TAs' initiative over workload worry pays off

Tamara Gasson

More than 90 teachers from Tamworth and Gunnedah attended the Workload and Work-Related Stress Seminar organised by our associations in response to mounting concern by members experiencing high levels of stress from increased work demands and workload.

We wanted to know more about stress and what we could do about it so we wrote to the Federation and requested that Federation Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire conduct a seminar about stress and workload as a work, health and safety issue. At the seminar, Ms Lemaire provided an outline of the Federation-commissioned project, Teaching and Learning — Review of Workload, conducted by researchers from Sydney University. Members were pleased that there is to be an examination of the workload of teachers, executives and principals and look forward to the report on the outcome.

The focus of the seminar was on stress as a work, health and safety issue and the Department’s responsibility to take action to minimise the risks associated with stress to keep workplaces safe.

Ms Lemaire distributed Safe Work NSW information leaflets on a risk management approach to work-related stress and discussed the issues raised. This includes members looking at workload demands, the support and resources available to meet those demands and how much control workers have in determining work priorities, timelines and how work is done.

Ms Lemaire referred to the Work Health and Safety leaflets on the Department’s website that outline a risk management approach to stress in schools. This involves consulting with staff to identify and minimise risk factors related to work practices and systems of work as well as other issues such as unsafe work environments and violence in the workplace.

It was good to hear about the Department’s Work Health and Safety Issue Resolution Procedures.

These procedures allow teachers to raise issues about risks or hazards, and if they cannot be resolved in the school an issue resolution notice can be sent to the Department’s Incident and Injury Hotline.

When that is done, additional support could be provided to address the issue. Question time at the end of the seminar allowed discussion about workload, and some people stayed afterwards to discuss specific school-based issues with Ms Lemaire.

All attendees were invited to stay for dinner after the seminar, and the three associations enjoyed the opportunity for social networking.

As Secretary of Tamworth Teachers Association I would encourage other Associations who identify particular issues to organise a similar information seminar and invite a senior officer of the Federation to talk over these issues.

Click here to download PDF.