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Big win for Residential Colleges

Residential Colleges staff in Broome have won a reclassification of their jobs and an instant pay rise between $3,000 and $30,000.

Residential Colleges across WA contribute to the lifeblood of regional and remote communities by creating opportunities for hundreds of families wanting to get the best education for their children.

These home-away-from-homes are run by a small group of dedicated public sector workers at the Department of Education, who have been working under an archaic Industrial Agreement and Award for years.

College staff have been trying to challenge their job levels and conditions of employment with the Department since 2017. In bargaining for their previous Agreement two years ago, Delegates joined together and strongly advocated for a formal review into their conditions to be included, which was finally incorporated after mounting pressure from the Union.

The review resulted in the Department acknowledging the use of outdated practices including job levels determined by the number of students, not by the skills and knowledge of the worker, and a commuted allowance that is entirely insufficient for staff who work in the colleges.  

Broome Residential College Delegates Nikki, John and Kristine were part of the team that helped create change for staff across WA.

Nikki, who works in administration at the College, says staff pride themselves on making sure the students feel safe and engaged with school.

“For us up in the Kimberly, the Residential College is essential so we can get students from remote communities to high school. But it’s the dedication of workers that contribute greatly to the success of the Residential Colleges work. Staff are committed to the work they do.”

Years of hard work, planning and determination of delegates has resulted in a massive win for members, with their new Administrative Arrangements recently agreed between the Department and the Union.

The Arrangement includes a reclassification of job levels to fall in line with the general public sector.

Kristine says the win is more about being valued than money.

“It's wonderful to be recognised for the professionalism that we have and to be recompensed for doing such an important job as having a duty of care for other people’s most precious things - their children.

“We go above and beyond because the student’s welfare is so important to us, and we work here because we want to bring out the best in the next generation,” she said.

The arrangement will also include flow-on conditions from the Public Sector CSA Agreement 2019 and will address issues around the commuted allowance, understaffing, excessive hours and proper timekeeping of hours worked.

Kristine says the Administrative Arrangement allows for a new Agreement negotiation to commence in 2020, meaning delegates will once again have to stand together to secure their new entitlements and ensure they have the best practices in place.

“If you firmly believe in something and stick together, you can ensure that you have true representation. At first, everyone thought ‘Oh it’s too hard’, but it just shows if you persevere, be open to working together with your employers in good faith and you believe in what you’re doing, you can win.”

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