30 November 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:08): I rise also to support the motion on behalf of the Greens and want to start by thanking the Hon. Reggie Martin for putting this forward and giving this chamber an opportunity to recognise the important role that teachers play in our society.
As has been observed by the Hon. Jing Lee, World Teachers' Day is held annually on 5 October, but it is observed here in South Australia on 27 October. It is held annually around the globe, and I quote from the UNESCO website:
It commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel was adopted in 1997 to complement the 1966 Recommendation by covering teaching personnel in higher education. World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated since 1994.
UNESCO goes on to note that the day is a time to:
…celebrate how teachers are transforming education but also to reflect on the support they need to fully deploy their talent and vocation, and to rethink the way ahead for the profession globally.
I think we all had cause to reflect on the important role that teachers play in our society during the pandemic, when parents were forced to teach their children at home—or work with teachers, rather, in supporting them in the home environment. From the discussions I have had with many of my friends who had kids at home during the pandemic, I know how challenging that was, and the appreciation that that gave them for the remarkable work that teachers do and the vital role that they play in our society.
Given we are talking about the important role of teachers, I do want to use this opportunity also to urge the government to resolve the dispute with teachers. It is concerning that we have seen such significant underinvestment in the public education sector in our state over many years. I recognise that is not just a fault of this government; it has been a long-term challenge, and there has not been appropriate investment in public education from governments of either persuasion over the years. It is something I really urge the Malinauskas government to remedy.
I understand the Australian Education Union has revised its position for a salary increase of 8.64 per cent up-front and a 5.4 per cent increase in the following two years, down to 6 per cent in the first year followed by 5 per cent in the second year and 4 per cent in the third year. This would represent an increase of 15 per cent over three years, and would take SA educators from Australia's lowest paid to a level closer to the national midpoint. They are also requesting additional resources be made available to their schools so that they can better support students.
I urge the government to find a solution here. I know the Minister for Education, the Hon. Blair Boyer, is someone who is really passionate about education. In my dealings with him I have found him to be someone who really wants to deliver good outcomes for education in our state, but I really do urge the government to pay teachers what they are worth and to ensure that our public schools are appropriately resourced so that they can meet the needs of students, parents and our communities. With that, I conclude my remarks and indicate that the Greens will be supporting the motion.