30 June 2023

Majority of ACT public school teachers endorse nation-leading pay agreement

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Students raising hands while teacher asking them questions in classroom

The new enterprise agreement goes some way to address workload issues, but the AEU says more needs to be done. Photo: File.

The majority of ACT public school teachers have voted to support a new enterprise agreement which will put the starting salary for a new teacher at $91,396 by the beginning of 2026.

After months of negotiations, the revised enterprise agreement was accepted by the Australian Education Union’s ACT branch in May and the formal offer has now been resoundingly agreed to, with 83 per cent voting in favour of the deal, the ACT Government announced on Friday (30 June).

“This Enterprise Agreement will deliver nation-leading pay for public school teachers and a better classification structure that supports school leaders, new educators and experienced teachers,” Minister for Education Yvette Berry said.

“Union members told the government that this is about pay, but it is also about time. This agreement outlines a clear approach to managing teacher workloads, so that our public school teachers and school leaders can do what they do best – teach and lead.”

Ms Berry noted that the ACT Budget included more than $201 million to help recruit and retain teachers and reduce the impact of the national teacher shortage. In total, the Budget includes $1.7 billion allocated to the education sector – the second-largest share of the total after health expenditure.

READ ALSO ACT teachers put poor literacy results in public schools down to ‘socioeconomic status’

Under the ACT Public Sector Education Directorate (Teaching Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2023‑2026, the starting salary for a new teacher as of 4 December 2025 will be increased to $91,396, and a teacher with eight years of experience will earn $129,106.

Pay rates will increase for some other members of staff, including school psychologists and clinical practice managers. Casual teachers will also be on a new daily rate of $422 (casual rate one) and $524 (casual rate two) from January 2024.

According to AEU ACT branch president Angela Burroughs, the new agreement represents the largest pay increase for ACT public school teachers in more than two decades, reflecting an average 5.5 per cent pay increase across all teacher and school leader levels.

Newly recruited teachers will see an increase of up to 8 per cent per year, and mid-career salaries will grow as much as 8.7 per cent per annum.

READ ALSO ACT Budget: Workforce shortages limit introduction of free preschool for three-year-olds to one day a week

The union had rejected previous pay agreements, saying they did not adequately address the ongoing staff shortage. However, the revised deal that was accepted on 4 May was met with “strong” acceptance, reflected in the results of the vote on the formal offer.

“While support for the offer was strong, it was not unanimous. Members acknowledged that the teacher pay deal is the best in the country and will result in ACT teachers earning considerably more than their interstate counterparts,” Ms Burroughs said at the time.

“Members took the view that increasing new teacher salaries benefits the profession, students and communities. Even though the pay offer delivers more by percentage to newer teachers than experienced ones, our members feel this is the best way forward for an education system suffering acute staffing shortages.”

It’s claimed excessive workload is still an ongoing issue for teachers in the ACT, but the new enterprise agreement takes steps to try and address this, with the introduction of three pupil-free days so that teachers are able to focus on lesson planning and professional development. These days will be in the first days of terms 2, 3 and 4.

“For the first time there is recognition that teachers need time for lesson preparation, assessment and student reporting. Maintenance of school buildings will also be centralised, taking some of the administrative burden away from principals,” Ms Burroughs said.

However, the union said there was still more that needed to be done: the AEU ACT said in May that it anticipated there would be further workload measures to come as the agreement is implemented.

“These workload measures are just the beginning,” Ms Burroughs said.

“Building on the recommendations of the Teacher Shortage Taskforce, our union will be meeting regularly with the employer and consulting with teachers and school leaders to identify further reductions to workloads. Our first priority will be identifying tasks that can be taken off schools and either discontinued or centralised to allow teachers and school leaders to focus on teaching and learning,”

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