Winning for Members
The Union has been instrumental in achieving a range of wins for members.
Sharing our wins is an important way to showcase the work the Union undertakes on behalf of members each and every day.
Although your local wins might seem small to you, they are still worth sharing and celebrating. Often, a local win becomes a regional win. And sometimes, the actions of one group of members in a particular workplace can lead to systemic change and a win for all members across the state.
When QTU members act collectively, we win. That is a pretty powerful reason to choose to belong!
So, have a think about the local wins you have had recently in your workplace and share them below.
Some recent examples of QTU campaigning...
Workload reduction wins
- Only two written reports required for parents per year.*
- Comments are only required if the school consults around their inclusion.*
- No requirement for intra-regional moderation of student work.
- No system-imposed pedagogical frameworks, including from the region (see also Agreed Statement).
* If schools wish to extend beyond what is required, they can do so (following consultation at the local level), but only if workload does not increase (e.g. reporting more than twice per year but removing comments).
Initial outcomes of QTU/Queensland Government workload reduction negotiations:
- No system-imposed pedagogical frameworks (including from the region).
- Annual performance reviews (APR) to be undertaken in rostered duty time.
- Identification of and consultation around the workload implications of regional and system initiatives.
Joint Statement on Purpose and Use of Data
- No additional data beyond the requirements of the mandatory data sets.
- No requirement for physical data walls.
QTU School Leader Strategy
QTU workload priorities for school leaders developed through extensive consultation at QTU forums.
Workload reduction has long been and remains a QTU priority. The Union has been instrumental in achieving workload wins with the Department of Education, including a number of important breakthroughs with regard to the Principles of Good Workload Management, memorandums of agreement (MoAs) and a range of joint statements. We have made important steps forward, but much remains to be accomplished.
As a result of EB10, the department has committed to a review of the duties associated with all teaching and school leadership roles within a school, as part of the forthcoming review of allocative methodology. We cannot address workload and wellbeing if we do not remove the things we do that are additional to our roles.
Clarity about what the core duties of planning, teaching, assessing, reporting and developing look like for teachers, heads of program and school leaders will help ensure that resourcing is directed to these things, and will mean that we are no longer expecting the profession to do more with the same levels of resourcing. While there has previously been some adjustment to the allocative methodology to accommodate changes, this is the first review of its kind in more than 30 years.
Mapping exactly what teachers and school leaders are currently required to do is a crucial early step in the review of duties and responsibilities and the consequent identification of the workload creep that has occurred in recent years. Without that detailed mapping, it is impossible to establish what workload can be reasonably and permanently removed. The terms of the review will be communicated to members when drafting is finalised and EB10 certified.
Workload review joint statement
A response to the Workload Review Joint Statement - a school perspective.
The implementation of the DoE/QTU Workload Review Joint Statement was brought to the school's attention by our Union Reps following a State Council meeting.
What did we do?
Our school has had a long-standing agenda of monitoring and mitigating teacher workload through the LCC, SLT and Executive. As such, the work that had to be done prepared us for the Workload Review Statement. Our strategic plan had already listed staff professional and personal wellbeing as a priority. Further, bringing the joint statement to the LCC meant that the Executive team had time to digest the document and bring it to the attention of the SLT at planning days, which coincided with the creation of the 2021 AIP focus areas underpinned by the strategic plan.
We saw a need to support members in understanding the document, its use, and the timeline for implementation of change processes.
The Union Reps used a complementary mapping tool to gauge an understanding of the impact on workload at our school, and an understanding of the context of this at our site. This used the workload review poster and turned it into a writable PDF, on which members could list specific areas as those of concern, with the ability to free-type text comments to contextualise. The PDF was emailed to members, and Reps also took it to staff rooms to gather feedback and actively start the conversation about the workload review.
These have included:
- reporting changes
- alteration of differentiation documentation
- revision of whole-school moderation
- increase in engagement from current members by showing practical value in unionism
- at the metro level, we have engaged deputy principals and their delegates to network across the region to start development of a differentiation tool to reduce teacher workload.
Work life balance
As a team, we have chosen to tackle areas within our school community to support our colleagues to be the best teachers they can be and empower them to have a healthier work life balance. Essentially, our school was characterised by an overworked, stressed-out workforce. We knew we needed to support real change to reduce workload.
For a long time, our LCC team had the understanding that a Union Rep could bring issues and ideas to administration and we would work through these together. One such example of this was when the idea to change our "no surprises" policy was raised regarding student achievement. The policy was replaced with an email to parents of students who performed poorly on formative assessment tasks, advising them of our concerns and providing a range of support strategies that could be utilised. The use of email instead of phone calls drastically reduces workload on staff and clearly outlines, to both parents and students, the steps required to prepare successfully for the summative assessment, with enough time to action.
Some years back, after consultation, we agreed that our 1-hour weekly staff meetings should be conducted in two sessions: a 15-minute briefing on Monday mornings for administrative issues then a 45-minute meeting on Tuesday afternoons with working time for tasks such as moderation. That is a total of 60 minutes of meeting time in a single week, outside of rostered duty time, with working time factored into the 45-minute session. We are currently using Teams to facilitate the briefings. From here, our podcast, Workload Reduction Monday, was born.
Workload reduction initiative
Our school is a large school with more than 1,700 students and 130 teachers. There are many strategies used to make the most of the time teachers have available. In terms of planning curriculum delivery, the school would typically have one teacher take the lead and plan a unit of work for a team of up to 12 colleagues. There was no time for the team to plan or collaborate, and as a result, once handed the unit of work, it was a case of choose your own adventure or "paint by numbers". The dedicated team of teachers were doing their best, but we knew there were increasing pressures and that there had to be a better way to operate in such a large school.
Through working collegially and consultatively with Union Reps and then a pilot team of dedicated teachers for over a year, we were able to design a process that allowed teachers to deliver the Australian Curriculum with precision and fidelity. The pilot saw significant increases in teacher capability and student outcomes. This was evident in the cycle of feedback from teachers who were able to trial the process, and the school results. The challenge that lay ahead was how to provide teachers and leaders with the time to "do the right work".
Through an extensive and detailed consultation process, the school and its members were able to develop a school structure and timetable that would give teachers an extra 170 minutes a week to intentionally collaborate, on top of their award time of 210 minutes. This time would not require the writing of supervision slips or require teachers to stay past 3pm.
The school is poised to commence the new timetable at the start of Term Two this year. Much preparation and planning has already been undertaken, with feedback from members regularly sought and addressed.
The teachers now have the time and support to plan more deeply, precisely, and collaboratively than ever before. The outcomes of this work are already being felt by teachers, school administration and students.
Workload campaign action
The joint statements represent a significant body of work that QTU officers have undertaken with and on behalf of Queensland Teachers' Union teachers and school leaders. The joint statements are tools that can support QTU Reps in LCC discussions and guide Union Reps to successful industrial outcomes in our workplaces.
The DET/QTU Joint Statement Planning, Preparation, Differentiation and Planning for Individual Students Including Individual Curriculum Plans, acknowledges the importance of planning to deliver high quality curriculum. An important caveat in the joint statement is to what degree the Director-General of the department and the General Secretary of the QTU agree that this planning should be shared with others.
The joint statement specifically says: " ... short term preparation (e.g. lesson plans, teaching notes) is individual teacher preparation and need not be made available to others except during an agreed mentoring or professional development program."
In a department meeting early in Term 1, members in a school in the East Brisbane Branch were advised that they were to provide individual lessons plans to their head of department. Reps in the meeting expressed concern that this was not a requirement, that the change in expectation would lead to changing working conditions, and that this had not been agreed to in the LCC.
