27 October 2023

A national road trip involving principals, teachers, parents and community members is being launched on World Teachers’ Day today in Adelaide to help secure full funding for public schools.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the road trip is being undertaken as part of the For Every Child campaign. Starting in Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart, branded vehicles will travel through city, regional and remote areas.

“World Teachers’ Day is a great opportunity to recognise the extraordinary efforts and achievements of Australia’s teachers and we are marking the occasion by stepping up our national campaign calling on the Government to put an end to the chronic underfunding of public schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“On this road trip we will be holding meetings and events with principals, parents, teachers and community members and asking them to sign postcards to the PM calling for him to deliver full funding for public schools by 2028.

“The road trip will culminate with the delivery of thousands of postcards to Parliament House in Canberra in late November.”

The road trip comes as new research reveals alarming gaps for teachers on wages and workloads.

Released ahead of World Teachers’ Day, the report is the first comprehensive analysis of information collected from over 380,000 public and private school teachers as part of the 2021 ABS Census.

The report by senior researcher Barbara Preston found:

  • School teachers work “extraordinarily long hours” compared with workers in comparable professions. On average, 48% of full time teachers worked 45 hours or more a week in 2021 compared to 31% of those working fulltime in other professions with a bachelor’s degree or above qualifications.
  • At the same time, public school teachers earn less than those in comparable professions at the start of their career and the gap widens with age. At age 60-64, the average annual salary of public school classroom teachers in 2021 was $109,466, compared to $153,293 for solicitors.
  • Reflecting the current inequity in school resourcing, 56% of private school teachers aged 45-49 earned more than $104,000 a year in 2021 compared to 46% of public school teachers. Private schools employ smaller proportions of early career teachers, leaving public school systems disproportionately bearing the cost of developing new graduates – something that should be factored into the funding of schools.
  • The number of teachers aged in their sixties was far higher in 2021 than in any previous Census with over 44,000 recorded. But the numbers completing teaching degrees decreased by 15% between 2011 and 2020.Only 84% of recent graduates with school teaching qualifications were working in schools in 2021 and that dropped to 71% for those aged around 35.

Ms Haythorpe says the report findings should be a wake-up call for politicians to address the deteriorating conditions for teachers.

“Addressing unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries is critical to attracting and retaining the teachers we need. Principals, teachers and education support personnel are delivering a great education for our kids in our public schools, but they are being asked to do too much with too little.

“Only 1.3% of public schools are funded at the Schooling Resource Standard – the minimum amount governments agreed a decade ago was necessary to meet the needs of all students.

AEU SA President Andrew Gohl said full funding would enable SA schools to employ additional teachers and provide the individual attention and support children deserve.

“For SA, this investment represents an average additional $121 million each year, dedicated to supporting students and improving educational outcomes,” said Gohl.

“The funding would also help boost capacity in our system for student allied health assessments, which are currently taking up to three years in regional South Australia.

“On the road to Canberra, we’ll be engaging with communities across the state to build support for fully funded public schools. It is the best investment we could make for our future,” he said.


Notes to editors:

  • The report can be viewed here
  • Correna Haythorpe is available for interviews


Melissa van der Haak - 0484 674 958

Senior Marketing Communications Director, SOCIETY Marketing Communications

Meriel Killeen - 0466 393 485

Junior Marketing Communications Manager, SOCIETY Marketing Communications