South Australian educators win training breakthrough
Until now, staff in South Australian schools have been forced to pay for mandatory Occupational Health and Safety training out of their own pockets and do the training in their own time. However, the threat of a big fine for failing to meet safety standards prompted the government to pay for the compulsory training of principals, and the Australian Education Union (AEU) is confident this will flow through to other staff in the near future. The turnaround follows a WorkCover assessment of the Education Department's performance on Occupational Health and Safety under the previous government. The Department operates under a self-auditing system for Occupational Health and Safety. The WorkCover assessment found that the Department had failed to meet appropriate standards, and could face substantial financial penalties if the situation wasn't rectified. AEU State Vice President Dan Farmer said, "The cost of training for principals at South Australia's 615 schools was about $20,000 — clearly preferable to perhaps many hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. "The Government initially wanted all training done on-line but we've pointed out the difficulty of this particularly in remote areas, and negotiated high quality face-to-face training." "It was simply unfair to expect teachers to spend their own time and money meeting the departments responsibility, especially when so many staff already put in many hours over and above what they're paid for." "The deal we've struck covers the cost to schools and staff and delivers consistency in training. But most importantly of all, it ensures our schools are safer for everyone", Mr Farmer said.