The Guardian November 27, 2002


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.

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