Following the meeting, Reps disseminated an electronic copy of the joint statement to teachers and school leaders and sought a follow up meeting with the principal. At the meeting, agreement was reached around planning requirements. The school identifies as a Marzano Art and Science of Teaching school, and whole-school professional development is presently being undertaken around setting learning goals and success criteria.
Parties agreed that teachers are working towards framing their lessons with the Marzano language of learning goals and success criteria, but that this level of detailed lesson planning does not need to be shared or stored.
The Union Representatives' actions demonstrated the value of the joint statements as industrial tools to resist workload intensification.
P-12 CARF reveals workload wins
Following consultation with the QTU, the P-12 Curriculum and Reporting Framework (P-12 CARF) was released at the start of Term 3 for implementation in 2022.
A comparison between the new P-12 CARF and the current version reveals a stronger focus on workload reduction, including the end of imposed pedagogical frameworks to provide autonomy for schools to make decisions based on their context. The new P-12 CARF also strengthens expectations regarding reporting and moderation requirements. However, the most significant changes are around minimum curriculum requirements, particularly in primary schools.
What has changed?
The QTU was instrumental in ensuring that the voice of primary school teachers was heard during consultation, and as a result, primary schools will see a reduction in assessment and reporting requirements throughout the curriculum. Currently, teachers in prep-year 2 are required to assess and report on student progress in all seven learning areas every semester, which has a significant workload impact, particularly for prep teachers who are also teaching students the skills they need to be an active learner in a school setting.
The new P-12 CARF outlines the minimum curriculum requirements from 2022, meaning that schools can spend the remainder of 2021 updating their whole school planning documents (WSPD) to reflect the change, support a reduction in workload and meet the needs of students.
The right to disconnect
The new certified agreement contains a suite of measures to address the impact of technology on work-life balance and the wellbeing of teachers and school leaders, including new digital technologies clauses that resulted from our member campaigning on the right to disconnect.
The campaign addressed member concerns that teachers and school leaders, regardless of role, are working long hours and feeling pressured to be constantly available for work-related communication outside of their normal working hours. This view was supported by the results of the QTU’s 2018 Teacher Workload Survey, which found that more than 50 per cent of respondents enjoyed a positive workload impact from reducing digital communication.
Under the new clauses at 9.5 of the certified agreement, teachers and school leaders are not required to respond to work-related emails, phone calls, or other communications outside of their designated work hours, unless there is an urgent or exceptional circumstance (eg school closure due to flooding). This is intended to help address the issue of “digital presenteeism,” where teachers and school leaders feel compelled to constantly check and respond to work-related communications, even outside of their normal working hours.
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Addressing escalating behaviour issues
Student, parent and community behaviours are often the source of the greatest hazards for QTU members. Consequently, the QTU has been working with members and lobbying the government and Department of Education (DoE) over the past two years to address escalating behaviours.
Actions included: making submissions to the review of Education General Provisions Act, the state budget and the vaping enquiry; consulting members on the issues they face and the responses needed from DoE, including support for student disciplinary absences (SDAs); issuing directives when necessary to ensure staff and student safety; and rejecting discipline audits (see the QTU website for the full list).
The QTU has also developed a strategy to focus on student behaviour, which goes beyond addressing behaviour issues as they occur to also focus on preventing behaviour problems. The strategy emphasises that the QTU has zero tolerance for aggression and violence in the workplace and is designed to ensure our members are safe at work. It also recognises that all students in a class and school have the right to an environment in which they can learn, and that the majority of students should not have their learning undermined by the actions of a few.
Occupational violence campaign
After extensive support and the failure of the parent to engage with the school, the principal and her deputy made the decision to exclude a 14-year-old boy, after an aggravated incident where he spat at the principal. This student had shown threatening behaviour toward staff on several occasions and was totally non-compliant with directions from teachers.
Formal notification was passed onto the region and the parent. After the deadline to appeal the school decision, the parent wrote an email to the North Queensland Regional Director that began: "I know I don't have grounds to appeal the findings ... ". The school was then notified that the Regional Director had decided not to exclude the student due to its failure to complete a functional behaviour assessment.
The principal and the deputy felt incredibly unsupported and embarrassed that their judgment, willingness to support, and capacity to support staff had been so clearly challenged. Of most concern to the principal was the safety of teachers. On the student's return to school, he struck another student in a manual arts classroom with a piece of timber and threatened the teacher, only hours after the principal, deputy principal, heads of department, guidance officer, community education counsellor, and parent had established a support plan for his re-entry.
The principal expressed their concern for the teachers and students to me and informed me, as a Union Rep, of what had unfolded. I discussed the options and arranged an urgent meeting with the Union Reps.
A sub-branch meeting was held immediately, passing a resolution condemning the decision to overrule the principal's conclusion. In consultation with the QTU Regional Organiser and members, requirements were established that would ensure the student would be integrated back into education at the school safely.
It was requested that the region provide an additional allocation of a full-time (FTE) teacher for practical classes (manual arts/PE/art) and a full-time teacher-aide for normal classes to assist the teacher with supervision of the student. We knew that this was a big ask, but it gave us a position from which to negotiate. Everyone was happy to at least accept the allocation of an FTE teacher-aide position with some training to support teachers. This had to be funded by the region and could not be at the expense of other programs. Should that not be forthcoming, we would convene another meeting and seek a directive to withdraw instruction. The motion was put to staff and supported overwhelmingly through the strong campaigning of the Union Reps.
The region, having received the motions from members, was clearly not happy. It was at this stage that QTU Organiser Paul Waters really took the floor in negotiations. The standoff between Paul, members and the region lasted close to a week. The day before we were due to vote on and seek the directive, the North Queensland region acquiesced to our demands and provided a full-time teacher-aide. This opened discussions around the training requirements to ensure that this student could reengage in learning with confident and safe staff members.
The success of this campaign really comes down to three factors:
1) Members identified what was needed to resolve the issue.
2) Members supported each other, especially when the region started biting back.
3) The successful coordination between the QTU Organiser, the principal, and the Union Reps
During Term 2 of this year, a year 3 teacher at A South Queensland school approached her Union Rep seeking help with the ongoing verbal and physical assaults she was experiencing from one of her students. These assaults had been occurring since the beginning of the year, with little or no consequence applied at the school, despite requests by the teacher. The class teacher was feeling intimidated by the student's parent, who was contacting the teacher via email, phone calls and in face-to-face informal meetings demanding immediate responses and actions to various requests regarding her child. When the teacher did not respond immediately or do what the parent requested, the parent would contact the principal, then the Regional Director to complain.
The Union Rep contacted Acting QTU South Queensland Organiser Liam Holcombe for assistance. Liam arranged for a meeting with the principal, the classroom teacher, and Union Reps. It was agreed that Liam would contact the DDSWQ Regional Director (RD) to address the issue and seek additional support for the school. The RD was aware of the situation, as the parent of the student had been making complaints against the school for the past 12 months.
The Regional Director wanted the school to establish behaviour plans for the student and offered to provide regional behaviour support coaches to help with the creation of these plans. However, before the plans were endorsed, the student was removed from the class and placed with the learning support teacher as a short-term solution to prevent further assaults on the class teacher. A further teacher was then employed to shadow the learning support teacher, with a plan to take over the teaching of the student with a small group of other students and gradually bring the student back to her regular class.
During the semester vacation break, the parent made several complaints to the region about the school and requested that the student be returned immediately to her regular classroom after the holidays. Subsequently, the region directed the school to return the student to the class on the Monday morning after the holidays. The region directed that a meeting take place at the school, with stakeholders and the parents on that first Monday morning, to review and endorse the behaviour plans. That morning the parents collected the child's belongings from the learning support classroom and took them to the child's year three classroom. None of this had been communicated to the classroom teacher until the Monday morning before school.
