The AEU’s rep awards recognise the vital work of those who step up on behalf of their colleagues.
It can be a demanding job looking after the wellbeing of everyone in your workplace, says George Georgostathis, last year’s AEU Health and Safety Rep (HSR) Award-winner. But it’s a vitally important role that he takes pride in fulfilling to the best of his ability at Gladstone Park Secondary College.
“The reason I put my hand up was because I actually want to make a difference,” says George. “I wanted to improve the awareness of occupational safety in our workplace.”
As the president of Gladstone Park’s AEU sub-branch, he is fully invested in protecting both the physical and mental health of all school staff. “I don’t see myself as a superhero, but I do see myself as the person you can come to, to address any issue. And the vast majority of health and safety issues are about mental wellbeing.”
“We all want to come home stress- and injury-free to enjoy our personal lives.”
He says it’s essential to maintain that voice in the workplace, looking out for everyone. “We’ve all got a duty of care to keep the workplace safe, but the ultimate responsibility does rest on the employer,” he says. “I’ll reiterate that as much as possible, to ensure they’re putting in measures to minimise risk. It’s a good challenge.”
George says it was a wonderful feeling to win last year’s HSR of the Year Award. “It was an honour, knowing that my colleagues took that time to nominate me and to recognise that I’ve made an impact at our school,” he says. “We all want to come home stress- and injury-free to enjoy our personal lives.”
After the year that was 2020, Virtual School Victoria (VSV) sub-branch president Celia Milton says that the morale boost of jointly winning the Sub-branch/Workplace of the Year award, alongside Mambourin Disability Service, was a real pick-me-up for bruised spirits.
“It felt really good to be recognised for all of the hard work our branch put in, that year in particular,” Celia says. “We didn’t have students onsite, but we were in an office environment and felt really worried about coming to work, so we had to do a lot of negotiation, and it was a lot of extra work to get specific measures in place.”
The VSV sub-branch played an invaluable role in those negotiations, and receiving the award felt like validation of that work. “I also felt excited because it was a great way to promote our school, and our sub-branch, to the rest of the union and let them know about the great work we’re doing,” Celia says.
“It really does feel great when your colleagues acknowledge everything you’ve been doing, and you can share that success with others.”
“Teaching and ES staff work so hard, and we do it without expecting any recognition, so it really does feel great when your colleagues acknowledge everything you’ve been doing, and you can share that success with others.”
Jess Pinter (see our ‘member profile’ on page 41), a disability services member working at Mambourin’s Altona hub, says that winning Sub-Branch of the Year alongside VSV helped her feel they were part of the bigger picture.
“In disability, you’re not solely ‘education’ and you’re not ‘nursing’, which is where we were when I started – so sometimes you feel like you don’t belong,” Jess says. “So, winning Workplace of the Year gave us a sense of belonging.
“We may have a tiny niche in the AEU, but it is ours, and we’re doing really well. It was that sign of recognition for our little spot that we’re where we belong.”
You can champion the great work of your local rep, HSR, sub-branch or workplace today by nominating them for the AEU awards. Find out more at aeuvic.asn.au/awards, and look out for more info in the AEU newsletters.