The report highlights that the need for CRTs is growing, that we are given insufficient support in our professional learning, are not rewarded for our level of experience, unike most CRTs in other states of Australia, have no means of progressing up an incremental scale and even if we were to work every day of the 2012 school year, including our 20% leave loading that already comes within our pay, we could have earned a maximum of $52,000, which is also expected to be sufficient to support us through illness and holidays!
Rates of pay since 2012, have not climbed much higher. In 2012 the daily rate for a CRT, working a full day was $263.80. That has now risen to the heady rate of $283.90. or $1,419 per week, before tax. But many CRTs are not employed for a full day. If we are unlucky enough to only work our three hour minimum duties, over the course of a full day, we may earn $141.96 for a single day's work. I certainly don't know even one CRT who has worked every day over the course of a school year, whether they wanted to or otherwise. From my experience CRT work is intermittent. Very little work is available in the first weeks of a school year. For secondary teachers, work peters out in late October, as VCE teachers lose their classes and are available to take extras. Sometimes we will work a full week, fortnight, or even a whole month. I get consitent work from the school that employs me as a CRT, very often of 2-3 days a week. Sometimes I regularly work way more, sometimes considerably less. Sometimes I choose not to work, having planned travel, medical appointments, or professional development, unpaid and at my own expense!
Such examples include a German refresher course, for which I paid $50 per two hours over six weeks, to enable me to confidently undertake an allotment that included two year 8 German classes over four weeks. I am currently enrolled in a photo editing course to hone my skills for use in Photography classes. Other CRTs have enrolled in Art Classes with local providers. If these are not available on weekends, it generally means we potentially sacrifice a day's pay to undertake such professional development, as well as incurring the costs of the PD itself.
Luckily, for DEET and the huge number of schools we work in, many CRTs choose to work casually, for a whole host of reasons but for those seeking full time employment in the Teaching Service and dependant only on CRT work for their income, they are barely earning enough to be paying tax at all. This means families being supported soley by a CRT reliant parent, must be living close to or even below the recognised poverty line, given that they need keep their family for the many weeks of holidays, when no CRT work is available!
The problem of sourcing CRTs for rural schools is highlighted, as is the confirmation that a high level of competency is demanded of CRTs in their task of replacing classroom teachers on any form of leave, for periods from one day to up to four weeks at a time.
The audit acknowledges CRTs have no form of redress should they be unfairly "dismissed" from a school's list of CRTs to fill casual vacancies, should a school choose not to re-employ them and worse still, in rural areas, word can get around unjustly, that a particular CRT should not be employed, without the CRT concerned ever having an opportunity to address any complaint about their professional competency that may have arisen in the course of performing their duties.
A further issue is the difficulty of communicating with its 13,000 strong CRT workforce, given we are denied access to Edumail and other forms of Departmental Communication. The best they could do was to glean some information regarding numbers of CRTs on duty in schools on the specific day of the audit.
Clearly the Department of Education, Employment and Training has huge gaps in the knowledgo of the profiles of its CRT workforce. However, the tone of the audit implies it is anxious to redress some of the current systemic inequities CRTs encounter.
DEET acknowledges here, that they have no records of just what levels of skill, experience and expertise Victorian CRTs hold. I'm sure they would be pleasantly surprised if they were to encounter the excellent, commited, quality fellow CRTs I meet, even within the single school where I have availed myself for work. Most are highly experienced teachers. Many are supporting families on a single CRT income, many have mortgages to pay. Some are seeking full time, ongoing employment within the Teaching Service. Some, like myself continue to offer our services and skills to schools on a casual basis having chosen to "downsize" our careers to enhance our work/life balance.
I came to CRT work as a carer for an elderly and infirm parent, when it became simply too difficult and demanding to maintain my previous full time duties and juggle the care of my parent around them. Other highly experienced CRTs have similar stories. Some have moved from interstate, or outlying towns and are seeking to re-establish careers via CRT work. Some are beginning careers and see CRT work as a stepping stone into full time employment within a school. Some continue casual work into retirement having enjoyed long, rewarding and successful years as permanent members of the teaching service. Some are on leave without pay, or family leave from their regular teaching positions. Many have dependent children.
The full report makes fascinating reading and confirms we are the lowest paid CRTs in Australia and that DEET lacks either the resources, systems, or initiative or all of these to better communicate with, professionaly educate and deploy its casual workforce to most effectively and fully complement its permanent and contract workforce. It aims to ensure quality school and educational outcomes are being delivered across Victoria, yet recognises many rural schools are unable to deliver effective professional development release to teachers for want of CRTs!
To read the report click here.