The classroom teacher requested that a QTU Representative attend the meeting with her, but the region and principal denied this request. The classroom teacher contacted QTU Organiser Zeb Sugden for advice and support, as she felt physically ill at the prospect of the student returning to the class without a re-entry process, resourcing needs and co-constructed signed behaviour plans.
The classroom teacher was too ill to attend the meeting by herself, and concerned about the danger of being physically assaulted again, as well as the intimidating behaviour of the parent, Union Reps convened a meeting with Union members at the school and voted on the following resolution:
That a workplace directive be issued to withdraw instruction until such time as the appropriate plans be endorsed and signed by the student's parents and classroom teacher; and additional resourcing be provided to the school to cater for the needs of the student.
The parents would not sign the plans, and the directive was issued, remaining in place for five weeks, with the support of all the teachers at the school. During this time, a number of supply teachers were required to teach the student one-on-one in the school library. The directive was lifted by members when the department finally agreed to provide resources as requested by the classroom teacher and endorse and implement the behaviour plan, despite the parent not signing it.
The class teacher engaged in a re-entry process with the student and welcomed her back into the class, catering for her needs and following the behaviour plan. However, on the second day back in the class, the parent was seen taking photos of the classroom and teacher before school. The parent then became abusive toward the principal in the presence of students. The school issued a hostile parent letter the following day. Within a couple of days, the student again assaulted the teacher. The student was issued with a three-day suspension, however the classroom teacher had to take further sick leave because of the assault. The parent then contacted The Brisbane Times and tried to direct blame toward the school and QTU members for seeking the directive and suspending the student.
During the Term 3 vacation break, the Union Reps, along with classroom teacher and Zeb Sugden, met with Education Minister Grace Grace, the Minister's Chief of Staff, and the Director-General regarding the ongoing assaults and the extreme difficulties experienced when working with the parents. Extreme disappointment and a lack of faith in the region's ability to support the school were also expressed. The Minister and the Director-General stated that the status quo could not remain and that solutions would be provided to address the issues raised.
As a result, Workplace Health and Safety immediately removed the student from the teacher's classroom and placed the student in a more appropriate classroom environment. Additional resourcing has been provided to the school to plan and cater for the student's extensive behavioural needs. The parent was directed to have no further contact with the school and can only communicate with the school via one point of contact in regional office. At this stage, members are satisfied with the outcome, but are monitoring the situation closely.
This was a school-led community initiative with a twofold purpose: to empower the students and community around seeking support, understanding and knowing what domestic and family violence is, and to make the school and community's stance on domestic and family violence clear.
The school arranged for four guest speakers from a variety of professions and experiences to shed light on an issue that plagues many communities around Australia. Professor Ross Young (QUT), Snr Sgt Virginia Dixon, Jacque Lachmond (CEO of Australia's CEO Challenge), and young ambassadors from Logan-based youth support service R4Respect.
These perspectives laid the foundation for the session that followed, which saw the students, community, and other school VIPs and guests engage with the community service providers, 26 of which attended the symposium to unite with the combined message.
To further emphasise the message and to ensure that this message has a lasting legacy both inside and outside of the school, a mural was created by the students to be displayed in the school, and another mural was created by the local Youth Service through young people within the community, to be displayed at the local skate park.
Special needs support campaign
What was the issue?
A student with Down’s syndrome and autism at quartile four was exhibiting unpredictable, violent behaviour. The school had utilised all its available resourcing to help manage the classroom, in fact allocating extra funding to provide 20 hours of TA extra support. The behaviours escalated and the school could no longer maintain the funding drain, and no regional funding could be called on.
What was the members’ campaign response?
Members invited the RO to the school, a sub-branch meeting was held, and a directive was issued to refuse instruction to the student. As a result, region provided extra funding at the beginning of Term 3 for a full-time special needs support teacher for the first three weeks of the term, and subsequently 25 hours a week of one-on-one support by a teacher-aide for the remainder of Term 3.
What was the resolution, and what are the ongoing issues?
The issue was escalated to a level three dispute. Ongoing negotiations have ensued between the department and the Union around the provision of the full-time teacher-aide and the funding for that position going forward. Members stuck staunchly behind their principal to achieve an acceptable outcome.
Facilities & housing
The administration realised that the enrolment projections for the school had not taken account of the rapid increase of the local population.
The demand for housing on the Sunshine Coast had led to the development of new residential areas and houses, increasing the total number of students in the catchment. The forecast was 310 enrolments, whereas the actual number was 340 students at the school in June 2021. By July, we reached 350 students, a number that had been forecast for the year 2024.
The school was quickly reaching capacity, with 15 classrooms and one learning space for specialist music lessons. The computer room had to be reclassified as a Year 1 classroom, with the desk-top computers placed in a classroom. The school was projected to reach beyond 350 students before the end of the year and classrooms were reaching capacity quickly. Staff at the school were becoming anxious as to what the solution to this problem would be, and there was no clear plan available.
Another concern was that of human rights. A student with disabilities had been at the school for three years. However, the school had not yet been able to provide him with wheelchair access to the office or a concrete pathway to the school oval. In the three years of attending Yandina, he had never been inside the school office or accessed parts of the oval. The options for future classroom placement for SWD looked limited, with the possibility that the student would be in the same classroom block for his entire primary school journey. The P&C soon became concerned about enrolment growth and accessibility and sought the support of the local MP.
The Department of Education infrastructure department was still modelling on the February 2020 forecast and was not able to confirm any foreseeable short or long-term solution. With the assistance of the QTU and Union members at another school nearby, the school’s plight gained more recognition from the government. The school has a strong level of teacher support, with 93 per cent of teachers being financial members. The QTU members undertook a survey to establish their willingness to take industrial action for the improvement of the facilities at the school. With continued QTU support and a visit to the school by the local MP, the department facilities team contacted the school, as well as the Union, to initiate short and long-term plans. Short-term plans include significant renovation of the school office building.
A wheelchair access ramp is being designed to allow access to the A block office area, as well as a bridge overpass (above the covered walkway) to link the office to the nearby B block classrooms. The renovation of adjacent buildings may allow for future growth. Pathways for wheelchair access from the covered area and toilet block to the oval have been measured, and we anticipate their construction within the next few months. In the long-term, the school has been identified as needing additional improvements.
Over time, it is anticipated that new learning areas will be available to cope with the in-catchment enrolment demand. The school will also have a master plan developed to factor in updated future growth. With the support of QTU members at this and surrounding schools, the Union was able to provide the impetus for the Department of Education to recognise the disparity in its total catchment forecasting. After this recognition, it became a priority for the department to provide the school with safe, accessible, and supportive facilities to improve the working conditions of both students and staff.
In Week 9 of Term 2, sections of the ceiling fell into a ground floor room of a 1950s built A block at A Central Queensland high school, revealing serious termite damage to the supporting structure. Inspection led to the closure of four of the ten classrooms and the stairs and veranda at one end of the block.
The principal kept staff up to date with the little information that emerged on the extent of the damage and options for the future. After 11 weeks of inaction, QTU Reps and members felt that the ongoing disruption to learning and safety concerns was being ignored, and a workplace meeting was held. Membership voted to communicate our concerns to regional officers and give them until the start of Term 4 to develop an acceptable timeline for action or we would meet again to consider lobbying the local MLA and potential industrial action.
