Schools Elevating ES voices on ESP Day and every day

Celebrated internationally every year, ESP Day recognises education support personnel, their rights and status as workers within public schools, and the essential role they play. From office staff, technology assistants, student support, allied health, facilities management, and everything in between, ES keep our workplaces functioning effectively and make sure that schools provide the best learning environments for students. 

This year, Education International held the EI World ESP Conference in Portugal, focusing on building union power to defend the rights and status of education support personnel. It was an opportunity to share ideas about the work of education support staff, and to develop strategies for challenging deteriorating employment conditions in many parts of the world.

ES and union leaders from across the world came together, including AEU Victoria branch president Meredith Peace, representing the union in her role as AEU Deputy Federal president. She was accompanied by Trish Harrington, business manager at Carlton North Primary School, who was selected to attend as a result of an expression of interest process. Trish is a member of the AEU Branch Council and an integral member of our Business Manager Network. Meredith and Trish have returned with many experiences and ideas to share with ES members. 

At the local level, many schools held events to celebrate ESP Day on 16 May. Some schools invited ES to attend a morning tea or lunch and join the union, others held a special meeting where ES representation and entitlements were discussed. 

The AEU held three days of events, including two days of ES training examining the many ways the VGSA 2022 can be implemented to improve the conditions of ES members. On 16 May, we held a webinar with more than a hundred attendees discussing all the important ES issues, including time in lieu, supervision, and building ES power and voice in the sub-branch.

ESP Day is more than just an opportunity to recognise the essential roles that ES play within our schools; it is also a chance to recognise their contribution within our sub-branches. To get the best outcomes for ES in schools, it is vital to have ES members and an ES rep on your sub-branch executive, and for all ES members to actively participate in their sub-branch. 

We encourage sub-branch executives to analyse their union structures and ensure that ES members are involved in all layers, taking care to set sub-branch meetings at times that enable ES members to attend. ES members are encouraged to be involved in sub-branch executive roles and consultative committee roles and processes. If ES members are not featured in those structures, we encourage you to ensure that changes are made so that all sub-branch members have their voices, opinions and views heard. 

Finally, if there are ES employees at your school who are yet to join their union, now is the time to ask them to join . We are far more powerful together.

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