Government must act on uni staff workplace health nightmare: Union 

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has urged the Albanese Government to act on damning findings of a new study highlighting a workplace health crisis for university staff.

A four-year survey involving more than 6200 responses from Australian university staff has found unacceptable levels of stress, burnout, pressure and mental injuries.

Almost three quarters (73%) of professional and academic staff reported poor work environments in 2023.

More than two-thirds (67%) reported poor psychosocial safety, double the national average, while a similar amount (66%) reported suffering from burnout.

Some 43% reported extreme tiredness, anxiety or depression.

The research group was led by University of South Australia Professor Kurt Lushington, in collaboration with ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Maureen Dollard.

NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said universities must be compelled to prioritise staff wellbeing and safety.

"The damning findings of this major study highlight a sector in crisis, with lives at risk from unsafe working environments," she said.

"The Universities Accord must address this life-and-death issue with decisive steps that put the onus back on universities to ensure safe working environments.

"Incredibly high levels of stress, exhaustion and mental distress must sound alarm bells for vice-chancellors all across Australia.

"Failures to protect staff will result in some of Australia's most brilliant minds leaving our sector, which would put the nation's future at risk.

"The union's own research has explored these issues, with similar findings about the shockingly high levels of psychosocial hazards faced by university staff.

"The NTEU urges Education Minister Jason Clare to make improving staff wellbeing a core part of the government's response to the Accord."

Media contacts: 
Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480 / [email protected]

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