PSA Newsletter to SAS Staff - Public Service Association

PSA Newsletter to SAS Staff

PSA Newsletter to SAS staff – June 2016 (PDF version)

This newsletter covers the following:


1. Change management plan – local schools, local decisions and learning management business reform

The PSA attended a meeting with the Department on 10 May in relation to the industrial implications of Local Schools, Local Decision (LSLD) and the Learning Management Business Reform (LMBR). In this meeting, the PSA requested the Department provide a change management proposal for both these significant workplace changes.

The reason for the request is that despite numerous meetings, your union does not feel the industrial issues arising from LMBR and LSLD, such as work overload, stress and changes to the work of front office staff have been considered in the Department’s planning for the changes  or adequately addressed. The PSA does acknowledge many of the technical issues raised by the PSA are often addressed; however, these are separate to the industrial matters. We believe a change management plan would be a productive way to ensure the Department identifies and  mitigates any negative effects of changes implemented. The PSA concerns have been borne out by the Department’s public comments quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald article on 28 June 2016 that “Essential operational costs, such as implementation and staff training … were never budgeted for…”

Read the full article HERE.

What is the department required to do?

The consultative clause in your Industrial Award requires that the Department will:

  • discuss the effects the changes are likely to have on employees and measures to avert or mitigate the adverse effects of such changes on employees
  • provide all relevant information about the changes, including the nature of the changes proposed, the expected significant effects of the changes on employees and any other matters likely to affect employees.

The PSA is working hard to ensure the Department takes responsibility to identify and address industrial matters that affect SAS staff.

2. Principals of staffing mix – staff freeze

Arguably the most significant change that will arise from the implementation of Local Schools, Local Decisions (LSLD) is how staffing at each school will be determined. In non-229 schools it is currently determined according to a staffing formula related to student enrolment numbers. Once LSLD is introduced, school principals will be able to choose not to fill or permanently fill a staff vacancy; or they may choose to fill it with a different position or in a different way.

The PSA is extremely concerned this will lead to further workload problems for staff, particularly given the workload concerns repeatedly raised by our members in the schools dealing with LMBR.

The PSA continues to hold meetings with the Department raising ongoing concerns in relation to workloads and staffing allocations. Members have clearly stated that, given all the additional work the LMBR deployment has generated, staffing numbers need to be held and not fluctuate based on student numbers.

The PSA became aware during the initial rollout of LMBR, those initial 229 schools had their staffing numbers frozen. This meant that irrespective of declining student numbers, staffing numbers were maintained. The PSA has asked the Department for further information and will request a further staffing freeze to ensure that our members are adequately supported during the deployment of LMBR.

This is in addition to our previous requests for additional staff and other support.

3. Performance development

The PSA was contacted by the Department to arrange a meeting to update the union as a stakeholder on the progress of performance development for schools. The Department and PSA met on the 23 May 2016. At this meeting the Department updated the PSA on the progress of performance development implementation.

The following timeline was presented by the Department:

  • Listening sessions will be held by the Department at the end of June 2016
  • September 2016 – Department will hold training sessions. Likely to be outsourced to another company. One member of SAS staff or one member of teaching staff to go to the training. The Department has been advised not to do training during term 4 (due to LMBR)
  • November 2016 to December 2016 – begin phased roll out of Performance Development Plans (PDPs)
  • First round of performance development conversations due to occur within Term 1, 2017.

The Department advised there will be training on performance development and that the conversations around performance development plans are designed to be positive in nature (not punitive). The Department also advised it will continue to consult with the PSA on the issues. The PSA referred the Department to the PSA’s General Assistants contact person to ensure the GA voice is also heard.

The PSA raised a number of concerns around the following issues:

  • How the statement of duties for SAS staff relates to capability based role descriptions
  • It is unclear who will be signing off on the PDPs. If it is the School Admin Manager (SAM) the concern is that they may not be supervising the person on a day to day basis. This also raises workload concerns for SAMs
  • Adherence to statement of duties – the PSA expressed the concern that there has been a pattern of staff being asked to do work outside their statement of duties and asking staff to engage in performance development is part of this
  • Lack of planning and information on how the Department is going to ensure that performance development is consistently and fairly implemented across all schools
  • The PSA also resent to the Department representative the feedback we gathered from December 2015 to ensure that they had complete feedback from the PSA’s members.

4. Proposed work ban – performance development activities

At the Schools Departmental Committee meeting on the 24 May, the following resolution was passed:

  • “That the Schools DC endorse a work ban on all activities pertaining to SAS staff Performance Development and that members be directed to comply with the ban. This ban is to remain in place until the DC’s concerns in relation to responsibilities associated with assessment and review of individual performance plans, SAS staff not having capability based role descriptors and the implementation timeframe across the public sector are resolved.”

Please let us know whether you support the DCs’ proposal for a ban on performance development and why. To provide your view please email

We want to ensure we understand your views and that any ban implemented is supported by members.

5. Injections and invasive procedures in schools

The PSA has exchanged correspondence with the Department expressing concern that School Learning Support Officers (SLSO) have been administering insulin injections and undertaking blood sugar level testing for students with diabetes. The PSA has previously put out information to members advising them that they should not perform injections as this is regarded as an invasive procedure and outside their statement of duties. Furthermore, the PSA has not been consulted on this issue. SAS staff should not volunteer to undertake these procedures. The PSA is interested in hearing your views. Please feel free to email

On a related matter, namely the review of the Health Care Procedures Manual, the PSA is filing a dispute regarding health care procedures at the NSWIRC. We will keep members informed of developments.

6. Pay equity update

The PSA has been gathering information from members in order to correctly identify the work undertaken by SAS staff. While the statement of duties is a good starting point for this information, we developed a template for members to identify any additional and/or changed duties.

As a result of this work, three large lever arch files containing these completed templates and other important information has been submitted to external lawyers for their review.

We believe this review will take approximately six to nine weeks. When this is completed the PSA staff will meet with the lawyers to ascertain whether there is anything further they need from us before they give us comprehensive advice on the likely success of a pay equity case for each of the female dominated SAS staff classifications.

What exactly is pay equity?

The term ‘pay equity’ can often be mixed up with the terms ‘equal pay’ or ‘gender pay gap’. So what’s the difference?

Historical campaigns for equal pay were about winning the right for women to be paid the same amount as men where they did the same job as men.

The gender pay gap is the difference in the fulltime average weekly earnings of women and men expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

For example the Australian national gender pay gap is 17.3 percent, which is better than the NSW gender pay gap of 17.9 percent.

The gender pay gap is impacted by a wide and complicated variety of issues. These include the lack of women in senior roles; differences in job-security; direct and/or indirect discrimination and women and men choosing different industries or job-types. These last two points relate to pay equity.

Pay Equity is about fighting to ensure women are paid equally to men for work of equal value. It is about examining whether the work performed by a particular female-dominated workforces or industry has been systemically undervalued because of the gender of the people undertaking the work. Addressing pay equity in female-dominated industries or workforces would go a large way toward closing the gender pay gap.

Did you know?

The PSA has been a world leader in pay equity. The Librarians’ pay equity case, as it has become known, started in 1996 with a meeting of PSA members working as librarians, library technicians and archivists at the State Library of New South Wales.

It ended in 2002 with an historic decision handed down by the full bench of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. It was the first test case  under the  “NSW Equal Remuneration Principle of 2000” adopted by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission two years earlier.

On the day that the historic decision was made, then PSA Senior Industrial Officer for the case – current Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner – said: “the decision ‘sets a precedent for how women can say they are underpaid because they are women…this breaks the barrier and allows women to be assessed for equal pay for work of equal value… ‘.

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