AEU Vic critical of Council’s decision to ban gifts for ECEC employees
The Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) has criticised a decision by the City of Yarra to ban early childhood education and care (ECEC) employees from accepting Christmas presents in a move aimed at curbing corruption and bribery.
“We want our community to have confidence that all our staff act with integrity at all times and that is why a consistent approach across our workforce is taken. Whilst we are humbled by the kindness and support from our community, unfortunately we cannot accept gifts, although well meaning,” a statement from the Council noted, confirming the policy of being unable to accept gifts.
“Many of our staff have regulatory and compliance responsibilities and the policy aims to protect our staff from risks around perceived corruption or impropriety,” the statement noted, highlighting that positions with the Council, including gardeners, garbage collectors, parking officers, childcare or kinder educators, school crossing supervisors, planners, cleaners, fitness instructors or librarians (to name a few), were included in the policy, and that any gifts given would be donated to local charities in Yarra.
On learning of the policy the Union accused the Council of “taking an extreme approach to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Parents affected by the ban were dismayed by the decision, saying they feel they are being blocked from expressions of gratitude.
“A blanket ban on family gifts for early childhood educators and teachers is an extreme approach to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace shared with The Age.
She went on to say she had “no concerns about families showing their appreciation for educators by giving them Christmas gifts, in line with reasonable gift policies, such as Victoria’s Department of Education policy, which outlines any gift given to a teacher over $100 must be declared to the government.”
Ms Peace urged the council to focus on providing better pay and working conditions to show the value of early childhood teachers and educators, rather than being a “Christmas Grinch.”
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