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Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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Teachers’ workload is their biggest challenge
Today is Teachers’ Day in Australia. As our year 12 students prepare for their exams after a turbulent year, readers might be interested to hear from the teachers who have supported them along the way. Planning virtual online lessons, trying new methods of teaching and rewriting entire syllabi to adjust to the impossible circumstances of this year, I have seen my colleagues stick fat for the love of their students. When the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority declared that all year 12 students would receive ‘‘special consideration’’, what escaped public attention was that this involved hours upon hours of work by their teachers during the busiest time of the year, on top of their regular working hours.
No additional time has been provided to do this. When pushed, the Education Department told teachers to do the job even if it meant taking time off from teaching their final lessons to these students : an impossible decision to make and cynically calculated with the knowledge that teachers would rather perform unpaid overtime than disadvantage their students.
Victorian teachers are in the classroom on average two hours longer per week than teachers in similar countries to Australia. Workload is the biggest challenge facing them, with only 30 minutes outside the classroom to plan and assess every hour of time in the classroom. Currently a new industrial agreement is being negotiated on Spring Street. Let us hope that teachers’ workload is made first and foremost a state government priority.
David Owen, Northcote
Treasurer has alienated our hard-working educators
It was disappointing, but not surprising, to hear Josh Frydenberg once again attack his fellow Victorians. This time it was teachers. To say that all schoolchildren, including his own, lost six months of schooling is ridiculous. Of course it has been difficult for many children and their parents during the lockdown. However, when asked what they have missed the most, children (including our six grandchildren) often say it is their friends.
Sadly, the children who have found it difficult would probably be those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Teachers are aware of this, including one of our sons. He is just one of the thousands of teachers who have given their all to provide an effective, stimulating environment for their pupils. Also, Mr Frydenberg overlooks the children who coped very well with online learning. If he believes that his party will gain support from his tactics, he will be sorely disappointed. I cannot imagine that he has gained the respect and support of any teachers.
Tom Ward, former teacher, Sorrento
Parents, teachers and students working together
As an ex-primary teacher and a grandmother of a new prep student, I have been amazed at the quality of learning that has taken place during Victoria’s lockdown. This has come about by my granddaughter’s school, her teacher and parents all working together. Perhaps Josh Frydenberg could take a closer look at the wonderful things that have been happening around his own state. It is called co-operation.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington
Focus on our wellbeing as well as our grades
When did it become common to hear remarks like ‘‘I cried myself to sleep last night’’ or ‘‘I had a panic attack yesterday’’ in secondary schools? As a year 8 student who has been doing remote learning, I have found that this pandemic has exacerbated the anxiety teenagers experience daily – for example, problems with their families and friends, stressing over grades, worrying about body image and the financial crisis this pandemic has brought.
Mental health is more important than ever for our future generations. This is why I believe that our schools, where we spend five days a week, should do more to improve our mental health, not just our grades. Most schools, like mine, are very supportive but they need more resources to support all the students who are seeking help.
Annabelle Bowyer-Smyth, 15, Surrey Hills
Act now on climate change
What sort of future is the federal government locking us into – ‘‘PM rejects foreign pressure on climate’’ (The Age, 29/10)? Ignoring climate science, supporting fossil fuels like coal and gas, and a belligerent approach to constructive global action. Even if the government chooses to ignore the economic benefits of a growing renewables industry, our kids and future generations will pay the price of further delaying immediate action on significant cuts to carbon emissions.
Simon O’Kelly, Port Melbourne
Listen and learn, PM
Scott Morrison says he will not be dictated to by other governments’ climate change goals. Wisdom teaches the benefits of listening and learning from others. Rather than frame the learnings of others as he does, can he be encouraged to look afresh at why other nations have set their targets for zero emission? Given their dire experience of climate change now, can he be encouraged to ask afresh our neighbours in the Pacific whether a target towards zero emission would give them more hope?
Philip Huggins, Lonsdale
Towards carbon neutral
As a clever marketer, our Prime Minister is an expert at reading the mood in a room. We need him to read the global room on climate change and start pivoting our exports to be carbon neutral. We cannot afford to wait until massive foreign tariffs are placed on imports of Australian products to start this essential change.
