Thank you for the recent newsletter and valuable information.
I wanted to share my principal wellbeing story with you: I visited my GP of 6 years in the holidays experiencing an asthma spike, voice loss and pneumonia. I asked him about a ‘long appointment’ as a principal wellbeing check as I had decided to use my own GP rather than a DET nominated provider.
This is a Country Doctor who is often ‘matter of fact’, very pragmatic and has a focus on wellness and an active life style.
He told me that I was the 4th Principal he had seen in the holidays – it was only Thursday week one, and that he was happy to do the ‘wellbeing’ checks. He spoke about the role of a principal being similar to living in an ‘abusive relationship’. We love the job, were committed to students, yet the unreasonable abuse and demands from the multiple stakeholders keeps coming at all hours, no matter how hard we work. He then went on to say that it is the broad and frequent nature of the abuse that is stressful and impacts on our wellbeing.
This was a rare emotive statement from my Country GP.
I know this is reflected in the Principal surveys however I found it enlightening coming from my Doctor.
Thanks for your commitment to our work.
I could outline the advantages of being part of an organisation that looks after Principals and Assistant Principals, but thought instead I’d tell you a very personal story.
I loved my work at a Victorian Primary School, and invested my heart and soul into both the teachers and students. I had been a member of the APF for 5 years, and never thought I’d ever need them. Until I did.
An increasingly militant staff, did not like my change agenda, and were outraged when I reported a teacher for misconduct towards students. I was accused of bullying and harassment, and a vote of no confidence was passed at a well-attended sub branch union meeting. Parents and School Council became embroiled, and the community quickly became divided. It rapidly became an untenable situation for me as I suffered anxiety, chronic sleeplessness and depression.
With the APF’s support, I applied and was granted Work Cover as a result. Eighteen months later, the APF were there to broker my gradual return to work in a different area of education. This deeply wounding experience would have been greatly exacerbated had I not had my Principal-only union. Their advocacy and return to work involvement changed this helpless situation into a story of personal triumph and success.
I cannot speak highly enough regarding the level of professional and personal support that was offered and provided by the APF (Julie and Mark) in 2017.
Having been a member of the Australian Principal Federation for about 13 years, and since joining the principal class, I have had the peace of mind knowing that the APF Executives and Industrial Officers work tirelessly behind the scenes to gain fair employment conditions, including workloads and regional support, and relevant salaries for my peers and me.
Although this has been important work, that I have thoroughly appreciated, I have had the need, on a few occasions, to make contact with and gain individual support from the APF on industrial and human resources matters at my school.
More recently I had a career and life changing experience in the workplace that negatively impacted on me in personal and professional ways.
I felt unsupported by my managers, yet gained much needed care and support from the APF Executive and an Industrial Officer. This support provided timely advice, realistic perspectives and representation in other forums, but most importantly the support enabled me to navigate through some particularly challenging circumstances: I felt the APF right by my side and with my interests at the forefront.
I could not have regained my professional confidence and achieved a career change without the APF: something that I feel very fortunate to have had. I strongly recommend to all principal class officers, “Join the APF: the industrial organisation for principals that cares for the profession and for you!”
To the APF principal community,
I have been an APF member for more than 25 years.
I have had the good fortune to lead both a Primary school and a P to 9 College.
At times the principal role can be rather isolated and this is where the strength of membership comes into play.
Fortunately I have formed strong partnerships with colleagues; from my the principal class and also the APF community of colleagues.
The strength of our capacity to improve and also resolve complex matters lies within the relationships and partnerships we form with our colleagues and key organisations.
I have had occasion to seek support for myself and other colleagues at inconvenient times (weekends and late at night) and this has never been a problem for the APF.
I am acutely aware of a matter that was taken on board over a weekend involving working through an extremely complex matter with Regional staff. Action was taken on that weekend leading to mediation meetings on the Monday in support of a colleague.
Working with the Merit Protection Board can be highly demanding and stressful. The support that the APF provided was absolutely paramount and without a flaw.
The level of technical expertise that was required was beyond my capacity and depth of knowledge and was covered in every detail by the APF Industrial Officer.
The APF is an incredibly responsive, supportive, confidential and reliable organisation and has guided me through a number of complex matters giving me great confidence at difficult times.
The APF has been key to my longevity as a principal.