For everyone Our 2023 AEU award winners

  • By Louise Swinn
  • This article was published more than 8 months ago.
  • 31 Jul 2023
L to R: Reps from Sunshine Special Development School, Kevin Loran, Di Christensen and Ann Humphries

At the AEU Reps Conference on Friday 26 May, this year’s stars were presented with their Rep of the Year awards for notable commitment to the union, their workplaces, and their wider education communities.

This year’s winners:

Sub-branch/Workplace of the Year
Winner – Sunshine Special Developmental School

Rep of the Year
Winner – Kevin Loran
Runner Up – Warrick Mann

HSR of the Year
Winner – Di Christensen
Runner Up – John McLoughlin

Region of the Year
Winner – West Gippsland

Sub-branch/Workplace of the Year: Sunshine Special Developmental School

The staff at Sunshine SDS banded together 12 months ago to establish a functional sub-branch, creating a distributive leadership model with education support, teachers and school leadership supporting each other and getting active on union recruitment.

Facing significant challenges with frequent staff turnover, the sub-branch has continued to have conversations with non-members, urging them to join the AEU so they can work together to attain better outcomes for all (see our Workplace Mapping story for more information).

AEU rep Samantha McGinty says: “Before I became a rep last year, we hadn’t had a sub-branch meeting onsite for at least six years. Big cultural change has happened, and we have different people at sub-branch meetings now. You have backing from people with the same goals. I have executive support and a few execs around me who try to help out as much as possible too.

“We need more Kevins in the workplace.”

Carolyn Pearce on Kevin Loran

Rep of the Year: Kevin Loran (Nadrasca)

Kevin’s tenacity was revealed during a protracted agreement negotiation process at Nadrasca disability service. Kevin displayed exemplary communication throughout the process, keeping detailed records and notes on all meetings with management.

He continues to promote the benefits of joining the AEU to all new staff, and has helped negotiate a pay rise, a $1000 sign-on bonus and a $1000 annual performance payment in the new EBA.

As AEU organiser Carolyn Pearce puts it: “We need more Kevins in the workplace.”

“It’s really important to keep improving our health and safety. I’m really strong on this because it feels like teachers are really feeling the pressure post-COVID.”

Di Christensen

HSR of the Year: Di Christensen
(Fitzroy High School)

During the early COVID years, Di worked tirelessly, consulting with staff and the sub-branch, to bring wellbeing and safety issues to the attention of leadership. At the end of lockdowns, after visiting Di’s workplace, the Department of Education awarded the workplace a ‘gold star’ for its attention to safety measures during COVID.

Di has worked to ensure that the OHS committee meets regularly, and has encouraged staff to join the committee, ensuring contributions from a range of staff, and a healthy succession. She believes it is “essential to have that good communication with the sub-branch and to keep improving our health and safety. I’m really strong on this because it’s very important right now; teachers are really feeling the pressure post-COVID and we’re losing good staff.”

Region of the Year: West Gippsland

There has been a significant increase in attendance at sub-branch meetings across the West Gippsland region. The judges also considered the fact that West Gippsland promotes and targets attendance from a range of sectors, and its union meetings regularly have early childhood members in attendance.

Regional president Ann Humphries says that “the award means a lot, because my region has worked really hard to be as inclusive as possible. We are increasing our attendance at regional meetings, and members feel really engaged at the meetings – they are a great place to speak your mind, and a safe space for us to share our experiences on things like shortages, funding, and all sorts of other important issues.”

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