NSW Teachers Federation secures action on mental health at work

The NSW Teachers Federation welcomes the NSW Government’s Code of Practice: Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work and the reinforcement of employers’ legal duty of care and responsibilities to address teachers’ mental health at work.

On Friday Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor announced the release of the Code of Practice.

NSW Teachers Federation senior vice president Amber Flohm said: “The union’s significant contribution and input to SafeWork NSW and focus on the psychological impact on teachers due to role overload, poor organisational change consultation, poor support and low job control are now identified in the Code of Practice as common workplace psychosocial hazards for school settings.”

The Code encompasses risks to psychological health covering all NSW workplaces and the requirement to formally clarify the legal responsibilities every employer has, to address hazards in the workplace that have the potential to cause psychological or physical harm.

This includes the Department of Education and TAFE NSW.

“Role overload is a workplace psychosocial hazard for teachers and principals and the NSW government knows it.”

“Its own People Matter Survey identified only 32% of teachers who agreed with the proposition ‘I have time to do my job well’.”

“They also know that the psychosocial control measures needed to minimise the risks associated with role overload include employing more permanent teachers, providing school and system level support and professional learning within core working hours. Evidence and findings from the Gallop Inquiry also supported the need for such systems’ measures.”

“The Gallop Report recommended a reduction of two hours face-to-face teaching loads for all primary and secondary teachers to address the current work overload, increasing administrative, curriculum, assessment, reporting and data collection requirements of the profession.”

“A reprioritisation of the focus of teachers on the teaching and learning of their students is essential.”

“The focus on protecting teachers’ mental health under NSW Work Health & Safety legislation is long overdue and the resultant action should employers fail to take these responsibilities seriously is applauded.”

“It is time for action not words.”