The AEU remains focused on its core strategic goals of winning better lives for members through improved entitlements and supporting members to be more engaged and active in the union. Through advocacy, bargaining and campaigning, we have continued to advocate for AEU members, for public education and for other important socially progressive causes.
The AEU is now in the first year of a five-year strategic plan focused on strategies and resources for key funding campaigns and industrial agreement negotiations. We are focused on ensuring members know their rights and entitlements and how to enact them collectively in workplaces through union cultures, structures, and capacities. We want members to feel empowered to campaign and advocate together for further improvements, using their professional and industrial voice to set the agenda.
The union continues to focus on growing our membership in each sector, achieving workload reductions and higher salaries, and pursuing policy and funding settings that deliver better lives for members and improved outcomes for our students. Growing our branch has been challenging this year. We are seeing more members retiring, moving to other careers, or shifting to the private sector. Staffing shortages have become more acute and we have seen the impact of this on members’ ability to attend training and on our opportunities to meet with members in their workplaces. We continue to campaign for additional support to provide relief in the short and longer term to address these shortages. Fighting for real workload reductions remains central to our work, as does ensuring we have the qualified workforce ready to meet the demand.
We want members to feel empowered to use their collective voice.
Amid the ongoing effects of COVID-19, our primary objective is to ensure the health and safety of our members and we have advocated for the continued implementation of COVID Safe Plans and infection prevention controls. The AEU is also committed to advancing the psychological health and safety of members and we have been disappointed by the delay of the introduction of the proposed Psychological Health Regulations. We are pushing for employers, in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives, to implement psychological health plans that help prevent injuries.
As part of our work to ensure that we are a culturally safe organisation, AEU Victoria has developed a draft Cultural Safety Policy and Plan that lays out our commitment to the Gari Yala ten truths and the recommendations arising from the research undertaken by the Jumbunna Institute, which sought to understand the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators.
At the AEU, we are seeing better representation of First Nations people and greater inclusion and involvement in our structures and events.
As an organisation, we are committed to the ‘Yes’ campaign on a Voice to Parliament for First Nations Australians. As unionists, we believe that everyone deserves to be consulted about changes that affect them in the workplace and more broadly – and that by speaking collectively we can make changes that benefit us all.
We have implemented a range of actions to promote diversity, such as ensuring the signage in our buildings is inclusive, creating safe spaces for members and staff to gather together, and continue to look at ways of improving accessibility and visibility.
Over the past 12 months, we have supported members to consult with their employers on developing Gender Equality Action Plans, as required by the Department of Education under the Gender Equality Act 2020. AEU Victoria’s internal Gender Equality Committee has also continued to focus on increasing women’s representation and participation in all levels of the union and throughout the public education workforce.
The union movement has been tested in the past few years. But the staff and elected leadership of the AEU remain constant in our commitment to improving the working lives of our members, progressing our campaigns, and growing our union so we can continue to change things for the better.