Member Bulletin Number 5 2019

In this bulletin:

  • Federal election – change the government
  • NT Budget shows pressure on education funding
  • Annual Conference a huge success
  • Members act quickly to defend Katherine teacher housing subsidy
  • Celebrate support staff with World ESP Day – Thursday 16 May
  • Best wishes to Craig Allen

Federal election – change the government
With just over a week to go in the federal election campaign, the contest is looking close. The outcome of this election will have an enormous impact on public education and workers’ rights.

President Jarvis Ryan explained what’s at stake for the Territory in his most recent editorial in the Territory Educator. In short, the return of the Morrison Coalition Government will mean a decade of cuts for Territory public schools. Electing a Shorten Labor Government means we will have a government with a clear commitment to boost funding for our most disadvantaged students and ensure a fairer school resourcing system is restored.

Your vote will matter at this election. We urge members to give your first two preferences to Labor and the Greens. Information on where to vote in the NT, including pre-polling, is available at the AEC website.

NT Budget shows pressure on education funding
This week’s NT Budget highlighted the pressure on NT education thanks to decisions in Canberra.

While the NT Government has managed to provide a modest lift in funding to public schools, this is vastly outweighed by the cuts to Commonwealth funding imposed under Scott Morrison’s school funding deal. In several key funding streams, Commonwealth funding has been slashed or reduced to below inflation levels.

The latest Budget contains measures relating to the NT Government’s budget repair strategy – this includes a proposed reduction to the housing subsidy for eligible Katherine staff (more on this below). Education has largely been insulated from these cuts in recognition of the important investment education spending represents for the future. We have been assured by the Treasurer and the Minister for Education that the Government remains committed to its election promises about boosting the number of teachers and continuing to make more staff permanent.

More information on the AEU NT’s response to the NT Budget is contained in our media release.

Annual Conference a huge success
Our Branch Conference took place last weekend in Katherine and was a great success. More than 90 members took part, with all regions well represented and 40 resolutions carried, providing our union with clear strategic direction for the year to come.

Highlights of the Conference were the large number of first-time Delegates and Aboriginal members present.

Next year’s Conference will be in Darwin, on dates to be determined by Branch Executive.

Members act quickly to defend Katherine teacher housing subsidy

Teachers affected by potential cuts to their housing subsidy at a meeting with DoE CE Vicki Baylis

As part of the NT budget repair strategy, Treasury announced that $500,000 would be cut from the housing subsidies provided to teachers in Katherine township. The announcement in the Easter school holidays was poorly communicated, with little information about the details of the measure. In addition, there was no prior consultation with the AEU NT or teachers directly impacted.

Teachers in Katherine do not receive government employee housing, however since the mid-1990s they have been eligible for a rental subsidy. They are already contributing towards their rental costs and the subsidy is the only incentive for teachers to relocate to Katherine. Reducing the subsidy will almost certainly make it more difficult to recruit and retain teachers to the town.

For a small saving, the Government is prepared to put education in the Katherine region at risk. The AEU NT office has been inundated with calls and email from teachers affected suggesting that they will leave the region if the cut goes ahead. Students, families and the wider Katherine community are anxious about a potential teacher exodus.

AEU members have acted swiftly to condemn the measure. More than 40 members attended a special meeting of the AEU NT Regional Council last week and unanimously carried a resolution condemning the cut to the subsidy. Katherine members presented the same motion to Branch Conference, where it was also passed unanimously.

The AEU NT welcomes the Minister for Education’s announcement in Parliament yesterday that a final decision has not been made on reducing the housing subsidy. The Full-Time Officers will convey members’ concerns in meetings with the Minister and Chief Executive next week and continue to provide updates to affected members.

Celebrate support staff with World ESP Day – Thursday 16 May
The AEU NT will join AEU branches around Australia and Education International in marking World Education Support Personnel (ESP) Day next Thursday 16 May. The day’s celebrations will recognise the extraordinary contribution support staff make in our schools and in our union!

Schools across the NT will celebrate the contribution that support staff have made to their school team and the benefits felt by students and school communities. The day is also important to recognise the efforts of support staff within our union and the campaigns currently being fought to get better rights and conditions for those members.

It is important that support staff members are recognised and sub-branches encourage their involvement and ensure that their rights and issues are given due recognition. In schools with significant numbers of support staff, the AEU NT encourages sub-branches to elect a support staff member to the sub-branch executive. Having a support staff member as one of the sub-branch reps means there is an effective voice for teaching support staff in schools.

To mark World ESP Day, AEU NT Officers and Organisers will be attending schools and hosting celebrations involving cake and other delicious goods. 

We are asking all schools to consider hold a morning tea or similar event on Thursday or Friday next week dedicated to your support staff. If you hold an event, email your photos to us for publication on our social media pages.

Also on Thursday 16 May, the quarterly AEU NT support staff meeting will be hosted at the AEU NT office in Coconut Grove (with a dial-in option for non-Darwin members). Information about this meeting and the minutes from the previous meeting will be emailed to support staff members separately.

Best wishes to Craig Allen
The Commissioner for Public Employment, Craig Allen, has announced that he is resigning to take up a senior industrial relations position in his home state of Queensland. Mr Allen worked hard to improve processes in the NTPS and is noted for his efforts to increase Aboriginal employment within the public sector and within departmental leadership roles.

Mr Allen’s education background in Queensland meant that he had a strong understanding of the culture and practices of schools. AEU NT officers had a positive relationship with Mr Allen, who authorised the Permanency Project for classroom teachers and facilitated a collaborative process in our recent enterprise bargaining round that saw significant gains for our members. His leadership within the public sector was a great example of the good outcomes that can be achieved when government, agencies and unions engage in good faith bargaining. We wish him all the best in his new role.

Further information
Download this bulletin in PDF format

Authorised by Adam Lampe, 3/8 Totem Rd, Coconut Grove NT 0810