Teachers’ union says pay rises of 2.04% are not enough

The IEU welcomes a letter from Catholic Employment Relations dated 27 January 2022 agreeing to commence negotiations for new enterprise agreements covering over 25,000 principals, teachers and support staff in NSW and ACT Catholic systemic schools. The previous agreements expired on 31 December 2021. However, up until this week, employers had stalled on commencing bargaining for pay rises and new agreements.
The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch first wrote to the Directors of all 11 Catholic Dioceses on 30 November 2021 setting out its claim for principals, teachers and support staff employed in Catholic Diocesan schools in NSW and the ACT.
The IEU represents nearly 20,000 members in over 600 Catholic Diocesan schools throughout NSW and the ACT. The union’s claim for a new agreement mirrors the one made by the NSW Teachers Federation for teachers in government schools. It includes:

  • a pay rise of 10% to 15% over two years for all members
  • effective strategies to deal with the accelerating teacher shortage
  • reduced teaching time to allow teachers time to plan, prepare and consult with colleagues
  • easing excessive workloads by removing administrative tasks that don’t support teaching and learning.
  • pay parity for support staff with their counterparts in government schools.

“Teachers’ salaries have slid steadily backwards since the NSW Government introduced wage caps more than a decade ago – wage caps in the government sector have a strong impact on the non-government sector,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary Carol Matthews.
“The IEU believes the pay increase of 2.04% offered by Catholic Employment Relations in their letter of 27 January is not good enough. We look forward to robust discussions.
“Our members have gone above and beyond their duties for years, but especially in the past two, ensuring teaching and learning continued during the upheaval and anxieties of a global pandemic. Now is the time to recognise this in substantial pay rises and improved conditions.”
IEUA NSW/ACT Branch President Christine Wilkinson said: “It is time teachers were paid what they’re worth. Teachers’ workloads have steadily increased over the years while conditions continue to be eroded. This is not reflected in their wages.
“Young graduate teachers are leaving the profession in droves, intensifying the shortage of teachers. If the Government wants quality teachers, it is time to pay them what they’re worth.”

GREENS POLICY LAUNCH: Get coal and gas money out of politics

The Greens will stop big polluters corrupting democracy by banning donations from the fossil fuel sector to political parties, candidates, and associated entities.
Since 2012, the fossil fuel sector has donated over $9 million to the major parties. It’s no coincidence that successive governments have refused to take strong action on climate, while letting coal and gas corporations pollute our air and water, destroy farmland and culturally significant sites, and release billions of tons of carbon emissions.
The Greens’ plan will free our politics from the grip of the fossil fuel industry by banning all political donations from the sector, closing the revolving door between politics and the coal and gas industry, and establishing a strong, independent National Integrity Commission to crack down on corruption.
The Greens’ plan will:

  • Ban all political donations from the mining and resources sector (and other dirty industries) and cap all other donations at $1000 per year
  • Stop resource ministers and advisers from working for the fossil fuel industry within five years of leaving parliament
  • Publish a register of meetings between ministers and mining lobbyists (including in-house lobbyists currently excluded from the Lobbying Code of Conduct)
  • Deliver a strong, independent national corruption watchdog
  • Deliver a Code of Conduct for all politicians and senior staff

This policy is a key component of the Greens’ comprehensive plan to clean up politics and revitalise our democracy. Our full democracy plan can be found here: Reform the whole system to end political corruption, and in addition to the above includes election spending caps, strengthening the Register of Interests and FOI laws, preventing disinformation from undermining public debate, and increasing the diversity of political representation so that parliament better reflects our community.
Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:
“Coal, gas and oil corporations don’t donate millions every year to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor because they’re huge fans of democracy – they do it because it gets results. Let’s call this what it is: legalised bribery.
“Big polluters should not be able to buy policy outcomes and corrupt democracy with legalised bribery. In balance of power after the next election the Greens will push to ban all political donations from the fossil fuel sector.
“Dirty donations from the fossil fuel sector plus post-politics job offers are why there are 114 coal and gas projects in the federal pipeline nationally despite being in the middle of a climate crisis, where the science clearly says we need rapid emissions reductions and a phase out of fossil fuels.
“In the past we’ve seen Big Mining spend $24 million on an ad campaign to topple a Prime Minister over a proposed super profits tax.
“We’ve seen the Morrison Government give $21 million of public money to a company chaired by a major Liberal Party donor to frack for gas in the NT’s Beetaloo Basin, in the middle of a climate crisis and against the wishes of Traditional Owners.
“The disproportionate influence of dirty donations on government decisions is why Australia has pathetic climate policies, weak environmental protections, and no action on social, economic and racial justice.
“Elected representatives should be working for the people, not the highest bidder. That’s why the Greens will ban all political donations from the mining and resources sector and all industries with a track record of seeking to influence political decisions, and prevent ministers and advisers from taking cushy post-politics industry gigs for five years.
“We’ll also shine a light on who’s meeting with who by publishing a register of ministers’ meetings, and we’ll hold politicians to account by introducing an enforceable Code of Conduct and a strong, independent national corruption watchdog.
“Federal politics stopped putting people first long ago, and sold our democracy to corporate donors. Fixing that begins with kicking the corporations out of Canberra and creating a system we can trust to work for all of us.
“Only the Greens have a clear plan to restore faith in our democracy, and in balance of power after the next election we’ll push the next government to make it happen.”

