For immediate release
The peak body representing public school leaders across WA has called on the State Government to properly recognise the value and importance of principals and their deputies to their local communities by agreeing to a range of health and wellbeing initiatives.
Principals Federation of WA President (PFWA), Bevan Ripp, said over the last two years members have gone above and beyond in providing extra support to their communities extending past the school gates.
“Managing extra responsibilities which have been forced down onto our members by the State Government, including ongoing COVID-19 duties, have certainly impacted the health and wellbeing of school leaders.” Mr. Ripp said.
“While we are fighting for a fair pay increase, what we are really seeking is a drastic improvement in the way the State Government supports the mental health of important community leaders so they feel valued enough to stay in the profession.
“Our regional school leaders in particular are forced to pay exorbitant rents which is unfairly calculated at the Perth median rate regardless of where they are across the state.
“We regularly get feedback from our regional members that a lack of maintenance and basic amenity in their accommodation is a having a detrimental impact their quality of life.
“That’s if they can find a rental house to begin with. In many of our regional centres and larger towns, there’s simply no available accommodation, so they are put up in dongas or caravan parks.” Mr. Ripp said.
School leaders in Western Australia continue to deal with the worst cost-of-living pressures in the country while also being among the lowest paid in Australia.
This comes as the Department of Education is seeking to register an Agreement that has the support of only 19% of SSTUWA members and 12% of PFWA members.
“This situation cannot drag on any longer. With a depleted school system which is losing teachers and taking on more social responsibilities than ever before, the State Government must meet what we believe are reasonable requests when it comes to health and wellbeing of our members.” Mr. Ripp said.
“We have principals who have consistently worked through weekends and holiday periods to ensure their schools are prepared, are grappling with staff placement processes and relief teacher shortages, while taking on the added responsibility placed on them by the State Government’s Health Department in relation to COVID-19. Then we have maintenance issues, housing in regional and remote schools, localised vandalism issues and the health and wellbeing of vulnerable and sick staff members.
“I urge the Premier and the Minister for Education to come to the table with a new offer that not only includes a fair pay increase which meets the cost-of-living pressures we are under, but also new measures to support the development of our principals and deputy principals.
“School leaders need urgent access to extra funding for professional development and for targeted health and wellbeing strategies.” Mr. Ripp said.
Among the list of claims submitted to the Director General of Education as part of the second round of negotiations was a call for a 5% salary increase for Principals and Deputies over three years.
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