Michelle Leeder, Seddon
Importance of our buyers
The Australian government can set its policies for selling coal and gas overseas. It cannot set the policies of other governments to buy them, and if there are no buyers then we are the ones in a deep hole, not them.
Jan Newmarch, Oakleigh
No thanks to the Premier
I am heartbroken and dismayed that it was seemingly impossible to spare a tree of cultural significance and beauty in order to build a road – ‘‘Protesters arrested after tree felled’’ (The Age, 28/10). Thank you, Dan Andrews. One hand giveth, and the other hand taketh away.
Michelle Bolton, Blackburn
High cost of saving time
Imagine that a foreign nation, after occupying our country for a few hundred years, decided to raze our churches and other sacred places. This is exactly what is happening near Ararat, with the Victorian government’s removal of centuries-old Djab Wurrung birthing trees along the Western Highway. Just so that our cars can arrive two minutes earlier.
Clay Ravin, Daylesford
‘Approval’ may be wrong
The painful lesson from Juukan Gorge in Western Australia was that official permission does not legitimise insensitive desecration. There are other alignment options for the Western Highway.
Rod Duncan, East Brunswick
Higher order thinking
Catherine Ford – ‘‘Education upheaval sparks real fear’’ (Comment, 28/10) – explains the dreadful outcome of the slashing of funding by the federal government, and the loss of jobs at LaTrobe University. The anti-intellectual funding cuts and the increase in fees for the humanities is outrageous. Then again perhaps those people who have lost their jobs could apply for a job filling the coal scuttles.
Carol Reed, Newport
The values we learnt
Stories of consumers excited to get to Kmart, or have their nails done (The Age, 29/10), at first seem to be celebrating the return to superficial values. But it is more about the fact that life as we used to expect it to be is returning. The sense of freedom, autonomy, and the absence of that heavy feeling of dread being lifted, celebrated by the banal activities of our former existence. I just hope that along with the freedom, we can collectively embrace the deeper values we learnt from lockdown – community, caring about our neighbours, doing the right things like wearing masks – and that these remain strong.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown
A big stick approach
Re ‘‘Premier urges Victorians who spot outlets flouting COVID-safe rules to phone hotline’’ (Age Online, 29/10). It is simple. Rather than fining businesses which breach the restrictions, close them down. I bet that all businesses will be compliant then. The owners who do not do the right thing do not care about other people’s right to life, so they should not have a right to run a business. If we do not crack down now, we will have a third wave. This would be unfair on those businesses and people who are doing the right thing.
Jill Polson, Reservoir
Danger of a third wave
Yesterday, taking a trip to my local shopping centre to have a coffee for the first time in months, I noticed that masks were not being worn properly even by those who were serving food. They are not meant to be worn below, or half covering, your nose. The state government which has, like us, an enormous stake in controlling this virus needs to embark on a publicity campaign illustrating how a mask needs to be fitted, hygiene regarding its handling, etc. We could risk losing control once again. Obviously, this would be a disaster for us all.
Vincent Vozzo, Blairgowrie
The $3million question
Did the inquiry into hotel quarantine bother to get the name of the person who signed the contract for security guards? If so, they should be able to say who authorised it. Perhaps it was done without a contract, in which case who signed for the payment of $3million? Or was it anybody, somebody or nobody?
Lynette Cameron, Brighton East
Doubts over the ADF
Re ‘‘NSW needs more quarantine hotels to deal with COVID-19-infected overseas arrivals’’ (Age Online, 28/10). In the photo, not one of the Australian Defence Force personnel is wearing a mask, just gloves. One has to question whether the use of the ADF in Victoria would have stopped the virus from spreading beyond the quarantine hotels. Proper training in social distancing and use of protective equipment is the key.
Helen Jordan, Highton
A bouquet and a …
A person should not be judged by their mistakes, but by how steadfastly they fight to correct them, despite much opposition. I thank and salute Dan Andrews.
Roman Kluger, Malvern
… brickbat for Premier
Melbourne has enjoyed the title of the World’s Most Liveable City on a couple of occasions. Would it again qualify? I think not. Thanks, Dan Andrews.
