Norrian Rundle

In a hotly contested byelection on November 18, Lidia Thorpe became the first indigenous woman to be elected to the Victorian Parliament.

Thorpe, standing for the Greens, won 45% of first preferences. She was trailed by Labor, which has held the seat since it was created 100 years ago, with 35% of first preferences. Thorpe won 56% on a two party preferred vote.

The recently released independent Gonski review into school funding reaffirms what many teachers and parents already knew. Current school funding arrangements are dysfunctional and inequitable and the failure to reform the way we resource our public schools has come at an immense social and economic cost.

Gonski’s recommendations are far from perfect and recommend continued public funding of elite private schools. But they do highlight the need for an immediate injection of funds into public schools.

The problem

On May 5, Victorian Premier John Brumby and education minister Bronwyn Pike announced that they had struck a deal with the Victorian Australian Education Union (AEU) over teachers’ pay. While there are several aspects of the agreement to be finalised, the government decided to go public and claimed that Victorian teachers are now the highest-paid teachers in Australia.

Victorian public school teachers are close to reaching a settlement with the state Labor government on a new pay and conditions agreement. Their previous enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) expired in August, and they have not had a pay rise since October 2006.

Over 4000 Victorian Independent Education Union (VIEU) members from Catholic schools stopped work for 24 hours on March 7 in support of their enterprise bargaining agreement.

Members of the Australian Education Union (AEU) employed in Victorian public schools will stop work for 24 hours on February 14 as part of their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with the state government.

The first negotiations between the state government and Victorian teachers following a 10,000 strong November 21 stop-work meeting bore no fruit according to a November 30 press release by the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) Victorian branch.

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