How one state is keeping its principals safe

by Brett Henebery13 Jan 2016

Queensland’s principals are the nation’s least bullied and threatened, according to the 2015 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety & Well-being Survey Report, released in December.

Only South Australian principals experienced less physical violence.

The report was commissioned by the Australian Catholic University (ACU), which surveyed 2,621 principals and 1,024 assistant principals from schools around the country.

Of all states, Queensland’s principals had the lowest prevalence percentage by year in terms of bullying, threats of violence and physical violence against them.

The Educator spoke to Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) president, Kevin Bates to investigate some of the contributing factors behind this positive trend.

“There are three main reasons for the Queensland data. The first is maintaining collegiality when other states have moved to more competitive models of school management,” Bates explained.
 
“This includes ongoing high levels of union membership and dedicated support structures for principals within the QTU.
 
“The second is maintaining Education Department support structures for schools and principals, and the third is preserving job security for principals and other school leaders [no contracts]. It is a complex issue but these are the main contributing factors.”
 
However, Bates cautioned that while this was good news for the state’s principals, “being the least worst in a bad situation didn’t make the issue any less important”.
 
The report also found that the state’s regional principals were treated worse than metropolitan or rural principals. Bates said this matter was “difficult” and required additional research to find out its causes.

“One possible explanation is the pressures of growth outstripping infrastructure,” he said.

“Another consideration is periodic/recurring issues such as severe drought and the mining downturn which generate economic pressures on communities. Schools, and their principals, are impacted by this, although this also effects rural schools.”
 
 

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