The NSW Teachers Federation has strongly endorsed a NSW parliamentary committee’s recognition that crushing workloads are leading to more psychological injuries, as part of recommendations to conduct a forensic investigation into stress-related psychological injuries in education.
The recommendation is among 18 produced by the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its 2023 Review of the Workers Compensation Scheme.
The number of psychological injuries suffered by NSW public school teachers increased from 349 in 2021-22 to 577 in 2022-23. In evidence to the inquiry, the chief executive of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, Adam Dent, recognised the connection between teacher workload and the high number of psychological claims by teachers linked to work pressure:
Absolutely. I think that is quite concerning. I think that then leans to a conversation around the structure of work in those environments. From our point of view, we would see those issues as being good ones for agencies like SafeWork to potentially then work with employers. But certainly the employers themselves will be able to take those
matters into consideration. But that is highly disproportionate number, absolutely.
“Amid the worst teacher shortage in living memory, many of our teachers have been stretched to breaking point by unmanageable workloads. Yet the support structures simply haven’t been adequate,” said NSW Teachers Federation acting Deputy President, Amber Flohm.
“At a minimum, robust financial and medical support for people who get sick and injured at work must be provided. But it also needs to go further. We need preventative measures that address what the evidence points to as the number one cause of these injuries for teachers, work pressure.’
‘’A psychologically safe workplace which facilitates both the successful return to work and healthy work practices requires vastly more support from both the employer and insurer than is currently experienced by teachers.‘’
The Committee’s report also calls for:
- An enforcement campaign targeting workplaces that have high incidents of
psychological injury to ensure they have in place a psychosocial hazard risk assessment;
- A robust and reliable method of data collection to ensure information on secondary psychological injuries is collected by insurers and is maintained on an ongoing basis;
- Amending workers compensation legislation to ensure injured workers are only required to have a single independent medical examination from a specialist agreed upon by all parties, where relevant.
For further comment please contact Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032