Schools Better support for the “tough gig” of parenting

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of that for men. It’s a shocking statistic – one that the new Victorian Government Schools Agreement (VGSA 2022) aims to address. In a major win, primary caregivers (usually women) are now entitled to 52 weeks of superannuation pay while on parental leave. 

Stacey Fallon, currently on maternity leave from Caulfield South Primary School, praises the improved entitlement secured by the union. “It’s a huge advantage,” says Stacey. “Having my super paid for a whole year is going to make such a big difference when I retire, because it accumulates, so it’s definitely a good outcome.”

In the new agreement, partner pre-natal leave has been increased from 7.6 to 15.2 hours, and partner leave expanded from five days to 20 days (pro rata). Stacey hopes this will enable more partners to help shoulder the load in the early days. “If you look at the Nordic countries, they’ve got so many advantages for all parents, so it’s not always the mother who has to be the main stay-at-home partner,” she says. “I’m lucky that my partner can work from home three days a week and it’s just incredible. You can have a shower, and there’s a little bit of a break, because parenting is a tough gig.”

“It’s a big chunk of our life that goes on pause, so we have to keep pushing to make sure it’s not a disadvantage to have children.”

Stacey Fallon

For ES staff, the new agreement features an increase in pre-natal leave from 35 to 38 hours to match teachers – and now without deduction from personal leave for both teachers and ES. Maternity leave has also been extended from 14 to 16 weeks on full pay, which can be taken on half-pay for 32 weeks, or a combination.

While Stacey is happy that her super won’t take a hit thanks to the VGSA win, she believes the AEU and its members should continue campaigning for gender equity on all fronts. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I do feel that when you go on maternity leave, it holds you back career-wise. I was an acting learning specialist, but I’ll go back to work part time, so you do tend to miss out on career opportunities,” she says.

“It’s a big chunk of our life that goes on pause, so we have to keep pushing to make sure it’s not a disadvantage to have children – especially because we’re in education, which is predominately a women-led industry.”

VGSA wins on parental leave

  • Primary caregivers now entitled to 52 weeks of superannuation while on parental leave.
  • Maternity leave extended from 14 to 16 weeks on full pay, which can be taken on half-pay for 32 weeks or a combination, for schools employees with 26 or more weeks of qualifying service within the 52 weeks preceding the commencement.
  • Pre-natal leave for all pregnant employees extended from 35 to 38 hours without drawing on personal leave, allowing them to attend routine medical appointments.
  • Partner pre-natal leave expanded from 7.6 to 15.2 hours.
  • Paid partner leave extended to 20 days (formerly five days to be taken in the period one week prior to birth and concluding six weeks after.
  • Other paid parental leave extended from 8 to 16 weeks, which can be accessed by primary caregivers in situations including adoption and surrogacy.
  • Introduction of leave for short-term foster and kinship care, of up to two days on five occasions per child.

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    Australia's public education system is open to everyone. That's why it deserves the support of every Australian. AEU members working in public education continue to do the heavy lifting within the education system, doing more with less, fighting for equity, and seeking the best possible outcomes for their students, often against the odds. Read more in our Term 2, 2023 edition of AEU News.

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