Tough years for teachers, high safety risk

Australian educators have been warned they face a tough few years ahead due to workforce shortages, while new research shows they face a higher risk of assault at work than other professions.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said teachers had borne the brunt of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions which contributed to burnout and people leaving the profession.

Over the past decade there was a 16 per cent drop in students enrolling in teaching courses and only 50 per cent completed their degree, he said.

"Fixing this isn't easy. It took 10 years to create this crisis, and it will take time to fix," Mr Clare told hundreds of principals on Thursday.

"The next few years are going to be tough."

The minister delivered the frank assessment as he unveiled the government's draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, created to address workforce shortages across the country.

The $328 million blueprint was created through discussions with education ministers, teachers, principals, unions and the higher education sector.

It includes about $160 million to train more teachers, $70 million to encourage mid-career professionals to move into the industry and $25 million to trial new ways to reduce workloads.

Australian Education Union Deputy Federal President Meredith Peace welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on the plan but called for full funding of public schools from state and commonwealth governments.

"A draft national plan alone will not fix the shortages being experienced in public schools across the nation," she said in a statement.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Independent Education Union called for meaningful intervention to ease workloads.

"The federal government does not employ any teachers and the draft Action Plan is not an industrial instrument that regulates wages or conditions," branch secretary Terry Burke said.

It came as a new study revealed Australian educators face a higher risk of being attacked at work or suffering mental health conditions than any other profession.

Monash University academics analysed 1.5 million compensation claims from 2009 to 2015 and found 4.5 per cent of teachers' cases related to assault, compared to two per cent for non-educators.

Secondary schoolteachers, specialist educators and aides experienced the highest rate of assault-related injuries and mental health conditions.

Overall, however, educators still had a lower rate of claims than other professions and spent less time away from work.

Co-author Dr Tyler Lane, from the Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, said there could be a link between violence and which students educators worked with.

"There might be some elevated risk, at least in terms of assault, for those who are working with students that have special needs and there may be outbursts that are unintentional, but nevertheless could injure someone," Dr Lane told AAP.

Commonly reported conditions included injuries due to student-inflicted violence, psychological distress and musculoskeletal pain.

The paper, published in the journal Injury, flagged actual rates of violence towards teachers could be even higher than what they found in the study.

Researchers suggested educators may be discouraged from submitting workers compensation claims due to workplace culture, attitudes from leadership and utilising school holidays to recuperate.