THE PROFESSIONAL AND INDUSTRIAL VOICE OF QUEENSLAND’S TEACHERS AND SCHOOL LEADERS IN STATE SCHOOLS AND TAFE FOR MORE THAN 130 YEARS.

Election Journal.jpgWhat is at stake in this state election?

Unlike most employees QTU members are amongst those that have the chance to vote for their employer every three years. However, this election we need to remember that this will be the first fixed four year term and during the next four years there will be another EB negotiation for both TAFE and Schools.

The comparisons of party promises and records  provided to assist members to make an informed decision about what’s at stake for them under the different parties.

Click image for digital version of special election issue of the Journal

Electing your employer

Each state election gives you a chance to vote for your employer – an unusual opportunity of which to make the most.

This year, for the first time, the government elected will be your employer for the next FOUR YEARS.

Each election, the QTU is involved in talking to members in some way about the election because of the impact of the result on teachers and principals industrially and professionally and the resources available for public education. We would be derelict if we ignored such a significant event.

Comparing policies and performance

This election, the QTU’s involvement focuses mostly on a comparison of party responses to a list of key issues raised by the QTU to provide an insight into educational policies, and on the performance of the ALP and the LNP in government.

That is what this special edition of the Queensland Teachers Journal is about.

Through the QTU website and Newsflashes, the QTU will also provide:

  • analysis of education and industrial announcements during the election campaign
  • links to the analysis of other unions on key policy areas, e.g. the QNMU on health
  • analysis of industrial policies by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) on behalf of the QTU and other unions.
     

The QTU’s last member survey in 2019 listed the two most important issues as workload and job security. How will the promises and responses address those two issues?

COVID-19 and recession

This election, the stakes are even higher. Internationally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues. It has been controlled successfully in Queensland to date after it became the first Australian state to declare a public health emergency. A cursory glance at Victoria, Europe or the United States shows the continuing risk of further waves until a reliable vaccine is widely available.

Economically, the pandemic has deepened a recession into which Australia was almost certainly heading anyway. The consequences of pandemic lockdown on the economy at least tipped governments, particularly the federal government but also Queensland, into deficit spending – as they should – to stimulate the economy.

Beyond issues of industrial relations and education, you should have an eye to:

  • which party you trust to address the on-going risk of COVID-19
  • which party you trust to not only support people during the recession, but position the economy for the future benefit of Queenslanders through investment in people, skills and research, not just roads and bridges.
     

These are not short-term issues. The impact of COVID-19 and the recession will not just disappear, no matter how much we hope. Notions like an early return to budget surplus are fanciful.

Breaking agreements – ALP and LNP

The Union’s involvement in this state election is coloured by the decision of the Queensland ALP government this year to legislatively override enterprise bargaining agreements to defer pay rises. Some members agreed with the deferral of pay rises, but the QTU opposed it and still does.

This experience is not unique, however. In 2012, the QTU reached an agreement with the incoming Newman LNP government. The last stumbling block was the inclusion of a clause on class sizes that the LNP government finally agreed to. In 2013, the same government legislated to override clauses in enterprise bargaining agreements covering workload (which includes class sizes), maximising permanency and more.

Anger is justified at the way Queensland teachers and principals have been treated. And we should not forget. 
However, when I addressed the QTU State Council in August about the QTU’s involvement in this election campaign, I said: “We have to put aside our legitimate anger and think clearly about what is going to be in the best interests of our members and the students in state schools and TAFE over the next four years.”

Your vote is yours

In the end, as always, you will make your choice and cast your vote privately based on your concerns and values.
I did like a post in a previous election that said “Cast your vote not just for yourself but for the most vulnerable person you know.” I offer that advice too for your consideration.