Since then, we've met with the facilities officer and regional director. We met to give teacher input into the design and ways to minimise the impact of the repair and refurbishment for the whole block.
Lack of facilities
The lack of facilities at this Wide Bay school was unmanageable and impacted on the wellbeing and safety of QTU members. QTU members and the Organiser were in contact with the department in relation to the school's facilities issues.
Members further relayed their concerns to QTU Senior Officers regarding the delay in action, with the QTU requesting the department to meet with members as a matter of urgency to develop an appropriate plan.
This was resolved directly with the department at a central level. As a result of their action, departmental officials met with members in a timely manner, with members recognising their speedy response and efforts in resolving members’ concerns.
Members again resolved that the department should commit and provide members with a written outline detailing the timeframe of development by the last week of Term 1, or members would consider industrial action.
As a result of the local campaign by members, the Queensland Government has approved funding for a new administration block.
The outcome, although taking seven months, was a successful one. This could not have occurred without the strong Union support of the Union Representative, members and the QTU Organiser Scott Welch, and members should be congratulated.
Air conditioning campaign
QTU members at South Queensland college celebrated the successful conclusion of their campaign for air-conditioned housing. The area experiences high temperatures in summer and low temperatures in winter, which can result in uncomfortable living conditions and sleepless nights for staff, who are then supposed to get up and teach students the following morning. When ownership of teacher accommodation was transferred to the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW), the then Premier Campbell Newman had claimed that the decision would improve the standard of accommodation for all government employees.
Members were led to believe that this would include air conditioning installed in housing. However, with the change of ownership, the disparity in the standard of housing become more evident. Of 113 residencies under the control of DHPW, 32 were occupied by education personnel. Only five were air-conditioned, seven were partly air-conditioned, and 20 had no air conditioning at all. In fact, education was the only public agency with residences that had no air conditioning. Tired of hearing promises from both sides of politics, members decided to take action.
The sub-branch developed an air-conditioning campaign plan and requested endorsement from QTU Senior Officers for its demand that all teachers living in government employee housing have air conditioning installed. The campaign centred on contact with Education Minister Kate Jones, Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni, local Warrego MP Ann Leahy, ABC Southern Queensland, and the local newspaper. Members believed they were getting somewhere when Minster de Brenni and his chief of staff visited the area and met with Union Reps Sue Price and Chris Smith. During the visit, Chris and Sue strongly advocated for improved teacher accommodation standards and identified the lack of air-conditioning in the majority of the teaching housing as a major concern for members.
When the sub-branch sent a follow up letter to Minister de Brenni's chief of staff without receiving a response, members asked QTU Senior Officers to contact the Minister's office. It took two months before members received an official reply, which indicated that the status quo would remain for the foreseeable future. The day before the letter was received, Warrego MP Ms Ann Leahy stood in Parliament to ask Minister de Brenni about the two-month delay and when additional funding would be provided to resolve the accommodation issues. The Minister reiterated the status quo would remain.
The sub-branch requested that QTU Executive issue a directive for a one hour stop-work meeting on Thursday 15 September, to enable members to discuss future strategy. The ballot was overwhelmingly carried and conveyed to Minister Jones and Minister de Brenni. Rather than wait for DHPW to find a solution, Minister Jones intervened and requested DoE infrastructure services branch to work with DHPW to install air conditioning in all teacher housing in the town during the September school holidays, with a final completion date no later than 1 December.
Congratulations to the sub-branch for a very successful local campaign. The local action members were willing to take exemplifies what unionism is about. They were determined to address the inequity and never underestimated their strength when united behind the cause.
Teacher accommodation campaign
The local accommodation officer (LAO) contacted the QTU to indicate that a teacher who had been incidentally employed on contract some years ago and was over time subsequently made permanent, had recently been deemed ineligible for subsidised teacher housing. The circumstances were that the teacher had returned to Queensland with his wife and children after returning from the USA. While exploring options, they stayed temporarily with his parents. A temporary position came up as an agriculture science teacher (a teaching area of shortage), and the member was engaged in that role.
The teacher was not made aware of teacher accommodation, and as the position was incidental, it was not flagged to him that he might want to go on the waiting list. As the position was working well for the teacher and the school, the teacher was offered permanency. In the meantime, he had moved into local rental accommodation.
Overtime his circumstances changed. The LAO made him aware that there was teacher accommodation and that as a single person there was availability. The LAO, who was also the school principal, had the view that the teacher was entitled to subsidised housing. The teacher has been in multi-tenancy this year, but received a request to repay the department monies owing as he was not entitled to subsidised housing. The ruling was that the teacher: “had not been transferred (or appointed) into a location (from outside the centre) to meet a government service or need”. The department flagged initially that the member would be charged market rental. The LAC chair liaised with the QTU and made a local decision that subsidised rental would be provided.
The department then chose to override the local decision and stated “the QTU is not a decision maker”. It was at this point that the LAO and other QTU members sought assistance from the QTU. The LAO view was that the teacher had a permanent Australian address after relocating from the USA and just happened to be in the area at the time a temporary engagement came up, and therefore he had been appointed from outside the area. It was an oversight that the teacher was not aware of the teacher accommodation at the time of appointment, due to the incidental nature of the appointment and the fact that the teacher and his family was for a time staying with his parents.
Despite the LAO's position and some other circumstances (that are not directly relevant to the point above) the department's position remained firm. As a result, QTU members at the school indicated that they were going to hold a workplace meeting to discuss this matter and consider what action members could take. The very flagging of the meeting led to a review of the circumstances of this teacher's employment, and the department agreed that the teacher did meet the conditions that allowed him to have access to subsidised teacher accommodation.
The workplace meeting still went ahead, providing a summary of the matters and acknowledgement of the resolution by regional human resources.
The teacher shortage has been felt in Northern Queensland, just like at many other schools in the state. Last year it reached a level where it was no longer tolerable or acceptable to QTU members at one particular school. A meeting of members in October 2021 was concerned that staffing for 2022 showed a shortage of 16 teachers across multiple teaching areas.
Despite members’ concerns being communicated to the department, including the detrimental impact on workload, wellbeing and student outcomes, no tangible or worthwhile solutions were forthcoming. Worse than this, the department’s central HR office offered no response and ignored the communication.
Another meeting was called, and members, via a ballot, overwhelming supported taking industrial action in the form of a stop-work meeting.
Through the pressure of QTU members, and with the ongoing support from QTU Organisers Chris Munro, Paul Waters (retired and hopefully fishing at this very moment), and Dan Coxen, QTU Deputy General Secretary Brendan Crotty, members of the QTU Executive, QTU State Council, and other schools in the region, the department has begun to implement an initiative called the Teacher Rapid Response Team/Flying Squad to address the shortage in the short term.
QTU members at the school are proud of their campaign, its influence in the creation of the Flying Squad, and the positive impact in the short term.
The principal of a Wide Bay high school was publicly attacked in The Courier-Mail following the release of internal school memos to the publication. The content of these memos included a couple of poorly executed but light-hearted attempts at fostering staff moral though the inclusion of inappropriate film clips.
The content of these emails, sent much earlier in the school year, had been the subject of a departmental investigation and management action. The responses of the department and the Minister showed a complete lack of support for the principal and the school. The principal was suspended pending a further investigation into the memos, and the Minister supported this publicly in the media.
Members and Reps immediately invited the Wide Bay Organiser to the school to develop resolutions in support of the principal, demanding their return, rebuking the Minister and demanding that the department implement procedures to protect its employees from media vilification.
An overwhelming number of members at the school attended a workplace meeting and unanimously voted in support of the resolutions, which were shared with both the Minister’s office and the department.
