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Insecure Work Conference: join us online

Ahead of next week’s Insecure Work Conference, we invited Jen Kwok from the NTEU to talk about how the proposed online dimension to these two days will work. When the conference was first put to us, we asked how effectively actual casuals would be able to be heard, especially given the conference location. Jen is a national policy and research officer at the NTEU, and as he puts it, ” he dabbles in research on multiculturalism, citizenship and transnationalism, as well as studies of the Chinese overseas, Chinese Australian studies and Asian Australian studies.” We’re delighted to have his answer here.

We really hope CASA readers will take up these invitations to have online input to this conference. We’ll also both be there listening, tweeting and passing on any questions that come to us by any means. — Karina and Kate


Most of the NTEU Insecure Work Conference will be streamed live next Wednesday and Thursday 19-20 November. The details are all available on the Conference website, so please check it out at: http://www.nteu.org.au/insecurework2014

How serious are we about online participation? We wanted to make sure that the conference’s online capability was not just an afterthought. Hopefully we have made the right technological decisions and decisions about conference protocols to ensure that when you are dropping in online, you will have the opportunity to ask questions, leave comments, and interact directly with conference participants.

How do we bring people to a beautiful but remote city like Hobart?

The decision was made very early this year to host the conference in Hobart, Tasmania. This provided some fantastic opportunities for the Tasmanian Division to build on their relationship with the University and their profile around the state. But being a one university town, this was always going to make it difficult for people to physically attend. At that early stage, we decided that we wanted to make the conference open to a much larger audience and this would require much greater attention and investment around the conference’s online capability.

We decided on the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) for this very reason. Delegates at the conference will have access to high-speed internet that rivals anywhere around the country.

We also understood that IMAS would be able to support our live-streaming technology. While we have streamed conferences in the past, our IT guru Tam advised us to go with Livestream with a view to the future, to improve our capacity to stream other national events. This means there will be a near synchronous (about 20-30 sec lag) alignment between what happens at the conference and what you out in the online world will view and hear.

Embedding online participation in conference proceedings

The main online conversation will be through Twitter. We are using the hashtag #securework. A number of conference participants will be online and you can interact with them directly there.

In terms of the conference panels, there are really two platforms that we will be checking to ensure you can participate come question time. Leave comments either on the livestream webpage related to our event (you will have to register first), or ask on Twitter. Proxies at the conference will ask questions on your behalf—particularly we will try and ask questions if you direct them to @NTEUNational or @unicasual.

Something both serious and fun: ‘What does insecure work look like to you?’

The expansion of insecure work means that the workplace looks very different than it did even ten years ago. This is especially so in higher education. For instance, although the impression given of academic work (especially in mainstream news interviews) still involves a book-lined office with a big desk and a workplace-supplied computer, almost three quarters or 73.7% (n=254) of the casual academics involved in the NTEU’s 2014 Online Teaching Survey (to be released at the Insecure Work Conference) said they ‘worked largely from home’ or ‘wherever they happened to be, including travelling’.

We want people to know what insecure work really looks like in Australia’s universities today. So in the lead up to the conference, we are joining with CASA and other activists to encourage anyone to tell us, using the Twitter hashtag #securework.

This might mean sharing a photo of your assigned university workspace, or the place you actually worked most often, or a photo of ‘what your workspace feels like’ to you.

For many casuals, where you work is likely to be shaped by marking and grading at the moment—we understand that is unlikely to be in an office even if you had one during the semester! We can only dream about ‘where’ your employment relationship ‘feels like’. But send them in, and together we’ll gather a picture of Australia’s real university workplace.

Share your photos on Twitter via the hashtag #securework. We’ll collect these and share them with the conference on the Thursday afternoon, and we’ll post a collection on our conference website and on the CASA blog for posterity.

Any questions?

Anything you’d like to suggest or ask us ahead of the conference?

On behalf of the NTEU, we all really hope you can join us.

Jen Tsen Kwok



6 thoughts on “Insecure Work Conference: join us online

  1. Thank you for making this conference so accessible and welcoming. It’s out on social media and I’ll re-blog it in a day or so to keep out there.

    Speaking of global, your conference falls in the middle of the International Student Movement Global Week of Action, 17-22 November http://studentsnotcustomers.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/call-to-action/

    Posted by VanessaVaile | November 13, 2014, 1:46 pm
    • Thanks for that Vanessa, that’s helpful to know. We’ve really appreciated being welcomed into the global network of anti-precarity activists so warmly, and we’re keen to return the welcome. But we know that it’s vanishingly unlikely that actual casuals from the US and Europe would get to travel to places like Australia—and as Jen explains, Hobart is a thoughtful choice but actually one of the harder places for Australia’s casuals to get to—so we’re all really grateful for the hard work the NTEU are doing to make this one as open as they can to online participation.

      Posted by Kate Bowles | November 16, 2014, 5:09 pm
  2. The organisation of this Conference is very professional, with state of the art facilities, and a wonderful feeling of inclusiveness. Quite different from my experience as a student at the university I attend. The internal moderator assigned to check minor amends in my PhD is in no hurry as he’s not being paid. Five weeks have passed and it could be a lot longer. I completely understand from the perspective of a precariously employed academic, but as the student I’m disheartened, angry, frustrated. The inherent abuse in this situation means no one – not the Dean of Research, the ADR, higher degree admin staff, the moderator, my supervisor, or myself – feels okay about it. It generates huge stress all round.

    Posted by Joanne Abbey (@wellbeingsavvy) | November 13, 2014, 2:42 pm


  1. Pingback: CASA weekly news 35/14 | CASA - November 16, 2014

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