Much like education, powerful union activism is all about collaboration. Although we have been forced to maintain physical distance during COVID, this has not stopped us from staying connected. Our members have more than risen to the challenge – proving their extraordinary capacity for resilience, adaptability and empathy. Time and again, you have shown that you are here for each other as we continue to fight for better conditions, more reasonable workloads, and salaries that properly reflect the value of your work, whether via a screen or in the classroom.
Despite these difficult times, we have been able to build our membership this year – and AEU Victoria now has more than 50,500 members! In 2022, we look forward to employing more union organisers than ever to work with sub-branches and workplaces, helping to build stronger local structures. AEU organisers are building more power at the local level to help achieve better outcomes for members’ working conditions. They are also currently supporting our local campaign hubs in the push for a stronger Schools Agreement.
It was powerful to hear Grace Tame voice her belief that education is our primary means of prevention.
At the AEU, we are expanding our training to cater for more members, and we hope to meet you or welcome you back to our Abbotsford office in person very soon. We will also continue to offer online training options. During COVID, our online events and webinars have seen a huge uptake, with more members attending AEU training sessions than ever before. We have been especially pleased to see the broader access and involvement among members who would otherwise struggle to attend our on-site events.
It is clear, through the development of campaign hubs and the enthusiastic response to regional meetings, that our members are as engaged as ever, which puts us in a strong position for 2022.
First up, we will be focused on the federal election, likely to occur in March or May, with the Victorian state election to follow in November. We will be upping the ante in our national ‘Every Child Every School’ campaign, continuing to promote ‘Rebuild with TAFE’, and pressing the need for government investment in preschool education for both three and four-year-olds. Australians deserve a federal government that cares about public education, and we will be urging voters to demand further investment in all sectors.
At the AEU Women’s Conference in November, we were fortunate to have Australian of the Year Grace Tame as guest speaker. Grace was honest and vulnerable in telling her story to more than 200 AEU members. She spoke about being that flicker of hope for victims of abuse and their allies. It was powerful to hear Grace say that “nothing is more uncomfortable than the abuse itself”, and voice her belief that education is our primary means of prevention. She pointed out that one in ten children will experience sexual abuse before their eighteenth birthday, and that it takes an average of 20 years for a survivor to speak up. It was a reminder that those working with young people are in daily contact with society’s most vulnerable people.
Grace sees collaboration, conversation and education as crucial going forwards, and she noted that the questions from AEU women were the best she has ever been asked. An impressive and impassioned speaker, unequivocally aligned with union values, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to hear her speak.
In other union news, the three-yearly AEU elections for Branch Officers and Sector Councillors have recently concluded, and the AEC has declared the names of those elected to represent you. Thank you to all members who participated in the election process. We look forward to working with and representing all AEU members in our next term of office, from 2022 until 2024.
Elected Branch Officers 2022–2024
President – Meredith Peace
Deputy President – Justin Mullaly
Secretary – Erin Aulich
Deputy Secretary – Seir Holley
Vice President Early Childhood – Cara Nightingale
Deputy Vice President Early Childhood – Heidi Ratje
Vice President Primary – Briley Stokes
Deputy Vice President Primary – Rebekah Fewkes
Vice President Secondary – Marino D’Ortenzio
Deputy Vice President Secondary – Deb Fischer
Vice President TAP – Elaine Gillespie
Deputy Vice President TAP – Shane Wright
More information, including information about sector councillors, can be found on our website at aeuvic.asn.au/about-us/governance