In the following days, Workplace Representatives at a neighbouring school proposed supportive resolutions of their own, and these were also adopted by a significant number of the local primary schools.
TAFE: Fighting for professional respect
In recent years, there has been a generally lax approach to consultation and inclusiveness in the programming of TAFE delivery. An “I'm the boss and you'll do what you're told" attitude has crept in, particularly during the era of the Newman LNP government. Autocratic decision-making and a diminution of regard for the professional VET teacher has been the result. With the new TAFE award and certified agreement, there has been a strong emphasis placed on the professionalism of the teaching staff and the requirement for consultation, particularly in programming and timetabling. The decision has been taken to enforce this rigorously using clause 25.4 of the TAFE certified agreement. To that end, a tool has been developed to structure the programming dispute notifications.
Programming disputes are, in the first instance, referred to an emergency subcommittee of the LCC for resolution. If they cannot be resolved within 48 hours, they can then be referred on to central office and the Union as step two. The tool specifically addresses the requirements of the certified agreement regarding programming and consultation on class size changes.
Although it may appear lengthy, the range of questions and the resulting information required to prosecute a TAFE programming dispute successfully results in a considerable document. That said, the draft tool has been used twice with positive outcomes for members. Both sides of the discussion regarded it as useful for clarifying matters in order to achieve constructive outcomes.
The TAFE Division will continue to prosecute programming disputes where there is no consultation regarding educational matters and no professional respect is shown for teachers. The aim is to make the tool a digital form that can be filled out online to increase both access to and ease of use of the tool.
Members at a Gladstone high school sought a directive from the QTU to not participate in the ACARA online item trial. This was done in support of the school administration team, who initially agreed to participate in activities that they were told would support their students prepare for NAPLAN online.
They agreed that being a trial school would be of some benefit. After agreeing in-principle, the school discovered that what they had signed up to was not what it had been sold as. The school was told they would have to conduct online testing with year 7 and 9 students at a specific time and that the school would not receive any feedback on student performance in the trials.
Teachers involved in administering the tests were also allegedly informed by Pearson that they would be required to sign a third-party confidentiality agreement. The school subsequently decided to withdraw from the testing. Upon notifying the contact person at Pearson by email that the school was not going to participate, the principal swiftly received a phone call from a QCAA employee telling him that the school could not withdraw from the testing and that they were required to complete these tests.
The principal tried to negotiate a different time for the testing to occur and was told there was no flexibility. Upon hearing this, one Union Rep decided to query the QCAA's ability to direct schools to participate and whether the QTU was aware of this testing going on in schools. The advice was that the QCAA cannot direct schools to participate in this testing, any participation would be considered voluntary, and in order to agree to participate the school would need to negotiate through the LCC and capture this process in their data plan.
The QTU was also not aware that this testing was being conducted at that time. The members voted to seek a directive from the QTU to not participate in the ACARA online item trial on the basis that the QCAA did not have the authority to direct schools to participate and that any attempt to do so without proper consultation would constitute a breach of the data joint statement. The directive was granted, and the department was informed of the members' decision.
The department sought clarification from the QCAA, which then informed the school and the department that participation was only voluntary and that the school had the right to withdraw from the tests if it wished to. The members should be congratulated on the action they took in order to have this situation clarified. This action highlighted a worrying development around the QCAA's involvement with third parties such as Pearson and their seemingly lack of understanding around industrial instruments when demanding that schools participate these types of trials.
International student reporting campaign
A Metropolitan South high school was informed that it would have to provide a Term 3 report (academic and behavioural) for international students enrolled at the school.
The school normally only provides an interim report at the end of Term 1, and then two more extensive reports at the end of Terms 2 and 4. The school has a well-established international student program, with a substantial number of students enrolled.
This term-by-term reporting requirement, established by Education Queensland International, was reported by EQI to be a requirement of the students' visas.
Members at the school objected to the requirement for the following reasons:
- Assessment programs at the school were set up in an environment that did not require academic results to be ready in time for Term 3 reporting - making these reports would require teachers to establish alternate assessment instruments just for the international students.
- Reporting in Term 3 would require OneSchool reporting to be set up for the whole school (requiring an extra reporting load for all teachers) or just for the international students (a complex activity for the deputy principal in charge of reporting).
- In requiring term-by-term reporting, EQI was establishing a precedent whereby a branch of the department was generating extra workload for staff, in direct contravention of the department's own P-12 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework, which mandates twice yearly reporting and was established initially with a view to reduce unnecessary workload on teachers and administrators.
Upon investigating the federal government policy which EQI cited as the reason for the term-by-term reporting requirement, we found that the requirement was for educational providers to report on a basis which is in line with their normal reporting requirements. We took that as meaning that as a DoE school, we did not need to report any more than twice yearly, as that is what DoE policy states.
We discussed it at LCC and informed EQI through the principal that we would be following DoE policy and reporting twice yearly, with an additional interim report at the end of Term 1. EQI responded by saying that it was the "provider" with whom the students dealt, and its stated practice was term-by term reporting.
It added that, if we were to continue along these lines, we would threaten not only our engagement with international students, but also that of the 82 other schools throughout Queensland who engaged with the program.
In the words of Ron Burgundy: "Well, that escalated quickly". In communication with EQI, we reminded them that they were in breach of the department's own policy in deciding on having term-by-term reporting. We sought (and received) help and advice from the QTU via Leah Mertens around the best way to deal with this, however we appeared to be at a roadblock.
The option of asking for a directive not to perform the reporting was even mooted. However, within a week, without official correspondence back to us from EQI, an announcement was made to all 83 schools that the following would suffice for reporting:
- Year 7 and 9 NAPLAN report will suffice for younger students
- Year 11 and 12 tracking of students, and case management interviews with parents
- any interviews or emails individual teachers or the international student coordinator have with parents about attendance, effort, and achievement.
We considered this a victory - the above requirements could be easily handled through the additional TA time provided through the international student funding without significant impact on teacher and admin workload.
The take home messages from this are:
- know the department's own policy and be able to use it to your advantage
- now that the department is insisting on the importance of LCCs, a decision from a united LCC is your strongest argument
- have a working data plan.
This school is located in a fast-growing north Brisbane area and was opened three years ago. The school has seen rapid enrolment growth and now has a split timetable between junior and senior year levels to improve access to limited play space and alleviate some of the traffic congestion associated with drop off and pick up of students.
The school had been dealing with some behaviour issues at the end of the school day, and a proposal by administration to address this included switching around the school timetable.
QTU members at the school joined with members from United Voice to consider the implications of such a change and conducted a ballot to reject the proposal due to a lack of consultation.
As a result of this member action, the proposal has been set aside to allow for proper consultation with staff at the school via the LCC.
The Union Reps at the school are using the EB publications to insist that consultation is conducted appropriately and that other options are put on the table to address the behaviour issues that led to the original proposal.
Defamation: the devil's in the detail
“A man who falsely accused his neighbour of sexually harassing his wife in a letter he sent to residents will pay tens of thousands of dollars in defamation damages.”
The above introduction appeared recently in a local newspaper and a "ker-ching" sound rang in the minds of teachers throughout Queensland, who routinely face worse abuse than this, and more widely spread. Sadly, this recent ker-ching was almost certainly premature.
What’s the story?
In May 2015, a man who lived in Mansfield with his wife and their daughter wrote a three-page letter accusing a neighbour of the “sexual harassment” of his wife by taking photos. Among other things, the letter writer opined such a person may also take photos of their children. He distributed the letter to all his neighbours. Six years later, in October 2021, the Magistrate awarded the neighbour $30,000 in defamation damages plus interest, and he ordered the letter-writer to pay the claimant’s costs. The letter writer appealed to the Brisbane District Court, where his appeal was dismissed in June 2022. Undeterred, he appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal again dismissed his appeal, with costs still to be determined.
