"A slap in the face to all teachers." A teacher's message to the government on Q&A.


“What makes parliamentarians more important than me? Why are we so expendable?”

A Victorian high school teacher has voiced the concerns of many of her colleagues in a calm but searing question directed at the government in a dedicated education episode of Q&A.

“I have been following all the conflicting information about schools in the media,” Karla Owen said.

“Parliament originally stated they would sit in August but it’s been brought forward to mid-May. Part of the reason for this was due to issues surrounding social distancing, but ScoMo has said all along schools are a safe place to be.”

WATCH: Karla on Q&A. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

“What makes parliamentarians more important than me? They can social distance more easily than I can, and they probably will, but in schools this is certainly not the case,” she said.

“Mr Morrison came out last week and essentially berated and devalued teachers.

“This was a slap in the face to all teachers,” she added.

Education Minister Dan Tehan appeared on the show via video-link to answer the question, and he started by letting the audience know both of his sisters are teachers.


“This is something we have paid attention to and given great consideration too. But what we have done consistently right throughout this pandemic is take advice from the medical expert panel,” he said.

Education minister Dan Tehan appeared on the show via video-link. Image: ABC.

The expert panel is made up of the chief medical officers from every state and territory as well as the federal officer, and the medical advice has always been that it's "safe" for children and teachers to go to school.


"If that advice changes, we'll change," said Mr Tehan.

Q&A host Hamish McDonald called the Education Minister out on the government's continued "they need you" calls to teachers, explaining that this has been causing immense frustration amongst teachers who haven't been given a real choice about attending classrooms - that decision in fact lies with the authorities in their state and territory.

"On the one hand the Prime Minister is saying one thing, you're saying the same - and then state government's are saying another thing altogether," he said.

Tehan says the Prime Minister was trying to thank teachers directly in his addresses to the profession, but failed to explain away the confusing and very different levels of advice teachers were having to sift through.

sending kids back to school coronavirus
Teachers have been getting different direction from federal and state governments. Image: Getty.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth reiterated that studies had shown it was safe to keep schools open, due in part to low rates of transmission from children to adults.

"We are now in a position where every single jurisdiction is, in varying degrees, considering their approach to restarting face-to-face teaching," Dr Coatsworth told Q&A.

But Whittlesea Secondary College principal Lian Davies said, "I think we've got a little way to go to build some of that confidence" reiterating Ms Owen's opinion that teacher health and welfare wasn't being considered.

"We are all there for the students and we are absolutely delighted that this does not seem to impact students in the way it's impacting adults, but we do have to take into consideration the schools function because of those adults, and some of them are very vulnerable," said Ms Davies.

Teachers were quick to respond to the episode on social media, sharing their own concerns about the current directions for teachers across the country.



Feature image: ABC.