Australian Researchers’ Mobility Portal

Monday 30th July 2007

Australian universities must do more to retain our best and brightest academics and researchers, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP said today.

“Universities are competing internationally for leading academics and researchers and must offer competitive, flexible work arrangements,” Minister Bishop said.

“To support universities, the Australian Government established the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRs), designed to provide university employees with genuine choice and flexibility in workplace agreements by offering AWAs to all employees.

“All universities were compliant with the HEWRRs last year and received incentive payments of $151 million in 2006 and $240 million in 2007.”

Minister Bishop said there has been no change of policy nor is there any intention to change policy with regard to HEWRRs, and that no university staff member will be forced or pressured to sign an AWA.

“However, some university staff have complained they are not being offered genuine choice and that some universities are offering AWAs that are identical to the conditions of the collective agreement,” she said.

“I have been urging universities to ensure they do offer genuine choice as part of efforts to retain our most talented academics and researchers at Australian universities.

“It has been pointed out to universities that it may be appropriate in some instances, for example highly specialised staff, to offer a position on an AWA-only basis if appropriate but there is no funding requirement for universities to offer employment on an AWA-only basis. That choice is for universities and their employees.

“My department’s advice to the University of New England, consistent with advice provided to other universities, was that it may wish to review some of its employment policies to reflect the HEWRRs requirement to offer AWAs and the university’s ability to offer AWA-only positions if it so chooses. As the memo made clear, the university is not obliged to comply with the department’s suggestions and the advice is not to be taken as any indication of HEWRRs compliance, which is a Ministerial determination.”