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Home > News > 2020 > October > Study seeks input on Principals’ health and wellbeing

Study seeks input on Principals’ health and wellbeing

principal.jpgAustralian Catholic University (ACU) and Deakin University are seeking feedback from school principals regarding a joint study into the health and wellbeing of those in the profession.

The collaborative research project aims to examine the increasingly complex role of school principals and the stressors placed on them.

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it was important for principals to participate in the study and give feedback about their experiences to ensure their professional voices were heard.

“This annual research survey conducted by ACU and Deakin University provides comprehensive and insightful data which is important for all stakeholders in the education sector to be aware of,” Mr Burke said.

“Governments, employers, researchers and school communities need to be aware of the industrial and professional issues affecting school leadership,” he said.

Principal members of our union are invited to participate and share their experiences by completing a survey as part of the study.

The survey is open to participants until 25 October 2020 and can be completed online here.

Members should note this survey is confidential.

Key 2019 findings

The report into the findings of last year’s survey showed a growing number of school principals were being severely impacted by increased workloads and conflict with parents.

It found one third of school leaders faced stress and burnout in addition to high levels of physical violence and verbal threats from parents and school students.

According to the report, sources of stress continued to trend higher for principals with 2019 scoring the highest recorded stress levels to date in the following categories:

  • Sheer quantity of work
  • Expectations of the employer
  • Student-related issues
  • 49.7% worked over 56 hours per week
  • More than 97% of principals worked over 40 hours per week during school term
  • Parent-related issues
  • Mental health of students and staff
  • Teacher shortages
  •  Lack of autonomy/authority
  • Critical incidents
  • Complaints management

Over half of all respondents reported being threatened with violence over the last year and 42% being exposed to physical violence.

Since its inception in 2011, the annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey has heard from over half of Australia’s 10,000 school principals and provide valuable data and information on their experiences.

Mr Burke emphasised it was especially important for principals to participate in the survey so our union and other stakeholders can better-understand the experiences of school leaders during 2020 and how COVID-19 impacted principals.

“School principals have increasingly complex roles in their workplaces, so we need research like this to help recognise problems which are widely and deeply felt by principals and address those problems accordingly,” he said. 

Read the entire 2019 report here.

Priority issue for our union

The health, safety and wellbeing of principal members remains a priority issue for our union and we will continue to advocate for better working conditions, improved occupational safety and support measures and increased remuneration that our members deserve.

The issue of wellbeing, which was initiated by our union in negotiations for the previous principal agreement, will again form part of our claim in the upcoming bargaining in the Queensland Catholic school sector.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.