Taking the heat Down Under

| April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

The recently released 2017 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey has revealed that school leaders Down Under are in poor shape.

The report was undertaken by the Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Positive Psychology and Education. Research leader, associate professor Philip Riley, says: “As principals are retiring, other senior teachers at the top of their game are saying they are not prepared to take on the role of school leader because of the punishing workload.”

Riley states that the research had uncovered increasing workloads for Australian principals, mental health issues arising from dealing with staff and students, and “[u]nacceptable levels of offensive behaviour, bullying and violence… inflicted on principals by parents”.

Riley adds that there are few places where principals under pressure can go for help. Most school leaders surveyed said they turned to their life partners or friends to talk about their problems. Few said that the Department of Education or healthcare institutions were of any assistance.

Principals’ stress presented as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, relationship problems, increased alcohol consumption, weight gain in men, depression in women, total burnout and difficulty sleeping.

While the “sheer quantity of administrative work” principals are required to perform is problematic, says Riley, principals and deputy principals increasingly experience a far higher prevalence of offensive behaviour at work each year.

“Close to 50% of principals have received threats in their workplaces,” says Riley of the research findings, adding, “This is happening across the board, in elite private schools, Catholic schools and public schools.” On Sunday 11 February 2018, Trish Antulov, principal at Western Australia’s Laverton School, tragically passed away at her desk.

She was found by her husband of 26 years, John Antulov, who told PerthNow that the long hours she worked had contributed to her high stress levels.

“She just didn’t have time to look after herself properly. She was under a lot of stress and terrible pressure just to be successful in her job,” Mr Antulov said.

 

Category: Autumn 2018

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