Aid to Afghanistan must be boosted

Australian Greens International Aid and Development spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Senator Janet Rice have today written to the Foreign Affairs Minister urging Australia to boost aid to Afghanistan as a matter of urgency.
Senator Faruqi said:
“There is a grave humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, with the country on the brink of famine and near-universal poverty, the scale of which has not been seen in recent times.
“This crisis is a direct result of the war waged on the people of Afghanistan by Western nations, including Australia. For decades the people of Afghanistan were caught between the violence of the Taliban on one hand and that of the allied forces on the other.
“The least we can do now is increase Australian aid to prevent millions of people from starvation and death.
“While Australia’s funding commitment last year was certainly welcome, we can and must do more. All of the funding committed should be immediately disbursed to aid organisations working on the ground in Afghanistan and who have strong connections with local communities and civil society.
“Australia should also commit significant additional aid funding to Afghanistan as a matter of urgency. This should be in the order of at least $100 million per year.”

PBS listing to benefit Australians with rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

From 1 February, thousands of Australians with a relapsed and/or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma will have access to a new treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Lymphomas refer to types of cancer that begin in the lymphatic system and is the sixth most common cancer diagnosed in adults in Australia. In Australia, more than 6,000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year.
Mantle cell lymphoma is an aggressive, relatively rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Calquence® blocks a protein in the body that helps cancer cells to grow, and may help reduce the number of cancer cells and slow the spread of the cancer.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said more than 350 Australians with MCL accessed a similar treatment through the PBS in 2020.
“The listing of Calquence® will provide Australians with an alternate treatment option for this condition,” Minister Hunt said.
“Without PBS subsidy, Australians could pay more than $8,200 per script, instead, they can access it for $42.50 per script or just $6.80 for people with a concession card.”
Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,800 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $14 billion.
The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.
This PBS listing has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Making matching more successful for people needing an organ transplant

Regional Health Minister and Minister responsible for the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), Dr David Gillespie today announced $14.9 million for OrganMatch, a world-class software system helping to save the lives of more Australians waiting for an organ transplant.
“While Australia is a leader in successful donation and transplant outcomes, this funding boost allows for continued improvements and efficiencies to be made to the bespoke OrganMatch system over the next four years,” Dr Gillespie said.
“Our aim is to increase access for more people and deliver better outcomes for those 1,850 Australians on the waitlist in need of a life-saving transplant.”
OrganMatch is Australia’s organ waitlisting and matching system, providing real time access for clinicians to share time critical information across tissue-typing labs, DonateLife agencies and transplant units.
Dr Gillespie said OrganMatch has changed the way organs are allocated to donors, enabling clinicians to achieve the best possible matching outcomes and prioritising patients who are highly sensitised – and hard to match for medical reasons – as well as young recipients and people who urgently need a transplant.
“Since the system went live in 2019, 31 highly sensitised patients have received a kidney transplant who otherwise would have been unlikely to find a suitable match without OrganMatch,” Dr Gillespie said.
“One of these recipients had been waiting for a kidney transplant for 17 years, while 12 had been waiting more than five years, and it’s heart-warming to know they now have a better-quality life.
“The system has also matched 29 young transplant recipients with high quality donor kidneys, giving them more years of life with their transplant.”
Dr Gillespie said the ability to save more lives through OrganMatch wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of donors and their families.
“Donor families benefit from this streamlined system too, with reduced timeframes between time of their loved one’s death and organ retrieval surgery, meaning they spend less time waiting in a hospital, and more time with family and friends when they most need that support,” Dr Gillespie said.
Dr Gillespie said this funding boost builds on the 2015-16 Budget measure ‘Accelerating growth in organ and tissue donation for transplantation’ in which the Coalition Government invested one-off funding of $4 million for the development of an Australian organ matching system to replace the outdated National Organ Matching System established in 1999.
OrganMatch is delivered through contractual arrangements between the OTA and Australian Red Cross LifeBlood.
Show your support for organ and tissue donation by signing up to be a donor and telling your family you want to be a donor. Register at: donatelife.gov.au, or through your myGov account, or in the Express Plus Medicare app when downloading your COVID-19 digital certificate.

