Anna Stewart research examines workplace stress

Jo Sheppard

Jo Sheppard, centre, attended the Meadowbank TAFE rally

The burgeoning issue of workplace stress for teachers will be the subject of my Anna Stewart program research report.

The research sits neatly with Anna Stewart’s determination to re-evaluate the rights of female labour, which led to a fundamental reappraisal of women’s issues throughout the union movement.

Originally, my research proposal was to examine the mandatory and voluntary tasks that teachers undertake. However, after initial research and consultation with Women’s Coordinator Leeanda Smith and Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire, my project shifted focus to occupational workplace stress.

The aim of the mini research survey was to examine teachers’ occupational workplace stress across metropolitan, regional and remote schools. My project has involved taking the Department’s pro forma for completing the Risk Management Plan on occupational stress and highlighting the various work practices and systems of work.

So far, there are 52 responses.

  • 50 per cent have had talks at their school regarding the Department’s Hazard Identification Policy.
  • 65 per cent of respondents have not talked about work practices that cause stress in their school.
  • 91 per cent of respondents do not have a Risk Management Plan for occupational stress in their workplace.
  • 78 per cent describe their school negatively with regard to workplace stress, with 11 per cent of responses positive and 11 per cent neutral.

In general comments, 86 per cent of respondents described their workload, data entry and lack of access to executive staff as part of the negative culture in their school. 12 per cent were positive in terms of opportunities for professional development.

During my time on the Anna Stewart Program this term I have attended and observed meetings of other Teacher Associations, including Inner City, Middle Harbour and Sutherland regions. Attending association meetings and visiting schools has given me the opportunity to have informal conversations with teachers about occupational stress in their workplaces.

A particular highlight was a Unions NSW meeting I attended, the “Says who? Education and Equality: Unfinished Business” forum, with Leeanda Smith and Aboriginal Coordinator Charline Emzin-Boyd. I also attended TAFE meetings with Organiser Rob Long at West Wollongong and Nowra. In 2018, I return to the Shoalhaven Tutorial Centre attached to Bomaderry High School and the Shoalhaven Association with renewed passion and strategies to demonstrate just how valuable women can be.

Jo Sheppard is the Anna Stewart Officer for Term 4