Lessons in safety: navigating occupational violence
Teachers and school leaders know that their job is becoming more dangerous. They see students carrying knives, aggressive parents, online threats – the trend is impossible to ignore.
What are my rights and responsibilities?
Like all Australian employees, teachers and school leaders have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. This is protected by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (WHS Act), under which the employer (or PCBU) has a legal obligation to ensure that the workplace is free from hazards and risks, including workplace violence.
That means employees at schools have a legal right to expect prompt and appropriate support and systems to counteract any risks of violence in their workplace. If you have a reasonable concern that you are exposed to a serious risk to your health or safety due to an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard, you have an obligation to make a complaint about the risk.
In the state school system, it has become increasingly important for teachers and school leaders to record these “notifiable incidents” (especially “near misses”) through their school’s work health and safety management systems. This creates a record of concerns and any actions taken to address them.
By using the school’s WHS management system to report notifiable incidents you are helping to reduce the risk of injury to yourself or others. That’s why reporting near-misses is especially important, as it can help to identify potential hazards and prevent future accidents.
Innocence and the bottom line: QTU member’s pay reinstated
Teachers are entitled to natural justice if the department seeks to suspend them without pay, but a recent decision by the QIRC highlights the QTU’s vital role in keeping the bureaucrats to account.
In the matter of Thomson v State of Queensland (Department of Education)  QIRC 402, the Union supported its member in appealing a decision to suspend him without pay.
The case concerned an appeal made by a senior teacher against the decision of the Department of Education to extend his suspension without pay, despite his acquittal of criminal charges.
On 16 January 2020, the teacher was notified that historical allegations had been made against him by a former student, and on 6 February 2020 he was suspended from his teaching duties with pay.
In June 2020, the teacher was charged and his blue card suspended. He was twice required to show cause to his employer as to why he should not be suspended without pay.
On 17 December 2021, with the criminal matter yet to be heard, the department suspended him without pay for a period of six months.
On 24 February 2022, more than two years since he was originally suspended, the teacher was declared “not guilty” in the criminal trial and he requested that his suspension be revoked accordingly.
But in June 2022, the department advised him of its decision to continue his suspension without pay for an additional period of six months. This was despite the fact that previous show cause letters had highlighted the pending criminal charges as a reason why his pay was to be stopped.
With Union assistance, the teacher appealed against the decision under the public service appeals provisions of the Public Service Act 2008 (Qld), on the grounds that the decision was unfair and unreasonable.
Employers on notice of vicarious liability
An unusual drunken toilet mishap has prompted further consideration of the scope of employers’ vicarious liability for non-criminal negligent acts.
With the issue approaching the High Court of Australia, the case of Schokman v CCIG Investments Pty Ltd  QCA 38 prompts timely consideration of when an employer can be held vicariously liable for the acts of their employees.
Vicarious liability enables an employer to be liable for an employee’s individual negligence. It is not the same as when an employer breaches its own duty of care to an employee, through acts or omissions of its own. The two should not be confused.
Mr Schokman was a food and beverage supervisor employed by CCIG Investments Pty Ltd (CCIG) and was required to live in shared accommodation with another employee.
One night after work, the roommate employee consumed alcohol at the staff bar and became intoxicated. In the early hours of the morning, he returned to the shared accommodation, where Schokman was asleep.
Schokman later awoke to the roommate standing over him, urinating on him. Schokman yelled at him to stop, and after a short time, the roommate went to the bathroom and emerged to apologise.
As a result of the incident, Schokman suffered exacerbations of pre-existing conditions of narcolepsy and cataplexy, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and an adjustment disorder. He brought an action against CCIG, alleging that the employer was vicariously liable for the roommate’s negligent act.
Hug or harassment: workplace conduct under the lens amid intention for further reform
All members are entitled to safe workplaces, free from harassment and discrimination. A recent sexual harassment case highlights the difference Respect@Work reforms could make.
A sexual harassment complaint was made by a PhD student, against her university academic principal supervisor. The New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal was required to consider whether the Associate Professor’s conduct amounted to sexual harassment (Vafa v Holdsworth; Vafa v University of Newcastle  NSWCATAD 163).
The PhD student made a number of allegations against the Associate Professor, including that he:
- hugged and kissed her on each cheek in greetings and farewells
- at times touched her arms and shoulders, poked her in the arm, and rubbed her back and buttocks
- insisted that they share accommodation during a research trip to Ireland, interacted with her on Facebook and Facebook Messenger, and told another student that “my wife would have killed me” had she been aware of their accommodation arrangements.
To count as “sexual harassment” under the NSW legislation, the Associate Professor’s conduct not only needed to have been unwelcome by the student, but also be something that was objectively “sexual” in nature. A similar requirement applies in Queensland (Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) s 119(d)).
Despite being unwelcome, the tribunal dismissed certain allegations on the basis that they were not, objectively, sexual in nature.
The hugging was “undoubtedly inappropriate” and “arguably patronising”. But without more, it could not be considered sexual.
The tribunal also found the Professor would place his hand on the student’s back, including a touch to the small of her back – but that this conduct was not objectively sexual. The circumstances, frequency, and nature of the touching were relevant.
Reporting is a pain, but not doing it can be agony
At the end of a long day, the last thing any teacher wants to do is log on and report to OneSchool and MyHR.
“Do it tomorrow” whispers the devil on your shoulder. When tomorrow hits, however, it is just as eventful as yesterday, and our good reporting intentions are washed away by the fresh tsunami of tasks the new day presents.
But while reporting is a pain, at Holding Redlich we are increasingly seeing a failure to report come back to bite teachers and school leaders who have made WorkCover claims, complaints of bullying, or who are defending allegations of misconduct.
The reason is that, a bit like the proverbial tree in the woods, decision makers are asking: “If it wasn’t reported, did it ever happen?” The easy answer is “no” and you better believe that is the one they will reach for.
The privacy statement, in small text at the top of the MrHR WHS: Health and Safety Incident Data Collection Form, is useful in that it gives us some idea of how the information can be used.
It reads: “The Department of Education (DoE) is collecting personal health and safety incident information on this form in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld), and/or the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002 (Qld). The information collected may be disclosed to third parties, including the Government Superannuation Office, Australian Tax Office, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Electrical Safety Office (Qld), WorkCover Queensland, industrial organisations, or other entities in accordance with, or where requested by, law or industrial instrument.”
Normally, a disclaimer of this nature makes us think twice about whether we wish to submit the information, but for teachers this should have the opposite effect. The information that you share, or do not share, can and will be used as evidence by the department
The department strictly enforces the principle that student data in OneSchool can only be accessed by the school principal, teachers, and other authorised departmental staff.
But did you know your OneSchool records can (and will) be accessed by the department and used as evidence against your WorkCover claim or disciplinary process?
Recent examples we have seen include the rejection of a psychological injury WorkCover claim because, although there was evidence that the teacher was dealing with an incredibly problematic cohort of students, there were insufficient OneSchool or MrHR reports to support her claims.
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Managing WorkCover’s presumption of “reasonable management action”
Psychological injuries have always been an occupational hazard for teachers and school leaders, and the pandemic has certainly not led to a reduction in these injuries and the resulting WorkCover claims.
QTU members continue to juggle stressors, including ill-behaved students and their equally badly-behaved parents, increasing workloads and disrupted workplaces, and too often their mental health suffers as a result.
