AEU SA Journal:  May 2021: Contents

Review misses the reality of country teaching

What does it mean to live and work in the country? Branch Vice President Dash Taylor Johnson explains why your experiences need to be heard.

The letter signed by the Chief Executive on 30 April 2020 confirmed that a review of country teachers’ country incentives would be undertaken, including consideration of the range, effectiveness and targeted use of incentives. And yes, a process has begun, the AEU seeking consultative plans, reporting timelines – a review roadmap, so to speak. Meetings have taken place and letters have gone back and forth.

First the review was framed within a ‘Strengthening Country Workforce Profile’ project document, corporate value-adding. This interpretation of how to meet industrial obligations reflects a broader agenda.

Now our entitlement is being subsumed by a whole-of-Department Workforce Strategy. Outlined in four chapters, the vision is “to enable every person in our workforce to perform at their best so together we achieve growth for every child, in every class, in every school and preschool.” The rhetoric has merit and in principle is sound, but it is disquieting the lack of correlation with reality – the ‘how’ to achieve the vision.

The review of country teachers’ country incentives has become a desktop analysis, citing identifiable data that acknowledges the inequity of country versus city outcomes. And at the same time, while touting this data as evidence, the criticism of lack of action on this evidence has been dismissed. Our voice is discounted.

The use of spurious language and assertions clouds the narrative which is full of aspiration. But words are not the same as reality, and evidence that it is making a difference is essential. So too is understanding just who is defining what quality, expertise and world class really are.

So what are we doing?

Being in the second year of this Enterprise Agreement, our Country Conditions Standing Committee  are conducting their own process, collecting the data and experiences of members who are working in the country, or have worked in the country, or are considering working in the country.

The first phase is an invitation for all members to complete our survey which will be followed by a series of visits to regional areas for follow-up conversations with members.

The six Committee members represent 3 of the 15 country areas and AEU Organisers will be direct contact for the other 12. We also want to talk with those studying to be teachers and other unions about their workers’ experiences.

Your stories are what the Department needs to hear and if they are not going to start the conversation, we will.

Complete the survey at: