After a tumultuous and busy year, it’s great to have our final edition of the AEU News focused on respect. More importantly, looking at the issue of respect in the broadest possible terms.
I was scrolling through Twitter recently and came across a speech by Megan Rapinoe, co-captain of the American women’s soccer team, which won this year’s world cup. She was accepting an award for the stance she has taken on fighting for equality, including racism, LGBTI rights and equal pay. In essence, she was talking about respect.
As I reflect on 2019, it seems our wider community – particularly at the political level – has been a bit light on when it comes to demonstrating respect. So, it has been heartening to read about the many AEU members and workplaces doing amazing things to build and preserve respect in their educational communities, whether that be about indigenous culture and rights, campaigning for the environment and our planet, upholding your right to secure employment, or educating our students to become active and engaged citizens.
Respect and fairness are at the very core of what the AEU – and the union movement as a whole – does every day, whether it be fighting for members’ entitlements or pushing back against the Morrison’s government’s attempts to crush union power through the so-called Ensuring Integrity Bill.
Rapinoe’s speech highlighted the many injustices in her country, and while she made no specific reference to the current US president, it was clear the culture he pursues is not one which she wants her country to aspire to. She believes we should be working together – or as she puts it, “sharing our platform”, putting out a helping hand to those around us, whatever their circumstances or background.
The message is a pertinent one for us to consider. In the first edition of the AEU News this year, I wrote about the forthcoming federal election, saying that “the outcome will not only determine our national government for the next three years, but also the fairness of our nation for the decades ahead.”
In the current climate, it’s vital that we take a stand for a more respectful community.
The Liberal government of the previous five years displayed all the warning signs, and nothing has happened since May to change its approach – whether it be refugees, climate change, the unemployed, robo-debt, the NDIS, attacks on unions, or lack of support for public education.
When it comes to fairness and respect, I see very little in the policies and views of the Morrison government. We have political leaders, not unlike those in America, who believe they are there to govern only for the people who voted for them and who agree with their views – and they’re willing to demonise anyone or any group who dares to disagree. In the current climate, it’s vital that we take a stand for a more respectful community.
In this issue, our branch secretary Erin Aulich has outlined our goals for the next three years. One of those broad objectives is to improve the lives of our members. The year ahead provides key opportunities to start that work and to deliver some of that respect for the work you do as an educator every day in your workplace.
Our early childhood members have commenced bargaining for their next agreements. In Term 1 of next year, schools members will start to develop the log of claims for bargaining due to begin in Term 3. For TAFE and disability members, the focus will be on ensuring those important conditions that improve the lives of members are implemented as they should be.
Workload is one of the critical issues that needs to be resolved for members across all of our sectors. This is not only about reductions in workload, but also respecting and valuing the importance of your work and your professional capacity to do that work effectively. We will be striving for improvements that respect your commitment to undertaking your jobs without onerous administrative and accountability measures which are more about bureaucratic requirements than the progress of the children and young people we teach.
2020 will be another big year. Thank you to all AEU members for your commitment to our union and to public education, whatever sector you work in. Thank you also to all the AEU staff who work hard every day to support and represent our members. I hope you all find time to take a decent break to rest and rewind for the year ahead.