Graham Moloney
General Secretary

 

Announcements and QTU comment (updated 20 Oct)

teacher and teacher-aide numbers

ALP announcement (18 Oct)  includes the employment of 6,190 new teachers and 1,139 teacher-aides over the next four years, “to meet student enrolment growth and maintain nation-leading teacher to student ratios and low class sizes”

QTU comment

  • The figures quoted are estimates covering both replacement of retiring/resigning teachers and enrolment growth of approximately 8,000 students per year.
  • The important part is the commitment “to meet student enrolment growth and maintain… low class sizes”.
  • The Liberal National Party (LNP), which earlier promised 3,350 teachers, has complained it is not an “apples with apples” comparison.
  • The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) is writing to the LNP seeking a commitment from the LNP that it will employ sufficient teachers to maintain class sizes, given the LNP opposed the inclusion of class size targets in the EB6 agreement and then legislated to invalidate them.

student wellbeing package

ALP announcement (18 Oct)

  • This package is directed at student mental health. Every Queensland primary and secondary state school student will have “access to a psychologist or similar health and wellbeing professional” at a cost of $100m.
  • This will involve the employment of 464 health professionals to provide “expert advice and support across all phases of student wellbeing, including mental health promotion, early intervention for mental health issues and complex case management”. 
  • Also included is a pilot placing general practitioners in 20 state secondary schools “in areas of greatest need, providing access to medical care and advice free of charge in a familiar environment”
     
  • QTU comment
  • The importance of student mental health has previously been recognised, but until now has seemed too big to address in any meaningful way. 
  • Student mental health has been identified as one of the fastest growing areas of workload and stress by Dr Phil Riley in annual principal health and wellbeing surveys.
  • COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have exacerbated and drawn attention to issues of mental health. 
  • This announcement is a MAJOR commitment in a very important area of need. 
  • The relationship of these new positions with existing guidance officers and their respective roles will have to be addressed if the ALP is elected. The QTU definitely does not support the introduction of the new positions as a replacement for existing guidance services (which should also be increased), but as an addition to the resources addressing student mental health

paid internship program

ALP announcement(18 Oct) : a $20 million internship program to “provide 300 aspiring teachers with financial support, mentoring and paid internship employment to complete their teaching qualification and take up a guaranteed permanent teaching position in a Queensland state school”.

QTU comment

  • The QTU understands from previous discussions (and will confirm) that this proposal is very different to the Teach for Australia program to which the Union remains implacably opposed.
  • The introduction of the two-year graduate teaching qualification has posed a barrier to graduates in other fields seeking to become teachers. An internship is a constructive way of continuing to attract graduates in other fields and career changers to teaching as a profession. 
  • The internship program will provide financial support during the first year of the graduate teaching program and a paid internship (at a rate set in the current EB9 agreement) while completing the second year of the teaching qualification (N.B. the course program, while still the equivalent of a two-year program, may be compressed in time).
  • The QTU has, for at least the last decade, negotiated unpaid internship agreements for students in the final year of their four-year teaching qualification. A similar arrangement will be negotiated for participants in this internship program. This is in marked contrast to the Teach for Australia program, under which students were given full responsibility for classes after 14 weeks of teacher education

after-school home centres

ALP announcement (18 Oct) : ALP will establish after-school homework centres in 120 state schools. The centres (or sessions) will “be for a maximum of three hours per week, for 30 weeks per year, supervised by up to three on-site teacher-aides”. The cost is $8m per year.

QTU commentSave

  • There is little doubt that this will provide valuable support to students who may not have resources at home to complete homework. The experience of remote learning for some students is part of the motivation for this policy. If the ALP is elected, the QTU will advocate for the distribution of the 120 sessions and access for students to these sessions to be on the basis of need.
  • Consideration will also have to be given to the relationship with outside school hours care and supervision

extension of free TAFE and apprenticeships

ALP announcement (18 Oct) : The government, if re-elected, “will provide free TAFE and free apprenticeships for Queenslanders under the age of 25 in 165 priority qualifications”.

  • This is an extension of programs such as Free TAFE for year 12 school leaders and Free Apprenticeships for under 21s. The $21m investment is supposed to assist 37,000 young Queenslanders.

QTU comment

  • There has been a sloppiness in terminology in the past that has seen TAFE and VET used interchangeably. The Union understands that this investment will be through TAFE Queensland. 
  • The program is directed towards young people because of the well-documented impact of COVID-19 and the accompanying recession on young workers. 
  • The QTU anticipates further announcements in the TAFE area, which will be publicised when available

The promises and records of the political parties (by educational / industrial issue)


 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street,Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064

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