Four million additional Australians eligible for their booster dose

Over four million additional Australians are now eligible for their COVID-19 booster dose from today, with the Australian Government shortening the interval for when a person becomes eligible for their booster from four months to three months.
This follows the recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to provide booster doses at a minimum of three months after a person has completed their two-dose primary course of vaccination.
This will allow 4.2 million more Australians to come forward and get a booster dose sooner, providing peace of mind and further protection against serious illness.
Australia is one of the world’s first countries to be rolling out a whole-of-population COVID-19 booster program.
Almost four in five Australians (16 million people) are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, and approximately 7.7 million Australians have received a booster in recent weeks.
The move in early January to shorten the interval from five months to four months resulted in an increase in uptake, with almost 5.3 million people having received their booster dose in the period since.
There are over 18 million vaccine doses currently in fridges ready to be used or in warehouses ready to be deployed across more than 10,000 vaccination sites including GPs, pharmacies, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and state and territory clinics.
ATAGI made its recommendation to reduce the interval after closely monitoring the epidemiology and characteristics of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant. It also considered the emerging data on the need, potential benefits, and optimal timing of a vaccine booster dose to prevent COVID-19 due to this variant.
Immunocompromised people who have received three primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to receive a booster dose in line with the timing for the general population. ATAGI has also highlighted the importance of boosters for pregnant women.
The Australian Government has secured more than 151 million booster doses for delivery over the coming year and is well placed to continue to achieve world leading vaccination rates against COVID-19.

Supporting Bega businesses through COVID

Liberal candidate for Bega, Dr Fiona Kotvojs, welcomed the NSW Government’s billion dollar COVID business support package that will help local small businesses that were hardest hit by the Omicron wave.
The NSW Government package includes financial support for small business to buy rapid antigen tests to help keep their workers safe, and a new Small Business Support Program to assist businesses to help keep their workers employed.
Dr Kotvojs said the targeted package will help local businesses who have been doing it particularly hard after floods, bushfires, and a lack of tourists caused by the pandemic.
“As someone who runs three small businesses, I know how important this help will be for local businesses to get through the effects of the Omicron wave.”
“Support with the costs of rapid antigen tests for their workers and the extension of the Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant, as well as the Small Business Support Program providing payroll assistance to businesses will be of great help,” Dr Kotvojs said. “This package of measures is a good example of the strong, practical measures that the Government is providing to businesses to help them get through COVID and bounce back.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet said while case numbers are now declining, the NSW Government is determined to support those businesses that have been most affected during this wave of the pandemic.
“NSW is tracking better than expected and confidence is returning. And as we did with earlier recoveries, we will come through this recent challenge stronger than ever,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We’ve got the backs of businesses, as we have throughout this entire pandemic.”
The Small Business Support Program helps those businesses with annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million with a decline in turnover of at least 40 per cent.
It provides eligible businesses a lump sum payment of 20 per cent of weekly payroll with a minimum payment of $500 per week and a maximum payment of $5,000 per week.
In addition, the existing Small Business Fees, Charges and RAT Rebate will be increased by 50% from the current $2,000 limit to $3,000 and employing businesses will be able to use the rebate to obtain RATs.
This will support worker availability by helping reduce costs to small businesses and enabling healthy staff who have been exposed to COVID-19, but test negative, to return to work.

Students set to get skilled at TAFE NSW

Tens-of-thousands of students will commence study at TAFE NSW this week, with a robust plan in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19 on campus and help staff deliver classes safely.
Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said TAFE NSW students attending TAFE NSW campuses will need to check in with QR codes, wear a mask and observe social distancing.
“TAFE NSW is responsible for training 80 per cent of all apprentices across the state and is also delivering critical skills to prospective workers in industries like healthcare, community services and hospitality,” Mr Henskens said.
“It is important that we get people back in the classroom where they can get the skills and training they need for the jobs they want.”
TAFE NSW has secured a supply of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and has set up a dedicated COVID-19 Taskforce to provide staff and students with advice about testing and isolation protocols.
Test kits have arrived at TAFE NSW campuses. TAFE NSW will supply RAT tests for use by employees and students, where there is an industry or employer requirement to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.
Employees who are exposed to COVID-19 at a TAFE NSW site, will be provided with advice about their testing and isolation requirements via the TAFE NSW COVID-19 Taskforce. Students who are required to take a RAT as part of their work placement program will be supplied with test kits if the workplace is unable to provide a test.
“Thank you to all the TAFE NSW teachers and staff who have worked with us during this challenging time to ensure that students can return to class in a safe way in coming weeks,” Mr Henskens said.
“There has never been a better time to study at TAFE NSW. If you want real-world skills for a job that is in-demand, explore the range of course options available at a campus near you.”
Details about TAFE courses and upcoming information sessions is available online.

