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ECU survey reveals attitudes of WA's Police, Nurses and Teachers

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


Detailed new research, funded by the Australian Research Council and carried out by researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU), highlights contrasting attitudes to issues affecting the work of police, nurses and teachers in Western Australia.

ECU today released an update to the findings of its extensive "Wellbeing of the Professions" survey of 21,000 police, nurses and teachers, identifying factors which reflect key work attitudes of members engaged in these professions. The original "Wellbeing of the Professions" survey was released in 2005.

The updated survey found that many police officers, nurses and teachers had a strong sense of personal accomplishment in both the 2005 and recent surveys. Nurses and teachers reported a stronger sense of making a difference in other people lives than police officers.

The majority of police officers, nurses and teachers regarded their work environments positively, reported their safety is valued within their work units, bullying amongst staff is appropriately managed and discrimination on the basis of age, race/ethic origin, and/or family responsibilities is infrequent.

However, the study also found that the majority of police officers, nurses and teachers regard their profession as having little status and prestige. The majority of police officers, nurses and teachers no longer see their profession as attractive compared with other careers and many police officers and teachers feel that parents would be unlikely to encourage their children to enter these careers.

The 2005 "Wellbeing of the Professions" survey found that police, nurses and teachers remained strongly motivated in their jobs despite concerns about pay, increased pressure and stress at work and a struggle to reach an appropriate life-work balance.

The head of the study, ECU's Professor Brian English, says the latest survey findings indicate that "Although police, nurses and teachers remain strongly motivated, concerns about work pressure, stress, work-life balance and pay persist."

"In 2005, around 20% of police officers and 15% of teachers indicated they were actively looking for a job outside their profession. By contrast, in 2007, around 34% of police officers and 24% of teachers indicated they were actively looking for a job outside their profession." Professor English said.

"Equally concerning was the finding in 2007 that only 47% of police officers and 33% of teachers thought that parents would support their child's decision to enter these professions."

"Employers, professional bodies, unions and the community need to come together to tackle these issues to secure the future of these professions." said Professor English.

ECU Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Finlay-Jones, said "This research is critical in helping to identify and address the issues and concerns of some of the most important members of any civil society and may provide an understanding of why staff leave these critical professions. The industry partners are to be commended for their efforts in understanding and addressing these issues"

"ECU aims to undertake research that improves the quality of life for all Australians. This research clearly meets that objective."

The research project is a collaboration between ECU, the Department of Education and Training, Association of Independent Schools WA, State School Teachers Union WA, WA College of Teaching, Catholic Education Office, Department of Health WA (Office of the Chief Nurse), Nurses and Midwives Board of WA, WA Police, Western Australian Police Union, Community & Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and is funded by the Australian Research Council.

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