coverage, the matter of related performance processes for SGOs was raised, i.e. that SGOs need to be registered teachers and are promoted as a result of their teaching qualifications and background experience as teachers and GOs, but complete their performance development processes under the public service process, not the heads of program process. DoE is presently undertaking work in relation to performance development processes for heads of program.

Meeting outcome

At the meeting on 26 February, the department indicated that there should be no impediment to SGOs undertaking a process that aligns with their role as educators and heads of program. The QTU Deputy General Secretary, Kate Ruttiman, is listing the broader matter of performance review processes for heads of program at the organisational transformation meeting in March. 

Status of the Guidance Review Working Party

In term four 2016, the DoE created the Guidance Review Working Party. The QTU representatives on the working party are Kevina O’Neill (Assistant Secretary, Services) and Perry Anderson (Executive member, guidance officer). 

The working party was tasked with identifying matters pertinent to the role of GOs and SGOs. The review was also charged with addressing four key issues. As the review report is in draft and hasn’t been progressed, no further comment can be made. 

At the time of convening the working party, there was a departmental view that this work was of some priority. The working party met roughly fortnightly during term four 2016 and into term one 2017, and by Friday 24 February 2017 a draft report had been presented to the working party. 

Since March 2017, however, the working party has not met, and the QTU has been informed that the report has not been progressed.

Meeting outcome

At the meeting on 26 February, the department indicated that the Guidance Review Working Party’s draft report is to move to consultation with regional directors, as the next step.

Update on Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR)

The QTU Senior Guidance Officer Special Interest Group and its sub-committee worked with the QTU to ensure that GOs and SGOs were provided with opportunities to understand the PPCR process, and members were encouraged to provide submissions to the process through the Union and other mechanisms. Of 672 staff submissions, 169 were from GOs and 32 were from SGOs. 

During 2017, the department’s review team captured, through a range of approaches, the views of stakeholders in relation to the current classification structure, particularly the factors contributing to the complexity of promotional positions and the features considered desirable in a future classification structure. 

During the first half of 2018, several pieces of work commenced during 2017 will be finalised.

  • Work value assessments, including interviews – GOs and SGOs are presently participating in interviews, which are to be completed by 8 March. This process is occurring in partnership with Mercer.
  • Jurisdictional benchmarking – the review team is also partnering with Deloitte Access Economics to review the classification structures, progression arrangements and remuneration of peer jurisdictions. The completed work will contribute to the evidence base, ensuring that the findings of the review are appropriate and relative to the arrangements within peer jurisdictions.
  • The DoE review team will conduct focus groups within each region assessing with participants the issues identified as relevant to each promotional position, and will examine potential options for a future promotional position classification structure. 

By June, it is planned that a number of structures will emerge from the above work (to be finalised in semester one), which will become the focus of further work. 

Assistant Secretary, Services Kevina O’Neill can be contacted at the QTU via email on services@qtu.asn.au in relation to the GOs in precarious employment campaign.

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