NTEU celebrates the inclusion of cultural load allowance clauses into enterprise agreements for the first time ever

Media Release
10 April 2024


With the current round of enterprise bargaining drawing toward conclusion the National Tertiary Education Union, together with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee is celebrating the incorporation of cultural load entitlement into many university enterprise agreements.

NTEU President Dr. Alison Barnes said “the current bargaining round has been a long and arduous process following a difficult couple of years in higher education institutes nationally. However, despite this, we must take time to celebrate crucial wins which will benefit the sector immensely.”

“This is the first round of enterprise bargaining in which a cultural loading allowance has been tabled for negotiation, and as a union, we are pleased to see that a majority of universities have incorporated this claim into their new enterprise agreements.”

“The knowledges, and the cultural understandings, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university staff bring to the institutions are invaluable, and unique to the lands on which these universities operate. Recognition of these skills, and appropriate monetary or time compensation for them, is well overdue.”

Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee, Dr. Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, added that many years of activism have gone into these gains.

“Cultural load claims would not have been tabled for negotiation if it were not for the dedication of NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, and their openness in discussing some of the very real barriers they feel within the sector daily.

“The imposition on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to contribute culturally to institutions, was raised at numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member meetings approximately eight years ago. The enormity of the problem, along with the need to address this as part of our working conditions, was a high priority for our member.

“Whether it has been local Elders called on to conduct Welcomes or ceremonies for universities, or informal mentorships Aboriginal academic staff take part in to assist students through the system, through to professional staff giving guest lectures to fulfil academic diversity requirements – nearly all members had a story to tell.

“These very real stories were backed up by the Gari Yala Report from the Jumbunna Centre at University of Technology Sydney. With so many workers identifying issues of racism and exclusion in the workplace, it became abundantly clear the NTEU needed to address this in our bargaining process.”

“In 2019, the NTEU National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum endorsed a motion that cultural loading allowances be included as part of the next bargaining round. In 2024, we are proud to announce that 68% of universities have adopted these clauses are real working conditions – 5% of those in the form of a payable loading, and 95% in the form of workplan or workload allocations to contribute to the institution culturally.

Dr Leroy-Dyer concluded “we wish to congratulate all our NTEU Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander member activists, and our incredible bargaining teams, on holding strong gaining these wins for more equitable working conditions. A precedent has now been set, and it is our hope that through strength of membership, along with ongoing activism on campus, we improve on these gains in round nine, to the point where all institutions recognise, and compensate, Indigenous knowledges appropriately.”

For further information:
Celeste Liddle – NTEU National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Organiser
[email protected]
0401 208 670

For media comment:
Dr Alison Barnes – NTEU National President
[email protected]
0466 144 384

Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer – Chair, NTEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Committee
[email protected]
0417 239 909

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