NSW seeks partners to upscale bio-tech facility

NSW will leverage its world-class cell and gene therapy expertise to establish Australia’s first commercial-scale viral vector manufacturing facility at Westmead.
Premier Dominic Perrottet, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Jobs, Investment, and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government is now seeking partners to co-invest.
“New South Wales has led the nation investing over $120 million to expand its advanced biomanufacturing footprint, including $25 million to develop our viral vector capability,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Upscaling the 25 litre viral vector pilot facility at Westmead Health and Innovation District to 550 litres, will help address the global demand in gene and cell therapies.
“Most importantly, expanding the capacity of the facility will ensure Australians have faster access to next generation medical treatments that will save and improve lives.”
Viral vector technology delivers genetic material into cells and has been in use since the 1970s. The planned viral vector manufacturing facility in NSW will provide ground-breaking trial therapies for infections, cancer and genetic diseases.
Mr Hazzard said the NSW Government will be seeking interest from companies with commercial and bio-technology expertise to co-invest in the Westmead-based facility.
“With gene therapies and COVID-19 vaccines straining global manufacturing capacity in recent years, viral vector manufacturing services are in high demand worldwide,” Mr Hazzard said.
“In Australia alone, we have two million people living with a genetic disease. Local production will ensure we can run more research trials and increase treatment options.”
Mr Ayres said the facility will manufacture high-quality clinical grade viral vectors and will serve the Australian, broader Asia-Pacific and global markets.
“The gene therapy and cell therapy sectors are experiencing phenomenal growth and upscaling our viral vector manufacturing will keep NSW at the forefront of this industry,” Mr Ayres said.
“Westmead Health and Innovation District is a recognised hub for innovative research and this facility will boost jobs for NSW and provide access to new groundbreaking therapies and treatments.”
Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens said the NSW Government was committed to fostering world-class medical research.
“NSW is leading the nation in this space and we want to harness our cutting-edge research and development and continue to create an innovative, diversified and globally competitive economy,” Mr Henskens said.
Expressions of Interest for co-investment have commenced. To register your interest contact HI-Commercial@health.nsw.gov.au or visit hinfra.health.nsw.gov.au/commercial.

Ready, set, stay! NSW businesses encouraged to sign up for new voucher programs

Eligible accommodation providers across the State can now register to take part in two of the NSW Government’s new voucher programs – Parents NSW and Stay NSW.
Both programs will be implemented using the existing Dine & Discover NSW infrastructure.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said families will be able to access the Parents NSW vouchers and Stay NSW vouchers from February.
“This stimulus is just what families and businesses need with school holidays concluding. Parents across all communities have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic and we want to say thank you to all of them,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Eligible customers will soon be able to redeem their $250 worth of Parents NSW vouchers and $50 Stay NSW voucher with registered Stay NSW businesses, which is a huge win for the accommodation and tourism sectors which have been especially hard hit by the pandemic.
“The voucher programs will have a multiplier effect on the economy – and this will encourage families to spend a night or a weekend exploring Sydney or a regional town, while also spending on sightseeing and other activities.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said the vouchers form part of the NSW Government’s $2.8 billion COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy announced in October and come on the back of the more the $1billion COVID business support package announced this week.
“These vouchers are a win-win for industry and families and encourage more families to explore our incredible State and bolster local economies,” Mr Kean said.
“We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with industry throughout the pandemic and this is another program that will help keep businesses open and keep workers in jobs.”
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said with millions of vouchers to be issued to NSW residents soon, businesses should get ready to boost their income by registering for both programs.
“To take part in the two programs, businesses only have to register once through Service NSW. Once approved, all accommodation providers need to do is simply download the Service NSW for Business app and start scanning vouchers,” Mr Dominello said.
“Whether you’re a hotel in Sydney, motel in rural NSW or a holiday park on a coastal town, we want you to take advantage of this stimulus and see more customers come through your doors.”
Businesses will be paid within ten days after redeeming a voucher.
Customers can pool multiple Stay NSW vouchers with friends or family for the same booking at registered accommodation providers, big or small. Parents NSW vouchers can be combined and used to redeem $250 off your accommodation account.
Bookings made through third party providers such as online booking platforms and travel agents are not included in the program.
Participating businesses will be able to redeem vouchers seven days a week, including public holidays. Customers will be able to search for participating accommodation providers on the easy-to-use hotel finder.
Discover NSW registered businesses do not have to re-register to accept Parents NSW vouchers, but can still register if they have yet to do so.
For more information on how to register a business, visit https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/register-business-stay-nsw-vouchers