Stressed Queensland teachers are taking leave from classrooms at alarming rates, with a large jump in WorkCover claims over the past decade.
Stressed Queensland teachers are taking leave from classrooms at alarming rates, with a large jump in WorkCover claims over the past decade.

Stressed teachers seek time out of classroom

Exhausted, stressed and assaulted Queensland teachers are taking leave from classrooms at alarming rates with a 30 per cent jump in psychological WorkCover claims over 10 years, a figure that is underreported according to the teachers' union.

During the 2010-11 financial year, the Education Department accepted 102 psychological WorkCover claims, which jumped by 30 per cent by 2019-20 to 133 accepted claims.

However, about half the lodged applications were rejected in both time periods, which Kevin Bates, from the Queensland Teachers' Union, said demonstrated the reason teachers were less likely to report psychological claims.

Physical claims have also jumped, from 1414 in 2010-11 to 1495 in 2019-20 (up about 6 per cent).

The costs paid for WorkCover claims in the 2010-11 financial year were $11,039,359, which doubled in 2019-20 to $21,434,801.

The duration of claims for both psychological and physical claims has also increased over the past three years.

Between July 20 and October 20 last year, there were 106 lodged psychological claims with 24 accepted, and 593 physical claims with 490 accepted, at a cost of $7,416,161.

Independent Education Union Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Terry Burke said it was clear the work environment had become more demanding.

"It's more challenging in that the nature of what teachers are being called upon to deal with does impose a level of potential psychological injury, the school environment has certainly changed and those sorts of numbers reflect that," he said.

Mr Bates said workload pressure and occupational violence were among the reasons teachers were claiming physical and psychological injury.

"It actually brings about a need for a serious consideration by the department on how it manages workplace health and safety," he said.

"One of the most difficult things as a teacher is to hear that 'if you just work smarter you'll be OK'. It's impossible to do an impossible job regardless of how well you're trained and how skilful you are, and we're rapidly approaching the time where the type of work you're being asked to do is impossible."

An Education Department spokesman said the department was committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, students and everyone else in schools.

"The majority of all WorkCover claims are associated with manual handling and slips, trips and falls," the spokesman said.

 

Originally published as Stressed teachers seek time out of classroom


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