Unfortunately, when a member’s psychological injury has been caused by factors like student behaviour, bullying, or other non-management factors, wherever possible WorkCover leans heavily on the notorious “reasonable management action” exclusion to reject a claim.
Put simply, as a result of Section 32 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, a claim for a psychological injury can and will be rejected if WorkCover can connect the cause of the injury to “reasonable management action”.
Specifically, the exclusion in subsection 32 (5) (a) states: “‘Injury’ does not include a psychiatric or psychological disorder arising out of, or in the course of, reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way by the employer in connection with the worker’s employment."
What constitutes reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way is usually a matter for debate, but what is certain is that, if given the slightest opportunity, WorkCover’s decision makers will refuse a claim on the basis of this exclusion.
Teacher’s right to payment reinstated during suspended registration
The Supreme Court of Tasmania has allowed a teacher to be reinstated on suspension with full pay pending a criminal charge arising out of his employment.
Following a former student’s complaint against the teacher, the Tasmanian Department of Education suspended the teacher from employment, on full pay, pending a police investigation into the allegation.
The same day, the teacher’s “working with children” card was suspended, pending an “additional risk assessment”. Two weeks later, the Teachers Registration Board suspended his teacher registration on the ground that he posed a risk of harm to students, based on the suspension of his “working with children” card.
No registration, no pay
While originally suspended on full pay, the department stopped paying the teacher’s salary, citing a provision of the teachers’ award.
The Teaching Service (Tasmanian Public Sector) Award requires teachers to maintain a current registration with the Teachers Registration Board and provides: “Except in circumstances beyond the employee’s control, where a teacher employee is not currently registered as detailed above, the employee will not be paid salary until a current registration certificate is issued.”
The Secretary of the department interpreted this clause as meaning that the teacher was not entitled to take a salary while his registration was suspended.
Cost of living adjustment payments
During the negotiations for the Department of Education State School Teachers’ Certified Agreement 2022, the QTU secured a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) payment to offset the rising cost of living.
In each year of the agreement, if annual inflation (Brisbane Consumer Price Index, all groups, March quarter annual percentage change from the March quarter of the previous year, as published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) exceeds the wage increase under the agreement for the relevant agreement year, a COLA payment will be paid to eligible employees, in accordance with clause 6.2:
- at the end of the relevant agreement year
- equal to the difference between annual inflation and the wage increase for the relevant agreement year, capped at three percentage points (3 per cent)
- with reference to base wages earned under the agreement during the relevant agreement year, excluding allowances or additional payments
- as a one-off lump sum not forming part of base salary and taxed according to the applicable law.
A lump sum COLA payment is provided for each year of the 2022 certified agreement, subject to certain requirements being met.
Reduction of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts for teachers in very remote areas
After a couple of months of trying to get clarification and express frustration of the stated 1460-day requirement (set by the previous Federal Government) for eligibility to access the Reduction of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts for teachers in very remote areas, the QTU was informed that the requirement of 1,460 days has now been reduced to 1,400 days in the HELP Debtor Guidelines (Teachers) 2023.
This will support the eligibility for many more teachers who have completed their four years in the identified locations to access the HELP Debt Reduction scheme.
This scheme will save many teachers tens of thousands of dollars and support the attraction and retention of teachers.
Now to work on expanding the scheme commences to encompass ALL teachers, heads of programs, and school leaders in the public education system.
Locality allowance backpay
The QTU was made aware that the department communicated with QTU members who work at specific (remote) centres across the state, asking them to update their details so it could assess their eligibility for a locality allowance.
Officers of the QTU have pursued the issue relating to eligibility for the locality allowance and the limit of 12 months for backpay as noted on the declaration form.
The Locality Allowance Directive references the time limit on claims – clause 13.1 states:
Without the approval of the chief executive, a claim shall not be paid unless it is submitted within 12 months –
- of the date of completion of the work, or
- the incurring of the expense, or
- the conclusion of the circumstances leading to the claim.
The department advised the QTU:
Clause 13.1 also allows for the chief executive to approve claims outside of the 12 months. Under the HR delegations, the delegation has been given to the principal to approve claim(s) submitted more than 12 months after they arose.
Based on this department advice, if the principal supports the request for backdating of the claim greater than 12 months then the payment of the locality allowance for up to 6 years can be processed. The Pay teams will be advised accordingly.
Members were encouraged to inform their line managers that, as principals, they have the capacity to approve the back pay of locality allowance, if they are eligible, and to seek their approval in the first instance.
Principals who are not familiar were encouraged to request evidence to confirm the updates around family status, but this evidence is to be maintained at a school level.
Annual progression to ST, EST and EST2 for part-time teachers
In EB9, the QTU fought to give part-time teachers access to annual incremental progressions, rather than having to wait up to five years to be recognised in the same way as their colleagues.
Unfortunately, while the QTU believed that the EB9 changes applied to all part-time teachers, the department did not, and only applied it until Band 3 Step 4. This meant that those seeking to access senior teacher (ST), experienced senior teacher (EST) and experienced senior teacher 2 (EST2) had to accumulate individual days (200 per year) rather than years of service.
This misinterpretation unfairly disadvantaged approximately 12,500 teachers, prompting the QTU to pursue the matter further. Around 18 months later, this successfully culminated in a change in the Teachers Award.
Although this wrong was righted in January 2022, an agreed process was not in place until November 2022, again following significant action taken by the QTU.
This was a one-off process for those eligible for ST and EST following the changes to the Teachers' Award. Those teachers who were eligible for EST2 continued to be recognised through the usual process, and any relevant backpay was made at that time.
Community teacher reclassification
The Department of Education State School Teachers Certified Agreement 2022 contains a restructure of the community teacher classification. This will allow for access to a senior community teacher classification.
Community teachers are not qualified teachers, but they do provide language programs in schools in specific locations. The restructure gives them access to remuneration akin to that of a three-year trained teacher.
Restructure of the community teacher classification establishes a four-step rather than a seven-step scale, and community teacher pay rates comparable with or above teacher-aides.
17 community teachers were eligible to apply for the senior community teacher (SCT) classification. Those who were successful have been earning $80,000 since 1 July.
Securing rural and remote incentives
The Department of Education State School Teachers Certified Agreement 2022 saw enhancement of the current Recognition of Rural and Remote Scheme (RoRRs), including:
- reformed staggered recognition of service payments (annual gross amounts), to be applied from years 1-8 for service in TR4-7 schools
- an increase in beginning teacher payments as follows:
- TR6: $1,500
- TR7: $2,000
- introduction of beginning teacher payments for TR4 and TR5 locations: $1,000.
- an increase in the recognition of travel allowance to all dependents (>two years) to the same rate as teachers
- an additional flight for Dauan and Ugar (Stephen) Islands.
- if an employee on Mornington Island and Pormpuraaw chooses the travel flight option instead of allowance, they are now entitled to three full flights
- the removal of the pro-rata calculation of recognition of location flight option for part-time employees (now paid in full).
- current RoRRs discretionary additional (TR4-TR7) leave included in the certified agreement.
There were also measures specifically designed to attract and retain teachers in rural, remote, and regional Queensland, including:
- reimbursement of the cost of the application for teacher registration with QCT for graduates from Queensland and other Australian jurisdictions commencing employment in Queensland when bonded to the department for 12 months
- an allowance of $2,000 (one lump sum payment) for teachers returning to Australia from overseas who are willing to work in regional, rural or remote Queensland
- provision of two days of TRS to teachers supporting Turn to Teaching interns or those on a similar internship program
- a review of existing information to educate and provide clear, concise awareness of terms and conditions of employment for district relief teachers.
