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Australia: Union Questions the Independence of Minister’s Teaching Institute

EI affiliate the Australian Education Union has expressed concerns about “Teaching Australia,” a national professional body announced by the government and aimed at enhancing the professional status of teachers and teaching.

AEU President, Ms Pat Byrne, said that while Minister Dr Nelson repeatedly claims that this Institute is to be “for the profession, by the profession”, its structure and governance will make it difficult for the Institute to achieve such an aim. “The Institute has been set up as a company whose sole owner is the Minister. The Minister as well as providing the funding for this body, determines the composition of the Institute’s Board. This raises the question of the extent to which the Institute can be seen to be genuinely representative of the teaching profession. “Where there are differences of opinion between teachers and the minister of the day, the test will be the extent to which the Institute is able to express a view contrary to that of the Minister. “This Institute will need to demonstrate its independence if it is to gain credibility within the profession,” said Ms Byrne. “If teachers see the structure and the work of the Institute as serving the interests of the minister of the day, rather than those of the profession, then it will fail in its objectives.”