Special projects for 2020: an introduction
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 1, 21 February 2020, page no. 12
2020 sees the QTU undertake a series of special projects in a an effort to improve the service we provide for our members. Here is brief introduction to three of them.
Occupational violence (OV) is a work health and safety issue. Every worker in a school has the right to be safe in their workplace. Being subjected to violence and aggression is not “just part of the job”. The QTU is committed to ensuring teachers and educational leaders know their rights in relation to workplace violence.
The Occupational Violence Special Project’s objectives are:
- to eliminate/reduce OV in the workplace so that members are safe at work
- to ensure that members’ rights are understood to be as important as students’ - they are not competing priorities.
Strategies implemented through the OV Special Project will deliver a culture where:
- informed and engaged members are willing to assert their right to be safe
- there are increased incident reports
- OV is seen through the correct lens – that of safety at work (and not that violence is “just part of the job”)
- zero tolerance of OV is enforced
- all individuals have a right to a safe workplace.
While our members regularly take action on OV, as individuals and as a collective, the project seeks to grow a shared understanding of what constitutes OV and what actions our educational leaders and teachers can take to keep themselves and others safe at work.
The first step will be an education campaign supported by accessible resources. While the department released its Occupational Violence Prevention procedure in late October 2018, it was without fanfare and many members are still not aware of it or its implications for them and their colleagues.
Clearly there is work to do.
Kevina O'Neill, Assistant Secretary - Services
The QTU has been researching “Generation Z” (Gen Z) – the demographic cohort currently aged 25 and under – and its values, priorities and motivators, not only to better understand this cohort, but to use the knowledge gained to inform changes to procedures and policies that will effectively attract and engage this new generation of teachers.
The research has resulted in the Gen Z Report, which makes a range of recommendations explaining how the QTU can adapt to ensure successful engagement with Gen Z.
In 2020, the QTU will use the report to develop a strategic implementation plan, and a Gen Z team has been established to activate a range of the recommendations, including:
- establishing a Gen Z advisory group
- developing campaigns and promotions designed to recruit and engage Gen Z
- identifying the QTU values that most closely align to Gen Z’s values, and highlighting these in Gen Z-focused servicing, recruiting, campaigning and organising
- reviewing the style, content and language of communications
- reconsidering social media strategy, including which platforms are used for what purpose, increasing the visual appeal of posts, the language used, improving interactivity and working with online “influencers”
- promoting and increasing Gen Z involvement in existing QTU structures
- conducting focus groups to explore what “belonging” feels like to Gen Z
- reviewing the type of events organised for young teachers and ways of increasing their involvement in wider events such as Labour Day
- introducing professional development that reflects Gen Z’s learning styles.
Louise Loriaux, Acting Research Officer
Menopause at Work
Once a female orca whale has gone through menopause, what position does she take in the pod? She takes the LEAD – her experience helps ensure the survival of the pod, especially when times are tough.
Humans and whales are the only species who experience menopause, they experience menopause at about age 50, and die around 90 years of age. Freed from “re-productivity”, the post-menopause female is high in productivity.
As a feminised union, and employer, the QTU is currently undertaking a pilot program with workplace wellbeing advisor Thea O’Connor to become a menopause friendly organisation, honouring this significant, natural stage in the life cycle, while also supporting women who might struggle with menopausal symptoms.
Following an initial staff survey, QTU policies will be reviewed for opportunities to embed menopause to make it easier to access support when needed. There will also be education for staff and training for managers. The outcomes of the pilot will direct and inform us in improving conditions for menopausal and peri- and post-menopausal women in schools.
Menopause is the last of the great taboos of women’s health, and there is a significant lack of education, support and information available to this group. In providing support and information to our members, I am acutely aware of the health impacts of menopause for them professionally (keeping in mind that the average teacher is a 45-year-old woman). Further, I believe middle-aged women are disproportionately the target of performance management processes and conflict issues with management, and often there are underlying health issues at play.
Penny Spalding, Assistant Secretary Womens and Social Welfare Issues