Two point pay classification within EST
During EB9 negotiations, the DoE agreed to implement a two point pay classification within EST (EST1 and EST2) from 2022. The EST2 classification has been available to eligible teachers since 1 January 2022, in accordance with the Department of Education State School Teachers Certified Agreement 2019.
EST2 is available to teachers who:
- have three years’ service as an experienced senior teacher (EST); and
- have had an annual performance review (APR) discussion with their supervisor within the previous 12 months, using the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership Highly Accomplished Teacher Competences to inform the APR discussion.
As part of EB10 negotiations, the QTU won a comprehensive review of school resourcing (CRoSR), which aims to examine the arrangements for resourcing of schools to reduce the barriers preventing them from meeting the needs of 21st Century education.
The review has a broad scope to provide for a holistic review of the way schools are resourced and will include a review of allocative models and methodologies, direct-to-school grants, and system support resources, including teaching and non-teaching allocations.
A re-designed resourcing model will need to speak to the increasing demands relating to the growing complexity of managing student and staff welfare/wellbeing, student engagement and inclusion. These responsibilities are increasing in intensity and complexity for school communities, and while the recent investment in wellbeing resources has been welcomed, the demand for in-school health professionals (inclusion specialists, guidance officers, psychologists, social workers, youth workers/support officers) and associated staff capability development is growing as socio-cultural needs intensify.
There is an emerging impact from students demonstrating highly complex behavioural and learning needs that demands responsive solutions. A common theme in current consultation sessions is the need for context driven resourcing, not just an enrolment-based model.
Improvements to SWD funding
In 2021, the department reviewed what the QTU refers to as the students with disability (SWD) staffing model. This is the model that allocates teacher FTE and teacher-aide hours to special schools, special education programs (SEPs), early childhood development programs (ECDPs), and primary/secondary schools (without SEPs).
In late 2021, as part of the review, the department announced that education adjustment programs (EAP)/verification would cease in 2022, except for students with an intellectual disability (ID) seeking special school enrolment. This decision was made in recognition that the new model would use NCCD data instead of EAP.
The announcement of a new model was delayed until after the 2022 State Budget, which included an additional $80.6 million to provide extra teachers and teacher-aides in the two-year transition to the full implementation of the new model in 2025. In 2023 and 2024, no school or SEP will have a SWD staffing allocation less than their 2022 allocation. The new model will be fully implemented in 2025.
Submit your own QTU win
A snapshot of moments from our recent past (1989-2023). Embedded in these stories are pearls of wisdom that should and must inform the thoughts and deeds of teachers and unionists of today and tomorrow.
The Voice campaign is about providing safe workplaces for our members. As we step toward reconciliation and a Voice to Parliament, we take a step toward addressing racism. Ensuring safety and respect at work is inherent in Union values.
Investing more in state schools is an investment in our teachers and our children. It will expand the opportunities children have to learn and give teachers more time to focus on meeting the needs of every child.
This campaign is an extension of the Gonski and Fair Funding Now campaigns and calls on the federal government to give every school the resources it needs to help students achieve.
The AEU(Q)/QTU has been negotiating with CQU for a replacement agreement since early 2021. The AEU(Q)/QTU log of claims is broken into three Ps: Professionalism, Parity and Programming. It is based on feedback from TAFE members employed by CQU and from matters arising from AEU(Q)/QTU policy. Members were at the centre of developing and approving the log over eight months during 2020 and 2021.
The TAFE Queensland Educators Certified Agreement 2019 prescribes salaries and many of the working conditions for TAFE Educators. The agreement has a nominal expiration date of 30 June 2023. The QTU is leading the negotiations for a replacement certified agreement.
We are a community of thousands of people working together to support their world-class TAFE system. We are past and present TAFE teachers, students, unions and community members who want to rebuild TAFE and Rebuild with TAFE.
While the final count of the House of Representatives remains uncertain, a new Labor Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has been sworn in. This provides hope for the proper funding of state schools and TAFE, and hope for a more kind and respectful society.
During the EB10 campaign members attended over 30 MP delegations, wrote letters to the Premier, and turned out in large numbers on Labour Day
March4Justice has been established by the women of Australia to protest the Australian Parliament's ongoing abuse and discrimination of women in Australia. It is our intention to amass our anger and our resources to march on Parliament to voice our anger at the Parliament's ongoing arrogance in relation to their voices and rights to equality in Australia.
The QTU campaign to address gender-based violence in our workplaces.
Many schools are pressured to teach to the NAPLAN test. This is changing what is taught in classrooms. You only have to look at how frequently children are taught the genre of “persuasive writing” in schools all over the country to know that this is true. Valuable teaching time is wasted as teachers do their best to prepare their students for this point-in-time test that is not part of their regular teaching and learning.
The QTU is working with members to bring about change in their workplaces, ensuring we all recognise, report and respond to occupational violence.
The voice of QTU members employed as tutors, teachers and leading vocational teachers in TAFE colleges around the state is being heard in EB10 negotiations. QTU members identified workload as a priority matter to be addressing in our EB10 log of claims, and that is why the single bargaining unit received the unequivocal message that measures need to be included in a replacement certified agreement to ensure systemic workload intensification like that experienced during the implementation of SMS does not occur.
The campaign reached out to members, parents and the broader community, from the tip of Cape York all the way down to the Gold Coast, through targeted activities in key federal electorates. By combining the strength of the teaching and parent communities this campaign sought to bring about the changes we wanted to see and deliver for fair funding for our schools.
This campaign sought commitments around workload, recognising and valuing the work of members in promotional positions and unpacking the impact of practices that give rise to gender employment inequity.
November marks the annual WWAM (Workload, Wellbeing and Assertiveness Month), a time for members to come together and discuss issues in preparation for the next school year.
The offer addressed the Union’s insistence on improved classroom teacher salaries, a review of promotional classification structure, and maximisation of permanency.
Covering the first four years of the Gonski Campaign. For updated information, please see current campaigns...
Curriculum change has been a constant companion of Queensland teachers in the past 25 years, as has the range of factors impacting on what is taught and how.
While reviewing curriculum issues over the past 25 years, I noted that while the names involved in 125 years of QTU curriculum campaigning might have changed ... the issues don’t.
In 1987, the Hawke Labor government introduced fundamental changes to higher education
QTU members took on Campbell Newman’s ruthless slash and burn government in 2012, defending their own rights and more importantly, fighting for the children they teach.
Now, as always, the struggle is to ensure that the officers of the department ... do not undermine hard-fought teaching and industrial conditions of the members of the QTU.
The living conditions endured by teachers in remote areas of Queensland has been an issue for the QTU ever since its creation. In 2008, however, QTU members decided that they had enough.
Between 2005 and 2008, members in Central Queensland lead the way in enhancing the quality and security of teacher accommodation.
This campaign to restore workers' rights and achieve fairer industrial relations laws was one of the most successful union and community campaigns in Australian election history.
The "Class Size Counts" campaign was a significant working conditions component of the 2002 EB negotiations
This campaign was a testament to the tenacity and determination of teachers and their Union
“the most bitter dispute in the history of industrial relations between the QTU and the Department of Education”.
Probably the principal industrial advancement for teachers in the nineties was the achievement of NCT for non-secondary teachers as an award entitlement.
At the time, 11 per cent of secondary classes were already oversized. The proposed cuts would have at least doubled that number.
The success of thiscampaign can be measured by a number of factors including the significant collaboration involved in the development and pilot of the standards and the shift towards support of teacher professionalism.
Many policies today are sourced to disputes at this time.
Teacher transfer has always been an important part of the profession of teaching.