Phil Dunstan Mount Waverley
I feel absolute dismay at the Aged Care Minister’s views – ‘‘I don’t feel responsible for aged care deaths, says Colbeck’’ (The Age, 28/10). Sure, Victoria’s second COVID-19 outbreak was a result of the Andrews government’s carelessness. However, had the Morrison government put in place adequate funding for higher levels of professional nursing and external assessments carried out by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the horrendous spread through the aged care network could have been kept to a manageable level.
The current dismal level of care is the result of limited budget provisions set in train by the Howard government in 1977 and is a disgrace. Senator Richard Colbeck, instead of dodging responsibility, you should be ashamed that such a debacle has taken place on your watch.
Rob Evans, Glen Iris
Time for PM to step up
Richard Colbeck was given aged care in the hope that he might be able to manage a portfolio where nothing happens. But a disaster happened, and he did not know what to do so he did nothing, and he is still doing nothing. So what are you doing, Scott Morrison?
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick
Action, not words, please
Michael O’Brien says ‘‘the job of an opposition is to call out where the government gets it wrong and demand action to fix it’’ (The Age, 28/10). Actually, its role is to be an alternative government. So how about practising getting in early with constructive suggestions rather than just jumping up and down, pointing a finger and randomly demanding, ‘‘Fix it’’. If I really want to see tantrums, I will ask a two-year-old.
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West
Catch up, Melbourne 1
I am bemused by your correspondent’s surprise that ‘‘the Victorian government is only now developing a QR code check-in system’’ (Letters, 29/10). The last two times we have been out to a restaurant, we have used a commercial QR code check-in system. Yes, we have been out, we live in Geelong. Not such a backwater now.
Michael Lunney, Leopold
Catch up, Melbourne 2
Sorry, Melburnians, but you need to live up my way. If I post a letter at 5pm at the corner box, while walking my dog, it arrives in Albury the next morning and in Geelong two days later.
Jan Hunter, Albury
Long hours from home
So working from home is set to reshape the city (The Age, 29/1). Important benefits include reduced commuting time and also cuts in carbon emissions from transport. But limits on how many hours we work (do you remember the 40-hour week?) must be guaranteed under such flexible arrangements. More electronic work communication already occurs after our once accepted working hours. Sometimes I receive these late at night and on weekends. We must be careful that, post-pandemic, we do not erode the conditions that have been hard won by unions.
Marguerite Marshall, Eltham
Take a bow, Victorians
As a Queenslander who has lived in NSW and SA, I learned to refer to Victorians ‘‘those bloody Vics’’. Well, they’ve been bloody marvellous.
Barbara Abell, Essendon
AND ANOTHER THING
Federal Treasurer, Victorian traitor.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
Are we sure the Liberals’ spin doctors aren’t working covertly for Labor?
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North
Stopped in Smith St, Collingwood for 10 minutes. The City of Yarra welcomed me back with a parking ticket.
Pam Matthews, Clifton Hill
Dan, you had me at COVID. You lost me at Djab Wurrung.
Colleen Filippa, Brown Hill
O’Brien says he hasn’t been negative. I think he’s in denial.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear
Thank you, Dan. At long last you can have a day off .
Denis Evans, Coburg
The government made our bed and we have to lie in it. Now it has to lie about how it made that bed.
Rob Dodge, Mitcham
We’re getting back to the ‘‘old norm’’. I can smell it in the pollution.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury
The President has no clothes.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton
Will Melania vote for Donald?
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne
Scott might show more interest in establishing a federal ICAC if the commissioners wear fluro vests.
Peter Bowen, Ivanhoe
Blood lust (27/10)? Does the army still have a psychology corps? Where were they?
John Whelen, Box Hill South
Could the person without their snout in the trough step forward. Anyone? Hello?
Brendan Egan, Black Rock
Thanks, Ross Gittins, re privatisation (28/10). We haven’t noticed any improvement in water, electricity and postal services.
Lynne Wenig, Melbourne
Water on the moon (28/10). Let’s steal it and contaminate it.
Gareth Sharp, Clunes
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