Some government departments recognise and appreciate long term service offered by employees. This happens with Police, Fire and Emergency Services. The Health Department also recognises the length of service offered by employees.

Sadly, this recognition is not part of Department of Education (DoE) practice. The DoE employs several thousand people, many of whom are long term employees. They work in remote, rural and urban communities. Most are not recognised when service milestones are reached. Unless engaged at senior levels within the DoE, many on retirement are not recognised. For most, thanks upon retirement or departure after lengthy years of service is left to their schools or workplaces. For some there is little or no recognition at all.

This is an unfortunate state of affairs. When asking about reasons for this oversight and neglect in the past, I have been told that maintenance of service records would be too difficult to manage. While the task may have been difficult before the age of computerisation, it is hard to accept that management of service data would be a difficult task in 2017.

It should be relatively easy to enter DoE employees on a data base in a way that flags the history of their appointments, levels of service and length of time serving education. To recognise educators after 5 years and thereafter in service increments every five years, should not be difficult. Letters and certificates of thanks and appreciation can make all the difference to the way people feel about the work they are doing. For many teachers, periodic recognition is more heartwarming than their fortnightly salary payment.

There is a perception that teaching in the NT is a profession in which people are coming and going all the time. Decades ago, people would come for twelve months or two years and then return south. That is no longer the case and has not been the major system ‘habit’ for many years. There are a significant number of teachers who have spent the whole of their lengthy teaching careers in Northern Territory schools. The same is true for staff filling administrative and support positions in our schools. Appreciating and recognising these people should be an element of system practice.

Recognition does not have to be over the top in terms of cost. People appreciate intrinsic recognition and acknowledgement for a job well done. Appreciation is affirming and builds goodwill in the hearts and minds of the recipients.

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