Non-attendance time rights asserted

Greg Butler
Industrial Officer

Correctional education officers can now reclaim their full non-attendance time rights following intervention by Federation Officers and delegates.

When issuing the non-attendance time calendar for 2015, Corrective Services NSW inserted a statement requiring correctional education officers’ 10-day entitlement to be taken only in the first week of January and the last week of December. Restrictions of this kind have not been imposed previously.

In a meeting with Corrective Services management, Federation Officers objected to the new requirement, indicating that it contravened correctional education officers’ right under the award to be consulted by senior correctional education officers on when education staff members within each centre are to take non-attendance time. Corrective Services Teachers Association executive members advocated that a continued education staff presence in correctional centres throughout the year has always assisted Corrective Services NSW in its management of offenders.

Adult Education and Vocational Training Institute principal Anthony Becker subsequently issued a correcting memorandum to senior correctional education officers dated July 15 that confirms that correctional education officers are to be consulted by senior correctional education officers and that correctional education officers may apply for their non-attendance time entitlement from among any of the 12 weeks of designated non-attendance time periods, subject to Corrective Services NSW approval.

The memorandum restores the usual application and approval processes for when non-attendance time is taken by correctional education officers in 2015.

Call to maximise use of professional judgement

Federation has asserted to Corrective Services NSW that it should maximise use of the professional judgement and skills of appropriately trained and qualified teachers to assess inmates’ educational needs, to decide on units in the curriculum offering and to teach inmates who lack educational self-reliance.

The call follows an Annual Conference resolution to protect education in remand centres and is in the context of Corrective Services NSW conducting a review of education in remand centres.

Access to educational programs by all students with low levels of literacy and numeracy at the earliest stages of remand and provision of a broad curriculum are necessary for offender management and improving course completion rates in facilities for sentenced inmates.

Additionally, Federation has requested details of changes Corrective Services NSW proposes for use of education staff in centres within a correctional complex at Windsor, including the likely impact on staff.

The union insists staff and the union be given the opportunity to provide feedback to senior management after initial briefings and before steps towards implementation are taken, in line with current government directives on agency change management.

Federation relies on its Corrective Services Teachers Association members to inform their Organiser of local developments to ensure that Corrective Services NSW complies with government directives.