7th of February 2024, 9:54
Legislative Council of Victoria, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

Victoria calls itself the Education State. This government is supposedly committed to a fair and equitable education system.

A critical part of this is a strong, sustainable and supported workforce so that all schools can attract and retain the workforce they need. School cleaners are the unsung heroes of that workforce.

They are poorly paid and only contracted for 42 weeks of the year, leaving them without pay over the school holidays. Their position will be further reduced by the recent awarding of school cleaning contracts in the west to Serco cleaning services.

This will see their hours and wages cut by up to 60 per cent. This is grossly unjust for the cleaners and will doubtless increase the strain on our teachers, forcing them to take on additional cleaning duties and exacerbating recruitment and retention problems.

The obvious solution is to have cleaners directly employed by the government, as they are in Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland. Is it more expensive than outsourcing? In Queensland it has proven to be both cheaper and better, and it is the right thing to do. If, as the website spruiks, Victoria is committed to:

… a strong, sustainable and supported school workforce

and to ensuring a fair and equitable education system, perhaps the government should treat its school cleaners like they mean it.


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