The word ‘union’, at its most basic definition, means joining together. During the September holidays, casual relief teachers (CRTs) did just that at the AEU Casuals Collectively Calling for Change Conference. Twenty-six casual teachers attended this in-person conference to discuss issues facing the workforce and to participate in workshops designed to give the attendees real skills to support their calls for improvements and change in the lead up to the Victorian state election.
The day opened with Thane Garvey of the Wurundjeri Council welcoming participants to country and furthering participants’ understanding of the relationship the Wurundjeri have with their land.
This was followed by a panel discussion involving speakers Kevin Bates (AEU federal secretary), Mairead Lesman (Victorian Trades Hall), Marino D’Ortenzio (AEU Victoria vice president, secondary) and Meaghan Flack (AEU Victoria OHS organiser), who spoke to the conference about a range of issues that face casual employees, and specifically CRTs. While CRTs often feel they must act individually, this discussion helped participants recognise the power they have as a collective.
Practical workshops focused on the actions that CRTs could get involved in before the state election on 26 November. Attendees learnt about campaigning for change, why telling their stories during activities like door-knocking and MP visits is so powerful, and even how conversations you have around the dinner table can make a difference.
When members act jointly, they can make big inroads in improving Victoria’s education system. It is your stories, experience and knowledge that puts our issues front and centre in voters’ minds.
More broadly, it’s important that CRTs get along to the AEU’s regional meetings and stay involved with their regional campaign hubs. The more that CRT members participate and get active, the more power we have to change things for the better.