For everyone From your branch secretary: Growing – with inclusivity and sustainability

Erin Aulich, Secretary, AEU Victorian branch

The AEU is focused on finding ways to ensure all members are respected and engaged in building our union’s power.

We are now in the final year of a three-year plan (2020–2022), with the ultimate aim of winning better lives for members, growing the union’s power, and negotiating agreements that improve conditions across all sectors.

To this end, we have expanded our training and leader development programs to further encourage member engagement and activism. We’ve employed more organisers as part of a pilot program to provide members with intensive support and coaching. And we have employed two First Nations project officers to work with members on starting the process of decolonising our union. We continue to work hard in the best interests of all members, focusing on occupational health and safety, and winning entitlements that provide workload relief and more agency in the workplace.

With cost-of-living pressures and the ongoing global pandemic, growing our union has been a challenge. Understandably, members have had to make difficult decisions about their employment and their union membership. We will focus on the recruitment of new members by AEU organisers directly, and through intensive union reps training and development programs. Increasing membership density in all sectors gives us the capacity to campaign effectively and deliver wins for our dedicated public education workforce.

The AEU strives to model what we see as integral to any progressive organisation. To that end, the AEU is looking at ways of being more inclusive, providing adjustments and supports to enable all members to access our union meetings.

We are also working with members as part of consultations with the Department of Education and Training (DET), local government agencies (LGAs) and TAFEs on developing their Gender Equality Action Plans. The Gender Equality Act 2020 requires all public entities to undertake a Workplace Gender Audit to assess the state and nature of gender inequality in the workplace and to use the results to develop and implement a Gender Equality Action Plan. The AEU has implemented its own internal plan, which includes targets for the gender composition of AEU staff.

Improving the lives of all members is our priority as we strive to model what we see as integral to any progressive organisation.

As a union, we need to do more to become a culturally safe organisation through the decolonisation of union structures, and by looking to the guidance and leadership of our First Nations members on matters that affect them. The AEU Victorian branch acknowledges that the union needs to learn how to fully and properly listen to, understand, recognise and engage with our First Nations members, and we are at the beginning of our journey in doing this.

The AEU stands in active solidarity with First Nations members to address the dispossession and alienation experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and to act on the racism, prejudice and other oppressions faced by First Nations educators in the union, public education and more broadly.

Lastly, a committee has been established to look at ways we can become a more sustainable organisation. Work has commenced on an energy audit of our building to reduce our carbon footprint. At the end of 2021, steps were undertaken to transition towards plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles. As of June of this year, over 25% of the union’s vehicle fleet is now fully electric, and we expect the majority of the rest to have transitioned by the end of 2022.

As part of these changes, significant capital works have been undertaken at 126 Trenerry Crescent to accommodate the charging infrastructure for these vehicles. There are now 14 charging stations installed, enabling the union to take further advantage of the large solar panel farm that is operational on the building.

With this strong focus on inclusivity and sustainability, we are seeking to maximise the potential for engagement among our entire membership. Together, we can build the union’s power so we can continue to do our best work.

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    As we gear up for a state election, the AEU is focused on holding the Andrews government to account when it comes to fair funding for public education and a plan for addressing staff shortages that respects and values the profession. Read more in our Term 3, 2022 edition of AEU News.

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