For everyone A force for change

  • By Erin Aulich
  • This article was published more than 11 months ago.
  • 3 Apr 2023
Erin Aulich, Secretary, AEU Victorian branch

As of January this year, every three and four-year-old child in Victoria now has access to a free, funded preschool program. This historic reform is thanks to the tireless efforts of AEU members and early childhood advocates who campaigned long and hard for universal access to two years of kindergarten for all children as a basic human right. It serves as a powerful example of the life-changing outcomes we can achieve when we come together and work towards a common goal.

At the heart of the AEU’s mission is to take the lead in shaping the education agenda as the voice of the profession, leveraging the knowledge and expertise of our members to effect meaningful change. As we move forward in 2023, our attention is firmly fixed on empowering our members with the skills and resources to spearhead campaigns on issues that directly affect your profession and the students you work with.

We are also actively enhancing members’ capabilities across all sectors through targeted training programs that will boost your understanding of your workplace rights and entitlements so you can help create positive change at the local level.

So far this year, we have been focused on implementing the wins from the VGSA, continuing agreement negotiations in the TAFE sector, and beginning the development of a log of claims process with our early childhood members. The AEU is also continuing campaigns on issues that directly affect our members and the students we work with, whether that be climate, equality, or the Voice to Parliament. We are proud of our history of campaigning on progressive issues. If anyone knows how to advocate and fight for a fair go, it’s the union movement – and that’s why we’re getting behind the Voice campaign. 

 

If anyone knows how to advocate and fight for a fair go, it’s the union movement.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members have made it clear they don’t just want words, they want practical and political change. As ACTU Indigenous officer Lara Watson said at the ‘Unions for Yes’ campaign launch: “We’re the oldest living culture. We are also the only country that hasn’t got a treaty with its First Peoples.”

A Voice to Parliament would provide one simple but important reform – for First Nations people to have a say when governments make decisions that affect them. Among many other things, this could be an important step towards finally Closing the Gap in education.

The union movement is made up of people who want to make things better. Our strength is built on our tens of thousands of members – and we have shown that when we stand together, we can drive change for the benefit of members and the community.

We know it has been a challenging start to the year for our members across all sectors, as workforce shortages have placed additional burdens on staff already grappling with excessive workloads. Amid these challenges, it is essential that we remain steadfast in our efforts to strengthen our influence, so we can exert pressure on governments and drive further positive reforms across the public education system.

As an AEU member, the most important task at the start of the year is to ensure that you have conversations with new staff and other potential members to ask them to join the union. Whether this is a coordinated approach through the sub-branch, or just part of a staffroom conversation with a new colleague, research shows that when workers are asked why they haven’t joined their union, the most common answer is that no one has asked them.

Make sure to urge any new staff members in your workplace to join the AEU at aeuvic.asn.au/join and take part in our actions throughout the year to build a better public education system with a well-resourced and supported workforce. Together, we are a powerful force for change.

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