Because CRTs work across multiple schools, developing a sense of camaraderie with colleagues can be difficult.
Many of our members choose to work as CRTs for the flexibility it provides. One of the less appealing aspects of this work is the sense of professional isolation. The restricted work and movement opportunities resulting from the global pandemic have only served to increase this problem.
Most CRTs work across multiple schools. This makes developing a sense of camaraderie with colleagues much more difficult. Rather than seeing the same group of colleagues every day, a CRT may be in five different staff rooms in one week. The casual chat between colleagues or request for support is not the daily experience of many CRTs.
Many CRT members live alone, and work is a significant component of their regular social interaction. With the COVID crisis dragging on, and fewer work opportunities and restrictions on leaving the house, the pandemic has been a time of heightened isolation.
The core work of a union is to create better working lives with its members. An important component of this is building communities.
In response, our ever-resourceful members are establishing local CRT groups to draw strength, provide support and build communities. These groups are independent in their discussions and the way they choose to run. One group in Melbourne’s inner north has been catching up for ‘virtual coffee’. Another, based in Geelong, is connecting via social media. A group in the outer eastern suburbs has been meeting online, with a plan to shift to meeting in person once it is again safe to do so.
So far, the discussions between members have explored a vast array of topics, from where to find extra CRT work and what agencies are active in the local area, to go-to literacy activities and, of course, the best TV shows to binge on during the coronavirus lockdown.
The core work of a union is to create better working lives with its members. An important component of this is building communities and places we feel we belong within the union. These communities provide an opportunity for members to support each other and to talk about their working lives. Should we need to campaign around working conditions, these groups might also provide an ideal way to hear from and communicate with members.
Please get in touch if you are interested in finding out about any CRT groups already established near you. If there isn’t one, you are very welcome to establish a new community. I can help by reaching out to members in your area, providing online meeting platforms and advice on how to structure your discussions. Contact me here.