New award protects status of prison teachers

Greg Butler
Research and Industrial Officer

Agreement to retain qualifications and NAT

The status and working conditions of teachers in correctional settings have been retained in a new award for 2016.

The award, made by the Industrial Relations Commission on January 6, 2016, preserves the requirements for university qualifications in education and entitlements to non-attendance time (NAT) for teachers and correctional education officers, which Corrective Services NSW indicated it was prepared to abolish.

Retention of qualifications and NAT was agreed when Corrective Services NSW could not explain how abolishing them would increase inmate unit completions in training packages.

Instead, a new sub-clause, 13.5.4, has been added to allow an additional way in which teachers may be asked, under the award, to “make up” teaching hours lost due to management and operational decisions such as in lockdowns and buy-ups.

Sub-clause 13.5.4 reads:

“The development of education plans and review of education plans, as provided in sub-clause 13.2, may be substituted for direct teaching activities under sub-clause 13.5.2 to make up for lost teaching hours.”

The development of education plans and the review of education plans are listed in sub-clause 13.2 as duties related to teaching rather than as direct teaching activities. Teachers commonly refer to these as conducting Education Plan Interviews (EPIs) and they involve one-to-one interviews with inmates.

The requirement for teachers to teach 20 hours per week has not changed. As in previous awards, teachers may still be asked to “make up” lost teaching hours under sub-clause 13.5.2 by teaching up to five additional hours a week over a period of up to six weeks without adding to their overall hours of duty or changing their required days of attendance. Some or all of this “make up” time may now, however, consist of conducting EPIs.

Feedback from the Corrective Services Restricted Committee during the negotiation period was that this proposed change be endorsed. Federation’s Executive approved the terms of settlement on December 9, 2015.

The new award has also achieved a 2.5 per cent salaries increase, which members should have received in their first pay after January 6.

Salary rates for 2016

Teachers and Correctional Education Officers

Step 1$81,193
Step 2$83,484
Step 3$86,744
Step 4$91,021

Senior Correctional Education Officers

Step 1 $103,413
Step 2$106,610