Education unions’ joint stand on safety

IEU and AEU Organisers Jengis Osman and Tim Davis Frank with our unions’ joint submission

Education unions have collaborated on a joint submission to the NT Government’s review of work health and safety.

Attorney-General Natasha Fyles announced in May that a best practice review of work health and safety laws was to be undertaken in the NT. This review is important to monitor how laws covering work health and safety are being applied and whether the regulator is effective.

AEU officers worked with our colleagues in the Independent Education Union (Qld-NT Branch) to produce a joint submission that highlighted our serious WHS concerns in the school sector.

This submission was backed up by visits of the independent reviewer to meet with union members and witness the concerns outlined in the submission. The reviewer will present his final report in December.

Our union has been campaigning heavily to improve work health and safety in schools. Thanks to the efforts of union members, the Department is improving its WHS policies and 15 schools now have Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) to improve practices in those schools.

One of the concerns raised was to better recognise psychological or social hazards (such as violence at work, harassing behaviour, unhealthy levels of stress) and their effects on mental and physical health. Other concerns raised were the culture of disregarding WHS concerns in the education sector and the failure to monitor or resolve hazards, such as asbestos, in remote teacher housing. Finally, the submission called on the employers to work together with HSRs, educators, indigenous communities and managers to improve WHS policies.

The submission is important to shine a light on this area of workplace conditions that have been ignored for too long. We must protect the health and safety of our teachers, students, support staff, principals and wider school community.

More information
Read the AEU-IEU joint submission to the WHS review